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NOTE: This page is a work-in-progress. It's not ready for primetime just yet.

USA Tiger/Line ESRI shapefiles

Recent versions of Xastir have the ability to display Tiger/Line 2008 and 2009 ESRI format maps provided by the US Census Bureau. The latest Git version of code should support all of the maps currently available from You will need dbfawk support compiled in.

The most recent release of the data is Tiger/Line 2009. Here are instructions for obtaining a several counties' files, extracting the maps, and configuring them for use in Xastir.

Instructions for HowTo:MAPS:OldTigerLine are also available.

Determining which files to download

NB: In the instructions below, replace items in italics with those appropriate for the desired data.

In a shell terminal, create a working directory for your state:

    mkdir -p ~/tiger2009/MN
    cd ~/tiger2009/MN

The 2009 Tiger/Line files are organized by state and then by county. Go to with a browser. From there, select the directory of the desired state (e.g. 27_Minnesota).

Several files are recommended for first-time Tiger/Line users. The prefix will vary based on the FIPS code number for your state, but they will look something like this:


Use this to find the name of the directory for the state and counties you are interested in. Most of the files are not practical for use with Xastir, so we'll only get a subset.

Create a directory for your state, then store your desired state and county names in a pair of variables (change the parts in italics as desired):

    COUNTIES="27003_Anoka_County 27123_Ramsey_County 27053_Hennepin_County"

Once that's done, the "for" loop can be cut and pasted into your shell to get the files we want from each county and unzip them:

    for county in $COUNTIES; do
    mkdir -p $county
    cd $county
    for file in edges areawater pointlm arealm cousub; do
    wget "$STATE/$county/*$file*"
    unzip *$file*.zip
    rm *$file*.zip
    cd ..

You should now have a set of directories for each county, each containing edges, water features and points/areas of interest.

Move the extracted files to your maps directory

Move the directory hierarchy and ensure everyone can read the files:

    cd ~
    sudo mv tiger2009 /usr/local/share/xastir/maps/
    sudo chmod a+rX /usr/local/share/xastir/maps/tiger2009

You may want to adjust the directory hierarchy depending on your personal preferences.

Obtain dbfawk files

Depending on how recent your Git installation of Xastir is, you may need to obtain the dbfawk files for the Tiger/Line 2009 shapefiles.

    cd /usr/local/share/xastir/config
    for a in arealm pointlm edges areawater cousub nn_county; do 
    sudo wget$a.dbfawk; done

Start Xastir, open the map chooser and you should see a Tiger2009 folder. Select the map(s) you want to view. Enjoy!

= A word of caution =

You probably want to select just a county (or maybe a few) at a time. Selecting an entire state is likely to make loading maps really really slow, even on a fast machine.