Carleton’s ITS department has developed a recommendation for general computing needs to access online learning.  Those recommendations are suitable for DGES courses in general, but several courses have more specific and generally higher computing needs.

Usually such courses make use of our Geomatics teaching labs, both for classes and for student access outside of class time.  These are currently unavailable due to anti-COVID-19 measures.  In several cases we are able to offer software to run on your own computers, but those computers need to meet the software’s requirements.  We have compiled the requirements on a course-by-course basis, below.  If you are unable to provide such a computing environment yourself, please get in touch with the instructor to discuss alternative solutions that will work best for the particular course.

Please note that the specifications below will be updated as we learn more about instructor hires and detailed teaching plans, so check back soon if nothing is listed yet beside a specific course.

Course Software Hardware Requirements
GEOG 1010 Google Earth Pro (free) Available for Windows, macOS and Linux – see Google’s page on system requirements and installation instructions.
GEOM 1004 / ERTH 2004 Google Earth Pro (free) Available for Windows, macOS and Linux – see Google’s page on system requirements and installation instructions.
ESRI ArcGIS Pro 2.5 – available from the library Please see https://pro.arcgis.com/en/pro-app/get-started/arcgis-pro-system-requirements.htm
QGIS 3.14 If you can run the above 2 programs, you can run this too.
ENST / GEOG 2006 TBD
GEOM 2007 ESRI ArcGIS Desktop 10.7 – available from the library Please see https://desktop.arcgis.com/en/system-requirements/latest/arcgis-desktop-system-requirements.htm
GEOG 2014 Google Earth Pro (free) Available for Windows, macOS and Linux – see Google’s page on system requirements and installation instructions.
GEOG 3003 R (free: download latest version) No known minimum requirements.
RStudio Desktop (free: download latest version)
GEOG 3102 R (free: download latest version) No known minimum requirements.
Microsoft Excel Microsoft Office is available at no extra charge.  A web version of the office suite is also available; login with your cmail address.
Google Earth Pro (free) Available for Windows, macOS and Linux – see Google’s page on system requirements and installation instructions.
Text editor Included with operating systems (e.g. Notepad on Windows and TextEdit on macOS), or freely available alternatives (e.g. Notepad++ or BBEdit).
GEOG 3103 Google Earth Pro (free)

Microsoft Excel

Available for Windows, macOS and Linux – see Google’s page on system requirements and installation instructions.

Microsoft Office is available at no extra charge.  A web version of the office suite is also available; login with your cmail address.

GEOM 3002 PCI Geomatica Student licenses will be available – details coming soon.
GEOM 3005 ESRI ArcGIS Pro 2.5 – available from the library will be used, and can be installed on your own computer… Please see https://pro.arcgis.com/en/pro-app/get-started/arcgis-pro-system-requirements.htm
… BUT this course will also be using VMware Horizon to connect to virtual desktops with our GEOM lab image.  Please see this page for directions. For VMware Fusion, please see: Windows requirements

macOS requirements

GEOM 3007 QGIS 3.14 QGIS is compatible with most modern computer hardware. Additional CPU capabilities and RAM will improve performance.
OPTIONAL: ESRI ArcGIS Pro 2.5 – available from the library Please see https://pro.arcgis.com/en/pro-app/get-started/arcgis-pro-system-requirements.htm
GEOM 4001 Google Earth Pro (free)

Modern multi-core CPU, 16GB RAM, dedicated GPU
GIMP (free) or Adobe Photoshop ($)
Inkscape (free) or Adobe Illustrator ($)
Blender (free)
Python 3.x (free, and may be already installed, depending on your configuration) If you can run the above software, you can run this too.
GEOM 4003 PCI Geomatica Student licenses will be available – details coming soon.
GEOM 4008 Oracle VirtualBox 6.1

A virtual hard drive will be available for download at the start of term – see cuLearn for the link.  It will be pre-loaded with several software packages and datasets for use in this course.

Most computers made in the last 4-5 years will work as long as they have 20 GB free disk space, and at least 4 GB RAM. Realistically, we think that more RAM and disk space would be needed for a good experience, but we have tested on several older machines with good results.  CPUs that are 64-bit, and those that support “virtualization technology” will work better. You can check your CPU’s capabilities here. It does not matter whether your computer runs Windows, macOS, or Linux.
GEOM 4009 Oracle VirtualBox 6.1

A virtual hard drive will be available for download at the start of term – see cuLearn for the link.  It will be pre-loaded with several software packages and datasets for use in this course.

Most computers made in the last 4-5 years will work as long as they have 20 GB free disk space, and at least 4 GB RAM. Realistically, we think that more RAM and disk space would be needed for a good experience, but we have tested on several older machines with good results.  CPUs that are 64-bit, and those that support “virtualization technology” will work better. You can check your CPU’s capabilities here. It does not matter whether your computer runs Windows, macOS, or Linux.
GEOG 5803 No specific requirements – we will work out individual arrangements with each student.
GEOG 5804 ESRI ArcGIS Pro 2.5 – available from the library Please see https://pro.arcgis.com/en/pro-app/get-started/arcgis-pro-system-requirements.htm

Note that ArcGIS and PCI Geomatica require a computer running Windows.  If your computer runs macOS, there are ways to get it to also run Windows.  Some guidance on how to do that is provided below.  Chromebooks and Android or iOS tablets are generally not able to run the software used in GIS courses.

Options for macOS computers:

macOS computers made since 2015 (and earlier for specific models) are also able to run Windows.  Some people set their Apple computers up to be “dual boot” so they can choose to run either macOS or Windows at startup. We cannot support such a conversion due to risks involved in trying to remotely guide you through a potentially destructive procedure.  However, if you are technically adept and want to learn more about this option, start at Apple’s Boot Camp page.

A safer option is to use virtual machines.  This is software that you run inside your regular computing environment to simulate a computer, and the simulated computer can run different operating systems.

Option 1 – Running a local virtual machine on your computer

Using this option, you can boot your Apple computer in to macOS as usual, but then start up a virtual computer that is running a different operating system, such as Windows 10. One great thing about this option is that if anything ever goes wrong inside your virtual machine, it doesn’t do anything to your main operating system.  Virtual machines can be replaced with a backup, or a re-install.

To do this, you need:

  • enough free disk space to add a “virtual hard drive” – a big file that will serve as the “C: drive” of your virtual machine, including the operating system, the software you’re installing, and the datasets used in your courses.  For our courses, this probably means you need at least 20GB free.
  • enough RAM (memory) to run two operating systems at once.  If you have an Apple computer that was bought with the minimum amount of RAM and it’s getting old now, you might not have enough.  2 GB is not enough.  4 GB may work if you don’t run other software in macOS while using the virtual machine.  8 GB should be enough, and 16 GB works great.
  • a computer that supports virtualization – most computers made in the last 5 years can do this.  Apple computers made since 2015 should not have problems, and select models made from 2012-2015 can do this, too.
  • a copy of Windows – as a Carleton student, you can obtain Windows 10 here for free.
  • Virtual machine software – some of the most popular include VMWare Fusion (purchase required), Parallels (purchase required), and Oracle VirtualBox (open source, no purchase required).

There are various tutorials on the Internet already about how to set up virtual machines (click here for a good example), so we won’t try to recreate that here.  We are testing different configurations using VirtualBox, though, and will post details here of settings that seem to work best for DGES computing needs.

Additional notes:

Option 2 – Running a remote virtual machine

ITS has now set up a virtual computer environment that supplies the same software and desktop environment as we normally use in our Geomatics labs.  For this, you need to install VMware Fusion software, and the system requirements are here: Windows / macOS .  Please see this page for more instructions that are specific to our systems, on how to install and use the Horizon client software on macOS or Windows machines (the latter option may be a solution for students who have Windows machines with insufficient specifications to run the software being used in your courses.