Friday 16 October 2009

Try Open Source Geospatial desktop applications from a web browser

Sydney, Australia. 16 October 2009.

The Arramagong/GISVM GeoSpatial Live DVD and Virtual Machine, which includes a stack of popular GeoSpatial Open Source Applications and is being handed out to delegates at the FOSS4G conference, can now be viewed from from within your web browser!

All you need to do is:

  1. Click the big Try this application now button.
  2. Review the connection test results and fix, if necessary.
  3. Either wait for the application to launch or click the Launch App button.
  • Login to the Arramagong desktop using the login credentials in the Quick Start guide in the left pane of the window.
  • You should see the icons for the Geospatial applications on the desktop. You can start and try any application.
  • To save data, you'll need to apply for a free click2try account at

About Arramagong

Arramagong is a self-contained live DVD and Virtual Machine, based on XUbuntu and GISVM, that allows you to try a wide variety of open source geospatial software without installing anything. It is composed entirely of free software, allowing it to be freely distributed, duplicated and passed around. A full list of installed packages is at:

As explained by Cameron Shorter, coordinator of Arramagong and Geospatial Solutions Manager at LISAsoft,

"Arramagong allows users to easily try out the robust, feature rich stack of applications offered by Geospatial Open Source. It is a compelling marketing tool for us organisations who support Open Source."

About FOSS4G

FOSS4G is the international Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial conference, which comes to Sydney, Australia, 20-23 October 2009. FOSS4G offers presentations, workshops, demos, an install-fest, and a code sprint. It is presented by the world's best Developers, Policy Makers, Sponsors and Geospatial Professionals and includes the latest geospatial applications, standards, government programs, business processes and case studies. Topics include mobile platforms, location based applications, crowd sourcing, cloud computing, development, spatial standards, integration of cross-agency data, Spatial Data Infrastructures, Sensor Webs, Web Processing Services, Integration of Open Source and Proprietary Software and more.

About Click2Try

click2try is an online Open Source application showroom that helps visitors easily evaluate and use Open Source Software from within their web browser. click2try employs a unique, advanced technology framework, built completely on Open Source software, to provide on-demand, multiuser, concurrent access to enterprise-level Open Source software applications.

Upcoming milestones

  • 20 Oct 2009, FOSS4G Workshop
  • 21-23 Oct 2009, FOSS4G Presentations and Tutorials
  • 24 Oct 2009, FOSS4G Code Sprint

Media Sponsors

Tuesday 13 October 2009

7 Bridges Walk, after FOSS4G

Like to walk across seven of the grand Sydney bridges? On Sunday 25 October, after FOSS4G, there will be a 25km, city coordinated, 7 bridge walk. It will be a nice way to see the city (even if you only take on a few sections a catch a ferry back to the start). Details at:

Tall Ship sailing fun at FOSS4G

Want to sail Sydney Harbour in a tall ship and promote a safe climate at the same time? Then you will probably want a berth on this ship, sailing on Saturday 24 October, after the FOSS4G event. Details at
350 is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Published by leading scientists only last year, this target is already in the draft global climate treaty for negotiation at Copenhagen in December. But it’s just one option, along with other competing targets that we now know are dangerously weak.
On Saturday October 24th, people all around the world will be speaking with one voice. From the Great Barrier Reef to the Great Wall of China, at over 1500 events in 125 countries, the world will say: 350.
By cruising Sydney Harbour on the Southern Swan, you will help to make a powerful statement to the world’s leaders: we want a fair, ambitious and binding treaty that aims for success: restore a safe climate by bringing CO_2 back below 350.

Saturday 3 October 2009

Arramgong GIS Live DVD - off to printers

After a hive of activity from a team of 20 or so people, we have a Geospatial Live DVD and Virtual Machine with a comprehensive collection of Open Source Geospatial Software. The Arramagong Live DVD was sent to the printers last week and will be handed out to all delegates at the international conference for Free and Open Source Software for GeoSpatial,
But probably more valuable than this specific release is the fact that we have automated the building of the LiveDVD so that anyone with a decent internet pipe can build themselves a customised GeoSpatial LiveDVD in 24 hours - a task that used to take months and was consequently a major development barrier.
As LISAsoft discovered when helping build the LiveDVD for FOSS4G 2008, there are a number of barriers to packaging. Ideally, all projects should package their applications in .deb files, aligned with DebianGIS and UbuntuGIS projects. Installing .deb files into a LiveDVD is as simple as:
apt-get install package.deb
However, there is a non-trivial learning curve for packaging applications for debian, and Java packaging is poorly supported, and there has been a knowledge gap between packagers, familiar with packaging, and developers familar with installing their specific application. So only a few of the popular GeoSpatial Open Source applications are easily installed on Linux. Most OSGeo applications need to be manually installed, and hence packaging for the FOSS4G 2008 LiveDVD and the GISVM involved dedicated developers putting in hero efforts to learn and apply the specific install instructions and dependencies for each project individually. It took months.
For FOSS4G 2009 we have been smarter. We asked projects to write a command line installer script for their packages, in line with a provided template. We then strung all the installers together in an automated master build process. This meant:
  1. An installer script is much easier to write than a .deb file, and hence we had many projects contribute.
  2. The automated build process meant we could release and test the Virtual Machines often, and involve the whole community in the testing cycle.
And as a by product, these scripts are the key element Debian packagers require to build .deb packages, so we should expect to see many of these projects appear in the next Debian and Ubuntu releases.
What next?
  1. Include install scripts for more applications
  2. Refine the user experience
  3. Align with OSGeo Education initiatives to provide training for each of the applications, via documentation, videos etc. and have this material included in the distribution.
  4. Target other media, like USB drives.
  5. Support targeted releases for specific purposes. (It is as simple as tweaking the install list if you want to create a targeted distribution).
  6. And I'm sure there are many other ideas. Tell us about them.
Many people worked very hard to get all these applications in place in such a short period of time. I'd like to thank you all for all the help. (I'd try and list you all, but I'm afraid I'd miss someone).

Friday 2 October 2009

Australian Government initiative to set up an Open Technology Foundation

The South Australian Government, through the Office of the Chief Information Officer, have proposed to set up an "Open Technology Foundation" on behalf of Australian government which is:
  • a collaborative effort between governments, industry, academia, and communities of interest.
  • committed to the evaluation and where proven, uptake of open technologies, standards and methods.
  • exists to help governments make better, more cost effective and innovative use of open technologies in order to improve service delivery to citizens.
  • focused on openness in order to help agencies achieve more interoperability, independence, resilience and flexibility in their ICT operations.
They are currently looking for letters of support for their business plan before Wednesday 14 October 2009. An overview and webcast about the initiative can be found at .

Supporting governments embrace Open Technologies is an effective way to reduce government spending and I strongly support this.
In particular, Open Technologies facilitate cost savings by spreading development and maintenance costs between multiple agencies, both nationally and internationally. However, uptake of Open Technologies is often hindered by specific project purchasing guidelines which focus on immediate deliverables. People are not paid to spend the extra effort required to make an application easy to share. I suggest the business plan also focus on the development of purchasing guidelines which encourage Open Technologies and collaborative approaches.
Steve Schmid, the key person behind the initiative will be leading a FOSS4G in Government Birds of a Feather session at the FOSS4G conference in just over a week. Look out for him if you are going to the conference.