I have been a free software activist for more than 20 years. Software for GIS makes it especially easy to state why I believe so strongly in software freedom. To put it simply, I believe software should be part of humanity's shared cultural heritage, and that all efforts to turn it instead into a commodity are immoral.
Installing ArcGIS made this painfully clear to me. In the first place, using it required that I use a non-free operating system, so I am running Windows just so that I can use ArcGIS. Going through the gymnastics (registering an on-line account, figuring out where to enter the product code after missing it the first time through the installation, etc.) required to establish that I was "authorized" to use the commidified resource was most unpleasant. It rubs me deeply the wrong way to see human creativity misspent making the world a worse place rather than a better one.
No matter. I have to do it to complete this required course, so I am determined to make the best of it. What that means to me is keeping in mind the well known quote from Sun Tzu,
"Know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles."So I'll count learning ArcGIS as knowing my enemy, and time permitting, I will do each lab assignment in QGIS in parallel.
The first thing I wanted to do was to install the latest QGIS on my Ubuntu 14.04 desktop. To do this, using this web page as a guide, I added the following to the end of my /etc/apt/sources.list file:
# For QGIS 2.12
deb http://qgis.org/ubuntugis trusty main
deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/ubuntugis/ubuntugis-unstable/ubuntu trusty main
Then I ran:
$ sudo apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-key 3FF5FFCAD71472C4This is a much easier process than installing ArcGIS. QGIS also runs much faster than ArcGIS, and on the operating system I choose, not the one chosen for me.
$ sudo aptitude update
$ sudo aptitude install qgis
It also seems that the wonderful folks who have developed QGIS have modeled its UI after the non-free standard, so the lab notes describing ArcGIS helped me understand QGIS as well. QGIS's Browser is the equivalent of ArcGIS's ArcCatalog. Here is the QGIS Browser showing the shape files from my first lab:
shapefiles in a map: