The Future of GRASS

J.M. Patek jpatek at
Sat Mar 16 07:00:00 EST 1996


I have been wondering much the same thing since I read the 
posting on the future of GRASS.  Specifically, I was wondering 
if Rutgers might be considering giving GRASS a new home.  Since 
they have a large GRASS information page there is some logic to 
it.  Have you or Andreas heard any more on this subject.  I have 
been considering setting up a home page and might consider using 
it as a distribution site.  The costs don't seem out of range 
but, to some extent, it would depend upon the ammount of 
traffic.  I agree that I would be more comfortable providing a 
home for the GRASS code if it were covered under the GNU 

Jim Patek
Environmental Engineer
Patek and Associates
Austin, TX
jpatek at

David Mandel wrote:
> Dear GRASS users and programmers,
>     I'm surprised that Andreas Holz's posting on the future of GRASS
> didn't get more response.  (You will find a copy of his posting appended
> to this posting.)
>     I have many questions, but I think his proposal to create a
> "Free GIS Foundation" should be considered seriously.  Their are major
> changes taking place in the US Federal government that will result
> in much less funding for freeware in general and GRASS in particular.
> Like Andreas I think the world needs an open GIS which is affordable
> and open for everyone to view and modify as needed.
>     GRASS could be the foundation for such a GIS.  It is a good GIS
> with a large highly skilled user/developer base.  It was also developed
> in the public domain, so the source code is publicly available for
> all to use, modify, and redistribute.  This is true even if CERL shuts
> down the GRASS project.
>     Before creating a new organization, I'ld like to know what the
> existing organizations are doing.
>     (1)  What is the status of the CERL GRASS development program?
>          Is it shuting down?  Phasing down?  ???
>          Will there be a GRASS 5.0?
>          If so, what will it contain?
>     (2)  Once upon a time there was an "Open GRASS Foundation" which
>          then became the "Open GIS Foundation" which doesn't seem to
>          have much interest in GRASS.
>          Is this true?
>          Are they relevant to the future of GRASS?
>     (3)  What happened to the GRASS Journal or GRASS Online Journal or ???
>     (4)  Did the same thing happen to the GRASS Conference?
>          Since most GRASS (or Linux) users can't afford to attend
>          conferences would it be practical to hold some sort of
>          online conference?  I suppose internet isn't quite there yet.
>          At least, I'm not there with my 14.4 k baud SLIP account.
>     (5)  I keep hearing that some of the GRASS developers are now
>          working on the "next generation of GIS software".
>          Is this something the GRASS people should wait for?
>          (Or is this like waiting for a good version of MS-Windows?)
>     The Free Software Foundation, the Linux Project, publishers such as
> Specialized System Consultants and O'Reiley & Associates, and internet
> communications have all advanced the freeware industry a great deal.
> They seem to be developing a freeware business model which is highly
> decentralized and doesn't depend on major government and/or corporate
> sponsors.  This might work well for a "Free GIS Foundation."
>     So if there was a "Free GIS Foundation"
>     (1)  How would it be funded?
>          How much funding would be required?
>          (Could this come from sales of advertising in online and paper
>          publications, subscriptions, coffee cups and nick-nacks?)
>          If so, who would fund it up front?
>     (2)  Could the modified versions of GRASS be moved to a GNU license
>          or is this important?  (This would help keep all future enhancements
>          by anyone open to all.)
>     (3)  Would current GRASS users/programmers accept and aid a
>          "Free GIS Foundation"?
>                                                       David Mandel
>                                                       Chief Activist
>                                                       Portland Linux Users Gr
>                                                       1114 NE 57th
>                                                       Portland, Oregon 97213
>                                                       USA
>                                                       dmandel at
> ----------------------------------------------------------------
> >From Andreas.Holz at oi32.kwu.siemens.deWed Mar  6 09:34:47 1996
> Date: Tue, 5 Mar 1996 11:42:28 +0100 (MEZ)
> From: Andreas Holz <Andreas.Holz at>
> Reply to: grassu-list at
> Sender: grass-lists-owner at
> Reply-To: grassu-list at
> Precedence: Bulk
> To: grassu-list at
> Cc: GRASS at, LINUX at,
>     Thre at, GRASS at,
>     CD at, and at,
>     the at, shutdown at,
>     of at, the at,
>     GRASS at, development at
> Subject: grassp-list at
> Dear GRASS users and programmers,
>         a lot of thanks to all, who bought the GRASS CD for Linux and
>         gave me support for my "GRASS for Linux on CD" project. There
>         are only a few CD's available.
>         I'm planning a new release for Linux based on the new
>         Linux ELF format, but I won't release the CD before
>         fall or winter 96, because I have to finish my PhD, I'm
>         moving from south Germany to northeast and I'll start
>         a job at a GIS-related office.
>         In connection with the CD there will be available a book
>         on GIS, esp. using GRASS, because there is no good and
>         practical book on GIS available, from my knowledge.
>         The new GRASS release will be much more stable ab bug free
>         than the current CD.
>         All users of the current CD wil get the new one for a special price.
>         I was very surprised, when I read about the GRASS development
>         shutdown, because I thought, there will be a new GRASS release,
>         called GRASS 5.0 in Winter 95! This means, there will be no
>         maintained free GIS availabe on the market!
>         I think, now is the time to create a public project to
>         maintain and to enhance the GRASS code in the future.
>         I propose to create a "Free Gis Foundation" similar to the
>         Linux project to:
>                 - manage the code
>                 - debug  the code
>                 - enhance GRASS
>                 - create a modern user-interface
>                 - coordinate the development
>                 - manage a ftp-server
>                 - manage a GRASS www server
>                 .. and Your ideas
>         And some questions to CERL:
>                 - what will be the state of GRASS-code after
>                   the shutdown of development
>                         - will the code be free in the future
>                         - who will get the rights to distribute
> Andreas
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