Around the World in 80 Days

Not only is Linux positioned to take over the world (we wish), but you

can also view the small puny planet when you're done. Xrmap

( shows vector images of the Earth from

the CIA (yup, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency) World data bank II,

a 45 MB set of vector data that shows the outlines of coasts, country

borders, rivers, lakes, glaciers, and so on.

You can zoom in on areas or zoom back to view the entire Earth. In

addition, Xrmap can output image files from the pictures it produces.

The latest Xrmap can use the JPD data format, which displays the images

in about one-fourth the time and uses a lot less data as well. You can

download the package as a Red Hat Package Manager (RPM) file or as a

compressed tar archive for Linux distributions that don't use RPMs.

A customized sunclock application from the same site shows the parts of

the Earth lit by the Sun at any particular time. Originally developed

for the SunView windowing system on old Sun workstations, sunclock

shades the parts of the Earth that are dark. This version of sunclock,

though, shows a neat image of the Earth underneath.

In addition to sunclock and Xrmap, traditional Earth applications

include Xglobe, Xplanet, and Xearth. Xglobe

( displays an image of Earth

from space on your desktop. It can display cities and place locations

as markers on the map. The normal mode displays the Earth from space in

the current orientation, relative to the Sun.

You can download a number of maps, really Earth images, for Xglobe and

Xplanet from Some of these look

absolutely wonderful. Note that you can use maps, or images, of other

planets instead of the Earth, in case you want to display Mars or

Jupiter. The image files are mapped to a spherical display. You can

also zoom in and display just a part of the Earth.

Xplanet ( uses OpenGL to display the

Earth while Xearth, one of the earlier applications, simply draws an

image of the Earth on your desktop's root window (the screen

background). Xearth is available at Most of the other

programs build on top of parts of Xearth, or at least concepts

pioneered by this program.

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