Apache Tomcat, and other containers, have been around for so long today that it has become increasingly harder to get started with them today.
In this article, we will take you back from the beginning with how to get started with Apache Tomcat. We will go into the lowest level, so you don't have to rely on an IDE or other system to get started. This article is written for those that have never used Apache Tomcat and wish to get started in an easy, yet explanatory, way that helps you to understand what is happening under the hood. This will fast track you to become very proficient with this light weight application server.
Step 1. Download and Install Apache Tomcat
While there are a lot of different packages available to install Tomcat, for example some Linux distributions you can download it using that distributions package and dependency management. This is good, for the sake of simplicity, but once again, you lose the concept of what Tomcat is and what true dependencies it has as well on how to use it.
I strongly recommend only moving to a third party packaging of Apache Tomcat after you understand the container itself. This will help avoid complications when you try to create a plan for how you distribute, upgrade and maintain your software.
Rule 1. When learning, only download the software from http://tomcat.apache.org/
Now, since you are learning Apache Tomcat from scratch, I suggest you start with Apache Tomcat 7. As explained in an earlier post, the majority of features that are implemented, are driven by the (Servlet) and (JSP) specifications. Each time the Servlet specification is upgraded, new features added, the Apache Tomcat will plan for a new major release of Apache Tomcat. The latest version, Apache Tomcat 7, is based on the version of the Servlet specification, in this case, Servlet 3.0.