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OpenCPN Quickstart

OpenCPN is a concise Chart Plotter and Navigator (CPN). As always, never use a piece of software or electronic equipment as your only means of navigation and keep an eye out the window.


Setting up your charts

Before running OpenCPN on the LiveDVD you should activate the sample data. This is a condition of redistributing NOAA’s free nautical charts. The first time you run OpenCPN from the Geospatial ‣ Navigation and Maps menu or Desktop icon you will be presented with the option to do this automatically.

You can download additional US nautical charts from NOAA at

Setting up your GPS

If you have a GPS connected you will want to start the gpsd service. To do that run:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure gpsd


sudo /etc/init.d/gpsd start

BlueTooth GPS users should take special care to read up about the no-probe option.

  • xgps’ is a good program to check that Gpsd can see your GPS ok.


See also

Current weather and wave forecast data can be downloaded and draped over your charts using the GRIB plugin. The zyGrib software (also on this disc) is an easy way to download that. See the zyGrib quickstart for details. Enable the plugin from the right most tab of the OpenCPN configuration menu; a new windsock icon will appear at the right end of the main toolbar.

If you saved the zyGrib file into your home directory, navigate to /home and select your user directory as the GRIB data directory. Then right click on the file listing’s background to show hidden files, including the .zygrib directory that contains the GRIB download files.

There is no need to uncompress the file. Click on the “>” to the left of the filename and select from the list of available forecast times.