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Tomcat + SLF4J + Logback

Quick Start

If you quickly want to configure Tomcat to use Slf4J and Logback, just download one of the packages available from this location.

After downloading copy (from the archive):

  • bin/*.jar to $CATALINA_HOME/bin (replacing existing tomcat-juli.jar)
  • bin/ or bin\setenv.bat to $CATALINA_HOME/bin (this script contains proper variable name and doesn't require any changes, unless you have your own version of script)
  • conf/logback*.xml to $CATALINA_HOME/conf

Copy (from e.g. Maven Central or logback site):

  • logback-core-1.0.0.jar to $CATALINA_HOME/lib
  • logback-access-1.0.0.jar to $CATALINA_HOME/lib

Delete $CATALINA_HOME/conf/ This will turn off java.util.logging completely.

conf/logback.xml tries to reflect original Tomcat logging configuration. Feel free to change it.


<Valve className="ch.qos.logback.access.tomcat.LogbackValve" quiet="true" filename="${catalina.home}/conf/logback-access-localhost.xml" />

to $CATALINA_HOME\conf\server.xml.


<Valve className="org.apache.catalina.valves.AccessLogValve" directory="logs"
    prefix="localhost_access_log." suffix=".txt"
    pattern="%h %l %u %t &quot;%r&quot; %s %b" />

from $CATALINA_HOME\conf\server.xml.

Final step: run $CATALINA_HOME/bin/ (or startup.bat). Voila!


This project allows using SLF4J and Logback in Apache Tomcat absolutely without the need for commons-logging, log4j and java.util.logging.

This project's main and only goal is to allow the following:

  • redirect all org.apache.commons.logging (repackaged to org.apache.juli.logging) calls to org.slf4j (repackaged to - i.e. handle internal tomcat logging with slf4j and logback binding,
  • make still possible to use logback-access with logback-access.xml config - using standard functionality of logback-access,
  • make possible to use independent configuration of slf4j+logback from all web applications which may carry their own slf4j-api, logback-core and logback-classic in their WEB-INF/lib directory.

Using only ANT's build.xml file (based on the file provided with Tomcat), proper source JARs are downloaded from maven repository and unpacked. Then all classes are refactored under org.apache.juli.logging package, subpackages and then compiled.

To allow web applications to use their own slf4j-api and logback-classic, classes used by Tomcat (particularly jcl-over-slf4j) must go into different, non-standard packages. According to Tomcat Documentation web application looks up classes in their WEB-INF/classes directory and WEB-INF/lib/*.jar files before looking them in $CATALINA_HOME/lib, but after looking them in system class loader. So Tomcat needs not only to have tomcat-juli replaced with tweaked jcl-over-slf4j but also the remaining JARs (slf4j-api, logback-core and logback-classic) must be refactored into different packages. Also, to put the three remaining JARs under Tomcat's system class loader, they must be referenced from tomcat-juli.jar using META-INF/MANIFEST.MF's Class-Path mechanism.

Finally, in order to keep the classpath clean, I've chosen the method of selecting Logback's configuration file using juli-logback.configurationFile system property. It is renamed in source files during refactoring phase. Leaving standard logback.configurationFile property would cause selecting this file in all web applications despite of having dedicated, classpath-based logback.xml configuration files.

There are four JARs involved in the process:

  • jcl-over-slf4j - this JAR is transformed into org.apache.juli.logging exactly the same way as commons-logging is transformed in Tomcat's build process. It is eventually compiled into tomcat-juli.jar - this name is mandatory, because it is directly referenced during Tomcat's startup process while constructing system class loader. This JAR is transformed and placed in $CATALINA_HOME/bin/tomcat-juli.jar file.
  • slf4j-api - main SLF4J JAR. Transformed into $CATALINA_HOME/bin/tomcat-juli-slf4j-api-<version>.jar file.
  • logback-core - core Logback JAR. Transformed into $CATALINA_HOME/bin/tomcat-juli-logback-core-<version>.jar file.
  • logback-classic - actual SLF4J binding. Transformed into $CATALINA_HOME/bin/tomcat-juli-logback-classic-<version>.jar file.


Before launching the build, make sure Ivy is installed (place proper ivy-X.Y.Z.jar into $ANT_HOME/lib directory). Place tomcat-juli.jar from $CATALINA_HOME/bin of the Tomcat installation of your choice into _external directory - this is required, because we need few (namely: one) classes from the jar that is going to be replaced.



And move four JARs from _dist directory to $CATALINA_HOME/bin directory.

Notice: running ant on clean working copy will result in error about lack of tomcat-juli.jar file, which is needed during the process of tranforming JARs.

More detailed instruction:

  1. edit file, which may contain custom values for properties hardcoded in e.g. tomcat.version
  2. run ant
  3. place correct version of tomcat-juli.jar in _external
  4. run ant again
  5. move JARs from _dist directory to $CATALINA_HOME/bin.

After changing versions (e.g. for Tomcat), run ant clean.

Running Tomcat now will use default (very verbose) configuration of Logback. To change Logback's configuration, run Tomcat with the following system variable (using your favorite method of setting such variables - in, or other):

-Djuli-logback.configurationFile=file:<logback.xml location>


Now you can configure whatever logging technology you want for your web applications. I recommend SLF4J and Logback because from now on, it will not collide with Tomcat's logging configuration.

While configuring Tomcat's logging, keep in mind that you have to use renamed packages in logback.xml config file, e.g.:

    <appender name="CONSOLE" class="">
            <pattern>%d{HH:mm:ss.SSS} %-5level {%thread} [%logger{20}] : %msg%n</pattern>
    <logger name="org.apache.catalina.core.ContainerBase.[Catalina].[localhost]" level="INFO" additivity="false">
        <appender-ref ref="FILE-LOCALHOST" />
    <root level="INFO">
        <appender-ref ref="CONSOLE" />

Configuration of logback-access doesn't require renamed packages, as the required JARs are loaded from common class loader.

Sample logback.xml reflecting the configuration from standard $CATALINA_HOME/conf/ can be found here.

Tomcat Customization

Tomcat 6.0.x

After unpacking apache-tomcat-6.0.x.tgz, one can run Tomcat by executing $CATALINA_HOME/bin/ This will cause running Tomcat with standard java.util.logging enabled. The standard commandline is:

"java" \
    -classpath "$CATALINA_HOME\bin\bootstrap.jar"
    org.apache.catalina.startup.Bootstrap start

Deleting $CATALINA_HOME/conf/ will replace -Djava.util.logging.config.file with -Dnop - first step to remove j.u.logging. To get rid of -Djava.util.logging.manager we must explicitely set the following environment property in


Finally we must configure our tomcat-slf4j-logback integration:

  • place all 4 JARs in $CATALINA_HOME/bin
  • add -Djuli-logback.configurationFile=file:<logback.xml location> to $JAVA_OPTS in

Now Tomcat's internal logging goes through and to appenders configured in $CATALINA_HOME/conf/logback.xml (or whatever file you set juli-logback.configurationFile variable to).

The final step is to configure logback-access. Now we don't have to deal with package manipulation. Just add:

<Valve className="ch.qos.logback.access.tomcat.LogbackValve" quiet="true"
    filename="${catalina.home}/conf/logback-access-localhost.xml" />

to $CATALINA_HOME/conf/server.xml, place properly configured logback-access-localhost.xml on $CATALINA_HOME/conf and place logback-core and logback-access JARs into $CATALINA_HOME/lib. This won't cause problems with individual WARs' slf4j+logback configuration, because logback.xml is read by logback-classic which is recommended to reside in WEB-INF/lib. The only additional benefit is that WARs will see logback-core through common class loader.

Tomcat 7.0.x

With logback-1.0.0 the LBACCESS-17 is finally resolved, so there's no need to fix anything in logback-access :).

Using Tomcat in Eclipse

  1. Go to Window › Preferences › Server › Runtime Environments and add your server runtime as always
  2. Go to Servers view and add server instance as always
  3. Open server definition (RMB, Open or F3) and click open launch configuration
  4. On Arguments tab in VM arguments add -Djuli-logback.configurationFile="<absolute tomcat home path>\conf\logback.xml"

That's all. While creating server runtime instance, eclipse generates VM arguments using absolute paths (no variables), so just copy the Tomcat home path and add -Djuli-logback.configurationFile argument. There's no need to configure LOGGING_MANAGER=-Dnop environment variable (I'm not quite sure why...).

Remember - Tomcat installation must be configured according to Quick Start.