IBM Websphere 4.0 for Linux Review

IBM Websphere

I'll admit it, I don't like to write web pages. In fact I have a major dislike of the entire process. I love to write in PERL, C, shell scripts, etc but not HTML or anything web-related. Recently I discovered the need to re-publish my old website and after reviewing and comparing it with other "amateur" sites I came to the realization that mine didn't just suck, but it sucked with a vengeance.

I REALLY needed to start from scratch. So to make my life easier I decided to go on a quest to find an easy to use, very little actual coding program that would allow me to publish a somewhat professional looking website. The only catch was I wanted it to run under Linux, natively if at all possible.

I Found IBM Websphere Homepage Builder

After about 5 minutes using searching the website I found a link to IBM's web site and Websphere. I was pretty excited. So I started my research. I looked up the system requirements.

OS: RedHat 6.1/6.2, SuSE 6.3/6.4, Turbo Linux 6.0, Caldera OpenLinux 2.4 (All Intel Version). Well I kind of guessed by the listed distributions that it was bound to be in RPM format and I soon discovered that I was correct. It didn't really matter since I use RedHat 7.0. Just make sure you have RPM installed.

Software: "Homepage Builder for Linux requires "Wine for Homepage Builder"", which can be obtained from several different servers. "Well Damn" I thought. I really wanted a Linux native program, not recycled windows software. But Since I was needy, I decided to give it a whirl anyway.

Hardware: Intel compatible. No problem here.

CPU: P166mhz or compatible. Higher speed was recommended. Again no problem as I have an Athlon 750mhz.

Hard Disk: Program and Samples - 64MB, Online User's Guide - 48MB, Online Tutorial - 16MB. No problem, as I had PLENTY of space available.

Memory: 64MB or more. How's 512MB sound.

CD-ROM: 2X or higher. Hmm DVD will have to work.

Display: VGA at 640x480, 256 colors or better. Again I have no problem here. Well, my system would support it, but will it run over RH7.0? The answer is yes it did.


Installation was very straight-forward. I downloaded the full RPM's since I have T-1 access. For slower links you can download 2MB files then run a script to create the RPM(s). Four RPM's are needed: The program, docs, tutorial, and the wine package. Assuming that you have the files in the same location just type:

rpm -ivh hpbuilder*

Homepage Builder is then put into /opt. For most people, this may be the only thing you have in this location.

Running the Program

Running the program was also very simple. Everything you need to know to run Webpage Builder is located in the /opt/hpbuilder4/README.txt file.

hpbuilder -e starts the main program. You can also some of the other programs from within the main software. From here you'll create your web pages.

hpbuilder -a starts the web animator. This allows you to take multiple images, put them together and animate them. There are a variety of special effects you can add here.

hpbuilder -c starts the WebArt designer tool. This allow you to create and edit images and pictures.

hpbuilder -f starts the file transfer utility. A special tool to publish your site to a web server.

hpbuilder -t starts the online tutorial.

hpbuilder -g starts the User's Guide with Netscape.

If any process fails, IBM recommends running hpbclean to clean up the process. Under Wine WebBuilder runs under a managed window. To start it unmanaged set the HPB_WMANAGE environment to 0.

As I suspected it took awhile to load, due to the Wine interface and I really don't have a slow system. Other than the slow loadup everything ran smoothly. I fiddled around with some of the wizards and found them relatively easy to use. I was able to create a basic site and publish it to my test Apache Webserver in 20 minutes. It didn't look half bad for a test site.


As with other Point and Click web site builders it had a bunch of features bundled in.

  • Many templates to choose from. There are standard one page types, multiple pages, frames, etc.
  • Form inserts.
  • The ability to insert scripts.
  • The ability to insert Java applets.
  • FTP (file transfer).
  • HTML Code checker.
  • Excellent documentation.
  • Many other useful features.


Although the program was relatively easy to use and install I just can't recommend anything that was recycled from the MS Windows Platform using wine. If a version was compiled for Linux, cost under $70USD, and ran as well as this one did I'd probably go for it. IBM has version 5 out for Windows and it would do them good to have a native Linux version. Although I didn't find any bugs I'm sure that there are a few since it needs wine to run. If it cost only $35USD I'd probably purchase it. I personally didn't like seeing the infamous C:\ when I went to either open or save my website.


The Good - Pros
  • Ability to run easily develop and publish web sites under Linux

The Bad - Cons
  • Recycled Windows product. May have problems due to Wine

The Ugly - Issues
  • N/A

The Verdict - Opinion

Nice program overall. For a Recycled Windows product I think it costs way too much. IBM has shown great support of Linux. They really need to develop native Linux software. Wine is a good program but not the answer for more Linux based applications.

Cost & Value: