I've always been a big fan of GPS-mouses with routingsoftware but for long time linux didn't have even one commercial navigation software. The so called 'free' tools are very good but here in Europe you can't get free vector based map coordinates as in the US so we lack automated navigation. However using GPSdrive you get map-images which aren't bad but image based instead of vector based, the problem is obvious.


The device

My device: USB-Mouse: UG-200 GPS Receiver for PDA.NB.PC from lact.de (~50 Euro, ~2005)
Prolific Technology, Inc. PL2303 Serial Port


Ok plugged in the device:

flixflux ~ # lsusb
Bus 002 Device 013: ID 067b:2303 Prolific Technology, Inc. PL2303 Serial Port

And we found out, that we need a module called: pl2303

In the kernel .config I added this:

USB support (CONFIG_USB) 
The preliminary USB Device Filesystem (CONFIG_USB_DEVICEFS) 
The appropriate controller - UHCI, or OHCI (CONFIG_USB_UHCI, or CONFIG_USB_OHCI) 
USB Serial Converter support (CONFIG_USB_SERIAL) 

I had to add the device nods:

mknod /dev/ttyUSB0 c 188 0
mknod /dev/ttyUSB1 c 188 1
mknod /dev/ttyUSB2 c 188 2
mknod /dev/ttyUSB3 c 188 3

I didn't do this, but it won't hurt doing it:

chmod 666 /dev/ttyUSB*

"dmesg" after I installed the kernel & modules:

pl2303 2-2:1.0: device disconnected
usb 2-2: new full speed USB device using uhci_hcd and address 15
pl2303 2-2:1.0: PL-2303 converter detected
usb 2-2: PL-2303 converter now attached to ttyUSB0

You may want to read (link [1] and [2] to get further hints)!


I've added the "pl2303" module to /etc/modules.autoload.d/kernel-2.6 (gentoo-specific) so that the module is already loaded if the device is plugged.


I added this udev rule to /etc/udev/rules.d/50-udev.rules:

BUS="usb", SYSFS{driver}="pl2303", KERNEL="ttyUSB[13579]", SYMLINK="gps", MODE="0666"
BUS="usb", KERNEL="ttyUSB[0-9]", SYMLINK="gps", MODE="0666"

First I tried the first rule from above but it worked only the first time and after I removed the /dev/gps symlink it wasn't created on 'plug-in' so I rewrote the rule again. You can try the first one, and don't forget to start udevstart or /etc/init.d/udev restart depending on your distro.

If I plug in the device (not dependend on any usb port) udev can identify it by the kernel driver used and map a symlink to /dev/gps which is very handy, you don't have to select anything in /dev in any program! Of course you can still use /dev/ttyUSB0.

I invoke gpsd with:

gpsd -p /dev/gps

You might want to read (link [4]) on how to create udev rules.


Alternatively gpsd can be started so:

gpsd -p /dev/ttyUSB0



I like GPSdrive for manual navigation, especially because you can use it for sea navigation also. Most of the maps can be downloaded with the program itself but you can use:

  • nasa satellite photographs (downloaded via edonkey, no they are not illegal)
  • own maps (scanned)

Drawbacks are:

  • no auto-navigation as in vector based navigation systems
  • it's hard to control the interface of GPSDRIVE

I used Gpsdrive for sea navigation in holland with great success. Compared to commercial systems as the Aldi GPS system - from Medion - which is not able to show the current position on a map if there is no street I think it's great to have Gpsdrive.

Directions Navigator 4.4 demo

There is a demo version (see Link [3]).

I had to try it! BUT it didn't work so I wrote a email to the support which was answered after one day! They said basically 'perform the steps below' and it worked!

How to install? Do this:

#unpack tarball
tar xvzf navigator_linux_upgrade_4_4_14-2.tgz

#change directory
cd navigator4_4_linux_demo_en/linux/

#run install - application

#run install - data
(install luxembourg map)

For some mystic reason the product-key of the demo version has expired. I think this is quite bad. What did I do then? I wanted to test the product anyway (and it's a DEMO!!). I think they forgot to update the key in the linuxdemo. (BTW: who is downloading linuxdemos anyway?)

You can set the date with:

date -s "11/20/2005 12:48:00"

After you have tested the product you can perform:

rdate -s ntp0.cornell.edu

About the demo:


  • You get most features which are necessary
  • You get a Luxembourg demo-map
  • You can test everything (didn't test navigation, demomap was Luxembourg only)
  • It is quite small with 50mb
  • Hey that's the only commercial GPS-Navigation-System for linux!


  • Installation didn't work from scratch (according to the INSTALL file (Problem: gentoo specific?))
  • No uninstallation routine found
  • Serial number in the demo has expired arround 2005 so now (2006) I can't use it and I had to travel in time ;-)

Directions Navigator 4.4 Standard

This Product aims to be a complete navigation solution for laptops for linux but not limited to. I payed 60 Euro for the Standard version but got also a GPS-Device. To bad, now I have two (Not to forget to mention that the device I bought a year ago cost 50 Euro, so that's only 10 Euro for the software, strange isn't it?).


The first things which didn't work was the installation routine (the demoversion was better in this regard). But after some hacking, namely:

1. cp install.sh /tmp 
2. chmod 0755 install.sh
3. cd /mnt/cdrom/cd1/linux (added to install.sh on line 3)
4. cd /tmp
5. ./install.sh (done as user: root)

Maybe there is a trick I'm not aware of but Quake3 worked from scratch with a graphical interface. *ha* good old Quake ;-)

After the installation you have to run /opt/mapfactor/utils/mpfcInstallData.sh but I didn't understand what the script was asking me so I had a look at it:

Executing the script:

This is mapFactor Navigator data installer script
which unpacks the map data of selected countries to your disk.

Please read the LICENSE file.

Now the DATA INSTALLATION can start.
Do you want to proceed [yes/]: yes

Insert the installation medium labeled '1',
(mount it if necessary) and enter the path to it [default: /opt/mapfactor/utils]:

Here you ask yourself, what does the program want from me? So I typed:


Ha that's the trick! It worked. But there was some more guessing but you'll find it out yourself I bet.

sound::nas support

After I started the application the first time (I do that from a console) I noticed that there was a problem with NAS - "Network Sound Daemon" - which wasn't installed and my QT installation wasn't configured using it.

Here is the output running mpfcNavigator (after I started the nasd server):

$ ./mpfcNavigator
install version: 4.4.30
config version: 4.4.30
INFO: using qt compiled with NAS support in mapFactor
starting mapFactor Navigator...
DMP maggie started ver=4.4.30, qt=3.3.2  configSet=/home/joachim/.mpfc_navigator/mapfactor_linux.reg:mpfcNavigator build=release platform=linux
WRN qWarning: Mutex destroy failure: Device or resource busy
DMP maggie ended.

reconfiguration of qt, recompilation (gentoo specific)

I installed qt with nas support (see use flags in the gentoo manual):

flixflux sound # emerge -pv qt
These are the packages that I would merge, in order: 

Calculating dependencies ...done!
[ebuild   R   ] x11-libs/qt-3.3.4-r8  +cups -debug -doc -examples -firebird +gif -immqt
             -immqt-bc +ipv6 -mysql +nas -odbc +opengl -postgres -sqlite -xinerama 0 kB

And started the network sound daemon with (as root):

nasd -aa -d 99

I tested it with (as normal user):

mpg123-nas /home/joachim/organpreludecd.mp3

I also tested my nas local server with the qt nas-client-implementation (see link [5]). Which worked because I could see the debuging output in the console I started nasd. Of course also because I heared the demo wave I was playing. One could also use mpg123-nas which should work also.

update the software

I updated the software right after installtion. On their homepage (see link [3]) there is a section download where you can find new versions. Doing this without a reason is no good idea, but I live bleeding edge anyway so why not! ;-)


After everyting was installed properly I have to admit that the software is quite good but it has some drawbacks, namely:


  • Very good for navigation (chose destination, click navigate and you're done)
  • Voice control is done very nice, you don't rely on a screen in any way.
  • If you have found your route and clicked navigate the software is very fast.
  • Nice interface if you have understood it.
  • Customization of the toolbar is done as in every QT app, very nice.
  • Cheap
  • Map material is very convincing


  • Zooming is very slow compared to other applications
    • Zooming is even slower if all european maps are used so enable only on map at once!
  • Moving the map is slow because:
    • Every lookup will result in an disk-io
    • The more detailed the worser (Hamburg/Berlin/Wiesbaden)
  • "Tools" - "Test sound volume" is not working at all altough sound is working! (strange). That means you can only test if sound is working if you have a good GPS-signal in navigation mode.
  • I missed 3 default buttons in the toolbar:
    • Move map
    • Zoom-tool
    • Set maporientation to North (maybe I didn't find that one)
  • Using the program has shown:
    • Once the GPS-mouse was not found at all (altough working in gpsdrive), after a restart of the laptop it was working again
    • Another time the routing algorithm didn't work in "fastest" but in "fastest computation" howerver the fastest computation was not an option! *sigh*
    • Often I had frequent crashes with the software (4.4.30)


I like this product very much. It's exactly what I was searching for ever since. However I dislike the slow navigation regarding zoom in/out and at least one time it even couldn't find a way and I tried everything. Sometimes the navigation seems lost but I don't think it's my GPS-Mouse because it's working with Gpsdrive if I try.

All in all: I would buy the standard edition again.

Have fun...


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