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ESRI ArcGIS desktop for Ubuntu linux

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  • I wonder if it might be possible to release a desktop edition of ArcGIS for Ubuntu linux. Ubuntu has grown in popularity and continues to improve every day. 11.04, the latest release, is truly excellent and is not dogged by many of the usual linux unsupported hardware problems. As a GIS researcher, I find that ArcGIS has now become my *only* reason for using windows, since all other software I can replace with linux alternatives or by running the software on the wine compatibility layer. I started out with ArcInfo on a unix machine through a terminal client, so I imagine many of the core ArcInfo modules could be migrated to linux pretty easily, while I'm guessing that the desktop interface is probably written in a cross-platform programming language like c++, python or java... Is there any appetite at all for this idea at ESRI, I wonder? I think it would greatly improve both the service to end users like myself and also ESRI's image as the leading GIS services provider if its flagship software were made platform independent...  
    Tags :
     ArcGIS Desktop, Linux, Ubuntu
    Posted by   richjh1916  to ArcGIS Desktop Jun 22, 2011

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Comments (15)

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Nov 12, 2014
Now that Microsoft are open sourcing the .Net framework will ESRI reconsider their support for Linux and Mac?

Aug 8, 2014
This is a brilliant Idea. Our group could then totatally  move away from Windows 8.

Aug 8, 2014
Esri has done a tremendous job improving ArcGIS Server since the 9.x version (remeber those days) this includes support for linux.  It would be great if esri would follow suit with some sort of option for Desktop. With Windows 8.x it seems like now is as good as a time as ever. My vote is Yes Please, Thanks.

May 22, 2014
A Desktop version of Linux is needed. It would make publishing data to a ArcGIS server on linux  a lot easier. For instance mosaic datasets are not particularily easy to publish and test especally when they are very large.

Mar 10, 2014
As Windows get worse with every version, they continue to lose marketshare. Please ESRI, we implore you to port your Desktop software to Ubuntu and OSX. Give us options and protect yourself for when Microsoft becomes irrelevant (it is going to happen).

Sep 6, 2013
I would love to be able to get my work done using Linux at work so yes this gets a vote from me. Then next we wait for Autodesk to wake up to the future.

May 7, 2013
The more platforms that you ca run your software on = a greater the number of uers that can use your software = more sale of your software. Come on ESRI, this will mean more money for you!:)

Nov 27, 2012
Its only a matter of time before Linux Desktops become more prevalent. I think this would be an ideal opportunity to "start from scratch" with regards to the UI. Make it cross platform, working on Linux, Apple and Windows. One could even make it Linux only. I am able to use ENVI just fine using a ssh client and X emulator. 

Sep 25, 2012
I wonder ArcGIS Desktop on Gnu Linux in general, as openSUSE user, I would like package won't existe only for Ubuntu.

Go ESRI, this is the only reason wy I keep Windows ... Imagine to sell your product without depend of hardware and operating system :!

Apr 15, 2012
Promoted but:

1) Is this technically feasible? I believe ArcGIS Server 10.1 now has zero COM objects / dependencies (code base was evidently rewritten from scratch).

2) If it's technically feasible, will performance be acceptable? Who knows, perhaps it would be better.

While I regret that ArcInfo development ended on *nix at about the time I was transitioning from a career as a sysadmin to a career in GIS, you've got to ask yourself what's the lowest common denominator OS for GIS. The answer is, and may continue to be for some time, Windows. Esri is a commercial enterprise, so I suspect they will deploy necessarily limited development resources in proportion to what it's various customer constituencies run and are comfortable / familiar with.

Don't get me wrong. I love Linux. And I understand that university researchers and other scientists are quite comfortable with that OS. Server stuff I can see Esri supporting on Linux as they presently do. For Desktop, the business case to Esri may be a lot less compelling. I have no special knowledge there. Just making an inference.

Also worth considering is the gradual shift from Desktop GIS to Web GIS. Today, heavy weight GIS still requires ArcGIS Desktop. Jack has said at the Federal UC 2012 that, for example, ArcGIS Online does not obsolete either Desktop or Server. But for how many more years will that be true? Desktop may be approaching the end of a long run over the next 5 years and may be irrelevant before anyone notices. No offense to Desktop. We all love it despite its shortcomings. It's just that GIS is moving to the Cloud and Cloud Platforms. Any future history of GIS that is written will likely show this pattern's emergence to dominate how GIS is done.


A better interim solution to the problem described here may be for Esri to offer ArcGIS Desktop through Software As A Service (SaaS) in the cloud. Consider that a Linux port of ArcGIS Desktop may be considered too costly / "boutiquey" / specialized for Esri to deploy dev resources to. Never hurts to ask though--or at least it shouldn't in principle. The niche may not be sufficiently large.

If you can run ArcGIS Desktop / ArcGIS for Desktop (10.1 rebranding) in the Cloud, the OS doesn't matter. Nor does it matter that you don't own and maintain the box. I see great value in not owning and maintaining infrastructure--it frees folks to do work higher up the value chain.

Offer ArcGIS Desktop through the Software As A Service (SaaS) Cloud model for both deployment and licensing

Arcgis to linux yes a good idea, Arcgis to ubuntu a brilliant idea ;) 

Feb 12, 2012
I agree with the need for a Linux version, with a preference for Ubuntu.  While a native Linux version would be best, an simpler alternative might be to package ArcGIS Desktop to run within the Wine environment (a simulated Windows API that runs under Linux).  Google has done this with Google Earth and Picasa; as I understand it, they simply re-packaged the Windows applications with customized versions of Wine tweaked to run the apps flawlessly.  It works, and the performance is equaly to in native Windows. 

Jan 30, 2012
Same....any linux.... foget about Mac. I want more access under the hood not less.

I have to use windows only because arcGIS is not supported in ubuntu.... I'd like the developers to realize the importance and develop a version for linux basedplatforms like ubuntu too....

Oct 4, 2011
Pretty please??? I'd be happy with any Linux distro, but Ubuntu is the most popular these days. There are lots of us techies who love ESRI and don't own (and can't rationalize purchasing) Microsoft software. I haven't owned a computer with a Windows OS in at least 5 years! I'm stuck using my work computer or open source GIS software that runs on Linux until you guys change something.



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