[Live-demo] LiveDVD, Portable GIS, osgeo4w

Joanne Cook j.cook at oxfordarch.co.uk
Tue Nov 4 01:57:04 PST 2008

Hi Alex,

I'm afraid I don't really see how using portableapps is really going to help in this case, if you don't know how to upgrade the packages, how will portableapps help, as you will be relying on someone making a new portable version of them? You won't be able to take the standard installation and simply replace the required components if they've been optimised. Plus, what you're saying is that you ran out of space when you loaded lots of other programmes onto the stick. I'm not really sure how I can help there!

I will freely admit that I haven't had as much time as I would like to work on the documentation for how the installation was done, and that is something I want to address when I can do (most of the information is out there on the internet, I just need to pull it together). I do think, however, that there are two fundamentally different reasons for using portable gis, and they different requirements. The first is your case- for it to be totally portable. In which case shrinking the apps is fine and makes a lot of sense. The second is to get people into using the software without going through the pain of the installation process. When they are happy using it, and want to explore further, they have an (almost) standard system to work with and upgrade as they see fit. That second option is my priority, and from feedback that I've had, it is the main priority of a lot of the other (900 ish) people who have downloaded the package.

Given that this is getting rather a long way off-topic- how about you give me chance to get the next version out, and then by all means take it and "portable-ize" it and see how things go from there?



Joanne Cook
Senior IT Support and Development
Oxford Archaeology (North)
01524 880212

----- Original Message -----
From: "Alex Mandel" <tech_dev at wildintellect.com>
To: "Joanne Cook" <j.cook at oxfordarch.co.uk>
Cc: tech at wildintellect.com, "Cameron Shorter" <cameron.shorter at gmail.com>, live-demo at lists.osgeo.org, "hamish b" <hamish_b at yahoo.com>
Sent: 04 November 2008 09:21:47 o'clock (GMT) Europe/London
Subject: Re: [Live-demo] LiveDVD, Portable GIS, osgeo4w

It's kinda funny, that's actually the same issue I have with the current
system, I have no idea how to get a new version of things like QGIS onto
the drive, is it just a direct copy? I also (and this may be a rare
case) do not have access to any windows machines with permission to
install. So unless I can unzip an exe and copy the files I have to ask
friends to do it for me.
As a note to packagers, MSIs are a hassle.

The use case here is a university setting and I've actually used both
your applications and portable apps in several classes as the primary
source for applications that:
1. We don't have time to get prior install approval
2. Allow the students to take home all their data and software to work
on their own.
Mixing has been a little confusing to them, since we use postgres, psql,
pgadmin(I added to launch from portable apps), firefox +SQlite manager,
notepad++, portable command prompt(in order to easily use psql).
openoffice calc and base. And it's all in tandem with desktop apps: QGIS
0.11, R, Access and ArcGIS.

One possible solution might be something like this
To upgrade you just drop a new version of the normal desktop files into
the app directory for R and it works. Launchable from the menu with no

I'm also thinking about the working with the fact that any exe placed in
 the top level of and app inside the PortableApps folder gets added to
the menu, which would eliminate the need to manage the menu.

>From what I understand of the shrink tool it's actually an optimization
tool to make the programs execute more efficiently from something like a
usb drive. As for space, between portableGIS and portableApps including
 XAMP and OpenOffice with a tiny bit of data I've already filled 3GB+ of
my 4GB stick. We're going to have to shrink that down if we want to fit
it onto something we can hand out. If the exe installer has good
compression I imagine that help solve it, although there may be some
other compression tricks specific to the disc that we can do too.

I'm willing to test and compare the methods if you can post more
information about how you move the apps to the drive, ie changes that
need to be made and which apps need them.


Joanne Cook wrote:
> Hi All,
> I have a slight issue with tying portable gis in too closely with the portableapps project. I think portableapps is great, don't get me wrong, but it means that the onus is always on the developer to sort out upgrades and so on. As I see portable gis as a jumping off point for people to get into open source GIS, I want them to do be able to do their own upgrades, within reason. This is not always possible, as some of the programmes do need significant tweaks to batch files and so on, but in general if they want to load the latest version of qgis for example, it's easy. If I go down the portable apps route most people will need to wait for me to do it. Furthermore, I have plans to "modularise" it, so I don't want to tinker too much with the standard installations.
> Yes, it would be nice to shrink the file size, but that's not all that important when memory sticks are so cheap.
> Bringing the discussion back to the live-dvd- I like the idea of including it as an exe (which is how I will package the next release), and suggesting people install it if they like what they've seen on the dvd. I guess it would be nice to brand it better- perhaps more in-line with OSGeo, and to try and ensure that it has mostly the same versions of software- where possible. 
> Cheers
> Jo
> -----------------------------------------------------
> Joanne Cook
> Senior IT Support and Development
> Oxford Archaeology (North)
> 01524 880212
> http://thehumanjourney.net
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Alex Mandel" <tech_dev at wildintellect.com>
> To: "hamish b" <hamish_b at yahoo.com>
> Cc: "Joanne Cook" <j.cook at oxfordarch.co.uk>, "Cameron Shorter" <cameron.shorter at gmail.com>, live-demo at lists.osgeo.org
> Sent: 03 November 2008 02:55:00 o'clock (GMT) Europe/London
> Subject: Re: [Live-demo] LiveDVD, Portable GIS, osgeo4w
> Hamish wrote:
>>> So portable gis has applications already installed, and
>>> would run best from a memory stick, as opposed to the
>>> LiveDVD which currently has windows installers?
>>> This makes sense.
>>> I'm now wondering whether it would make sense for the
>>> portable GIS to be distributed via the LiveDVD as well, in
>>> order to maximise exposure of portableGIS to new users. (The
>>> LiveDVD is being handed out at conferences).
>>> "Want to try GeoFOSS on windows now? Go to the
>>> portable GIS directory, or for better performance, copy the
>>> portableGIS directory onto a memory stick and run from
>>> there."
>> For live USB on MS-Windows see also Firefox Portable Edition, and more
>> generally the other stuff at portableapps.com, e.g. Notepad++ Portable
>> Edition:
>>   http://portableapps.com/apps/internet/firefox_portable
>>   http://portableapps.com/apps/development/notepadpp_portable
>> unlike Linux LiveDVD-R, I might speculate that the read-onliness of the
>> DVD could be a sticky problem on MS-Windows. (but via USB stick might work
>> ala portableapps approach)
>> ..... and don't forget Mac OSX! IME many academics join FOSS because the
>> apps will run natively, while they have to use emulation/dual boot to run
>> "market leader" software, which is usually of limited support. For that
>> practical reason and a number of social reasons they are very easy
>> converts after the required exposure to the available options.
>> I would estimate that my dept is >60% apple (mostly biologists).
>> Hamish
> I agree that aiming for OSGeo projects to build portableapps installs is
> a good direction - portableapps has tools to shrink file foot print and
> optomize execution on device.
> Things like Postgres should be integrated into XAMP which has a nice
> service manager.
> For mac, there is an example at:
> http://www.freesmug.org/portableapps/
> Alex

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