Good GIS-Software is quite rare if you are a linux user like me. Usually you have no option than to fall back on software unsupported by your University and your favorite analysis-tool. As far as i know there are 3 good solutions if you work under linux. First and probably the best is QGIS, which looks a lot like ArcGis in his earlier versions and has many good plugins which i will introduce to you in this post. If you search for a function not available in Qgis (for example LCP-Analysis for habitat patches) you could fall back to SAGA, which has many awesome functions and additionally is much faster in calculations. Another nice solution is OpenJump executable with the openjdk jre.
As for now i usually use Qgis, mostly because of the intuitive handling and the aesthetics (try to produce a good-looking map for publication with SAGA. It is of course possible but no easy deal for beginners). Under the development-version of Qgis (1.7.3) there are some plugins you absolutely need! You could find the plugins by searching through the additional repositories.
- ftools = provides all necessary operations and tools for vector analysis. Must have!
- Select features of visible layers = the name is self explaining and i use this plugin a lot.
- Random HR = Generates random home ranges from a point layer
- Openlayers plugin = With this plugin you can easily add OSM or Google Maps.
- GdalTools = Some basic raster operations
I’m open for any other good plugin suggestions 🙂 Some day i will definitely get my lazy ass up and write my own plugins for Qgis, for all functions i am missing from ArcGis. I would also like to see that some of the mentioned plugins will be included in the Qgis main program.