So, it’s not really any secret nowadays, that Google saves pretty well anything you ever do using their services. It’s also no secret nowadays, that many people try and avoid using Google services, and would prefer to use alternatives to many of their popular tools, such as Google Maps.
Sometimes, alternatives are available that provide similar functionality, Startpage for search or another email provider for your email needs. As far as Google Maps is concerned, it is a great product but there are alternatives available online and locally.
GNU/Linux users have the handy GNOME Maps application at their disposal.
GNOME Maps is extremely simple to install, with most major distributions carrying the package ‘gnome-maps’ in their main repositories. Simply install with your package management tool of choice, and you’ll be all set to go.
On Linux Mint for instance, you'd select Menu > Software Manager to open the built in program. Type maps in the search box in Software Manager and select Gnome Maps from the list of results.
From there, it is just a matter of selecting the install button to install Gnome Maps on the Linux machine. Software dependencies do get installed automatically after your review of them.
You can launch Gnome Maps right after installation from the Software Manager, or anytime later from the Linux Mint menu.
Using the application / Features
When I first started checking out GNOME maps, the first thing I noticed, is how absolutely buttery smooth the program launched, and ran, using Linux Mint 18.3 MATE edition.
I was scrolling around the world, setting directions for how to cross Russia by foot (which let me tell you in case you ever wondered, should take roughly 60 hours, depending on locations used) in a matter of moments, and it really was quite easy to do.
One of the handy features I found I rather enjoyed, is the ability to right click anywhere on the map, and set the starting place for directions, and then do the same for the destination, if you didn’t feel like using the address, or coordinates.
How this is all accomplished, is using a few different open-source technologies.
- The maps are used / taken from https://www.openstreetmap.org/
- Route / directions / trip planning is done using https://graphhopper.com/
- Depending on your privacy settings, you CAN allow Maps to use your location, thanks to https://wiki.gnome.org/GeoClue
Really, I was incredibly surprised with the ease of use, and how lightweight the program felt on my system. The only real unfortunate thing, is that unless you plan to print, write down, take pictures of, or memorize your directions... You likely won’t be taking them with you on your mobile device.
However, if you’re looking to get away from using Google Maps before you head out somewhere, or just want to look at travel times, GNOME Maps is perfect!
Now you: Have you ever used GNOME Maps? Is there other Linux based alternative applications you use to avoid the mainstream ones? Let us know in the comments!