Hi,
I want to learn how to build web services with java. I am starting out by installing all the neccessary software. I am following directions from a book. However, tomcat is installed twice in the book's example. The first set of direction is labeled Servlet container and tomcat is installed in the home directiory. The second set of direction is labeled Web server and tomcat is installed in the /usr/local/ directory. Is this procedure accurate?

First instalation is the one which you need as you only wish to practice on your home pc/laptop. The second option is to setup hosting service I believe.
There is plenty of good tutorials on net, I personaly like this one http://mpcon.org/apacheguide/jsp.php which shows you how to set also Apache with PHP, plus MySQL, My phpAdmin and Rubby (you may want to install MySQL later on)

Thanks for the prompt response.
Yes, I will install mySQL later on. So, are you saying that I don't need to install Tomcat in two different folders to create and test web services? (I already installed in the /usr/local folder). Why do you think first instruction set is labeled 'servelet container' and the second set is labeled 'web server'? Will one installation of Tomcat serve both functions?

you need just one instalation and I would recomend you follow the setup from website to which I gived to you link

installing Tomcat can be (if you don't need anythin fancy, and you don't for learning) as simple as unzipping the distribution archive somewhere (whereever you like).

Thanks again for another quick reply.
The aforementioned website only gives instructions for Windows, I have Linux running on my machine. By the way is it okay install PHP along with everything else on my computer? I will eventually have to learn both PHP and JSP.

The installation instructions included with Tomcat are operating system independent (as it Tomcat itself).
If you don't know how to use Linux, maybe you should spend some time learning that before you attempt running server software on it...

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