Seafloor Mapping Software:
Processing and Display
of Swath Sonar Data
David W. Caress (1) and Dale N. Chayes (2)
1. Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
2. Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
of Columbia University


Introduction
MB-System is an open source software package for the processing and display of bathymetry and backscatter imagery data derived from multibeam, interferometry, and sidescan sonars. The source code for MB-System is freely available (for free) by anonymous ftp (including "point and click" access through these web pages). A complete description is provided in web pages accessed through links below.

MB-System was originally developed at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University (L-DEO) and is now a collaborative effort between the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) and L-DEO. The National Science Foundation has provided the primary support for MB-System development since 1993. The Packard Foundation has provided significant support through MBARI since 1998. Additional support has derived from SeaBeam Instruments (1994-1997), NOAA (2002-2004), and others.


Current Distribution Release Status

Latest Release: 5.4.2208 (29 October 2014)


Recent Announcements


Not So Recent Announcements


Caution
MB-System is under active development and is updated periodically. This (usually) results in improved performance and additional capabilities, but often means that the documentation (including these web pages) lag somewhat behind the actual software. Please bear with us and send your comments and suggestions.


Download MB-System Releases
Complete documentation about downloading and installing MB-System is available at:
The MB-System source code distribution and related files, including data samples, are available by anonymous ftp to
Click here to download (by ftp) the most recent MB-System source code release.

MB-System is included in Poseidon Linux, the "Scientific GNU/Linux". Poseidon is an Ubuntu Linux based distribution including a selection of open source software packages intended to support scientific research. In particular, it offers several specific tools in the areas of GIS, 3D Visualization, Mathematics, Statistics and several other fields of research.

MB-System has been packaged for MacOS X as part of the Fink Project. The MB-System Fink package can be found at:

http://pdb.finkproject.org/pdb/package.php/mbsystem

MB-System has also been packaged for MacOs X as part of Homebrew. If you have Homebrew installed, then MB-System and its prerequisites can be installed using these two commands:

brew tap homebrew/science
brew install mbsystem

The OSGeo-Live distribution includes MB-System. OSGeo-Live is a self-contained bootable DVD, USB thumb drive or Virtual Machine based on Xubuntu that includes a wide variety of open source geospatial software.

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography's Shipboard Technical Support group maintains a repository of open source software RPM distributions for Red Hat Enterprise Linux and CentOS Linux. This repository includes both source and binary distributions of MB-System, GMT, and netCDF that can be accessed using the yum utility. The MB-System RPMs require the GMT and netCDF RPMs, but have no other external dependencies. This repository can be found at:

The SIO-STS gpg signing key is

Thanks to Christian Ferreira for creating and distributing Poseidon Linux, to Kurt Schwehr for maintaing the Fink MB-System package, to Anthony Lukach for maintaining the Homebrew MB-System package, to Hamish Bowman for maintaining the OSGeo-Live MB-System package, and to Frank Delahoyde for maintaining the CentOS MB-System RPM distribution.


Access MB-System Source Version Control System
The MB-System source code is archived and managed using Subversion, an open source version control system. The MB-System and MB-Cookbook Subversion repositories can be browsed through a web interface at:
http://svn.mb-system.org/
 
The MB-System repository is at:
http://svn.mb-system.org/listing.php?repname=MB-System
The entire repository, or individual files, can be downloaded through this web interface. Clicking the the link above to bring up the WebSVN interface showing the most recent revision to the MB-System code base, along with a list of paths including "branches", "tags", and "trunk". To download the entire code base, click on the "Download" link to the right of "trunk". To browse the structure and download individual files, click on the "trunk" link. Users can build MB-System using this downloaded code base, but should note that the repository stores a number of files that are not included in the MB-System distributions.

Documentation
The complete web page documentation distributed with MB-System can be accessed here:

Current Release:


The MB-System Cookbook tutorial documentation by Val Schmidt, Dale N. Chayes, and David W. Caress is available both as web pages and as a downloadable pdf document:

A document providing guidance for integrating a third-party bathymetry editor with the MB-System processing environment can be accessed here:

Integrating third-party bathymetry editors with MB-System


A document providing guidance for supporting new data formats in MB-System can be accessed here:

Developer's Guide to Writing an MB-System I/O Module

A few swath data format specifications made available to us can be viewed here:

Documents concerning how mapping sonars work can be viewed here:



MB-System User's and Developer's Discussion Lists
We maintain two MB-System email discussion lists to facillitate communication among MB-System users and developers.
The MB-System User's Discussion List is intended for questions about how to use MB-System, for discussions of bugs and other problems, and for suggestions about improving the software. We encourage users with questions and/or problems to use this list rather than emailing the developers directly. One must subscribe to the list in order to post messages, but the message archive is publically viewable and searchable over a web interface. The maximum message size in this list is 100K.

The web interface to the MB-System User's Discussion List is at:

http://listserver.mbari.org/sympa/info/mbsystem

To subscribe to the MB-System User's Discussion List go to:

http://listserver.mbari.org/sympa/subscribe/mbsystem

To read the MB-System User's Discussion List archives go to:

http://listserver.mbari.org/sympa/arc/mbsystem

The MB-System Developer's Discussion List is intended for detailed discussions amongst the active MB-System developers. All are welcome to join the developer's list, but be warned that topics may not be of general interest. One must subscribe to the list in order to post messages, but the message archive is publically viewable and searchable over a web interface. The maximum message size in this list is 100K.

The web interface to the MB-System Developer's Discussion List is at:

http://listserver.mbari.org/sympa/info/mbsystem-dev

To subscribe to the MB-System Developer's Discussion List go to:

http://listserver.mbari.org/sympa/subscribe/mbsystem-dev

To read the MB-System Developer's Discussion List archives go to:

http://listserver.mbari.org/sympa/arc/mbsystem-dev


MB-System Announcement List
We maintain another very low traffic list of email addresses which is used solely for providing notification of major updates. If you would like to be notified when new releases are available, but do not wish to join the discussion list described above, please send an email message to:
with a single line in the body of the message that says:
to be automatically added to the announcement list.


Last Updated: 29 October 2014