Thursday, 3 July 2008

Garmin playing the GNOME Mobile game

I know Matthew mentionned it already, but I could not resist.

Garmin are launching their Nüvi 8xxx and 5xxx GPS devices and people are talking about it.
What impresses me is that they are using GNU/Linux, GNOME Mobile, and more importantly, are releasing the source code of the modifications they did to the Free Software components they use.

I logically went to look at what they are releasing. They set up a very simple and accessible web site from where you can get the sources. No ads, no bullshit, no nothing. Just the plain simple source tarballs. They even separated the patches they did from the tarballs. Man, sooooo well done.

I dowloaded this archive from their website. Man, they are really using everything from Xorg to Gtkmm, including a lot of other cool Free Software technology bits that are either GPL or GPL compatible.

Okay, I am not a gizmo geek. I have no Ipod, no camera on my cell phone, no gaming device ... But this time, I think I am going to buy one of these Garmin GPS devices. I wonder if I can update the maps on the devices using my GNU/Linux desktop. I don't mind buying the maps. I just don't want to be forced to use a proprietary desktop software system, just to update those maps.

In any case, well done Garmin. You are taking and you are giving back. And that has to be said.


Rodrigo Moya said...

I am not sure yet about all the details of those nüvi devices, but if they work similarly to previous non-linux GARMIN units, you should be able to update the maps (and other data, like waypoints) from your Linux desktop without problems.

Also, no need to buy the maps, just get them for free from I am myself building GARMIN maps every week or so from that data, which you can find at:

These nüvi devices are probably still using the same map format, so these maps should work.

Rodrigo Moya said...

Oh, forgot to say they usually provide a USB Mass Storage mode, which just shows the GARMIN as a disk on your system, and so you just need to copy the maps to a known location on the disk.

Also, for copying waypoints or converting data from one format to many others, have a look at gpsbabel.

Also, for seeing the maps on your desktop, use qlandkarte, and for planning trips and analyze data, you can use Viking, still a work in progress, but which looks great (and is a GNOME app)

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