Deploying Vaadin app on Karaf

Karaf is an OSGi container rather than a WAR container. Hence it is not as easy to deploy your WAR into Karaf as opposed to, say, Tomcat. You basically have three options:

  • Split your WAR into separate jars, add OSGi descriptors to all of those so that Karaf recognizes them as OSGi bundles, then plug your servlets into Karaf’s pax-web something. That’s a lot of work.
  • Repackage your WAR as JAR with JARs, add OSGi descriptor so that Karaf recognizes that as a big bundle, then plug your servlets into Karaf’s Pax-Web. That’s still a lot of work.
  • Use WAR Deployer and just copy your WAR to the deploy/ folder. Ta-daa! This is the easiest way of deploying WAR to Karaf, the one that doesn’t require you to add OSGi manifests to your WAR and/or tackle the XML bundle configurations. Let’s go.

Using Karaf WAR Deployer

First, download Karaf, the Karaf Runtime is enough. Unpack it, go into the bin/ folder and run it: ./karaf. Karaf will start and will present you with a console. Great. First lesson is inspired by vim: we’ll learn how to quit. Luckily that’s easy, just press Ctrl+D.

We’ll use the Karaf WAR deployer which is able to take a WAR file, add all necessary OSGi descriptors automatically and deploy the WAR file on an internal Jetty server (or whatever is configured to be used by the Pax-Web OSGi Http Service). In the Karaf console, type in:

karaf@root()> feature:install war

This will install the http feature (which is a basic support for serving http in OSGi), http-whiteboard (which allows for mapping servlets to context roots I guess) and war which is the WAR Deployer itself. You can verify that everything is installed, by listing features:

feature:list | grep war
feature:list | grep http

WAR Deployer is old-fashioned and requires web.xml to be present in the WAR file in order to be recognized and deployed properly by Karaf. Just add the following dummy web.xml to your WAR project’s src/main/webapp/WEB-INF/ folder:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<web-app xmlns=""


That is enough - Jetty will properly autodiscover all of your servlets and other annotated stuff. Now build your WAR file. You can use any Vaadin-based webapp; for the purpose of this text we’re going to experiment on the karibu-helloworld-application Vaadin 8 webapp. Just don’t forget to add the web.xml, then run ./gradlew and find the WAR file in build/libs.

Note: Vaadin 10 apps will crash with NPE for some reason, please feel free to report a bug to the Vaadin folk.

Copy the WAR file into Karaf’s deploy/ folder. The WAR file should be picked up automatically and launched. You can follow the log of your app in Karaf by using the log:tail Karaf command - consult the log for any exceptions or other deployment failures. You can also use the web:list command to check that your app is up and running, for example:

karaf@root()> web:list
ID  │ State       │ Web-State   │ Level │ Web-ContextPath                │ Name
105 │ Active      │ Deployed    │ 80    │ /karibu-helloworld-application │ karibu-helloworld-application (0.0.0)

Now you can go and see your app running on http://localhost:8181/karibu-helloworld-application. Enjoy.

Enabling Push

@Push via WebSockets will not work with Vaadin 7.7.x and Karaf 4.1.6 and will fall back to longpolling, because the bundled Jetty is newer than Vaadin expects and Vaadin will fail with java.lang.ClassNotFoundException: org.eclipse.jetty.websocket.server.WebSocketServerFactory. You need to force Vaadin to use JSR356 in Atmosphere:

@WebServlet(urlPatterns = "/*", name = "MyUIServlet", asyncSupported = true, initParams = {@WebInitParam(name = "org.atmosphere.cpr.asyncSupport", value = "org.atmosphere.container.JSR356AsyncSupport") })

Now we’ll get java.lang.RuntimeException: Cannot load platform configurator, because OSGi doesn’t support standard stuff like ServiceLoader out-of-the-box. On Stackoverflow there is a solution, but luckily a proper artifact is already provided by the servicemix people. First remove all of your WAR files from the deploy/ folder. Stop Karaf and run it with ./karaf clean. Then, in your karaf console:

$ feature:install war
$ bundle:install mvn:org.apache.servicemix.bundles/org.apache.servicemix.bundles.javax-websocket-api/1.1_1
$ la -u|grep websocket-api
 55 │ Active    │  30 │ 1.1                   │ mvn:javax.websocket/javax.websocket-api/1.1
 87 │ Active    │  30 │ 9.3.24.v20180605      │ mvn:org.eclipse.jetty.websocket/websocket-api/9.3.24.v20180605
105 │ Installed │  80 │               │ mvn:org.apache.servicemix.bundles/org.apache.servicemix.bundles.javax-websocket-api/1.1_1
$ bundle:start 105
$ bundle:uninstall 55

And now try to redeploy your WAR file. If you don’t to start from a clean state, you can get java.lang.ClassCastException: org.eclipse.jetty.websocket.jsr356.server.ServerContainer cannot be cast to javax.websocket.server.ServerContainer (that’s your app loaded by a classloader which references old javax-websocket-api classloader); if you fail to remove the old javax.websocket-api you can still get the Cannot load platform configurator error.

Karaf, employing OSGi and class loaders, may suprise you with lots of nasty exceptions. Be careful to start with a clean state, and repeat the steps if necessary.

Written on October 9, 2018