Part III of the ongoing series. To read the Part II go here. This section on mapping, driving directions and of course troubleshooting GPS.


Our initial testing of mapping software after a few weeks has had mixed results on the HP Envy Note 8 running Ubuntu 18.04. Essentially we are trying to replicate the full functionality of Osmand which we have previously written about here (our most popular how-to post, ever). One of the major requirements of our end-the-android-addiction campaign is that turn-by-turn offline mapping directions would not be lost. So far, things are not exactly going as nicely as planned as gpsd cannot find our GPS module. This article will of course receive numerous updates so check back from time to time as progress as made.

Tested Mapping Software:

Gnome Maps: https://wiki.gnome.org/Apps/Maps
Navit: http://www.navit-project.org/
KDE Marble: https://marble.kde.org/features.php
Offroad: https://sourceforge.net/p/offroadosm/wiki/Home/
OSMand in Anbox: https://docs.anbox.io/userguide/install.html
Web-based mapping services: google maps, bing maps, osm, etc.

Not working:

GPS sensors (location works only with SIM card on Gnome Maps)
Device/vehicle tracking
Turn-by-turn directions per espeak (pending tracking).
TBD

Thoughts:

Gnome Maps seems to be the most user friendly option for mapping; it will periodically update a car's position when traveling. However, this is limited to mobile networking using our SIM car connection on Ting. This is problematic since the whole point of offline maps is to NOT use data connections (to save on billing). More importantly the network connection will loose your position when the SIM enters a spotty area; mapping essentially dies. Also, getting a location fix isn't always reliable; at times our position will be marked ~150 miles north of our true location (sometimes on wifi, sometimes not).

Gnome Maps critically does not provide turn-by-turn directions. As mentioned earlier, the Gnome 3 window decoration remains in Ubuntu Mate and wastes more screen space on an already small screen; the HP Envy Note 8 has a high dpi resolution of 1920x1200 and dpi adjustments cause some software windows to be less effecient as in this case. Our desktop testing in comparison couldn't even fix on our actual location as shown below.

gnome maps

Gnome Maps + aGPS; we might be somewhere in this huge range.


Navit is proven to work with externally connected GPS devices and the setup, though fussy to work through, is thoroughly documented. Additionally, there are mobile-orientated configuration mods available at http://ozzmaker.com/navigating-navit-raspberry-pi/. We have implemented some of these configuration tweaks and a big thanks to their authors. Ironically we recognized Navit from one CARMAX installed Garmin Navigator we had installed in a previously own vehicle. Open source software is truly everywhere!

navit map

Without active GPS, our Navit interface is mostly blank.

navit directions

Navit's turn by turn summary is easy to read but we need real-time route tracking/announcements to keep safe.
Espeak can provide turn-by-turn directions but not without a viable gpsd service.

KDE Marble testing has been cursory at best beyond importing our OSM California map file. We do notice turn-by-turn navigation is marked in their desktop feature matrix. We will visit this again soon. Marble is a huge program with tons of cool features (seemingly the modus operandi of kde software). We desire to keep software installations as small and lean as possible on the HP Envy Note 8 due to the device's smallish memory size of 30.7 GB. As it stands now, we are at 44.6% usage (13.7GB) without Marble installed.

OSMand in Anbox resulted in a crash after program boot in our desktop tests so we are not pursuing this option further on the mobile device.

Gpsd and KDE Marble experts, we want to hear from you! Let us know your experiences in the comments below.


About the Writer
Chris Lessley
Author: Chris Lessley
A server admin, dev ops warrior and website designer since 2002, Chris is a lover of all things Linux and open-source! Each blog topic has been tested by fire in the real world and shared with the hope to help others. Chris' other interests include fine art and the humanities in the classical tradition and can be found writing for our partner-site gripfastartworks.com.

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