Portable GIS: A Brief Introduction

Jo Cook, Astun Technology / @archaeogeek

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Once upon a time... (in 2006)

It was hard to work with open source geospatial tools, you had to use the command line to install and configure, let alone use them

QGIS was 4 years old, but not commonly used

GRASS GIS was the most common open source desktop GIS and it looked like this:

(flashback to FOSS4G 2007)

    Portable GIS (noun)

    • Born 2006 (ish)

    • "por.ta.ble": capable of being carried or moved about

    • "g.i.s": geographical information systems

    • aka: GIS on a stick

What it is:

  • A self-contained set of the common open source GIS packages, designed to run in windows, from a USB stick

  • Installed using a single installer file, requiring no additional configuration or setup

  • Along with some Ordnance Survey Open Data

  • And a control panel for easy access to all the components

What it is not:

  • A Bootable Drive (like OSGeo Live)

  • Cross-Platform

  • Compatible with "portableapps.com"

  • Small- current installation is a 750MB download and 2.6GB installed

also not a stealth system

It has many potential uses; like rapid-deployment scenarios, education, training workshops, any time you want to take your work home with you...

But what software does it contain?

Where can I get it?

Download the exe file (~750MB) from:


Future Development Plans

(Easy, will happen soon(ish))

  • PostGIS 2.1

  • QGIS 2.4

Long-term Wish-list


  • Hosting on GitHub (*)

  • Something clever to download latest binaries

  • Reduce size of download/speed of installation


*that record scratching noise people use to indicate a sudden stop*

Github hosting and code-polishing would be hipster-cool, but what I really want is for it to be useful!

So if you find it useful, then please, go ahead, use it, and send me a postcard (real or virtual)

... but if anyone has any ideas about the code-polishing, hipster-cool github stuff then...






Jo Cook, Astun Technology / @archaeogeek

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