Venkatt Guhesan has been an Enterprise Java Architect with over 15 years of software development experience living and working in the Baltimore, Maryland area. Enjoys developing in Java, Scala, Groovy, Python, Ruby, Cold Fusion and Perl. Strong supporter of open source technologies including Linux and Apache Foundation. Venkatt is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 12 posts at DZone. View Full User Profile

Tomcat 6+: Infamous “SEVERE: Error listenerStart” message – How-To debug this error?

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I’m sure if you have been developing with Java and Tomcat for sometime, you are likely to run into the infamous debug error.

SEVERE: Error listenerStart

You will most likely start Googling it trying to find out what the heck is going on. And in trying to see the extended logging on what that “listenerStart” error means. After some lucky searches, you will see links asking you to drop a “” file under ‘/WEB-INF/classes’ directory inside your WAR to help debug which one of the listeners is throwing this crazy error.

Well, this advise will most likely work for you if you are developing under an earlier version of Tomcat. If you are using versions 6.0 or above then continue to read on…

In Tomcat 6 or above, the default logger is the”java.util.logging” logger and not Log4J. So if you are trying to add a “” file – this will NOT work. The Java utils logger looks for a file called “” as stated here:

So to get to the debugging details create a “” file under your”/WEB-INF/classes” folder of your WAR and you’re all set.

And now when you restart your Tomcat, you will see all of your debugging in it’s full glory!!!

Sample file:

org.apache.catalina.core.ContainerBase.[Catalina].level = INFO
org.apache.catalina.core.ContainerBase.[Catalina].handlers = java.util.logging.ConsoleHandler

and you will most likely see a “class-not-found” exception. ;-)

Look at the bright side, you’re now one step closer to the solution.

Happy coding!



Published at DZone with permission of Venkatt Guhesan, author and DZone MVB.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)


Sura Sos replied on Sun, 2011/07/03 - 9:53pm

It's very simple to make it work. Just follow the instruction at Long time ago, I had slight problem setting up jboss 3.x server with log4j; but I was able to fix it by editing server.xml.

Wish Master replied on Mon, 2011/12/19 - 5:29pm in response to: Sura Sos

@Sura Sos: Many thanks! I tried several solutions but this is the only wich worked!

My setup: Java 1.7.0_01, tomcat 7.0.23, Grails 2.0.0.

After deployment of the grails war into tomcat:

Error message: Schwerwiegend: Error listenerStart

No more useful log entries...

Configured the tomcat log4j logging described in and now the log shows the real problem with the spring configuration.

nested exception is org.apache.commons.dbcp.SQLNestedException: Cannot create PoolableConnectionFactory (Datenbank-Verbindungs Option "SHUTDOWN" nicht unterstützt

Best Regards

Wish Master


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