I make my first steps in the GIS world and everything is very new for me even if I work on a "huge" project (ie: for a single programmer) very related to maps.

My project needs to know informations below for any location of the world:

  • Road type
  • Road name
  • Road coordinates
  • City boundaries
  • Water way name
  • Water way coordinates

I found that I could have all this information by using OpenStreetMap and my project begins to work. However, now I need to work on bigger maps (ie: bigger than the 50.000 XML nodes limit OSM export provides). I know I need to put the whole planet in a database.

There is a lot of documentation about PostgreSQL and OpenStreetMap on the Internet but I don't know where to begin. In fact I found documentation about Osmosis in order to put a planet dump in a database, but I also found about osm2pgsql. The point is I don't know what is the best for me.

It seems (but I can be wrong) osm2pgsql has been made in order to render mapnik maps, thing I don't need at all because I have to know roads/cities/water ways informations but I am not sure if I have correctly understood what mapnik can do.

What can I use to insert OSM data in a database in order to reuse it later as easily as an OSM exported file?

The computer I use is a dedicated server (Intel(R) Pentium(R) E2180 2.00GHz and 2GB of RAM) running a GNU/Linux Debian.

I know osmosis can insert but also extract a xml file from a database.


3 Answers 3


Straight Forward Guide to Setting Up OSM with PostGIS and MapNik


and when ready



I used osmosis following the instructions on the wiki. Despite being unsure of what I was doing, it was quite straightforward.

Using a computer with 4GB of ram it took about 4 hours to extract singapore from the entire globe. I asked a question on the OSM help forum about this too.

The extract of the globe can be then opened in QGIS, and it cna be saved as a shapefile if that is useful (a shapefile is a more standard way of representing spatial information than the OSM XML format).


This is a new resource that is very useful:


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