Prerequisites for Installing XNAT

Running XNAT on Windows is no longer supported and recent versions of XNAT have not been tested on Windows. We recommend either using a different operating system or running XNAT in a Vagrant virtual machine.

XNAT is built to run within a Tomcat  application server and uses a PostgreSQL database to store data. To install XNAT, you will need to first install the following prerequisites:

  • Java
  • PostgreSQL
  • Tomcat

After successfully installing the prerequisites, download the XNAT war file and deploy it to Tomcat. If you are experienced with XNAT, you can also build developmental versions of XNAT from the xnat-web repository.

Java JDK

On Unix or Linux, you can usually install the Java JDK using the platform's package manager application:

The XNAT team runs a number of deployments using OpenJDK 8. Some testing and development work has been done using the Zulu JDK from Azul as well.

While XNAT should function properly when running under either Java 7 or Java 8, the XNAT team recommends that XNAT administrators use Java 8 for a few reasons:

  1. Java 8 has significantly longer support than Java 7.
  2. Java 8 provides a few performance enhancements over Java 7.
  3. An upcoming XNAT feature ("Event Service" functionality in XNAT) will move the minimum requirement for XNAT to Java 8. Note: it's still to be determined if this functionality will be added in the core XNAT code or provided as a plugin.

XNAT is not tested or validated with versions of Java later than 8! Support for later versions of Java is being discussed tentatively, but there's no timetable for delivery.


XNAT works with PostgreSQL 9.1 to 9.6, with 9.6 strongly recommended.

The procedure for installing and configuring PostgreSQL depends on your platform and configuration. Refer to the PostgreSQL installation guide for more detailed information.

The current release of XNAT is not yet compatible with PostgreSQL 10 or later. The latest 9.x version is recommended. Support for PostgreSQL 10 and above should be available soon.

Apache Tomcat 7

XNAT works with Apache Tomcat 7.x.

As with PostgreSQL, the procedure for installing and configuring Tomcat depends on your platform and configuration. Refer to the Tomcat installation guide for more detailed information.

Be sure to read the section on Tomcat Configuration in the XNAT 1.7 Installation Instructions.

The standard XNAT 1.7 build is not compatible with Apache Tomcat 8. Please make sure that you download the latest version of Tomcat 7. If you have to use Tomcat 8 for some reason, you can modify the XNAT war to work properly with Tomcat 8, but this is not in the standard XNAT release at this point.