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Configuring Xastir

Xastir Menus

  • Note that the menu's have a dashed line near the top. If you click on that dashed line it acts like a cut-line for the menu and detaches that menu from the main menu. You can then move that menu off to another area of your screen. You might try that with the File->Configure menu at this time.

Basic Parameters

  • Go to the File->Configure->Station menu and set your callsign. Set up other parameters/comment fields on this dialog that may need setting.
  • Go to the File->Configure->Defaults menu and set parameters there.

You have the main parameters set now. Next is to enable some interfaces so that you can see some packets come across. Easiest might be the Internet interfaces, assuming the computer you're on has Internet access and is hooked up to it currently.

One thing about configuration: Most things don't get written to Xastir's config file until you choose either "File->Configure->Save Config Now!" or you exit Xastir. Map Selections however are immediate.

Setup an Interface

  • Run "callpass" in another Xterm window in order to generate your Pass-code number. Save that number as you'll need it for each Interface dialog where you might need to authenticate your callsign. Of course you can always run callpass again if you forget it!
  • Go to Interface->Properties then click on "Add". Click "Internet Server". Another dialog will come up that allows you to enter the Host, and the Port. Enter your Pass-code number here. People often check the "Activate on Startup?" and the "Reconnect on NET failure?" options on this box. You may also assign a comment to this interface which describes the interface better for you. Click "OK" to create the interface. If you checked "Activate on Startup?" then the interface will start as well and you'll be receiving packets.

Browse "" to find a reasonable set of servers to start with. Another possibility is to use "" port 14580, which theoretically should rotate among the available second-tier servers. See "" for more info. You'll need to put in a filter string, such as "r/35/-106/500" which shows you stations that are within 500km of 35dN/106dW (Thanks for that one Tom!). For additional filter settings check out [JavaAPRSFilter].

  • Start that interface from the Interface->Start/Stop dialog if it's not started already. You'll see icons in the lower right toggling and see callsigns in the lower left status box if packets are coming in.

  • Creating/starting interfaces for other types of devices is similar. If you're wanting to create AX.25 kernel networking ports you'll have to refer to the HAM HOWTO documents and perhaps the linux-hams mailing list for help. For AGWPE connections refer to that AGWPE docs and mailing list.

It's recommended that if you run a local TNC, you run it in KISS mode. You can do that via the Serial KISS TNC interface, or via AX.25 Kernel Networking ports.

Some of the more esoteric types of interfaces may require some questions on the Xastir list. Don't be afraid to ask about them as we've all been there before.

About Paths

Old path methods: In most areas of the country, RELAY,WIDE2-2 should suffice for a path. Never put RELAY anywhere but at the beginning of a path. Never use anything higher than about WIDE4-4 unless you really know what you're doing and are in a very rural area.

Some areas of the country don't support RELAY on the mountaintops, in which case you might want WIDE2-2 or WIDE3-3 as paths. Some areas don't support the WIDEn-N flooding protocol, in which case you might want RELAY,WIDE,WIDE or similar.

New path methods: Discussed early April, 2005, and beginning to be implemented world-wide:

   "WIDE2-2" for fixed stations, balloons, aeronautical-mobile
   "WIDE2-2" or
   "WIDE1-1,WIDE2-2" for mobiles/portables

With this system, "WIDE1-1" has replaced "RELAY", so you never want to use "WIDE1-1" in anything but the first path slot. "RELAY", "WIDE", "TRACE", and "TRACEn-N" are deprecated and should not be used anymore.

If you want to insert a single hop callsign later in the path use "WIDE2-1" instead, for example: "WIDE1-1,WIDE2-1" will go exactly two hops and use either the home fill-in digi's or the mountaintop digi's for the first hop, mountaintop digi's only for the second hop.

Home fill-in digi's (only where absolutely needed) should be set up to respond to "WIDE1-1" now instead of "RELAY".

About the Map Directory

The map directory (/usr/local/share/xastir/maps/) is free-form, meaning you can have links in there, subdirectories, etc. Organize it in any way that makes sense to you. From within the Map Chooser you can select a directory name, which will select every map underneath that directory, so keep that in mind while organizing your maps. See HowTo:MAPS for more information on where to get maps and what kinds of maps are supported.

Enabling Weather Alerts

You must have Shapelib compiled into Xastir; PRCE/dbfawk are optional. Install NOAA shapefile maps as specified in README.MAPS. These files must be installed into the /usr/local/share/xastir/Counties/ directory.

A neat trick: You can copy some of these maps into the /usr/local/share/xastir/maps directory somewhere (a new subdirectory under there is always fine), then you can select some of these maps as regular Xastir maps as well.

Enabling FCC/RAC Callsign Lookup

Run the fcc-get script as root, which will download and install the proper databases into the /usr/local/share/xastir/fcc/ directory. At that point the callsign lookup features in the Station Info dialog and in the "Station->Find Station" menu option should be functional.

Enabling Map Feature Lookup

Install USGS GNIS files into the /usr/local/share/xastir/GNIS/ directory. Call out the proper file when invoking the "Map->Locate Map Feature" menu option. Note that if you also link a subdirectory name under the maps directory back to the /usr/local/share/xastir/GNIS/ directory, you'll be able to use the GNIS files as maps under the Map Chooser as well. See HowTo:MAPS and the get-gnis script for how to do this.

Enabling Street Address Lookup

Download the USA.geocode file and install it into the /usr/local/share/xastir/GNIS/ directory. This will enable the "Map->Find Address" menu option to work. Xastir will place a big "X" on the map at the street address it finds for you. This file is sometimes available at As an alternative you can download the individual state files that are located there.

Enabling Audio Alarms

Download and install sample audio files from Xastir's GitHub site:

 git clone

Copy the files to your Xastir sounds directory, for instance:


Install a command-line audio player. Call out the path/name of that player in the File->Configure->Audio Alarms dialog. Common ones are vplay and auplay, but there are many others. Enable the types of alarms you desire in that same dialog.

Enabling Synthesized Speech






Install the Festival Speech Synthesizer. Configure/compile support for it into Xastir. Start up the Festival server before starting Xastir. Xastir should start up and connect to the server. Use the options in File->Configure->Speech to decide which things you'd like Xastir to speak to you about.

Note that the Proximity Alert option in the File->Configure->Speech dialog uses the distances set in the File->Configure->Audio Alarms dialog.

Enabling GPS Waypoint/Track/Route Download Support

Install GPSMan and gpsmanshp. Configure/compile support for it in Xastir. Start up GPSMan separately and configure it for your GPS and serial port. You'll see download options for each type on the Interface menu. TBD

Enabling Garmin RINO Support

Install GPSMan (and gpsmanshp if you wish normal GPS download support as well). Configure/compile support for it in Xastir. Start up GPSMan separately and configure it for your GPS and serial port. In the "File->Configure->Timing" dialog you'll see an option for "RINO -> Objects Interval". That sets the interval at which Xastir will download waypoints from an attached RINO unit. Any waypoints that begin with "APRS" will have the "APRS" chopped off, and the remaining name will be used to create APRS(tm) Objects. Those objects will be plotted on the map and transmitted as well if transmit for objects/items is enabled. TBD

Transmit Enable/Disable Options

Each interface has a separate transmit enable. The Interface menu also has a few global transmit enables. All of these must be enabled for a particular interface to transmit. Also, for Internet servers, you typically need to authenticate with the server using your callsign/pass-code before you're allowed to inject packets into the Internet stream which may get gated out to RF. If you just want to talk to other Internet users, you don't need a pass-code to authenticate to the servers.

Igating Options

There are igating options on each local TNC interface. There are other global igating options on the File->Configure->Defaults dialog. The global option sets restrictions on all igating.

Where stuff is kept

Per-user configurations are kept in each user's ~/.xastir directory, by default. In particular the ~/.xastir/config/xastir.cnf file is where most of the configs are kept. This directory can be optionally specified using the -c /path/dir command line option. Make sure you specify a directory, not a file! Xastir will create the directory and several subdirectories if they do not exist when you start up.

A few executables are installed in /usr/local/bin/.

Scripts are installed in /usr/local/lib/xastir/.

Maps are installed in /usr/local/share/xastir/maps/. Lots of other directories are under /usr/local/share/xastir/.