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GpsDrive – Navigation Software for Linux, Mac, and UNIX
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


What is GpsDrive?

GpsDrive is an open source navigation system. It displays your current position provided by an NMEA capable GPS receiver on a zoomable map.

Why is there no street navigation which gives turn by turn directions?

Turn by turn directions are not possible with GpsDrive at the present because no free data is available which represents the street coordinates in a form usable for that purpose. GpsDrive currently works with bitmap images rather than vector data.
But there are plans, that we will include navigation using data from the OpenStreetMap Project.

I know that we aren't supposed to use GpsDrive 'for navigation purposes' - but is it of any use to (student) aviators?

Certainly — pack your GPS unit in your flight bag (turned on of course!), then download the tracks into GpsDrive when you get home. This is a great way to see exactly how good your navigational skills are — or maybe where you busted airspace!
Flying schools could use this to analyse students' solo navigational trips.

I am running FreeBSD. Can I use GpsDrive too?

Yes. See the file README.FreeBSD for further information.

Why is such funny english used in gpsdrive?

Fritz, the original author, is from Austria and speaks the same kind of "english" as Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Does GpsDrive handle 'tracks' saved in my GPS receiver?

Yes. You should save the tracks in the .gpsdrive directory (using something like 'garble' or 'gpspoint') - then you can load them into GpsDrive from the GUI.


After compiling Gpsdrive from source, I have the problem that GpsDrive will not display the map when it's running. All of the graphics in the map area are blank.

Compile with gcc 3.x, this bug is know at least with debian and slackware.


How can I download maps?

There's a "Map Download" button inside the options menu, which will show you a download dialog. For fetching multiple maps covering a larger area, there's a script called provided. Use it with the option "-h" to get a help screen.

Can I use own my maps?

Yes. Of course you can use your own (self drawn, scanned...) maps. The maps must be gif, jpeg, png or other common file formats (the format must be recognized by the gdk-pixbuf library). The lat/long coordinates you write into the "map_koord.txt" file must be the center of the map. The map must have a size of 1280x1024 pixels! Important! The maps must be named map_* for streetmaps and top_* for topographical maps. If not, GpsDrive won't display the maps. GpsDrive comes with an import assistant. Simply press the "Map Import" in the options menu and follow the instructions.


Which GPS receivers work with GpsDrive?

GpsDrive utilizes gpsd to access GPS hardware. So any receiver supported by gpsd should work with GpsDrive. Please have a look at the gpsd website for a list of devices.

Can I use GpsDrive without a GPS receiver?

Yes. You might want to do this when you are planning your journey or have a fast internet connection for downloading maps etc.
Also you can use it to review stored (see below).

GpsDrive shows "Not enough satellites in view" in the statusbar and don't display my position.

You need at least 3 satellites in view to get a valid position. It may also take some minutes to get a valid position. You also have to be outside, GPS doesn't work inside the house. Trees, houses or other barriers can prevent your GPS receiver from getting a valid position.
Some GPS receivers have a "Simulation mode" which sends position signals, but with an "invalid position" flag. GpsDrive won't display a position if this "invalid position"" flag is set. To override this (do it only for testing!!!) you can call GpsDrive with the "-F" command line parameter.


What is Kismet?

Kismet is a 802.11b wireless network sniffer. It is capable of sniffing using almost any wireless card supported in Linux, including Prism2 based cards supported by the Wlan-NG project (Linksys, Dlink, Rangelan, etc), cards which support standard packet capture via libpcap (Cisco), and limited support for cards without RF Monitor support. More info about kismet at

How do I use GpsDrive with Kismet?

You have to start kismet first (gpsd must be running before kismet, so kismet can detect the presence of a gps receiver). After kismet is running, start GpsDrive. If you have speech output enabled, you will get a voice information that kismet was found. Kismet support is only available if you have SQL-Support and it is enabled in GpsDrive.

What's the benefit of using GpsDrive with Kismet?

If kismet detects a wireless accesspoint, it is stored in the SQL database and an icon is shown on the map. If you have speech output enabled, you will hear a message about the new waypoint.

since v2.04: GpsDrive stores new accesspoints and updates them, if their position has changed. If kismet gives "best" values for lat/lon, then these values are stored including additional information.

Why are sometimes accesspoints detected by kismet not stored by GpsDrive?

This usually happens, when kismet doesn't provide a valid GPS position at this moment.

2011-11-02 Impressum