KDE 4.1 Beta1: OpenStreetMap Support in KDE via Marble

The hero of the current Marble KDE 4.1 Beta1 release is Jens-Michael Hoffmann: He has successfully worked on getting OpenStreetMap integrated into Marble and KDE 4.1!

This means that once you start our free software virtual globe and select "OpenStreetMap" as a theme then Marble will directly start to download OpenStreetMap tiles from the OpenStreetMap server:

If you want to try it you can either wait for KDE 4.1 Beta1 packages to appear on the KDE Website next week. Or you start to compile current Marble SVN yourself. It's pretty easy: You only need just Qt 4.3 (or 4.4), or alternatively KDE >= 4.0 and Qt >= 4.3 including headers.

Then you can start to build Marble according to our HOWTO.

Once you have compiled Marble from current SVN you can start it either from the menu or from the commandline. You'll be greeted by our globe. If everything went well, you'll see that Marble now features a starry sky plugin (notice the constellation "Orion" right next to the earth in the following screenshot):

If you have compiled the KDE version then you can adjust the quality settings for "Still image" and "During animations". We'd suggest that you use "High" for "Still image" and "Low" for "During animations" however you can adjust the values according to the performance of your hardware.

Now select the "Map View" tab on the left and choose "OpenStreetMap". The screen should look about like this:

Once you start to zoom in Marble will start fetching tiles from the OpenStreetMap server and will texturemap them onto the globe:

Zoom in more and Marble will show streets and buildings. Please notice that we've also added a fitting OSM legend to Marble (on the left in the screenshot) so you are able to identify the items on the map correctly:

In the upcoming weeks Jens-Michael plans to refine OSM support by fixing bugs and letting tiles expire (so you'll always stay up-to-date with the current OSM mapping progress).
On 12-13 July Jens-Michael and me plan to attend the OSM conference State of the Map where I'll be present as a speaker.

If you are interested in learning more about Marble please have a look at our series "Marble's Secrets":

If you want to help us with creating free roadmaps please consider to join the OpenStreetMap project!

Oh and if you wonder about the blockiness due to the texture mapping: We are going to fix that for KDE 4.2. Patrick Spendrin is going to work on a Google Summer of Code 2008 project for Marble that will likely deliver life vector rendering of the OSM data in Marble.


I've posted this news to the [email protected] mailing list. You can see the post at

By Matt Williams at Wed, 05/21/2008 - 14:28

This is great, such good news. I think the two tools together are a fantastic demonstration of the value of free software & culture!

I hope it will drive lots of KDE users to OpenStreetMap, and vice versa, too.

By Tom Chance at Wed, 05/21/2008 - 15:13

You can't imagine how long I waited for something like this. Even though I haven't seen it in action yet (maybe somebody can post a video) I think this is great. Marbel is a great program but I never liked this downloadable OSM-Map that you could get through "get hot new stuff".
Since I'm almost daily on but rather use a nice globe-app than a webfrontend this is a real improvement for me.

And now that I read about this Google SOC project by Patrick Spendrin I can't even wait to get Marbel 4.2
That was the program I was always looking for. An easy to use application which renders OSM data LIVE (without installing thousands and thousands of servers and applications which are anything else than easy to use).
I often got the problem that I have to wait several hourse or maybe even days to see my latest changes to OSM if Marbel will render it live that would be awesome and certainly a very useful program for everybody who wants to use OSM in any way. And I guess with these features it has potential to become a very popular program (at least among OSM-mappers) because it is available on all major platforms and easy to use.

Marbel has become one of my favorite KDE-applications over the past few month but with these features on the way it will be great.

By roger-wilko at Wed, 05/21/2008 - 17:37

good software, but when we can see integration with google maps?

By paris hilton movie at Fri, 07/04/2008 - 19:43

Google's maps are "proprietary". Google's Terms of Use only allow them to be used in a browser. Apart from that Marble heavily supports the idea of free map content.

By Torsten Rahn at Tue, 07/15/2008 - 18:28