JNDI problems with Tomcat 5.5.15

I’ve recently been having difficulty getting JNDI lookup for MySQL connection pools working on our public server.

This proved very difficult to track down as all the stuff that I could find on the web said that I had to have:

  • commons-dbcp-1.2.1.jar
  • commons-pool-1.2.jar
  • mysql-connector-java-3.1.6-bin.jar

(or the latest appropriate versions)

Unfortunately this didn’t work and my little test JSP (using the JSTL sql tags) just gave me the error: DataSource invalid:
“java.sql.SQLException: No suitable driver.

However, next I tried connecting to MySQL directly using Class.forName(""com.mysql.jdbc.Driver") and that worked. So the problem wasn’t in loading the driver.

Trying the JNDI steps manually in a Java scriptlet gave a different error. Here’s the code:

Context initContext = new InitialContext();
out.println("1. Got the initial context");
String envContextName = "java:/comp/env";
Context envContext  = (Context)initContext.lookup(envContextName);
out.println("2. Got the context: "+envContextName);
String jndiName = "jdbc/myTest;
DataSource ds = (DataSource)envContext.lookup(jndiName);
out.println("3. Got the datasource: "+ds.getClass().getName()+" for context "+jndiName);
Connection conn = ds.getConnection();
out.println("4. Got the connection: "+conn);

This time the error I got was: javax.naming.NamingException: Cannot create resource instance. So it seemed as if some class was missing, but it wasn’t obvious which one.

I had the whole thing working fine on my development server, so I decided to see which classes were being loaded and where from. I found that you can find where a class has been loaded from quite easily (see here).
So I created another test JSP with the following Java snippet (you’ll have to add the appropriate imports):

// A list of classes to try and load and see where they come from
String[] classNames = {

for (int i = 0; i < classNames.length; i++) {
String className = classNames[i];

try {
// try and load the class
Class c = Class.forName(className);
out.println("loaded successfully:  "+c+"");
// if successful, find out the location (gives the location of the jar)
ProtectionDomain pDomain = c.getProtectionDomain();
CodeSource cSource = pDomain.getCodeSource();
out.println("    Location:  "+cSource.getLocation()+"");
} catch (ClassNotFoundException e) {
out.println("Error could not find class");
} catch (Throwable t) {
out.println("Error could not load ("+t+")");


I chose these classes to test because when running the initial test on my local machine, I found that the DataSource class created was org.apache.tomcat.dbcp.dbcp.BasicDataSource. Running this on my development machine told me that the last two classes were in the jar naming-factory-dbcp.jar which mysteriously wasn’t in common/lib on our production server. Copying it there and restarting Tomcat did the trick and now the JNDI datasource look up works fine.

So, that’s another jar you need to make sure is in your Tomcat common/lib directory if you’re having JNDI lookup problems, it’s also a general technique that can be used to find out where classes are loaded from and which classes are available on the class path and which are missing.

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