This is a walkthrough for setting up a Sakai development environment on a laptop or desktop. These instructions will also work for setting up a development server though I suggest slightly beefier settings for memory. This is currently tailored for Sakai 2.9+. Once you have a Sakai development environment setup you should be able to program your own Sakai tools or modify existing tools.

  • change the "/" to "\" for all directory paths except those specified in the maven file
  • add the drive letter (C:) to your paths
  • use %VARIABLE% instead of $VARIABLE with environment variables
  • set your environment variables in Control Panel -> System -> Advanced -> Environment Variables

All of sakai and related programs should be installed in an opt directory which you will need full write access to, put this directory anywhere you want, this document will assume you have placed it in your root directory

  1. Install/Verify you have Java 1.7

  2. Install/Verify you have MySQL 5.1 or later 

  3. Setup Sakai DB (schema) and user

    1. Create the sakai database and sakai user (password=ironchef)
    2. Run the following from a command line prompt:

      mysql -u root -p
      • Note: You can also do the following if you prefer to be prompted for the password: mysql -uroot -p
    3. Then run these commands from the mysql prompt (one command per line):

      create database sakai default character set utf8;
      grant all privileges on sakai.* to 'sakai'@'localhost' identified by 'ironchef';
      grant all privileges on sakai.* to 'sakai'@'' identified by 'ironchef';
      flush privileges;
    4. [Optional] Download and install mysql query browser
      2. You do not have to do anything with query browser now
  4. Download and setup Maven 2.2.x+ stable package

  5. Install/Verify you have Subversion

  6. Download and setup tomcat 7.0.21+ (stable only)

  7. Download and setup MySQL Connector/J stable

  8. Use Subversion to download sakai code (Sakai 10 and earlier) or use Git/Github to download sakai code (Sakai 11 and later)

    1. Change to the /opt directory
    2. Checkout source from trunk (absolute latest stuff) or a release branch or tag:
      1. Trunk: svn checkout sakai-trunk
      2. 2.9.x Branch: svn checkout

        Should you run into errors related to missing dependencies when building source from the above repository with Maven (Step 11 below), attempt to checkout from instead

      3. If you want a version other than these, browse the tags and branches at
    3. Checkout will take about 5-10 minutes
    4. The directory created by subversion will be referred to as <sakai-src> directory (this could be whatever you want; above examples use 'sakai-trunk' and 'sakai-2.9.x')
  9. Setup file

    1. Create sakaidirectory in $CATALINA_HOME
      • $CATALINA_HOME should be /opt/tomcat if you have been following these instructions
    2. Copy the default config from to $CATALINA_HOME/sakai/
    3. Edit the file for a MySQL dev environment. Starting at the section marked # DATABASE:
      1. Set BaseDataSource username
        1. Set username@javax.sql.BaseDataSource=sakai
      2. Set BaseDataSource password
        1. Set password@javax.sql.BaseDataSource=ironchef
      3. Find the section: # HSQLDB settings and verify following lines are commented out

        # HSQLDB settings (DEFAULT)                                                                                                                               
        #validationQuery@javax.sql.BaseDataSource=select 1 from INFORMATION_SCHEMA.SYSTEM_USERS
        # Two hsqldb storage options: first for in-memory (no persistence between runs), second for disk based.
      4. Find the section: # MySQL settings and uncomment the 6+ lines in it

        # MySQL settings
        validationQuery@javax.sql.BaseDataSource=select 1 from DUAL
    4. Save the changes to the file


  10. Create maven settings.xml file

  11. Use Maven to build Sakai

    1. Open a command line shell
    2. Change directory to /opt/<sakai-src>
    3. Execute mvn clean install to build Sakai using maven
      • Note: The build will take an extra 5-10 minutes to download dependencies the first time
    4. Execute mvn sakai:deploy to deploy Sakai to your tomcat using maven
    5. Partial builds are supported by the maven2 build system
      You can now do a "mvn clean install sakai:deploy" from any subdirectory and build just that code
    6. Once you have downloded the jars you can run maven off-line with mvn -o clean install sakai:deploy
  12. Start Tomcat and check to make sure Sakai runs

    1. Start tomcat using $CATALINA_HOME/bin/startup

      If you are in Linux you can view the activity log as its generated by using "# ./ run" from Tomcat's bin directory instead of This is helpful for viewing potential errors as they happen or to know if Tomcat has locked-up during a launch. A launch will have completed when "INFO: Server startup in xxxx ms" is displayed in the terminal.

    2. Allow 1 minute+ for tomcat to start up
    3. Open http://localhost:8080/ to verify tomcat is running
    4. Open http://localhost:8080/portal to verify sakai is running
    5. Login to sakai as username:admin, password:admin
    6. Shutdown Tomcat using $CATALINA_HOME/bin/shutdown
  13. Install Eclipse 3.2+ stable

  14. Add subclipse to Eclipse

  15. Add Maven Eclipse Plugin to Eclipse

  16. Add Lombok plugin to Eclipse [OPTIONAL]

    1. Shutdown eclipse
    2. Follow the steps on the page linked above
    3. Restart eclipse
    • NOTE: this is only required for certain parts of the code that use the lombok library (a limited set)
  17. Import Sakai source code into Eclipse