Installation Guide

1. Overview

1.1. Choose an Install Type

Sakai downloads are available for three different installation methods on


This archive includes the Tomcat container and pre-built webapps, so that the only prerequisite for getting started is Java (v. 1.5). While not intended for large-scale implementations, it is suitable for evaluating the software and small-scale pilot implementations on single servers.


This archive is a kind of Tomcat overlay. If you have a working Tomcat appropriately configured - including the database connection - the binary installation provides a quick way to drop the Sakai application bundle into place without requiring a maven build. This may be a good choice if you know you don't need to make any code-level changes.


This archive includes only the source code to build Sakai, and therefore calls for preparatory installations of Tomcat and the Maven build tool, along with (most likely) a preferred database. The installation and configuration of these various components comprises the bulk of this installation guide.

1.2. Demo Installation

A demo installation is brief and straightforward. The most technically challenging aspect of a demo install is making sure that your Java environment is squared away in advance. The steps are as follows:

  1. Verify Java Installation and Environment Variables (see the first two sections of Set up Environment).

  2. Download and unpack the Demo archive


    demo archive


    demo archive

  3. Start Tomcat with the following commands from the root Tomcat directory:




Once Tomcat is started up, you can point your browser to http://localhost:8080/portal. This will bring you to the Sakai gateway site, from which you can create new accounts and log in to the syste. For more orienting tips on how to begin using Sakai, skip ahead to Getting Started.

To stop the demo:




Data storage:

The data for a demo installation is stored in a HypersonicSQL database (HSQLDB) which is stored in memory and then written out to files when Tomcat is shut down. These files are located at sakai-demo/sakai/db/sakai.db.*.

Email not configured:

The Sakai demo is configured to neither send nor receive email.

1.3. Binary Installation

The Binary installation of Sakai provides a shortcut for those that already have Tomcat in place and configured as needed (including the database connection: see Set up Environment for details on Tomcat configuration, and Database Configuration for database details), and it does so by providing a pre-built Sakai that can simply be dropped into place. All you need to do is unpack the binary archive at the root Tomcat directory, and the appropriate wars, jars, etc., for the Sakai application will be deposited in the correct locations.

If you wish to configure a binary installation you'll need to manually create a sakai directory in $CATALINA_HOME to hold your file, as described in Post-Installation Configuration.

1.4. Source Installation

The Demo and Binary installs described above provide quick ways to get up and running, but assume that no code-level changes are called for. The remainder of this installation guide devotes itself to the more rigorous and customizable Source installation, although some of its details (e.g. the post-installation configuration) may also be pertinent for more sophisticated uses of the demo and binary installs. The full set of steps for a Source installation may be organized into the following phases:

  1. Set up Environment, including Java, Tomcat, and Maven.

  2. Build and Deploy Sakai by running Maven.

  3. Perform appropriate Post-installation Configuration of the application.

  4. If you want to configure Sakai for either MySQL or Oracle, perform the requisite Database Configuration.

1.5. Migrating from a Previous Release

Migration from an earlier version of Sakai typically involves a database conversion (for which scripts are supplied with the release), an update to any custom skins, and possibly changes to any custom code (see the Release Notes to learn if this is the case).

For links to the conversion scripts, see the Database Configuration section of this guide.