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since 4/10/2009
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Discussion Starter #1
Okay, so my trusty dinosaur of a PC is on the fritz and I've got a new machine on the way to replace it. The new one is getting the latest and greatest hardware I can afford (because I like mapping so much, I've got a 28" widescreen HD monitor on the way so I can see more map coverage at once). Unfortunately, it looks like no single OS outshines another at the moment, so at least for now, it looks like I'm going to be running a multi-boot system. At minimum, I'll be using Vista Home Premium 64 bit and Ubuntu (because I want to learn to use Linux). I might end up throwing Leopard on, as well, just for giggles, and possibly even trusty old Win XP in case I have some dire software needs not handled by any of those other OSes.

Clearly, I know how all my software will work on XP, but I'm not sure about everything else. My GPS hardware includes a Garmin GPSMap 76CSx and a Garmin Rino 120. The 76 shouldn't have any problems as far as I can tell, but I dunno about the Rino. That one connects via serial port and to use it on the new machine, I'll have to get a USB adapter. That's the one I'm most curious about.

Also, I'm concerned about software compatibility with Vista x64. Some programs work, but some don't. I haven't heard anything from the wider GPS-user community about how programs like Mapsource, NG Topo!, Motionbased, or others work on that platform. I also use a program called MN DNR Garmin as well as ESRI's ArcGIS 8.0. It's an older version of their software that I just don't know about. If it doesn't work, I'm not quite so concerned, though, because I also use QGIS, which will at least work under Ubuntu, Leopard, and XP if it doesn't work under Vista x64.

Anyone have any clue on which programs, OSes, and receivers will play nice together?
 

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since 4/10/2009
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Discussion Starter #3
No answers yet? Well, I've got the system (minus the monitor, which will be arriving tomorrow) assembled. I'll be spending the weekend getting it set up, at least, so I might start to get some answers by the end of the weekend.
 

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saddlemeat
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I've had good luck using the usb/serial adapters. Works better than native serial on some machines. I have also used serial port expansion cards and they have worked well also.

I have no experience with Vista, let alone 64 bit OSs, but I'm not hearing much any more about incompatabilities in the graphics realm. 64 bit systems are still compatible with 32 bit software AFAIK.

I'm sure you've discovered all this by now...
 

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since 4/10/2009
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Discussion Starter #5
Looks like no answers for me yet for at least a few more days. Turns out I got some incompatible memory and I can't find anything compatible with my mobo locally. I had to order it, so I won't have my system built until Monday.

My research indicates that SOME 32 bit software will run on a 64 bit OS. Most of that research relates specifically to games, not anything else, though. Still, some games work on Vista x64, some don't. I would expect the same uncertainty to apply to other programs, too.
 

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saddlemeat
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Keep us updated, I'm sure we'll all be adopting Vista at some point, as well as 64 bits, but why rush it. Maybe next year for me.

I have no experience with games, fortunately have always manged to keep occupied in the forest. Games and graphic/video editing software seem to utilize new technology before it diseminates into the mainstream.

I build my own workstations and can appreciate the frustration when the parts don't work together, took me a few builds to get predictable results the first time. Well worth it though, when I build a new workstation the old one is still pretty cutting edge compared to what you can buy off the shelf 2 years later. I try to stay 1 generation behind the bleeding edge, which has a way of getting ahead of practical compatibility.

I just set up my old Toughbook (300 Celreron vintage) with a tethered GPS sensor and a larger drive. Sort of a super real time navigation device that can run mapping software. Should work well for developing trail routes here in the Zuni Mts. this summer. Fits well in my HAWG, by the way.

Of course, this is all way out on the preiphery when the trails are rideable!
 

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since 4/10/2009
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Discussion Starter #7
Okay, got everything up and running and I'm starting to install some things. Seems just about everything works so far, but NVIDIA's Vista 64 drivers are a bit buggy. The drivers that come with the card are not digitally signed, so Vista won't use them. The monitor periodically goes blank (still apparently reads a signal, but nothing on screen. I can even make Windows make sounds) without much rhyme or reason to it. Reboot and it works for awhile, at least. Sometimes it stays running, sometimes not.

Here's what I've got installed so far.

Garmin GPSMap76CSx works. Have to install Garmin drivers, but no trouble whatsoever there.
Mapsource Topo (old version, not even 2008) works.
MN DNR Garmin installs fine and appears to work. Haven't really used it yet, though.

I still need a serial-USB adapter (actually, I need two because my UPS has a serial connector) so I can try out my Rino 120.
I also still need to install ArcGIS 8.0 and QGIS. Those are bigger installs and I've been working on installing other software I use more often (or doesn't take as long) first.
 

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saddlemeat
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Serial to USB adapters aren't cheap...

You may find it less expensive to nstall a 2 or 3 port serial expansion card. The usb to serial adapters aren't cheap, is all I'm saying.
 

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since 4/10/2009
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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
I've seen some outragously expensive serial-usb adapters, and I've also seen some that only cost a few bucks. That was awhile ago, but I'll try to find the cheap ones again. If not, then yeah, I can always go with an expansion card.

Another word of note...ArcGIS 8.0 does NOT like Vista 64. It flat out won't install. For some reason, it thinks I'm running Win95, but that may well just be because I'm not running NT or XP and it only has one OS compatibility error message.

Looks like there's one solid reason for me to install XP on this system, too.

At least QGIS installs and runs (lightning fast on this system). Maybe I'll just try to migrate over.
 

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saddlemeat
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I ran the compatibility check and was surprised to find that I'm pretty much compatible with a few driver updates. That said, I don't have too many 64 bit enabled programs. I'm sure the picture will soon be different as the updating of software continues its relentless march.

What mobo did you use, by the way?
 

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I've found the cheap USB to serial adapters to work fairly well, especially if the device you're talking to doesn't rely on a lot of timing critical handshaking. You should be able to find them for around $15...
 

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since 4/10/2009
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Discussion Starter #12
Here's my hardware spec for anyone interested:

ASUS P5K-E Wifi-AP motherboard
Intel Q6600 Quad Core 2.4GHz
4GB (4x 1GB) Corsair DDR2 800 RAM
EVGA GeForce 8800 GT 512MB video card
Seagate 500GB HDD
LiteON Blu-Ray player
LiteON DVD+-RW
Antec 900 gamers case
OCZ 700W PSU
Zalman CNPS 9700LED aftermarket CPU fan
Hanns-G 28" widescreen 1080p HD monitor (UPS lost it, so it'll be a little longer before I get another one shipped)
 

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saddlemeat
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I'm running a P5B Deluxe currently, set up very similar to what you're building. I use a RAID mirrored 2 drive array for my primary drive with 3 additional hard drives for scratch, storage and backup.

I do a lot of map printing, my widest printer is 17" currently, hope to move to a 24" or 44" later this year. (I'm also a fine art printer-- couldn't justify such printers just for maps) Currently getting ready to print a 72" x 96" assembled 71/2 minute topo, in 17" x 96" strips. I assembled the file in All Topo Maps, the image will grace the window display of the LBS.
 

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since 4/10/2009
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Discussion Starter #14
bsieb said:
I'm running a P5B Deluxe currently, set up very similar to what you're building. I use a RAID mirrored 2 drive array for my primary drive with 3 additional hard drives for scratch, storage and backup.

I do a lot of map printing, my widest printer is 17" currently, hope to move to a 24" or 44" later this year. (I'm also a fine art printer-- couldn't justify such printers just for maps) Currently getting ready to print a 72" x 96" assembled 71/2 minute topo, in 17" x 96" strips. I assembled the file in All Topo Maps, the image will grace the window display of the LBS.
At this point, I only have 1 HDD, but I'd like to get a 1TB eSATA drive for backup purposes and storage. I'm not too sure if I can do a RAID config on an eSATA drive, but I can always check. Besides, I can always get a 2nd 500GB drive for a RAID mirrored array if I choose.

BTW, it seems a lot of my hardware is up for newegg's customer's choice awards. I got the e-mail asking me to rate just about everything except the case, PSU, and Blu-Ray player.

I wish I could get my hands on one of those huge roll printers for maps. Maybe someday I'll spring for one so I can do what you're doing. I get to use them periodically when I do GIS work with whatever university I'm studying at or if I'm working for the USFS. They're nice. Hope you've got the uv-resistant ink for that big map for the LBS window. Even still, it's going to fade.
 

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saddlemeat
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I use the RAID mirror to protect against a drive hardware failure--had to redo (for no pay!) a lot of lost work a few years ago and it is cost effective protection against that scenario. I had one of the mirrors die on me last year without incident, and I keep a new replacement drive on the shelf now. I believe backing up to an external drive is wise, but replacing one of the mirrors is easier than rebuilding/restoring a system. I rebuild the workstation every 3 years, including all new drives, BTW.

Actually, I doubt the big map will fade in my lifetime (I'm not that young...). I mentioned I'm a fine art printer, so of course the archival nature of inkjet prints is of big concern to me. Using pigment inks on acid free paper will produce a very long lived print, especially if laquered with Print Shield. I have ongoing south window tests and am satisfied that my combination of ink and paper will hold up for a long time. I cut a print in half, put half in the window, half in a folder in my file cabinet. After many years there is little difference, in fact you need a loupe to see the difference. Many of the newer wide format printers use such inksets these days, probably not what you would find in a typical GIS dept, though.
 

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If you are going eSATA get a case with a port multiplier in it. SATA 2.0 specs state that controllers should support a 5 port port multiplier on each channel. I have an eSATA express card in my MBP and I use it to connect to a drive case with 4 hard drives in it. Two are older 320GB drives and two are newer 500GB drives. I use OSX software raid on them and it works excellent, the eSATA bus really has a lot of bandwidth and is the ideal external interface especially when using the expresscard/PCI express bus.

If you have lots of computer time on your hands you should investigate using your old hardware for an OpenSolaris ZFS NAS box... Some day I will get around to building one and then I will be able to access my info remotely or just wirelessly in the house.
 

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since 4/10/2009
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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
smkndrgn said:
If you are going eSATA get a case with a port multiplier in it. SATA 2.0 specs state that controllers should support a 5 port port multiplier on each channel. I have an eSATA express card in my MBP and I use it to connect to a drive case with 4 hard drives in it. Two are older 320GB drives and two are newer 500GB drives. I use OSX software raid on them and it works excellent, the eSATA bus really has a lot of bandwidth and is the ideal external interface especially when using the expresscard/PCI express bus.

If you have lots of computer time on your hands you should investigate using your old hardware for an OpenSolaris ZFS NAS box... Some day I will get around to building one and then I will be able to access my info remotely or just wirelessly in the house.
I looked in my BIOS and I can indeed set my eSATA ports as a RAID config. Thanks for the tip on putting multiple drives into a NAS box. I don't have THAT much data/programs to back up (yet) but that flexibility is nice. I'm really just looking to sell my old hardware. One of the fans in there (it's either the CPU fan or the video card fan) howls like a blowdrier (and always has). Plus, most of the hardware is so old it really lacks upgradeability to eliminate that fan howl to make the box pleasantly useful again. I haven't decided if I'm going to part it out or sell it all separately. If I part it out, I can at least keep the old hard drives. They're not big, but I can use them for something.

FYI, National Geographic Topo! works just fine on Vista 64 bit.

I also ordered a USB -> 2 port serial adapter from USBGear so I can use my Rino 120 and my UPS software. Total cost was $45 shipped. A little pricey, but not too bad.
 

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OK, I'm a lazy ass and didn't read many of the responses, but since I'm stuck in a hotel for business travel instead of enjoying some trails, I'll offer my experience.

I'll go by OS as I have and use all 3 you have. I'll also state that anything Windoze is junk, but if you must, XP is the choice of champions.

OS X- I still don't think Garmin makes Mapsource for it. There are some waypoint connectivity programs and Garmin came out with some half-assed deal, but still not the full monty.

XP- Works perfect.

Vista- It works if your GPS is USB native. I've got both an old school GPS V and a BMW Navigator 3 (relabeled 2820) for the motorized 2 wheeled machine. If your GPS was initially serial, don't expect that your adapter will work with this OS. I've got a Keyspan USB to serial and Microstupid said that Keyspan won't make a driver for the device. It's an old adapter but still. Vistupid strikes again.
 

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since 4/10/2009
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Discussion Starter #19
update

I've been having a lot of trouble with some of the open source type software I've been trying to use. I was able to get ArcGIS 8.1 running on XP running through VirtualPC, but it's unstable. After some reading, it appears that ESRI's software (even the newest version 9.2) doesn't play nice with 64-bit hardware (especially multi-core processors) and more than 1.3GB of RAM.

MN DNR Garmin has been acting funny lately, too, under Vista. I don't know if it's a vista-related issue or a hardware-related issue. My GPS is on firmware version 3.60 (updated yesterday) and when I try to download my tracklog, MN DNR Garmin is receiving more track points than the GPS is reporting to the program. When I look at the files, many of them are dated in 1998 (huh?), and the ones that are not are shuffled all over. When I save the file, the lines are not drawn correctly, but from one random point to another, creating a royal mess on the screen.

QGIS works fine, but has limitations and its own quirks. Its capability to label features is limited, and the 'project data on the fly' feature doesn't work like it should. If I have basemap data in two different projections, I cannot overlay those files on top of each other. I can only switch between them with my GPS data overlayed on top. If the basemap files are in the same projection, then I can overlay them just fine with transparency and all that. The GPS plugin for the program doesn't really play nice, either. I don't know what the deal is, but it will not read data from my GPS. It will read and display .gpx files, but I have to use something like mapsource to save GPS files first.

As a result of these headaches, I've decided to move over to Manifold. The latest version of Manifold supports 64-bit hardware with all the memory you can squeeze into it plus multi-core CPU's and it will run on Vista. I went ahead and bought the professional edition of Manifold so I can get back to making maps effectively. Also, Manifold pro has an IMS feature, so I should be able to set up my local trail maps onto an internet GIS server on my local bike club's website.
 

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saddlemeat
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Thanks for the update!

Checked out Manifold, looks interesting. I don't have a GIS background, how steep is the learning curve?
 
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