Portable GIS: PostgreSQL and PostGIS on a USB Stick
First this is a windows only package, but nevertheless sweet. In our article
What can PostgreSQL learn from MySQL?
we complained about the fact that there is nothing like Server2GO pre-packaged with PostgreSQL. Low and behold comes this thing
called Portable GIS 1.2 which can be downloaded from http://www.archaeogeek.com/blog/portable-gis/.
This is similar in architecture to Portable Apps. Its a suite of applications you can run from your USB drive without having to
reboot your windows computer.
I'm not sure if a similar thing exists for Linux, but would be nice to
know if it does. Note: all the packages this portable tool set comes with work on Linux and most started life on Linux, so it seems to me it should
not be too hard to make a Linux port of this if it doesn't already exist. Also most of these tools work on Mac OSX as well so a similar package can be made for Mac OSX.
The package is a bit hefty at 460 MB and is still alpha quality, but comes packaged with sample data and all any beginning or experienced GIS user needs to carry along with them. To boot
it would provide a good intro to increasing the PostgreSQL family. Unfortunately we don't have a virgin windows computer that doesn't have some of these packages installed to try this out on.
Now this bag of treats comes with the following packages:
- PostgreSQL 8.2 - would be nice if this were bumped up to 8.3 and they packaged PgAdmin III in here.
- PostGIS 1.1 - would be nice if they could bump this to 1.3.3. We already covered
PostGIS in PostGIS for geospatial analysis and mapping in our first issue.
- Desktop - GRASS - which is a popular GIS analysis and visualization tool. Works with PostGIS among other formats.
- Desktop - QGIS (version 0.10 with GRASS plugin) - this is a popular GIS visualization and editing tool very
handy for viewing and editing PostGIS geometries
- Desktop - gvSIG (version 1.1) - this is another popular open source GIS viewing/editing tool funded by governement of Spain with a similar feel we are told to
ESRI ArcView. It supports editing and viewing of PostGIS layers similar to QGIS. The other thing that is interesting about this desktop app is that it totes a mobile edition for running on Mobile devices.
- There are some other noteworthy open source GIS desktop tools left out of this package - uDig and OpenJump come to mind, but those tend to cater to more advanced users.
- Command Line - FWTools (GDAL and OGR toolkit, version 2.10). This is a data conversion, data transformation, data loading tool that deals with both relational spatial data and raster data. We already described this tool and how to
use it in GDAL OGR2OGR for Data Loading.
- Web Apps - Mapserver - this is a very popular open source mapserver originally developed by University of Minnesota and adopted over the years by other developers. It can run on Apache or IIS , is pretty light-weight, and
conforms to OpenGIS standards such as Web Map Service and Web Feature Service standards.
as Google Maps, Virtual Earth, standard WMS, loading KML and displaying in a single map view. Very handy if you have your own custom data layers you
want to dish out via MapServer, GeoServer, or FeatureServer and overlay on top of commodity layers such as those provided by Google, Yahoo, Virtual Earth. Its our favorite mapping toolkit
because of its versatility and relative lightness.
- Tilecache, FeatureServer - these are also MetaCarta open source contributions - TileCache caches image tiles to allow you to
develop your own google map like tile server. FeatureServer is basically a REST-based GIS Feature server that allows you to feed
various disparate datasources and edit them - e.g. PostGIS, Oracle, etc. Its a nice complement to OpenLayers. We briefly described the concepts behind REST in
Showcasing REST in PostgreSQL - The PreQuel.
- Geoserver - this is a very popular Open Source Web mapping server. It is built on top of Java and Java Servlets. There is a lot
of overlap between what Geoserver and Mapserver do. Both support WMS and WFS standards. Geoserver is a bit harder to configure
and needs a servlet engine such as Tomcat to work and in general is not as light. It does torte WFS-T capability
which means you can edit geometries with it e.g. via OpenLayers which you can't do with Mapserver.