what do I do with OSM

I wanted to download the whole world data so I took about 5 hours to download it in osm.bz2. The problem I now have is I can’t figure out what program is supposed to use this and extracting this looks impossible. 7zip complains that I don’t have enough disk space and winrar comes to a crawl.

I tried GRASS and qgis and that didn’t seem to let me choose osm.bzs or osm in general. I tried a different open source one and it complained my XML was wrong. I am new to this whole GIS and maps stuff so I have no idea what I am doing and many guides seem outdated.


Knowing why you want to do this may allow somebody to suggest the right way to go about it.

If you want to start, try with much smaller area, like city or small country. The whole planet or even continents are just too big for casual uses. Importing into PostgreSQL database would be needed in most of the cases and that can take many hours on a server with a lot of RAM and big SSD drives.

With QGIS you can open PBF files directly, so for example go here:


and download this file:


bunzip2 is the definitive program for uncompressing .bz2. .bz2 is not an archive, so there is no extraction involved. Google says that modern versions of winzip can do this as well.

As has been hinted, it is questionable what you would want do do with planet.osm if your programming experience is sufficiently limited that you were unaware of the .bz2 format.

I just wanted my own google earth type of thing for offline use.

Then the data are just a core of your idea, just part of the solution. You have to visualize them somehow, which means you should first find a suitable map style and be able to install it according to instructions, because PBF files are just a nice way of transferring data, not a ready database (while QGIS is able to work with them, they are less efficient than real spatial database like PostgreSQL+PostGIS).

Importing data takes a lot of time - on my personal machine it takes ~1,5 h to import just Poland PBF (~1 GB) into PostgreSQL. You can read more on installing tile server (which would be image source of your offline map) here:


but please be aware that it’s not a small task and you need more than just tiles to have a usable map.

Current OSM world data need powerful machine:


That means that having offline world map is rather not possible for unexperienced user with a typical computer. There are however providers which can help you to make your map available on-line (sometimes for free if that’s not going to be visited too much):


I have 64GB of ram and several TB free I just need to know what the heck to do with this. I don’t really want a web version I just want to get it loaded into a program for me to view. Before now I have never even heard of a tile server.

Great, so you have strong enough hardware to think about importing planet data! Even if the disks are SSD, this will rather take days than hours (more so with HDD), but that’s doable, if you want.

What operating system are you using? This might help to find a proper solution.

Tile server is used also locally, without the web, with just a web browser pointing to a local host. This is just a common solution, but other GIS software like QGIS is also possible (I don’t know GRASS good enough to tell).

However you still need some map style, because raw imported data don’t “look” like a map (it’s a table with key and value, like building=yes and lat/lon for each node). QGIS can use PostgreSQL data and there are some styles for OSM data to choose from:


(The problem is that QGIS can’t use so called hstore yet, but that is used for the less popular features, so it might not be interesting to you anyway.)

My proposition would be to start with small data extract first (like Liechtenstein PBF) and display it in QGIS using one of the styles. Here is a basic manual for this (you can skip data source segments, of course):

If that sample is what you like, you can import data to PostgreSQL with PostGIS extension using planet PBF file import via osm2pgsql: