This guide walks you through installing OpenOlat Version 15.3.x or newer on a local GNU/Linux or similar system using Tomcat 9, Java 11 and PostgreSQL 12.

If you really want to install OpenOlat using MySQL as database, have a look at the old Install Guide "Installation of OpenOLAT with MySQL" and try mixing it with the informations found in here. Please keep in mind that this is not recommended.

Create a user for OpenOlat

The username is openolat in this guide with home directory in /home/openolat/. From here onwards do everything as the user openolat (unless pointed out differently). To create the user, you can simply use the command

useradd -m -s /bin/bash openolat

Download OpenOlat, JDK (or JRE) and Tomcat

We recommend using AdoptOpenJDK 11 LTS, you can get it at . You will find Tomcat 9 at and OpenOlat in Form of .war Files at Create a directory downloads and keep the downloaded files there:

openolat~$ cd && mkdir downloads && cd downloads
openolat~$ ls -l downloads
-rw-rw-r-- 1 openolat openolat  11437266 Dez  8 14:44 apache-tomcat-9.0.40.tar.gz
-rw-rw-r-- 1 openolat openolat 194723798 Dez  8 14:44 OpenJDK11U-jdk_x64_linux_hotspot_11.0.9.1_1.tar.gz
-rw-rw-r-- 1 openolat openolat 146225737 Dez  8 14:44 openolat_1535.war
You do not need to use the exact versions from this manual, this is just an example. We recommend that you use the newest version within the given major version: Java 11, Tomcat 9. As for OpenOlat, you will need to use a version 15.3.x or newer. Note that you do not need a JDK to run OpenOlat, a JRE will work as well.

Prepare home directory

In the home directory:

openolat~$ cd
openolat~$ tar xvf downloads/apache-tomcat-9.0.40.tar.gz
openolat~$ ln -s apache-tomcat-9.0.40 tomcat
openolat~$ tar xvf downloads/OpenJDK11U-jdk_x64_linux_hotspot_11.0.9.1_1.tar.gz
openolat~$ ln -s jdk- jre
openolat~$ unzip -d openolat-15.3.5 downloads/openolat_1535.war
openolat~$ ln -s openolat-15.3.5 webapp

Note that this setup allows you to switch between different versions of JRE and tomcat by adjusting the symlinks jre and tomcat. An update works the same way, just stop OpenOlat, remove the symlink to webapp, unzip a new version and make a new symbolic webapp link.

Set up tomcat in home directory

openolat~$ mkdir bin conf lib run logs

Link the following files

openolat~$ cd ~/conf
openolat~$ ln -s ../tomcat/conf/web.xml web.xml
openolat~$ cd ~/bin
openolat~$ ln -s ../tomcat/bin/

Create additional, handy links

openolat~$ cd
openolat~$ ln -s tomcat/bin/ start
openolat~$ ln -s tomcat/bin/ stop

Create the file ~/bin/ containing

CATALINA_OPTS="-Xmx1024m -Xms512m -XX:MaxMetaspaceSize=512m \ \
-Duser.timezone=Europe/Zurich \ \
-Djava.awt.headless=true \ \
-XX:+HeapDumpOnOutOfMemoryError \
-XX:HeapDumpPath=. \
The scripts of tomcat will parse this file at startup.

Create the file ~/conf/server.xml

<?xml version='1.0' encoding='utf-8'?>
<Server port="8085" shutdown="SHUTDOWN">
  <Service name="Catalina">
    <Connector port="8088" protocol="HTTP/1.1" />
    <Engine name="Catalina" defaultHost="localhost">
      <Host name="localhost"  appBase="webapps" />
Make sure the chosen ports (8085 and 8088 in this example) are available.

Set the environment variables CATALINA_HOME and JRE_HOME, for example by appending the following to your ~/.bashrc

export CATALINA_HOME=~/tomcat
export JRE_HOME=~/jre
and activate them by issuing
openolat~$ . .bashrc

Test tomcat

openolat~$ ./start

... should output something like this:

Using CATALINA_BASE:   /home/openolat
Using CATALINA_HOME:   /home/openolat/tomcat
Using CATALINA_TMPDIR: /tmp/openolat
Using JRE_HOME:        /home/openolat/jre
Using CLASSPATH:       /home/openolat/tomcat/bin/bootstrap.jar:/home/openolat/tomcat/bin/tomcat-juli.jar
Using CATALINA_OPTS:   -Xmx1024m -Xms512m -XX:MaxMetaspaceSize=512m -Duser.timezone=Europe/Zurich -Djava.awt.headless=true -XX:+HeapDumpOnOutOfMemoryError -XX:HeapDumpPath=.
Using CATALINA_PID:    /home/openolat/run/
Existing PID file found during start.
Removing/clearing stale PID file.
Tomcat started.
Check whether these values make sense, then stop tomcat again
openolat~$ ./stop

Set up postgresql database and user

This setupguide should work with all PostgreSQL Versions from 9.1 on. Our recommendation is to use the most recent, stable version. This manual has been tested with version 12.5.

Do the following as root user

root~# su - postgres
and then as user postgres (you may need the postgresql db password, but usually not):
postgres~$ psql
Now while logged in to postgresql, we create the user and the database:
postgres=# create user oodbu with password 'oodbpasswd';
postgres=# create database oodb with owner oodbu;

Test the account as openolat user

openolat~$ psql oodb -U oodbu -h localhost
You should get the postgresql client prompt after providing your password. Now create the OpenOLAT database schema, as user openolat.
oodb=> \i /home/openolat/webapp/WEB-INF/classes/database/postgresql/setupDatabase.sql

Optionally create a file named ~/.pgpass containing

This way you can access the database by typing psql -h localhost and will connect to the right db without pw

Create OpenOLAT configuration

Create the file ~/lib/


Create the directory ~/conf/Catalina/localhost/ for the OpenOlat Application context descriptor

openolat~$ mkdir -p ~/conf/Catalina/localhost/
and create the file ~/conf/Catalina/localhost/ROOT.xml containing:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>
<Context path="" docBase="/home/openolat/webapp" debug="0" reloadable="false" allowLinking="true">
  <Resource name="jdbc/OpenOLATDS" auth="Container" type="javax.sql.DataSource"
     maxTotal="16" maxIdle="4" maxWaitMillis="60000"
     username="oodbu" password="oodbpasswd"
     validationQuery="SELECT 1" 
Make sure the values of username, password and the "localhost:5432/oodb" part in the url value are the ones of your postgresql account for OpenOlat.

Configure log4j2

Create the file ~/lib/log4j2.xml containing

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<Configuration status="WARN">
       <RollingFile name="RollingFile" fileName="/home/openolat/logs/olat.log"
                   pattern="%d{yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ss.SSS} [%t] %-5level %marker %c{1} ^%%^ I%X{ref}-J%sn ^%%^ %logger{36} ^%%^ %X{identityKey} ^%%^ %X{ip} ^%%^ %X{referer} ^%%^ %X{userAgent} ^%%^ %msg%ex{full,separator( )}%n" />
               <TimeBasedTriggeringPolicy interval="1" />
       <Logger name="org.apache.commons.httpclient" additivity="false" level="warn">
           <AppenderRef ref="RollingFile" />
       <Logger name="org.apache.pdfbox" additivity="false" level="fatal">
           <AppenderRef ref="RollingFile" />
       <Logger name="org.apache.fontbox" additivity="false" level="fatal">
           <AppenderRef ref="RollingFile" />
       <Logger name="org.hibernate.engine.internal.StatisticalLoggingSessionEventListener" additivity="false" level="fatal">
           <AppenderRef ref="RollingFile" />
       <!-- Change the level to debug to see the SQL statements generated by Hibernate -->
       <Logger name="org.hibernate.SQL" additivity="false" level="fatal">
           <AppenderRef ref="RollingFile" />
       <Logger name="org.hibernate.type.descriptor.sql.BasicBinder" additivity="false" level="fatal">
           <AppenderRef ref="RollingFile" />
       <Root level="info">
           <AppenderRef ref="RollingFile" />

Start OpenOlat


The file ~/log/catalina.out should say

INFO: Server startup in [19696] milliseconds
near the end (your numbers will vary). The next file to check would be ~/logs/olat.log. It should say
Velocity cache filled with 1517 templates in (ms): 5847
but again, your numbers will vary.

Try OpenOlat

point your browser to

username: administrator
password: openolat

Happy testing!