GRASS GIS: Geographic Information System Software For Geospatial Data Management

GRASS GIS (Geographic Resources Analysis Support System) is a free and open source Geographic Information System (GIS) software. It is used for geospatial data management and analysis, image processing, graphics and maps production, spatial modeling, and visualization. GRASS GIS is currently used in academic and commercial settings around the world, as well as by many governmental agencies and environmental consulting companies. Currently it is used by the following Government firms:






– The National Park Service

– The U.S. Census Bureau


and many environmental consulting companies.

GRASS is is an official project of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation released under GPL V2 and it supports almost all platforms such as Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. It comes with an intuitive GUI as well as command line syntax for ease of operations and it can interface with printers, plotters, digitizers, and databases to develop new data as well as manage existing data.

GRASS 6 is the current stable version having the following capabilities.

– Raster analysis
– 3D-Raster (voxel) analysis
– Vector analysis
– Point data analysis
– Image processing
– DTM-Analysis
– Geocoding
– Visualization
– Map creation
– SQL-support
– Database interfaces (DBF, SQLite, PostgreSQL, mySQL, ODBC)
– Geostatistics
– Furthermore

GRASS 7 is under development stage right now and will be expected soon in this year. It will be packed with many new and improved features such as:

– Large data support

– Improved topological 2D/3D vector engine

– Improved vector network analysis

– Improved display manager usability

and many.

GRASS GIS Installation

As i told earlier, GRASS can be used on various Linux distributions.

On Debian based systems:

It is available on Debian/Ubuntu repositories. So we can install it with command:

$ sudo apt-get install grass grass-doc

On RHEL/CentOS/Scientific Linux/Fedora:

Add EPEL repository and install it with command:

# yum install grass

On openSUSE:

sudo zypper ar GEO
sudo zypper refresh
sudo zypper install grass

On Madriva:

urpmi grass

And of course you can compile and install from latest source code. For details about compiling and installing from source visit here.

After installing GRASS launch it either from Dash or Menu. I opened it from my Ubuntu 13.04 desktop from terminal with command:

$ sudo grass

At the first launch, you will be asked to create a home directory to store GRASS data’s.

Welcome to GRASS GIS_002Click OK to create directory. Select the location and create a folder for GRASS. After that click Location wizard.

Welcome to GRASS GIS_003Define GRASS database and Location name.

Define new GRASS Location_004Choose the method for creating new location.

Define new GRASS Location_005Choose the projection code.

Define new GRASS Location_006Enter the projection parameters or leave them as default.

Define new GRASS Location_007Select the Geodetic datum code.

Define new GRASS Location_008Finally it will display the summary of your selection. If you happy with click on Finish to go ahead or click Back button to change the values.

Define new GRASS Location_009Now you will be redirected to the first page. Click on Start GRASS.

Welcome to GRASS GIS_011This is how your default GRASS GIS Layer Manager.

GRASS GIS Layer Manager_013And the default view of GRASS GIS Display map look like below.

GRASS GIS Map Display: 1  - Location: newLocation_012Now GRASS GIS has been installed. It is time to learn how to use GRASS and GIS. Don’t worry! I hope it isn’t that difficult. GRASS GIS wiki page has plenty of getting started and in-depth how-to tutorials for users. Go ahead, read, learn and start using GRASS GIS.