While I’m still busy using and learning ESRI ArcGIS, I’m intrigued by the idea of using an open source product. In the long run, open source will run our lives. Compenies like Microsoft will eventually shrink to a sliver of market share, as first Google comes out with a future Android that ships on a CD and is guaranteed to install and run on any PC. And then Google – after finally creating the ultimate easy to install, totally free, open source OS – will loose market share as other will take over, once open source rules to market… my vision anyway. Mainly, I’m interested in open source GIS because ESRI products are so damn expensive if you’re just interested in teaching yourself some GIS skills and can’t get your company to take the plunge and buy the products.
Last year, after successfully installing and dabbling with Ubuntu Linux, I made several unsuccessful attempts to install PostGIS under Linux using instructions from GIS for Web Developers. My experience still haunts me. The books had looked promising. But nothing described in it seemed to work for me. After enjoying my time with Ubuntu, I went through all the stages of Linux-Abhorrence that have certainly been the cause for Linux meager market share. Confusion – Frustration – Anger – Fury – Hatred !
Ubuntu was easy to install and works great. 50% of computer users would do just fine using only Ubuntu installed straight from the CD. But getting any program beyond the basic installation package to run, was a pain. I understand the process. Getting and installing packages, etc. Blablabla. But there was always some stupid library file missing. I kept un-installing, upgrading, re-installing… jumping through hoops in circles, and never got anything to work. If Ubuntu (or any other Linux for that matter) is ever supposed to for me as the only OS, it’s ging to take someone like Google to make Android Linux work as “smoothly” as Windows (cant believe I just said that.
Anyway, back to open source GIS. PostGIS went R.I.P. on me. Now, I’ve downloaded GrassGIS and installed it under Windows. So far, it looks pretty cool. I’m eager to see how this compares to ArcGIS. Here is a free manual to get me started. Open Source GIS: A GRASS GIS Approach on amazon.com got rave reviews, too, and looks promising.
PS: Interesting thoughts on Open Source GIS by Bill Dollins on his cool blog.