There are two options for test driving open source GIS software without having to individually download and install applications on your computer: OSGeo-Live and Portable GIS.
OSGeo-Live 6.0 offers bootable DVD and thumb drive options for testing driving a range of Open Source GIS without having to install anything on your computer. Once configured, the bootable DVD or thumb drive is loaded with almost 50 open source GIS applications covering free software for crisis management, GIS desktop software, web mapping, database management for GIS data, spatial tools, geospatial libraries, and installers for Windows and Mac machines. Additionally, the DVD is also loaded with GIS data from Natural Earth and OpenStreetMap.
OSGeo has a full list of the open source GIS applications it makes available on the DVD with links to information about each application. Some of the more recognizable open source GIS applications available via OSGeo-Live are: QGIS, gvSIG, GRASS, OpenLayers, Geomajas, Ushahidi, PostGIS, GeoServer, MapServer, and R for Spatial Data. This is only a small listing of the applications available.
To get started, download the appropriate ISO image of the Xubuntu based bootable DVD. The full ISO image download is 8 GB and includes the Macintosh and Windows installers. There is also a mini installer that doesn’t contain the installers (3.2 GB) and a 7-Zip compressed file of the mini installer (2.8 GB).
Once the bootable DVD or thumb drive has been setup, reboot your machine with the DVD or thumb drive inserted. Step through the startup to boot up your machine with Xubuntu. From there, you can select and run from the Geospatial menu a list of categorized open source GIS applications.
OSGeo-Live provides an all in one option for test driving open source GIS applications without having to individually downloading and installing each one on your machine. (HT: Tom Kukitz)
A similar endeavor is the Portable GIS setup provided by Joanne Cooke of the Archaegeek site (previously: Portable GIS and GIS on a USB stick – Take 2). Portable GIS v3 was launched in September of 2012. Portable GIS offers a limited number of open source GIS applications and tools and is meant to run directly in the Windows environment. Access to the download file is through Dropbox and contains:
- Desktop GIS packages QGIS (with GRASS plugin) version 1.8
- FWTools (GDAL and OGR toolkit)
- Apache2 and Php5
- PostgreSQL (version 9.0)/Postgis (version 1.5)
- Mapserver 5.6 and 6, OpenLayers.
- Python 2.7
- Loader- for loading gml such as Ordnance Survey Mastermap into a PostgreSQL Database
- Utilities- portable firefox, pdf reader and text editor