Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Xastir update is for geeks

Version 2.0 of Xastir, the open source APRS client, has just been released. The new version now supports OpenStreetMap mapping, the same as is used by APRSISCE. I was interested to see that the project web page claims it runs on Linux/FreeBSD/Solaris/MacOSX/Windows so I thought I would try it out on my shack PC which runs Windows. I was puzzled that there was only one download file instead of different versions for each platform, but thought that perhaps they had recoded it as a Java application. I downloaded the .tar.gz file. opened it in BitZipper and found a load of source code files but no .EXE.

There is a file called readme.W32 which contains a lengthy and complex explanation of how to install the program under Windows which involves compiling it yourself using free software development tools. I seem to recall trying this once with an earlier version and failing. Most other developers of popular free software ham radio apps, such as Fldigi, WSJT and WSPR, now produce ready to run compiled versions for Linux, Windows and any other platform their program runs on. Why can't Xastir's developers do this? Most APRS enthusiasts don't possess a PhD in computing so it's unrealistic to expect them to do it.

1 comment:

Lynn (D) said...

I also tried Xastir a while back when it was recommended to someone in the UI-View group. I also downloaded it, saw the source and required tool chain and posted to the Xastir group asking if there was a better way. I was told there were VMWare virtual machines pre-configured to run it, so I went off on another non-domesticated waterfowl excursion only to be told at the end of that chase that the VMs were for a much older version and I'd be better off building it from source.

Needless to say, I didn't want Xastir bad enough to go down that road so APRSISCE/32 was born.

Lynn (D) - KJ4ERJ - Author of APRSISCE for Windows Mobile and Win32