Configuration of Geoserver

Mapservers have never taken centre stage in my thinking on how to make Ecosur’s geographical data more widely available.  When using a geographical data base the underlying information is almost by definition available for analysis. In contrast data served up by a mapserver is usually only suitable for visualisation. However mapservers have an important role in conjunction with PostGIS. The NASA JPL wms server is a an essential provider of satelite images that provide the backdrop that allows a visual intepretation of spatial information.

At a recent workshop Conabio provided me with a very nice shaded relief map for Mexico derived from a digital elevation model. I have been using it locally with Qgis. However I became concerned that it must also be potentially made available for use with POSTGIS at an institutional level. This clearly needs a mapserver.

I have previously wasted a fair ammount of time failing to configure mapservers correctly. So this morning I looked with some trepidation at geoserver. To my relief within an hour I had geoserver configured and the shaded image available to QGIS through a local host WMS.

The steps are extremely simple:

1. Download geoserver as a zip file

2. Extract the contents.

3. Set an environmental variable to point to your implementation of Java. I have sun java 6 installed using the medibuntu repository.

sudo gedit /etc/environment

Add this line


4. Reboot and run mapserver using a command that goes something like


5. Point the browser at


Then if everything is working simply follow all the online instructions in order to add layers.

With geoserver started there is a new wms server that QGis can connect to.

It is also easy to include data from geoserver in Google Earth. Choose <add> <image overlay> from the menu. Then the “refresh tab”. Click on WMS parameters and add the geoserver details.

You then have the layer in Google Earth


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