Installing Apache Ant

Getting Apache Ant

The Short Story

To get up and running with the binary edition of Ant quickly, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure you have a Java environment installed, See System Requirements for details.
  2. Download Ant. See Binary Edition for details.
  3. Uncompress the downloaded file into a directory.
  4. Set environmental variables JAVA_HOME to your Java environment, ANT_HOME to the directory you uncompressed Ant to, and add ${ANT_HOME}/bin (Unix) or %ANT_HOME%/bin (Windows) to your PATH. See Setup for details.
  5. Optionally, from the ANT_HOME directory run ant -f fetch.xml -Ddest=system to get the library dependencies of most of the Ant tasks that require them. If you don't do this, many of the dependent Ant tasks will not be available. See Optional Tasks for details and other options for the -Ddest parameter.
  6. Optionally, add any desired Antlibs. See Ant Libraries for a list.

Note that the links in the list above will give more details about each of the steps, should you need them. Or you can just continue reading the rest of this document.

The short story for working with the Ant source code (not needed if you are working with the binary edition) is:
  1. Get the source code. See Source Edition for details.
  2. Build Ant. See Building Ant for details.

For the full story, continue reading.

Binary Edition

The latest stable version of Ant is available from the Ant web page

The binary edition of Ant is shipped with 3 different compression formats:

  1. .zip - Recommended compression format for Windows, can also be used on other platforms. Supported by many programs and some operating systems natively.
  2. .tar.gz - Uses the tar program to gather files together, and gzip to compress and uncompress.
  3. .tar.bz2 - Uses the tar program to gather files together, and bzip2 to compress and uncompress..
Choose the format that is best supported for your platform.

As a binary in an RPM Package

Consult the jpackage section below.

Bundled in IDEs

All the main Java IDEs ship with Ant, products such as Eclipse, NetBeans and IntelliJ IDEA. If you install Ant this way you usually get the most recent release of Ant at the time the IDE was released. Some of the IDEs (Eclipse and NetBeans in particular) ship with extra tasks that only work if IDE-specific tools are on Ant's path. To use these on command-line versions of Ant, the relevant JARs need to be added to the command-line Ant as extra libraries/tasks. Note that if it is an IDE task or extension that is not behaving, the Ant team is unable to field bug reports. Try the IDE mailing lists first, who will cross-file bugs if appropriate.

IDE's can invariably be pointed at different Ant installations. This lets developers upgrade to a new release of Ant, and eliminate inconsistencies between command-line and IDE Ant.

Bundled in Java applications

Many Java applications, most particularly application servers, ship with a version of Ant. These are primarily for internal use by the application, using the Java APIs to delegate tasks such as JSP page compilation to the Ant runtime. Such distributions are usually unsupported by everyone. Particularly troublesome are those products that not only ship with their own Ant release, they add their own version of ANT.BAT or to the PATH. If Ant starts behaving weirdly after installing something, try the diagnostics advice.

Source Edition

If you prefer the source edition, you can download the source for the latest Ant release from If you prefer the leading-edge code, you can access the code as it is being developed via git. The Ant website has details on accessing git. All bug fixes will go in against the HEAD of the source tree, and the first response to many bugreps will be "have you tried the latest version". Don't be afraid to download and build a prererelease edition, as everything other than new features are usually stable.

See the section Building Ant on how to build Ant from the source code. You can also access the Ant SVN repository on-line.

Archive Download Area Layout

Older versions of Ant are available in the archives at The files are organized as follows.

Filename or Path Description
KEYS PGP-Keysfile. It contains the PGP-keys of Ant developers so you can 'trust' the distribution.
RELEASE-NOTES-{version}.html Release notes of the given version in HTML format. When upgrading your Ant installation you should have a look at the Changes that could break older environments section. ZIP-Archive containing the compiled version of Ant in the last released version. It is recommended that you do not download the latest version this way, as the standard way of downloading described above will redirect you to a mirror closer to you, thus making the download faster for you and reducing the load on Apache servers. ZIP-Archive containing the sources of Ant. If you have this you could compile Ant itself. If you do not have the required dependencies, the classes depending on them are just not built. Again, it is preferred to use the standard way of getting the source package described above to make your download quicker and to reduce the load on Apache servers.
ant-current-*.asc Security file for checking the correctness of the zip file. This one is the PGP key.
ant-current-*.md5 Security file for checking the correctness of the zip file. This one is the MD5 key.
ant-current-*.sha1 Security file for checking the correctness of the zip file. This one is the SHA1 key.
antlibs/ This directory holds the Antlibs that are made of available by the Apache Ant project. Antlibs are bundles of Ant tasks that are not delivered as part of the Ant core but are available as optional downloads.
binaries/ The binaries directory holds specific Ant releases bundled in both ZIP and tar.gz compression formats. The named releases are in contrast to the file in the parent directory, which is always guaranteed to be the most current release of Ant.
common/ The common directory holds various files, such as the Apache License file that Ant is licensed under, that people may wish to examine without having to download the whole Ant distribution.
source/ The source directory holds the source code for specific Ant releases bundled in both ZIP and tar.gz compression formats. The named releases are in contrast to the file in the parent directory, which is always guaranteed to hold the source code for the most current release of Ant.

System Requirements

Ant has been used successfully on many platforms, including Linux, commercial flavours of Unix such as Solaris and HP-UX, Windows NT-platforms, OS/2 Warp, Novell Netware 6, OpenVMS and MacOS X. The platforms used most for development are, in no particular order, Linux, MacOS X, Windows XP and Unix; these are therefore that platforms that tend to work best. As of Ant1.7, Windows 9x is no longer supported.

For the current version of Ant, you will also need a JDK installed on your system, version 1.4 or later required, 1.7 or later strongly recommended. The more up-to-date the version of Java , the more Ant tasks you get.

Note: If a JDK is not present, only the JRE runtime, then many tasks will not work.

Note: Ant 1.8.* works with jdk1.4 and higher, Ant 1.7.* works with jdk1.3 and higher, Ant 1.6.* works with jdk 1.2 and higher, Ant 1.2 to Ant 1.5.* work with jdk 1.1 and higher.

Open Source Java Runtimes

The Ant team strongly supports users running Ant on OpenJDK and other open source Java runtimes, and so strives to have a product that works well on those platforms.

Installing Ant

The binary distribution of Ant consists of the following directory layout:

   +--- README, LICENSE, fetch.xml, other text files. //basic information
   +--- bin  // contains launcher scripts
   +--- lib  // contains Ant jars plus necessary dependencies
   +--- docs // contains documentation
   |      |
   |      +--- images  // various logos for html documentation
   |      |
   |      +--- manual  // Ant documentation (a must read ;-)
   +--- etc // contains xsl goodies to:
            //   - create an enhanced report from xml output of various tasks.
            //   - migrate your build files and get rid of 'deprecated' warning
            //   - ... and more ;-)
Only the bin and lib directories are required to run Ant. To install Ant, choose a directory and copy the distribution files there. This directory will be known as ANT_HOME.

Windows 95, Windows 98 & Windows ME Note:
  Note that current releases of Ant no longer support these systems. If you are using an older version of Ant, however, the script used to launch Ant will have problems if ANT_HOME is a long filename (i.e. a filename which is not of the format known as "8.3"). This is due to limitations in the OS's handling of the "for" batch-file statement. It is recommended, therefore, that Ant be installed in a short, 8.3 path, such as C:\Ant.

On these systems you will also need to configure more environment space to cater for the environment variables used in the Ant launch script. To do this, you will need to add or update the following line in the config.sys file

shell=c:\ c:\ /p /e:32768


Before you can run Ant there is some additional set up you will need to do unless you are installing the RPM version from

Operating System-specific instructions for doing this from the command line are in the Windows, Linux/Unix (bash), and Linux/Unix (csh) sections. Note that using this method, the settings will only be valid for the command line session you run them in.

Note: Do not install Ant's ant.jar file into the lib/ext directory of the JDK/JRE. Ant is an application, whilst the extension directory is intended for JDK extensions. In particular there are security restrictions on the classes which may be loaded by an extension.

Windows Note:
  The ant.bat script makes use of three environment variables - ANT_HOME, CLASSPATH and JAVA_HOME. Ensure that ANT_HOME and JAVA_HOME variables are set, and that they do not have quotes (either ' or ") and they do not end with \ or with /. CLASSPATH should be unset or empty.

Check Installation

You can check the basic installation with opening a new shell and typing ant. You should get a message like this

Buildfile: build.xml does not exist!
Build failed
So Ant works. This message is there because you need to write an individual buildfile for your project. With a ant -version you should get an output like
Apache Ant(TM) version 1.9.2 compiled on July 8 2013

If this does not work ensure your environment variables are set right. They must resolve to:

ANT_HOME is used by the launcher script for finding the libraries. JAVA_HOME is used by the launcher for finding the JDK/JRE to use. (JDK is recommended as some tasks require the java tools.) If not set, the launcher tries to find one via the %PATH% environment variable. PATH is set for user convenience. With that set you can just start ant instead of always typing the/complete/path/to/your/ant/installation/bin/ant.

Optional Tasks

Ant supports a number of optional tasks. An optional task is a task which typically requires an external library to function. The optional tasks are packaged together with the core Ant tasks.

The external libraries required by each of the optional tasks is detailed in the Library Dependencies section. These external libraries must be added to Ant's classpath, in any of the following ways:

If you are using the binary version of Ant, or if you are working from source code, you can easily gather most of the dependencies and install them for use with your Ant tasks. In your ANT_HOME directory you should see a file called fetch.xml. This is an Ant script that you can run to install almost all the dependencies the optional Ant tasks need.

To do so, change to the ANT_HOME directory and execute the command:

ant -f fetch.xml -Ddest=[option]

where option is one of the following, as described above:

You may also need to set proxy settings. See the Proxy Settings section for details.

Note that not all dependencies are gathered using fetch.xml. Tasks that depend on commercial software, in particular, will require you to have the commercial software installed in order to be used.

The Apache Ant Project also provides additional tasks and types that are available as separately downloaded Ant Libraries. You can see the the list of available Antlibs at the Ant Libraries page.

You can also find tasks and types provided by third-party projects at the External Tools and Tasks page.

IDEs have different ways of adding external JAR files and third-party tasks to Ant. Usually it is done by some configuration dialog. Sometimes JAR files added to a project are automatically added to ant's classpath.

The CLASSPATH environment variable

The CLASSPATH environment variable is a source of many Ant support queries. As the round trip time for diagnosis on the Ant user mailing list can be slow, and because filing bug reports complaining about 'ant.bat' not working will be rejected by the developers as WORKSFORME "this is a configuration problem, not a bug", you can save yourself a lot of time and frustration by following some simple steps.

  1. Do not ever set CLASSPATH. Ant does not need it, it only causes confusion and breaks things.
  2. If you ignore the previous rule, do not ever, ever, put quotes in the CLASSPATH, even if there is a space in a directory. This will break Ant, and it is not needed.
  3. If you ignore the first rule, do not ever, ever, have a trailing backslash in a CLASSPATH, as it breaks Ant's ability to quote the string. Again, this is not needed for the correct operation of the CLASSPATH environment variable, even if a DOS directory is to be added to the path.
  4. You can stop Ant using the CLASSPATH environment variable by setting the -noclasspath option on the command line. This is an easy way to test for classpath-related problems.

The usual symptom of CLASSPATH problems is that ant will not run with some error about not being able to find, or, if you have got the quotes/backslashes wrong, some very weird Java startup error. To see if this is the case, run ant -noclasspath or unset the CLASSPATH environment variable.

You can also make your Ant script reject this environment variable just by placing the following at the top of the script (or in an init target):

<property environment="env."/>
<property name="env.CLASSPATH" value=""/>
<fail message="Unset $CLASSPATH / %CLASSPATH% before running Ant!">
            <equals arg1="${env.CLASSPATH}" arg2=""/>

Proxy Configuration

Many Ant built-in and third-party tasks use network connections to retrieve files from HTTP servers. If you are behind a firewall with a proxy server, then Ant needs to be configured with the proxy. Here are the different ways to do this.

The Ant team acknowledges that this is unsatisfactory. Until the JVM automatic proxy setup works properly everywhere, explicit JVM options via ANT_ARGS are probably the best solution. Setting properties on Ant's command line do not work, because those are Ant properties being set, not JVM options. This means the following does not set up the command line:

ant -Dhttp.proxyHost=proxy -Dhttp.proxyPort=81

All it does is set up two Ant properties.

One other troublespot with proxies is with authenticating proxies. Ant cannot go beyond what the JVM does here, and as it is very hard to remotely diagnose, test and fix proxy-related problems, users who work behind a secure proxy will have to spend much time configuring the JVM properties until they are happy.

Windows and OS/2

Assume Ant is installed in c:\ant\. The following sets up the environment:

set ANT_HOME=c:\ant
set JAVA_HOME=c:\jdk1.7.0_51
set PATH=%PATH%;%ANT_HOME%\bin

Linux/Unix (bash)

Assume Ant is installed in /usr/local/ant. The following sets up the environment:

export ANT_HOME=/usr/local/ant
export JAVA_HOME=/usr/local/jdk1.7.0_51
export PATH=${PATH}:${ANT_HOME}/bin

Linux/Unix (csh)

setenv ANT_HOME /usr/local/ant
setenv JAVA_HOME /usr/local/jdk/jdk1.7.0_51
set path=( $path $ANT_HOME/bin )

Having a symbolic link set up to point to the JVM/JDK version makes updates more seamless.

RPM version from

The JPackage project distributes an RPM version of Ant. With this version, it is not necessary to set JAVA_HOME or ANT_HOME environment variables and the RPM installer will correctly place the Ant executable on your path.

NOTE: Since Ant 1.7.0, if the ANT_HOME environment variable is set, the jpackage distribution will be ignored.

Optional jars for the JPackage version are handled in two ways. The easiest, and best way is to get these external libraries from JPackage if JPackage has them available. (Note: for each such library, you will have to get both the external package itself (e.g. oro-2.0.8-2jpp.noarch.rpm) and the small library that links ant and the external package (e.g. ant-apache-oro-1.6.2-3jpp.noarch.rpm).

However, JPackage does not package proprietary software, and since some of the optional packages depend on proprietary jars, they must be handled as follows. This may violate the spirit of JPackage, but it is necessary if you need these proprietary packages. For example, suppose you want to install support for netrexx, which jpackage does not support:

  1. Decide where you want to deploy the extra jars. One option is in $ANT_HOME/lib, which, for JPackage is usually /usr/share/ant/lib. Another, less messy option is to create an .ant/lib subdirectory of your home directory and place your non-jpackage ant jars there, thereby avoiding mixing jpackage libraries with non-jpackage stuff in the same folder. More information on where Ant finds its libraries is available here
  2. Download a non-jpackage binary distribution from the regular Apache Ant site
  3. Unzip or untar the distribution into a temporary directory
  4. Copy the linking jar, in this case ant-jai.jar, into the library directory you chose in step 1 above.
  5. Copy the proprietary jar itself into the same directory.
Finally, if for some reason you are running on a system with both the JPackage and Apache versions of Ant available, if you should want to run the Apache version (which will have to be specified with an absolute file name, not found on the path), you should use Ant's --noconfig command-line switch to avoid JPackage's classpath mechanism.


There are lots of variants that can be used to run Ant. What you need is at least the following:

The supplied ant shell scripts all support an ANT_OPTS environment variable which can be used to supply extra options to ant. Some of the scripts also read in an extra script stored in the users home directory, which can be used to set such options. Look at the source for your platform's invocation script for details.

Building Ant

To build Ant from source, you can either install the Ant source distribution or clone the ant repository from git. See Source Edition for details.

Once you have installed the source, change into the installation directory.

Set the JAVA_HOME environment variable to the directory where the JDK is installed. See Installing Ant for examples on how to do this for your operating system.

Note: The bootstrap process of Ant requires a greedy compiler like OpenJDK or Oracle's javac. It does not work with gcj or kjc.

Make sure you have downloaded any auxiliary jars required to build tasks you are interested in. These should be added to the lib/optional directory of the source tree. See Library Dependencies for a list of JAR requirements for various features. Note that this will make the auxiliary JAR available for the building of Ant only. For running Ant you will still need to make the JARs available as described under Installing Ant.

You can also get most of the auxiliary jar files (ie. the jar files that various optional Ant tasks depend on) by running Ant on the fetch.xml build file. See Optional Tasks for instructions on how to do this.

As of version 1.7.0 Ant has a hard dependency on JUnit. The fetch.xml build script will download JUnit automatically, but if you don't use this you must install it manually into lib/optional (download it from if you are using a source distribution of Ant.

Your are now ready to build Ant:

build -Ddist.dir=<directory_to_contain_Ant_distribution> dist    (Windows)

sh -Ddist.dir=<directory_to_contain_Ant_distribution> dist    (Unix)

This will create a binary distribution of Ant in the directory you specified.

The above action does the following:

On most occasions you will not need to explicitly bootstrap Ant since the build scripts do that for you. If however, the build file you are using makes use of features not yet compiled into the bootstrapped Ant, you will need to manually bootstrap. Run bootstrap.bat (Windows) or (UNIX) to build a new bootstrap version of Ant.

If you wish to install the build into the current ANT_HOME directory, you can use:

build install    (Windows)

sh install    (Unix)

You can avoid the lengthy Javadoc step, if desired, with:

build install-lite    (Windows)

sh install-lite    (Unix)

This will only install the bin and lib directories.

Both the install and install-lite targets will overwrite the current Ant version in ANT_HOME.

Ant's build script will try to set executable flags for its shell scripts on Unix-like systems. There are various reasons why the chmod-task might fail (like when you are running the build script as a different user than the one who installed Ant initially). In this case you can set the Ant property to false when starting the build like in

sh install

and any error to change permission will not result in a build failure.

Library Dependencies

The following libraries are needed in Ant's classpath if you are using the indicated feature. Note that only one of the regexp libraries is needed for use with the mappers (and Java includes a regexp implementation which Ant will find automatically). You will also need to install the particular Ant optional jar containing the task definitions to make these tasks available. Please refer to the Installing Ant / Optional Tasks section above.

Jar Name Needed For Available At
jakarta-regexp-1.3.jar regexp type with mappers (if you do not wish to use java.util.regex)
jakarta-oro-2.0.8.jar regexp type with mappers (if you do not wish to use java.util.regex)
To use the FTP task, you need jakarta-oro 2.0.8 or later, and commons-net
junit.jar <junit> task. May be in classpath passed to task rather than Ant's classpath.
xalan.jar junitreport task
antlr.jar antlr task
bsf.jar script task

Note: Ant 1.6 and later require Apache BSF, not the IBM version. I.e. you need BSF 2.3.0-rc1 or later.

Note: BSF 2.4.0 is needed to use a post 1.5R3 version of rhino's javascript.

Note: BSF 2.4.0 uses jakarta-commons-logging so it needs the commons-logging.jar.
Groovy jars Groovy with script and scriptdef tasks
You need to get the groovy jar and two asm jars from a groovy installation. The jars are groovy-[version].jar, asm-[version].jar and asm-util-[version].jar and antlr-[version].jar. As of groovy version 1.0-JSR-06, the jars are groovy-1.0-JSR-06.jar, antlr-2.7.5.jar, asm-2.2.jar and asm-util-2.2.jar. Alternatively one may use the embedded groovy jar file. This is located in the embedded directory of the groovy distribution. This bundles all the needed jar files into one jar file. It is called groovy-all-[version].jar.
The asm jars are also available from the creators of asm -
netrexx.jar netrexx task, Rexx with the script task
js.jar Javascript with script task
If you use Apache BSF 2.3.0-rc1, you must use rhino 1.5R3 (later versions of BSF (e.g. version 2.4.0) work with 1.5R4 and higher).
jython.jar Python with script task
Warning : jython.jar also contains classes from jakarta-oro. Remove these classes if you are also using jakarta-oro.
jpython.jar Python with script task deprecated, jython is the preferred engine
jacl.jar and tcljava.jar TCL with script task
BeanShell JAR(s) BeanShell with script task.
Note: Ant requires BeanShell version 1.3 or later
jruby.jar Ruby with script task
judo.jar Judoscript with script task
commons-logging.jar CommonsLoggingListener
log4j.jar Log4jListener
commons-net.jar ftp, rexec and telnet tasks
jakarta-oro 2.0.8 or later is required together with commons-net 1.4.0.
For all users, a minimum version of commons-net of 1.4.0 is recommended. Earlier versions did not support the full range of configuration options, and 1.4.0 is needed to compile Ant.
bcel.jar classfileset data type, JavaClassHelper used by the ClassConstants filter reader and optionally used by ejbjar for dependency determination
mail.jar Mail task with Mime encoding, and the MimeMail task
activation.jar Mail task with Mime encoding, and the MimeMail task
jdepend.jar jdepend task
resolver.jar 1.1beta or later xmlcatalog datatype only if support for external catalog files is desired
jsch.jar 0.1.50 or later sshexec and scp tasks
JAI - Java Advanced Imaging image task



Ant has a built in diagnostics feature. If you run ant -diagnostics ant will look at its internal state and print it out. This code will check and print the following things.

Running ant -diagnostics is a good way to check that ant is installed. It is also a first step towards self-diagnosis of any problem. Any configuration problem reported to the user mailing list will probably result ins someone asking you to run the command and show the results, so save time by using it yourself.

For under-IDE diagnostics, use the <diagnostics> task to run the same tests as an ant task. This can be added to a diagnostics target in a build file to see what tasks are available under the IDE, what the XML parser and classpath is, etc.

user mailing list

If you cannot get Ant installed or working, the Ant user mailing list is the best place to start with any problem. Please do your homework first, make sure that it is not a CLASSPATH problem, and run a diagnostics check to see what Ant thinks of its own state. Why the user list, and not the developer list? Because there are more users than developers, so more people who can help you.

Please only file a bug report against Ant for a configuration/startup problem if there really is a fixable bug in Ant related to configuration, such as it not working on a particular platform, with a certain JVM version, etc, or if you are advised to do it by the user mailing list.