Open Source Computing and GIS in the UK

Travels in a digital world

In Which Windows Vista Tries to Kill the Portable GIS Idea

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Well, there was I just working away in the office, on my super-cool portable GIS setup, doing some work on a postgresql-driven database all working nicely on the USB stick. I should say that this has been working just fine in both my home (Vista) and office (XP) environment for months now.

Time came to head off home, so I stopped everything, ejected the stick nicely, took it home and went to start working on it again… only for postgresql to refuse to work. “Access Denied”, it said. “What do you mean, Access Denied?” I said. “Access Denied”, it said. So I tried it on my hubby’s Win XP machine. “No Problem”, it said. Repeat until you’re sick of trying.

So I remembered the Vista Windows Update on Monday, and restored my laptop back to before that. No joy…

Now, I have tried to be objective about Vista. I like my laptop, and to my mind the extra security measures were (until I turned them off) about as obtrusive as those on Ubuntu. I didn’t think it ran all that slowly, and had never found a programme or device that wasn’t compatible. Maybe I was just lucky.

Then, at Christmas, the rot started to set in. WinGrass doesn’t (or didn’t) work all that well. Cygwin wouldn’t play well. I ended up having to set up a virtual machine and run Ubuntu in it just to get to a stage where I could learn how to use GRASS. And now this. I’ll go to the mailing lists, of course, and try and figure out why it no longer wants to play, but please, just give me an operating system that lets me look under the hood and doesn’t unilaterally decide when to stop doing something it has quite happily done for months.

I’ll have to stick with Windows for the moment, because I need to get the portable GIS system working, and I have a sweet ITunes setup (and an even sweeter Ipod Touch), but I’m off to buy a copy of XP before it’s no longer possible to do that…