Mapserver Experiment – Unlimited (Headaches)

So I wanted to explore Mapserver ! – Having recently installed Ubuntu Server 9.04 on one of my machines, I thought it would be the perfect home for the Mapserver Experiment.

It didn’t take long to come up with seemingly perfect instructions from Paolo Corti. He and his blog have been very helpful in the past. But after probably 10 hours or so over the course of a couple of weeks, I’m at the point again where I wonder if I will ever turn into a Linuxionado. While my Django adventures have been more fruitful under Ubuntu, the Mapserver adventure has been a nightmare. The silver lining being that I am getting really good working with Linux. (Even though I don’t seem to get a lot done.) But I am beginning to feel rather at home in Linux, with its file system, permissions, conf files, wget, lynx, vim, sudo… etc.

After successfully downloading and installing Mapserver, and configuring mapserv and apache multiple times, the project always collapsed when I tried setting up the Mapserver-Demo (Itasca files). I could never get past the mapserver welcoming screen. As soon as I hit “Initialize”, the program terminated and gave me a:

loadWeb(): Unknown identifier. Parsing error near (C):(line 1) – If you have a simple answer for this problem (other than my own solution below, please let me know.

There is still, of course, an undeniable chance for human error on my part. For example, I was getting confused whether the root in Mapserver-Demo’s index.html should be the same as the Document Root in /etc/apache2/sites-available/default. But I think I’ve tried every possible combination of referencing directories here. Finally I gave up when I read that the problem may be with using the Demo (the link I had found on Corti’s page) with Mapserver 5.0 instead of 4.x.

Looks like I will have to try the 5.4 demo after upgrading to Mapserver 5.4. I’ve installed the most recent stable version of Mapserver from Ubuntu-GIS and I will try again. If this fails, I will have to either try Bill Kropla’s setp-by-step-building-from-source instructions, certainly even more error prone that what I have been trying to do. I was hoping to get around that and jump ahead to later chapters in the book once everything’s up and running. Or, alternatively, and this pains me greatly, I will have to check out MS4w. Yikes !



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2 responses to “Mapserver Experiment – Unlimited (Headaches)

  1. I stumbled across your site while searching for Ubuntu and Mapserver info. I feel your pain, the command line can be a real PITA. You could possible install Gnome and use that to make things easier while easing into the command line.

    maybe take a look at, or, they it sets up an instance on open street map on the amazon cloud without all of the server setup.

    Good luck

  2. Marcelo

    Tambien tengo el mismo problema, haber si alguien puede encontrar la solucion.


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