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How might I enable Quantum GIS to read ECW imagery?

At the moment I'm mostly concerned about this on Ubuntu 10.4 amd64, but I also use WinXP & Win7.

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I turns out that Windows stand-alone installer QGIS-OSGeo4W-1.8.0-1-Setup.exe does contain support for ECW, but QGIS-OSGeo4W-1.8.0-2-Setup.exe does not. So it seems relevant to mention here. – klas2iop May 13 '13 at 14:31
@HarmOlthof, thanks for the comment; this Q&A needs to be updated. Due to change in licensing ECW can no longer be shipped integrated with Osgeo4w, see – matt wilkie May 13 '13 at 16:28
New answer for ubuntu 12.04 and 13.04 here. After a cursory read, it looks like the ECW/JP2 SDK v5.0 EULA has changed again and is not as restrictive as the 4.x EULA which might permit redistribution by FOSS projects (like OSGeo4W if the installer can be changed to include a way of accepting the EULA before ECW support is installed) – Luke Jul 20 '13 at 8:35
up vote 7 down vote accepted

On Ubuntu, you'll need gdal-ecw from ubuntugis.

The Windows Standalone Installer should support ECW out of the box.

If you install QGIS using OSGeo4W, you need to get the DLLs from ERDAS manually because they are not included into OSGeo for licensing reasons.

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that's curious, that ppa is where I installed qgis from. Oh, gdal-ecw appears to be Ubuntu Jaunty (9.4) only. libgdal-ecw is listed for Lucid (10.4) but results in "E: Couldn't find package libgdal-ecw". Sigh. Time to spend some more time digging in I guess. – matt wilkie Sep 13 '10 at 17:52

The latest build for QGIS 1.5 for Windows has support for ECW, the link is:

When it comes to Ubuntu 10.4 I'm also pretty sure the latest build comes with it too, although I might be mistaken as I don't use Ubuntu a hell of a lot.

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For Windows

see image screenshot for correct location of the .dll's in Windows by 'hoohoo' at the bottom of the post

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I was having a lot of trouble getting .ecws to work on QGIS 1.8 running via OSGeo4W on Win 7.

Initially I followed the instructions on I couldn't find the libraries he mentions for GDAL 1.9 in the installer, so installed the ones for 1.7, but that didn't work.

I then followed the instructions here:, which were much more simple. I just went straight over the top of the previous changes I'd made to the OSGeo4W installation - didn't reinstall or anything.

Then I restarted the computer and I can now load up .ecws.

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