Open Source WebOS

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You probably already know what open source means, but what’s WebOS? WebOS is a new term buzzing around lately that refers to the systems infrastructure required to enable the Internet serving of HTTP, JavaServer Pages (JSPs), Java servlets, Enterprise JavaBeans (EJBs), and Java Message Service (JMS). Today, on the AS/400, your WebOS is enabled with a combination of IBM’s HTTP Server for OS/400 and WebSphere 3.0. This discussion would end here but for a few problems. First, WebSphere may be a great Web application server, but it is difficult to install and configure. For instance, to configure WebSphere, you’ll have to use the GUI-based adminclient application, which requires Microsoft Windows NT or Sun Solaris. Another problem is that the version of WebSphere that is bundled with OS/400 doesn’t support EJB. For that, you’ll have to shell out $7,500 to IBM. And yet another issue with the default WebOS for the AS/400 is that OS/400 will have two HTTP servers come December: HTTP Server for AS/400 and Apache HTTP Server, which is a part of my open source WebOS solution, anyway.

My WebOS Invoice

My open source WebOS solution is comprised of several components that work on most any platform (AS/400 or otherwise). These components are very easy to install and configure. The components conform to the J2EE API, and they are robust enough for commercial applications. My pick of open source software (although there are other solutions) is shown in the following invoice:

Denoncourt’s WebOS
Bundle (Terms: N10)

Item Price
Apache HTTP Server $0.00
Tomcat $0.00
jBoss $0.00
SwiftMQ $0.00
Total cost: $0.00

Tell you what, I’ll throw in Linux, and I won’t even raise the price.


The first and second items on the invoice are the Apache Software Foundation’s HTTP Server, the world’s most heavily used Web server, and Tomcat, which provides the environment to run JSP and Java servlets—more on those two later. The third item, jBoss, is an EJB engine from a relatively new nonprofit organization that was called EJBoss.org for EJB open source software until Sun complained about its EJB trademark, so EJBoss.org dropped the “E.” The jBoss is quickly gaining popularity with software vendors that provide business applications that were written to take advantage of the advanced architecture of EJB. Those vendors didn’t want to sell a $5,000 or $10,000 product and tell their customers that they then had to shell out $7,500 for IBM’s WebSphere Advanced Edition or $10,000 for BEA Systems’ WebLogic. In fact, many of those vendors are participating in the development of jBoss. The last item on the invoice implements Sun’s JMS API.

I Don’t Do Freeware

But, you say your company won’t run its business off freeware? I know that open source to most programmers means freeware. Open source solutions like Apache and Linux may well be free, but they are robust products complete with licenses. Some open source products are under the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) certified mark, and some are under the General Public License (GPL) mark.

I’m not going to argue the point about open source development strategies. What I am going to point out, however, is the robustness of open source solutions. I don’t need to say anything about the Apache HTTP Server. netcraft, as of July 2000, shows Apache running 62 percent of the public Web servers in the world, with Microsoft’s Internet Information Server (IIS) being its closest competitor with 19 percent.

Just like Apache’s HTTP Server, the other open source products in my WebOS mix are also in heavy use today. The site www.webhelp.com, for instance, runs Tomcat’s JSP and servlet engine with Apache on nine Solaris/Sparc servers, and it is currently handling over 10 million servlet/JSP transactions per day. So, the capabilities of free software are proven.

To give you a solution (although not one with the same scale as the previous) involving the AS/400, consider a site that Midrange Computing’s Jeff Markham set up. (I have to credit Jeff, by the way, with pushing me on the open source solution for the AS/400.) His site is running Linux on an Intel P3 with 733 MB RAM and 9 GB small computer system interface (SCSI) drives. The application’s heaviest use is on the company’s intranet, with 30 people doing hands-down data entry. The WebOS uses Apache and Tomcat. The AS/400 comes into play for the database and legacy interoperability with an F20 via JDBC.

On the AS/400

You should realize that my open source WebOS solution will run on the AS/400. Jeff Markham and I have been running Tomcat, jBoss, and ITT GmbH’s SwiftMQ on Midrange Computing’s AS/400 since August. Tomcat has a built-in Java-based HTTP server, as well as a JSP/servlet engine, but as soon as IBM releases Apache for the AS/400 (available on December 15 as a part of a new group PTF: DGO SF99035), we’ll be using Apache HTTP Server. This open source WebOS solution is easy to install and configure, plus it is comprised of robust and scalable products. Midrange Computing is here to help. Jeff explains how to use SwiftMQ in “Deliver Your Programs with Java Message Service” (page 60). And, in the December issue, I’ll author an article on how to set up Tomcat on your AS/400. Then, in January, Jeff will show you how to set up jBoss.


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