WebContainer (JSP/Servlet)

Apache Karaf can act as a complete WebContainer, fully supporting the JSP/Servlet specifications.

Apache Karaf WebContainer supports both:

  • WAB (WebApplication Bundles) which are OSGi native web applications

  • WAR (WebApplication aRchives) which are non-OSGi web applications (the same as you can deploy in any web container like Apache Tomcat)

To enable the Apache Karaf WebContainer, you just have to install the war feature:

karaf@root()> feature:install war

The installation of the webconsole feature automatically installs the war feature.

The war feature provides:

  • an embedded web container (powered by Jetty), with its configuration

  • a set of console commands

  • a new war deployer


The default port used by the WebContainer is 8181. Note: the connector is actually bound only when at least a servlet or webapplication is using it. It means that just installing the http or war feature doesn’t bind the connector.

By default, Karaf creates an internal Jetty connector that you can configure via etc/org.ops4j.pax.web.cfg:


Note: if you want to use port numbers < 1024, remember you have to run with root privileges. However note that this is not a good idea from a security point of view.

It’s possible to enable the HTTPs "internal" connector. The first step is to create a keystore containing a server certificate. For instance the following command creates a keystore with a self-signed certificate:

keytool -genkey -keyalg RSA -alias selfsigned -keystore keystore -storepass karaf1234 -validity 360 -keysize 2048

Now, we can enable and configure the HTTPs connector with this keystore in etc/org.ops4j.pax.web.cfg:


It’s possible to use only HTTPs and to disable the HTTP using:


As an alternative to the default connectors, it is possible to configure additional connectors in the etc/jetty.xml configuration file.

The etc/jetty.xml is a standard Eclipse Jetty configuration file.

The default Apache Karaf WebContainer etc/jetty.xml contains:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
 Licensed to the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) under one
 or more contributor license agreements.  See the NOTICE file
 distributed with this work for additional information
 regarding copyright ownership.  The ASF licenses this file
 to you under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the
 "License"); you may not use this file except in compliance
 with the License.  You may obtain a copy of the License at


 Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing,
 software distributed under the License is distributed on an
 KIND, either express or implied.  See the License for the
 specific language governing permissions and limitations
 under the License.
<!DOCTYPE Configure PUBLIC "-//Mort Bay Consulting//
DTD Configure//EN" "http://jetty.mortbay.org/configure.dtd">

<Configure class="org.eclipse.jetty.server.Server">

    <!-- =========================================================== -->
    <!-- Set connectors -->
    <!-- =========================================================== -->
    <!-- One of each type! -->
    <!-- =========================================================== -->

    <!-- Use this connector for many frequently idle connections and for
        threadless continuations. -->
    <Call name="addConnector">
            <New class="org.eclipse.jetty.server.nio.SelectChannelConnector">
                <Set name="host">
                    <Property name="jetty.host" />
                <Set name="port">
                    <Property name="jetty.port" default="8181" />
                <Set name="maxIdleTime">300000</Set>
                <Set name="Acceptors">2</Set>
                <Set name="statsOn">false</Set>
                <Set name="confidentialPort">8443</Set>
                <Set name="lowResourcesConnections">20000</Set>
                <Set name="lowResourcesMaxIdleTime">5000</Set>

    <!-- =========================================================== -->
    <!-- Configure Authentication Realms -->
    <!-- Realms may be configured for the entire server here, or -->
    <!-- they can be configured for a specific web app in a context -->
    <!-- configuration (see $(jetty.home)/contexts/test.xml for an -->
    <!-- example). -->
    <!-- =========================================================== -->
    <Call name="addBean">
            <New class="org.eclipse.jetty.plus.jaas.JAASLoginService">
                <Set name="name">karaf</Set>
                <Set name="loginModuleName">karaf</Set>
                <Set name="roleClassNames">
                    <Array type="java.lang.String">
    <Call name="addBean">
            <New class="org.eclipse.jetty.plus.jaas.JAASLoginService">
                <Set name="name">default</Set>
                <Set name="loginModuleName">karaf</Set>
                <Set name="roleClassNames">
                    <Array type="java.lang.String">


The SelectChannelConnector defines the default connector of the WebContainer.

This connector defines the 8181 port number for the HTTP protocol (port property), and the 8443 port number for the HTTPS protocol (confidentialPort property).

By default, Apache Karaf bind these ports on all network interfaces ( You can config the host property to bind on a specific network interface (with a given IP address).

The following resources give you details about advanced etc/jetty.xml configurations:


Apache Karaf WebContainer is able to deploy:

  • pure OSGi WebApplication Bundle (WAB)

  • "classical" standard WebApplication aRchive (WAR)

WAB (WebApplication Bundle)

A WAB is a standard WAR or JAR archive containing at least the following properties in the MANIFEST:

  • Bundle-ManifestVersion: 2 defines that the bundle follows the rules of R4 specification.

  • Bundle-SymbolicName specifies a unique, non-localizable name for the bundle. This name should be based on the reverse domain name convention.

  • Web-ContextPath specifies the location of the web application.

WAB can be deployed directly in Apache Karaf, for instance, by dropping the archive in the deploy folder, or using the bundle:install command.

For instance, the Apache Karaf manual (documentation) is available as a WAB that you can deploy directly in a running instance:

karaf@root()> bundle:install -s mvn:org.apache.karaf/manual/4.0.0/war
WAR (WebApplication aRchive)

Apache Karaf allows you to deploy directly WAR files without repackaging as WAB.

Using the webbundle prefix and providing headers directly on the URL, Apache Karaf creates a WAB "on the fly".

For instance, you can deploy the Apache Tomcat sample non-OSGi "classical" WAR with the following command:

karaf@root()> bundle:install -s "webbundle:http://tomcat.apache.org/tomcat-7.0-doc/appdev/sample/sample.war?Bundle-SymbolicName=tomcat-sample&Web-ContextPath=/sample"

You can note the webbundle prefix, and the Bundle-SymbolicName and Web-ContextPath headers on the URL.

HTTP proxy

Apache Karaf provides a HTTP proxy service. It allows you to proxy any HTTP URLs within Karaf. It allows you to expose remote web applications in Karaf.

You can use the Karaf ProxyService programmatically, or via the corresponding shell commands and MBeans.


The http:list lists the available Servlets deployed in the WebContainer.

For instance, if you have installed the Apache Karaf WebConsole, you can see the WebConsole Servlets:

karaf@root()> http:list
ID  | Servlet          | Servlet-Name   | State       | Alias               | Url
113 | ResourceServlet  | /res           | Deployed    | /system/console/res | [/system/console/res/*]
113 | KarafOsgiManager | ServletModel-2 | Undeployed  | /system/console     | [/system/console/*]
113 | KarafOsgiManager | ServletModel-5 | Deployed    | /system/console     | [/system/console/*]

The ID is the ID of the bundle which provides the servlet (113 here).

The State is the current state of the Servlet (Deployed or Undeployed).

The Url is the URL where the Servlet is available.


The web:list command lists the WebApplication Bundles ("native" WAB or "wrapped WAR") deployed in the WebContainer.

For instance, if you installed the Apache Karaf manual WAR file as described previously, you can see it with web:list:

karaf@root()> web:list
ID  | State       | Web-State   | Level | Web-ContextPath | Name
111 | Active      | Deployed    | 80    | /karaf-doc      | Apache Karaf :: Manual (4.0.0)

The web:stop command stops a web application in the WebContainer. The web:stop command expects a id argument corresponding to the bundle ID (as displayed by the web:list command).

For instance, to stop the Apache Karaf manual web application:

karaf@root()> web:stop 111

The web:start command starts a web application in the WebContainer. The web:start command expects a id argument corresponding to the bundle ID (as displayed by the web:list command).

For instance, to start the Apache Karaf manual web application:

karaf@root()> web:start 111

The http:proxy-list command list the configured HTTP proxies:

karaf@root()> http:proxy-list
URL         │ ProxyTo                              │ Balancing Policy
/webconsole │ http://localhost:8181/system/console │
http:proxy-add and http:proxy-balancing-list

The http:proxy-add registers a new HTTP proxy. For instance, you can proxy the Karaf WebConsole on another URL of your choice using:

karaf@root()> http:proxy-add /webconsole http://localhost:8181/system/console

Karaf HTTP Proxy can proxy any URL, like a backend running on Docker or a remote URL.

It’s also possible to proxy several URLs, defining a balancing policy. By default, two balancing policies are available: random (selecting one URL randomly) and round-robin (selecting one URL after another one). It’s possible to create your own balancing policy by implementing a BalancingPolicy service (with the type service property).

You can see the balancing policies available using http:proxy-balancing-list command:

karaf@root()> http:proxy-balancing-list

Then, you can use add a proxy with several targets and a policy:

karaf@root()> http:proxy-add -b round-robin /my http://host1/my,http://host2/my,http://host3/my

You can see the list and balancing policy in used using http:proxy-list:

karaf@root()> http:proxy-list
URL         │ ProxyTo                                         │ Balancing Policy
/my         │ http://host1/my,http://host2/my,http://host3/my │ round-robin

The http:proxy-remove removes an existing HTTP proxy:

karaf@root()> http:proxy-remove /webconsole
JMX HttpMBean

On the JMX layer, you have a MBean dedicated to the manipulation of the Servlets: the HttpMBean.

The ObjectName to use is org.apache.karaf:type=http,name=*.


The Servlets attribute provides a tabular data providing the list of deployed Servlets including:

  • Alias is the Servlet URL alias.

  • Bundle-ID is the ID of the bundle which provides this Servlet.

  • Servlet is the class name of the Servlet.

  • State is the current Servlet state (Deployed or Undeployed).

  • URL is the URL of the Servlet (the Servlet context path).

The Proxies attribute provides a tabular data providing the list of HTTP proxies including:

  • URL is the proxy URL.

  • proxyTo is the proxy target.

  • prefix is optional proxy prefix.

The ProxyBalacingPolicies attribute provides the collection of balancing policies available.

  • addProxy(url, proxyTo, prefix) registers a new HTTP proxy.

  • removeProxy(url) removes an existing HTTP proxy.

JMX WebMBean

On the JMX layer, you have a MBean dedicated to the manipulation of the Web Applications: the WebMBean.

The ObjectName to use is org.apache.karaf:type=web,name=*.


The WebBundles attribute provides a tabular data providing the list of deployed Web Applications including:

  • ID is the ID of the bundle providing the Web Application.

  • Level is the bundle start level.

  • Name is the bundle symbolic name providing the Web Application.

  • State is the current state of the bundle.

  • Web-ContextPath is the context path of the Web Application.

  • Web-State is the current status of the Web Application (Deployed or Undeployed).

  • start(id) starts the web context of the bundle with id.

  • start(list) starts the web context of the bundles with ID in the provided list.

  • stop(id) stops the web context of the bundle with id.

  • stop(list) stops the web context of the bundles with ID in the provided list.