I would like to know if I can use the official Tomcat Docker image from docker hub for commercial purpose without becoming liable to purchase a license or anything from Oracle or some other company.

Does Oracle Linux have any licensing implications for commercial use?

Tomcat Image https://hub.docker.com/_/tomcat

OpenJDK image https://hub.docker.com/_/openjdk

  • 1
    This question shows poor research effort. Basically the question reads as "hey, I'm not sure about the licensing implications of HYPERLINK 1 and HYPERLINK 2. Could you visit these hyperlinks (which include multiple independent packages) and tell me the "licensing impliciations" of using these packages?
    – Brandin
    Sep 25, 2019 at 8:16
  • Actually, it didn't even include the links until I asked for them (comment since deleted to tidy up). But it's provided me with an opportunity to fully read around the Classpath exception, so I'm happy to answer it (any minute now).
    – MadHatter
    Sep 25, 2019 at 8:18

1 Answer 1


Both projects have a licensing statement for the image (on each page you link above, scroll down to "License") and both are a bit of a cop-out. They are clear that Apache Tomcat is licensed under Apache v2 (surprise!) and that OpenJDK is licensed under GPLv2 (with the added classpath exception). They also note that:

As with all Docker images, these likely also contain other software which may be under other licenses

which is a great example of buck-passing and one of many reasons why containers are not a good format for distributing software. But coming back to your question, the licences on the two key parts (tomcat and the openjdk) permit commercial use. Because of the classpath exception in the OpenJDK's licence, you may (for example) choose to treat the combined whole under the Apache licence, which is pretty business-friendly and imposes few obligations on you besides a patent grant.

If it turns out there's other weirdly-licensed rubbish buried in either docker image, that's your problem, but it's probably only an issue if you choose to redistribute, rather than use, and although your question isn't clear, I don't get the impression you intend to do that. Personally, I'd advise you to get an actual sysadmin, and install docker and dependencies directly on a maintainable platform of your choice. But that's not an issue for this site; from a licensing standpoint, I don't see any reason you can't build your company's web offering on top of Tomcat.

Oracle Linux is a completely separate thing, a distribution maintained by Oracle, and has no bearing on your question. And as ever, IANAL/IANYL.

  • Thanks for your response. Oracle Linux is related because the OpenJDK image is built using Oracle Linux as the base image.
    – Dojo
    Sep 25, 2019 at 8:44
  • As I said, containers are a bad way to distribute software. If you run a distro whose terms and software policy you're happy with - which should be nearly all of the main ones - then install tomcat using their standard packaging mechanism, you can be reasonably sure that you won't be getting any software that causes you licensing issues. If you choose to save time by going down the containerised image route, then you may find that you have to spend (even more than) the time saved in poring over the licence terms of everything you've downloaded.
    – MadHatter
    Sep 25, 2019 at 8:53
  • The question is about the contained software, not so much about them being distributed as containers. I am aware that containerizing a software does not erase its licencing term. I mentioned docker just to tell where I was coming from. It would otherwise not be clear why I'd want to use Oracle Linux. I'd imagine people use this tomcat docker image in production without much thought but seeing "oracle" anywhere raises lot of red flags in my brain :) Even though I worked there many years ago.
    – Dojo
    Sep 25, 2019 at 9:01
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    You don't want to use Oracle Linux, that's my point. You may want to use it if you can get someone else to do the legwork of checking all the licenses associated with it, but as Brandin noted above, that's not going to happen (at least, not for free). As far as I can reasonably tell, you can use Apache+OpenJDK for what you propose. Whether you can use the other 2,366 (random estimate alert!) things that you chose to get with it at the same time, I cannot say, and nor can the creators of either of the containers you're looking at.
    – MadHatter
    Sep 25, 2019 at 9:06

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