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Still more, Re: This is weird (cross-posted to Tomcat and Debian Lists): Tomcat 8.5 is going to /var/lib/tomcat7/webapps/ROOT

I also stuck a similar named trivial static context into /var/lib/tomcat7/webapps (with a different directory name: "foobar" in Tomcat 8, "bozbar" in Tomcat 7).

In theory, Tomcat 8.5 should be able to see the foobar context, but not the bozbar context; this is also true in practice.

So it's something specific to the root context.

James H. H. Lampert