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Earth Google Open Source

Open Source Alternative To Google Earth? 190

Posted by timothy
from the you-are-where dept.
aws910 writes "Today, I fired up Google Earth to find that the 'points of interest' category had been removed, and a single checkbox is in its place. Certain layers are now entirely inaccessible. Google triggered a user revolt, but admitted fault, and promised to restore full functionality someday. In the meantime, I've found a lack of plausible alternatives. Bing seems nice, but Moonlight crashes the browser on any machine I use, and I'd rather use OSS anyway ... which made me realize there doesn't seem to be a good open-source alternative to Google Earth. Am I missing something?"
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Open Source Alternative To Google Earth?

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  • NASA's World Wind (Score:5, Informative)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @03:31PM (#31603108) Journal
    World Wind [wikipedia.org] is licensed under NASA's Open Source license. Not sure of the intricacies with it (IANAL) but was developed with the open source community.
    • Re:NASA's World Wind (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @03:41PM (#31603284)

      World Wind is probably the best - there are two versions, C# and Java. C# is more mature, Java version is catching up.

      You can define your own texture/icon layers and with some work also display your own elevation data and 3D models. There are many layers already, such as OpenStreetMap. KML support is in early stages.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by marjancek (1215230)
      WorldWind is definitelly the best Open Source option to Google Earth. And even though only NASA's imagery is available, a lot of other sources are available. For isntance, Virtual Earth's imagery can be used for non commercial purposes in World Wind. There's also the posibility for governments to put their imagery for free usage, like in a Slovene project Gaea: (http://www.gaeaplus.si/), which can be tested here (http://geo.xlab.si/pds-0.0.2/gaea?version=sos)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by AliasMarlowe (1042386)
      And World Wind existed before Google Earth...
      As one bonus, World Wind does not limit the size of your local imagery cache; you can assign as many gigabytes as you want. World Wind (Windows version) and a selection of cache packs (Landsat and SRTM) can be downloaded from http://www.archive.org/search.php?query=subject%3A%22world%20wind%22 [archive.org], while the Java version can be downloaded from http://builds.worldwind.arc.nasa.gov/download.asp [nasa.gov]
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by dbug78 (151961)
        World Wind existed before Google Earth was called such but Keyhole EarthViewer 3D was 3 years old when NASA made their first release.

        I'm not sure why any of that matters in this discussion, though.
    • NASA World Wind is the most popular afaik, but there are others, including OSSIMplanet [ossim.org], pTolemy3D [ptolemy3d.org], Virtual Ocean [virtualocean.org] and quite a few other ones [delicious.com] depending on your requirements.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by AnswerIs42 (622520)
        Virtual Ocean is WWJava FYI. But they are all good options. WWJava and WW.net are probably the most common open source Virtual Globes out there you will find. Though the .net development has slowed down to a crawl.. Java development is quite active, but that has a strong governmental focus, so a lot of the cool stuff that has been done.. can't be shared.

        There is a lot of imagery out there that can be viewed and you can do a lot more outside of GE than you can inside of GE. And With Ww.net and Java, yo

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jandersen (462034)

        Or if you just need a map for driving, there is OpenStreetMap: http://www.openstreetmap.org/ [openstreetmap.org]

        Nothing very fancy, but not bad at all for what it is.

    • Just one ingredient (Score:4, Informative)

      by xixax (44677) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @06:11PM (#31605174)

      As well as the shiny interface, what makes Google is oodles of current, hi-res imagery and enough grunt to make the same base set of data available to a large chunk of the world's population.

      Taken as a complete product, I can't see anything remotely in the ballpark. FOSS can do software, but data and servers to cough it up is not a software issue. Bing has data, but from what I've seen their data currecny and resolution is trailing Google. Due to the economies of scale involved, catching up would probably need deep pockets.

      Xix.

    • Great. Because they weren't spending our money fast enough running crashing robots into Mars :)

    • by macshit (157376)

      World Wind [wikipedia.org] is licensed under NASA's Open Source license. Not sure of the intricacies with it (IANAL) but was developed with the open source community.

      The "NASA Open Source Agreement" (NOSA) license is ... weird. It's GPL- (and debian) incompatible for no discernible reason, so one imagines it's one of these things from the wacky old "everybody make their own license!" days of yore...

      A shame, really, as WW seems not so bad otherwise.

      It'd be cool if the FSF or somebody would work with NASA to change the licensing.

  • Licensing? Severs? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @03:32PM (#31603122) Journal

    Who's going to pay to license all those satellite images? Who's going to run the servers and pay for all the bandwidth consumed by such an application?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @03:34PM (#31603154)

      Take a look at Marble from the KDE education project - http://edu.kde.org/marble/

      • Marble (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Enderandrew (866215)

        Marble is an amazing program with all kinds of different maps and satelite images it can pull from. It is worth checking out.

        It may be available on Windows as well through windows.kde.org

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by andy753421 (850820)
        (warning, shameless plug)

        I've been working on a similar program for a while called libgis [rose-hulman.edu]. The main difference is that libgis is built as a library instead of an application and uses OpenGL for rendering, which allows it to render terrain. It also uses GTK+ instead of Qt, but that's just due to my personal preferences. Unfortunately, it's not (yet!) as complete as Marble/WorldWind/Google Earth.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @03:39PM (#31603240)

      Agreed. The question of an open source Google Earth is not the application, but where the data comes from. Google Earth probably would be open source, if Google wasn't afraid their remote protocol would be reverse engineered (at which point they would update it). Anyone who has programmed with the Google Earth COM API knows that Google goes to great lengths to protect the data they store on their servers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cayenne8 (626475)
        I'm trying to find out what exactly Google Earth is actually useful for???

        I mean, Google Maps, sure I use that all the time to find where something is, directions how to get to it...on my iPhone, it even shows traffic loads.

        I click Google Earth...it is neat how it zooms down to where I'm at from outer space..but after that...what?

        • by lwsimon (724555)

          I use it to map out hunting locations, photography possibilities, and hiking trails.

          Other than that, I'm not really sure.

        • If you just pick it up and poke at it, it is largely a toy. A fun one, and visually interesting, to be sure; but 95% of the useful stuff can be done in a browser by google maps.

          Where it gets more interesting, though, is if you have the interest, and the capability, to treat it more like a GIS program. ArcGIS isn't exactly quaking in their boots, nor are any of the other classic Real Serious GIS vendors; but Google Earth occupies a rather interesting niche: free as in beer, and quite easy for a noob to pi
        • by hipp5 (1635263) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @04:08PM (#31603676)
          We use it in urban planning (architects do too). Google Earth can be linked to Sketchup. You can import terrain from Google Earth, model a structure on it, and then export it back into Earth. You can also use it for some GIS-esque analysis by defining polygons and such on it.
          • by cayenne8 (626475)
            "We use it in urban planning (architects do too). Google Earth can be linked to Sketchup. You can import terrain from Google Earth, model a structure on it, and then export it back into Earth. You can also use it for some GIS-esque analysis by defining polygons and such on it."

            Interesting, but how up to date is it?

            I remember (mostly google maps mind you) that it showed my former house in New Orleans as it was before the flood for quite awhile after the flood. Then...after the flood pics go updated....wel

            • by Chyeld (713439)

              Presumably, the terrain isn't going to be changing that often and if you are doing urban planning, you are probably going to be aware of what's on the map already.

            • by d'fim (132296)
              How up to date do you want? If you're looking to see your property change on a week-to-week basis then you're going to be disappointed. Planners in rapidly-changing urban areas are likely to be disappointed too. I generally assume that I'm working with 3-5 year old imagery in Google Earth, but I'm beginning to think it's more like 3-10 years in more rural areas. Either way it beats the hell out of USGS quad maps that are older than I am and may not be updated in my lifetime.

              That said, macro-scale elevatio
            • by soundguy (415780)

              Hell, the street view stuff from Google Maps is almost useless in some areas it is soooooo out of date.

              Is Google Earth any more up to date than that?

              I don't see anyone answering this question. Google Maps is completely worthless and even dangerous in fast-growing cities. You could end up driving into a hole in the ground if you treat it like factual data.

              In particular, the Las Vegas images are completely obsolete for most of the area on and around the Strip. A lot of what it depicts was imploded years ago and is now either a vacant lot or a completely different structure. A number of the streets have moved around and entire blocks reshaped. I understand

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Jarjarthejedi (996957)

          I use it for getting directions. I have a horrible memory for names, but a great one for pictures, and so while I can't remember the name of the street I'm supposed to turn on I can remember what the street corner looked like from above on google earth, imagine what it would look like from a perspective on the ground, then see if I've reached that spot yet.

          Google Earth is my goto mapping tool because it makes it FAR easier to know if you're going the right way or not if you've seen it, even just from above

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by radish (98371)

            But what does Earth give you over just plain Google Maps for that application?

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Miseph (979059)

              You can run it outside of a browser?

              That's all I've got.

              I have been toying with the idea of building a GPS nav system out of a netbook, USB GPS receiver and Google Earth, but it's really not any cheaper than buying one (obviously I intend to multi-purpose the netbook, or the costing wouldn't even be comparable).

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by ajs (35943)

          For the most part, GE is not useful for typical end-user activity. It is mostly used to provide a tool for commercial applications of the Google maps data. For example, if you've seen a movie that did the zoom-in or -out between the globe from space and a single house, everything from 100 feet up and further was probably Google Earth. It's also used by law enforcement, NGOs planning access routes to remote locations, real estate, site surveys, etc. See their business use cases for Google Earth [google.com] for more info

          • not useful for end-user activity? I think you'd have to have a fairly narrow view of "useful" for that statement to be defensible.

            My son spent an amusing hour this evening driving a Viper aircraft at ground level from SFO to SEA at 390 miles per hour on Google Earth Flight Simulator. He was asked me how to figure out when he got near SEATAC, which gave me an opportunity to tell him to look for the various volcanos in the Cascades, the Columbia River, and to take a 30 degree left turn at Mt. Rainier.

            Sounds

            • by ajs (35943)

              not useful for end-user activity?

              Re-read what I wrote. Here, I'll quote it for you:

              For the most part, GE is not useful for typical end-user activity

              Yes, your son had fun with it. I'm sure there are hundreds of people who've played around with GE, but that doesn't exactly explain why it's a Google product that they guard the protocols for jealously, which was the original line of inquiry to which I responded.

              The answer to that question is that GE isn't intended for typical end-users, cute though it may be. It's intended for commercial applications.

              • by SendBot (29932)

                It's intended for commercial applications.

                I'm willing to hold my breath for grand theft auto: google earth. Until then I'll just have to keep playing the built-in flight sim.

        • I click Google Earth...it is neat how it zooms down to where I'm at from outer space..but after that...what?

          The measurement tools are useful. Good for eyeballing LoS between radios too (though not with real terrain).

        • by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @04:18PM (#31603826) Journal

          I'm trying to find out what exactly Google Earth is actually useful for??

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geographic_information_system [wikipedia.org]
          I have a cousin who works for the top GIS company and when Google started doing the satellite view on Google Maps and then released Google Earth, there was a collective "ah shit!" from the industry because Google was giving away their bread and butter for free.

          We take it for granted, but before Google, you mostly had to pay top dollar for a dataset overlaid onto a satellite map because there were no real non-commercial alternatives.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Dreben (220413)

            Assuming you're referring to ESRI, (Environment Systems Research Institute), labeling them the 'top GIS company' is highly subjective. There are IMO many better platforms out there, open source included (see GRASS and/or QGIS). They just were lucky enough to secure some significant clients early on (USGS, USFS, USFWS, USDoI, DoD, NGS, etc.), which it turn forced all their subcontractors to adopt the same platform. Their software is bloated, cumbersome, about a decade behind emerging technologies, i.e., l

          • by mjwx (966435) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @12:51AM (#31607526)

            I have a cousin who works for the top GIS company and when Google started doing the satellite view on Google Maps and then released Google Earth, there was a collective "ah shit!" from the industry because Google was giving away their bread and butter for free.

            I'm have to call BS on your cousin.

            I actually work in the GIS industry and when Google Earth was released there was a giant "Thank fuck for that" as it meant more people beyond the niche's of mining, government and military started to look at GIS services seriously. Google Earth has been a huge boon for any GIS Analyst trying to sell GIS services.

            Previously, when trying to get new clients we had to try an explain a complex field to a perspective client, a lot of "imagine this...", and then watching their eyes glaze over. Now we can say with maps and data we can provide x service, just like Google Earth. We've even been able to sell Google Earth services, putting data into Google Earth and Google Earth training.

            Google Earth has opened a niche market into something more mainstream, in general it has been a good thing(TM) for GIS even if you're just grabbing onto Google's coat tails for a bit of extra revenue (like a A$500 a seat one day Google Earth training course).

            Google have a relationship with GeoEye for satellite data and they are most certainly not giving it away for free, either raw or processed. If you actually want the imagery for manipulation or publication you need to pay.

        • by maotx (765127)

          I'm trying to find out what exactly Google Earth is actually useful for???

          I mean, Google Maps, sure I use that all the time to find where something is, directions how to get to it...on my iPhone, it even shows traffic loads.

          I click Google Earth...it is neat how it zooms down to where I'm at from outer space..but after that...what?

          As others have pointed out, it has a real value in the GIS community. Not so much for the actual work and planning, but for distributing our planned work in a format that's easily viewable.

          Real life example, we're currently searching off of Brazil for Flight 447 [wikipedia.org] and, while we use professional tools for the actual planning and searching, we also have our scan lines, the debris field, and the last known location all exported out into a set of layers that's easily opened in a KMZ file. For a quick look at

        • I use it to view the dark fiber routes of all the different vendors we use to make sure that none of them use the same route. Therefore avoiding the risk of having multiple fibers failing when the backhoes start doing their thing. -P
          • Carry a small section of fiber with you any time you go hiking... if you get lost just bury the fiber and ask the backhoe driver for help when he shows up.

          • by Taco Cowboy (5327)

            I use it to view the dark fiber routes of all the different vendors we use

            How ??

            Mind elaborate ?

            Thanks !!

        • by garcia (6573)

          Replacing ARCView. Honestly I use a couple of OSS applications to convert SHP files to KML and then display them in Google Earth. Here are a few examples of Minnesota DNR/county data: http://www.lazylightning.org/boundaries/ [lazylightning.org].

          Awesome indeed.

          • by Taco Cowboy (5327)

            Honestly I use a couple of OSS applications to convert SHP files to KML and then display them in Google Earth

            Mind sharing with us what OSS applications you use ?

            Thanks !!

        • by ACalcutt (937737) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @05:11PM (#31604568)
          Google Earths main benefit is its KML format. Google documents the KML format very well ( http://code.google.com/apis/kml/documentation/topicsinkml.html [google.com] ). I use google earth with my wireless network scanner ( www.vistumbler.net ). It has allowed me to do some interesting stuff with the wireless data, for example. - We have a wireless database with over 100,000 Access Points. This creates a 75MB kml files of access points. Google maps is unable to load a KML of this size directly. (see our full KML http://www.vistumbler.net/wifidb/ [vistumbler.net] --> Daemon Generated kml) - I have a feature to export signal history to google earth as a 3d/colored/line above the earth (see http://forum.techidiots.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=33&t=278&start=0&hilit=Signal+Mapping [techidiots.net] ) - I have a feature called AutoKML which automatically creates 4 kml files. One of track you have driven, one with active APs, one of Dead APs, And one with the current GPS position. With a "Network Link" google earth updates the changes in the kml file at a specified interval and displays them. I can also specify a view height and current location, so I can make google earth follow my current location (and show me the active APs I am detecting). These are only a few examples of what I use google earth for. I'm sure there are much more creative uses for it.
          • Mod Parent up (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Aargau (827662)
            I do work on optimization of large datasets, such as mapping all streets ala street view. KML files are a wonderful standardization, but they can be huge. In fact, a lot of geographic data is voluminous. There still is a niche for actual client apps that are not running JSON for speed reasons when crunching large datasets.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by bill_kress (99356)

          I've used it to learn about geography. Taught me more than I ever got from school.

          This will work with google maps, but tends to be a good deal quicker once you get an area cached.

        • by GrahamCox (741991) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @06:40PM (#31605428) Homepage
          I'm trying to find out what exactly Google Earth is actually useful for???

          Never mind Google Earth, I'm trying to find out what an "Atlas" is useful for, or what are all those funny map-thingys covered in strange squiggles that you can buy all over the place. I mean, I don't have the imagination to see what they could possibly be useful for, so they just seem like a total waste of paper and printing to me.
        • by jlarocco (851450)

          I hike, camp and mountain bike a lot, and I've found tons of uses for Google Earth.

          I'll use it for research before going out on a trip. It has a convenient "Ruler" tool that I use for rough estimates of trip distance. I also like using it to spot interesting terrain near where I'll be, that I might not have have noticed otherwise. It's even helpful for mundane stuff like finding areas that might have good camping sites.

          When I get back home I'll use it, along with GPS Visualizer, to plot GPS tracks [flickr.com].

        • I use google earth to track our work and research boats on a lake. Each boat has a gps that receives corrections from a reference base station and then sends the data to a terminal server. In real time i have a Perl script that reads the raw gps files and generates KML making the boat positions, heading and speed available to all who care. Pretty darn cool for a free app.

        • by d'fim (132296)
          I use it to plan mapping projects. My company gladly pays $400/year so I can export imagery from Google Earth into a CAD program so I can plan aerial photography and select ground control points for surveyors. I then import that CAD data into Google Earth and send KMZ files to the pilots and surveyors. This is a vast improvement over USGS 1"=2000' quad maps that are ten to forty years old. I still use the quad maps as a sanity check of my final output coordinates as I don't trust the georeferencing of Googl
        • I click Google Earth...it is neat how it zooms down to where I'm at from outer space..but after that...what?

          Then you can turn around and look at the stars. Or go over to the nearest ocean and explore underwater. Or enjoy the ever-increasing amounts of 3d buildings and user-submitted photos. See what places look like in 3d (try dragging w/ the middle mouse button). Spin the globe (drag quickly and let go) and explore some place new. Play with the built-in flight simulator! Find crazy and unusual things on the earth by accident. Improve your geography skills.

          etc, etc, etc

    • by fm6 (162816) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @03:45PM (#31603320) Homepage Journal

      Any company that has huge revenues, that lets top-notch developers work on anything they think is kewl, and is structured so that investors can't complain about them pouring millions into projects that will never monetize. Alas, there's only one of those...

      The upside of Google is that they push the state of the art with everything they do, and they provide free access to products that we couldn't afford without them — assuming that these products would even exist without them, which they mostly wouldn't. The downside is that they're total amateurs when it comes to the nuts and bolts of providing a product that isn't buggy, doesn't have major UI issues, and doesn't have weird outages and feature changes without notice. Google Earth seems to typify both the upside and the downside.

      • by turgid (580780) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @03:51PM (#31603452) Journal

        Sounds just like what people were saying about Microsoft in the early 1990s.

        Microsoft is dead. Google is the new Microsoft.

        • by fm6 (162816)

          Did you actually read my post? Because the post had both positive and negative things to say about Google. And in any case the negatives I just listed about Google bear no resemblance to the well-known negatives (poorly designed software, unethical and possibly illegal marketing methods) that MS is famous for.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by turgid (580780)

            Yes, I read your post. IBM was the new Standard Oil. Microsoft was the new IBM. Google is the new Microsoft.

            People were saying similarly positive and negative things about Microsoft 15+ years ago in a similar context: the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Microsoft was seen as the Great Liberating Force against IBM.

            I'm not particularly desperate for mod points today, I just think people need to bear this historical lesson in mind, which is the reason for my post. My £0.02.

            • by fm6 (162816)

              If you want to convince me that you are actually reading my posts, try responding to something I actually said. Basically you're accusing me of seeing Google as some kind of evil force. I don't see them that way, and I haven't said a word that implies I do. Hell, I have friends there, and wouldn't mind working there myself.

              Aside from your convoluted logic, your history is wrong. Nobody saw MS as liberating us from IBM. We saw cheap microcomputers as liberating us from IBM. MS became the villain becau

      • Umm... Google purchase EarthViewer 3D from Keyhole, Inc. and renamed it Google Earth in 2005.

        NASA released World Wind [nasa.gov] in 2004.

        • by fm6 (162816)

          Umm, are we following the same thread? Here's the one I'm in:

          http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1594148&cid=31603122 [slashdot.org]

          • yea. responding to:

            The upside of Google is that they push the state of the art with everything they do, and they provide free access to products that we couldn't afford without them — assuming that these products would even exist without them, which they mostly wouldn't. The downside is that they're total amateurs when it comes to the nuts and bolts of providing a product that isn't buggy, doesn't have major UI issues, and doesn't have weird outages and feature changes without notice. Google Earth se

    • Who's going to pay to license all those satellite images? Who's going to run the servers and pay for all the bandwidth consumed by such an application?

      OSS != Free Beer

    • There are TB's of public domain imagery out there. A lot of the hosting is donated space and bandwith, Sun/Oracle is hosting 90% of the imagery you can see in World Wind. Through an agreement with Microsoft you can view Bing maps in WW.net and WWJava.
    • Who's going to run the servers and pay for all the bandwidth consumed by such an application?

      Who needs servers? This is an ideal case for P2P. Satellite and aerial maps don't change that fast, at least not for mapping purposes. There's ample scope for sharing the same maps between P2P members.

      It's true that current implementations of Google Earth and NASA Worldwind use central servers, but that is merely a control issue. These organizations want to control who gets access to the maps, and what people

  • KDE Marble (Score:5, Informative)

    by IYagami (136831) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @03:34PM (#31603156)

    http://edu.kde.org/marble/ [kde.org]

    Marble is a Virtual Globe and World Atlas that you can use to learn more about Earth: You can pan and zoom around and you can look up places and roads. A mouse click on a place label will provide the respective Wikipedia article.

    Of course it's also possible to measure distances between locations or watch the current cloud cover. Marble offers different thematic maps: A classroom-style topographic map, a satellite view, street map, earth at night and temperature and precipitation maps. All maps include a custom map key, so it can also be used as an educational tool for use in class-rooms. For educational purposes you can also change date and time and watch how the starry sky and the twilight zone on the map change.

    In opposite to other virtual globes Marble also features multiple projections: Choose between a Flat Map ("Plate carré"), Mercator or the Globe.

    The best of all: Marble is Free Software / Open Source Software and promotes the usage of free maps. And it's available for all major operating systems (Linux/Unix, MS Windows and Mac OS X).

  • by XxtraLarGe (551297) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @03:38PM (#31603226) Journal

    I have a map of the United States...actual size. It says, "Scale: 1 mile = 1 mile." I spent last summer folding it. I also have a full-size map of the world. I hardly ever unroll it.

  • by Galestar (1473827) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @03:39PM (#31603242)
    http://www.fsf.org/campaigns/priority.html/#gereplacment [fsf.org]

    FSF is actively looking for people to contribute to any such project.
    • by spun (1352)

      Interesting. They would also need a replacement for Google Sketchup, the application used to create the building models. I'm not sure what license people have released their models under, it could be that an open source project could reuse some Sketchup models. If not, there's a LOT of work to do to really recreate Google Earth.

  • Open Street Maps (Score:5, Informative)

    by Alanonfire (1415379) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @03:40PM (#31603252)
    Doesn't have street view or actual photos from what I've seen but its ok. openstreetmap.org
    • Re:Open Street Maps (Score:5, Informative)

      by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @04:05PM (#31603642) Journal
      That was what I was going to suggest. It's difficult to tell from the original question what exactly the OP used Google Earth for, so finding a replacement isn't easy. If the problem is the lack of a places of interest overlay, then OSM is a good solution; it has a lot of overlays with various bits of metadata (for example, the location of all of the pubs in the area). It's a community effort, so if you have a GPS you can help them improve the accuracy of the maps and you can add your own points of interest. You can also access the raw data if you want to build something on top of it and they've got a nice JavaScript API.
    • by vlm (69642)

      Earth (in Reality)

      Takes seven days to make a copy. Well, technically six and then a day of rest. So they say.

    • by mjwx (966435)

      Earth (in Reality)

      I dont run this "Reality", do you have an alternative that runs under Linux.

  • by robkill (259732) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @03:51PM (#31603442)

    Google Earth is essentially a Web Map Server (WMS) The OGC http://www.opengeospatial.org/ [opengeospatial.org] has all the specifications for Web Map Severs and Clients. As others have mentioned, NASA WorldWind is a good example.

    A blog to follow would be http://freegeographytools.com/ [freegeographytools.com]

  • Odd .... (Score:2, Troll)

    by Jerry (6400)

    An indirect attack on Google by suggestions that there is no OSS alternative to GoogleEarth, so that a "Bad Thing"(tm).

    Yet, most of the first posts appear to be by MS Technical Evangelists whose citations for an alternative lead to an .NET version which has been poorly implemented in Java.

    Ya, like I want to trade GoogleEarth for something from the Dark Side?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

      ...lead to an .NET version which has been poorly implemented in Java.

      Uhhh, what? Did you purposely skip over the C# versions, or are you just blind?

      While C# itself isn't open source, it is free as in beer, and software made in C# certainly can be open source. Most people aren't re-writing their compilers just to code an app, and it's available in both Windows and Linux, so I really don't see how your complaint has any merit at all. Unless you're just a .Net hater for fun, which is dumb. .Net works great and takes a huge load off the programmer's shoulders.

      What's your pro

  • by sunderland56 (621843) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @04:22PM (#31603912)
    The points of interest feature has already been restored: http://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2010/03/the_points_of_interest_return.html [gearthblog.com]
  • Xastir (Score:2, Interesting)

    by EM3RY (1775004)
    I've replaced google earth with Xastir. Xastir is for ham radio station tracking but it featurs address lookup, multiple map layers, online maps, tigermaps, and gps support. When I was a cab driver I could use xastir to look up addresses offline because it's address mappings are stored locally. It doesn't look fancy, but it does look professional. http://www.xastir.org/ [xastir.org]

Science and religion are in full accord but science and faith are in complete discord.

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