Location Aware Software for Linux

Ars has a really good post on location aware software for Linux. The framework is called Geoclue and it builds on a number of other software packages and services, sharing an API through D-Bus, which is a common way for Linux apps to talk to one another.

Getting location awareness can be tricky. Presuming your device has a GPS receiver on/near it, you’ll be using those coordinates. If no GPS coordinates are available (no GPS or you’re solidly indoors), you can try to triangulate your position from cell towers or wireless access points. Depending on what you have and where you are you are essentially falling back to different types of services, each with different caveats as to speed, accuracy, and availability, and different hardware bits can give information in different ways. Tricky. Hats off to the geniuses handling that bit of magic.

I’ve talked about this location-aware stuff before (here, here, and here), generally from the confines of a large tin foil hat. But after this really interesting read on Wired (note: some light profanity), I’m getting more into the idea. And not for what happens in the first 3 paragraphs.

I haven’t tried Geoclue (for Ubuntu there’s a PPA repo here) because I don’t have a mobile Linux device I haul around right now, but after playing with my wife’s new netbook, that may have to change. While I reserve the right to don my tin foil hat again at some point in the future, the up side for continuous geolocation information looks pretty big. Besides, having The Man know where I am isn’t as bad as when I play four 80’s hits on my cell phone and hear a couple of NSA guys chuckling in the background.