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The Great Java Application Server Debate with Tomcat, JBoss, GlassFish, Jetty and Liberty Profile

Part I: Getting Started

When you’re getting started with a new tool, things like installation, configuration, tooling support and documentation can affect your experience in a major way. In Part I, we look at starting off with each of the app servers.

This section will compare and contrast each of the Application Servers for each of the following areas ranking them with a score out of 5 in addition to our comments. As we at ZeroTurnaround are all about developer productivity, the unit of measure will be the Rebelzeroturnaround-logo-rebel

  • Download and Installation

  • Tooling support

  • Server Configuration

  • Documentation & community

Next, in Part II will look into some of the deeper topics as we go undercover, Ninja style.

Download and Installation

The first contact is all important as it often gives your initial glimpse of how the rest of the experience might turn out!

Jetty

Jetty is just 8MB in size! The process is easy:

  1. Download installation package

  2. Extract the archive

  3. You are ready to go!

Jetty has preserved its simplicity in starting: java -jar start.jar

Score: score-5

Reason: Smallest download, maven dependency integration, unzip install and good startup scripts.

Tomcat

Tomcat is identical in experience to Jetty, although it’s another few meg at 12.8.

  1. Download installation package

  2. Extract the archive

  3. You are ready to go!

To start Tomcat, simply run bin/startup.sh – easy

Score: score-5

Reason: Small download, maven dependency integration, unzip install and good startup scripts.

JBoss

JBoss AS 7.1.1.Final, which was release on March 9th 2012, but still is the latest community edition version, archive is 127Mb.

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  1. Download installation package

  2. Extract the archive

  3. You are ready to go!

To start, RedHat have made it simple as well with the bin/standalone.sh script, unless you want to run a clustered environment. Also there are several default configuration files in “standalone/configuration” directory, which allow to turn on and off default clustering and choose between web or full EE profiles, so one can pick the closest to what is needed and tweak it minimally.

Score: score-4

Reason: Largest download, unzip install, slower, “standalone” named startup scripts.

Liberty Profile

  1. Accept Licence agreement

  2. Download installation package

  3. Extract the archive

  4. Accept Licence agreement again – seriously?

  5. You are ready to go!

Although you have to accept the license agreement twice, it’s not all that bad as most people just click accept anyway :) Does anyone actually read them? The download is 41.4 MB which isn’t too bad given the extra features it has over say Tomcat or Jetty.

Score:score-4

Reason: Reasonable size, license have to be accepted twice, startup scripts need docs :(

GlassFish

There are two options available: GlassFish Open Source Edition and Oracle GlassFish Server. We grabbed the GlassFish Server Open Source Edition installation package, which surprisingly, was not so big, only 53 MBs in size! This is the installation package download and comes in a self-extractable archive. Once downloaded you need to run a large .sh “script” and after a number of steps through a graphical wizard, GlassFish was in place. If you don’t like the idea of an installer, you can also choose the unzip install option which comes in a download around 30MB larger. This gives you the three step experience as most of the others:

  1. Download installation package

  2. Extract the archive

  3. You are ready to go!

Score: score3-5

Reason: No straightforward way to start the server, multiple install methods including unzip install is good, reasonable download size, but still large.

Download and Installation Scores: Jetty and Tomcat win

java application servers

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