GRASS Tutorial - ver 6.4.1 2011.06.16

The aim of this work is to create a GRASS tutorial based on free data, designed to be useful both to beginners and to skilled users.
The main aim is to make the first approach to the powerful GIS GRASS easier, helping the user to discover GRASS' features through a series of different environmental and technical applications. This work is not certainly aimed to give an exhaustive picture of the wide spectrum of possibilities that GRASS offers, but to make the user understand the logic of the system and to give a solid base from which to start to deepen his knowledge. The use of an hypertext allows the explicit writing of the links among the different parts of the tutorial.

Version and license:

This tutorial has been updated to version 6.4.1. The tutorial can be used for all the GRASS 6.4.0 RC series, the most notable differencies being two additional icons in the Layer Manager window and a slightly different menu layout. Some of the exercises are compatible with previous GRASS 6 versions, however specific tutorials for previous versions are available here .

Creative Commons License
This work is published under Creative Commons License.

Copyright by Ciolli, Tattoni, Vitti, Zottele, Zatelli.

How to use the tutorial:

The user should follow exercises in their order: first lessons are designed to be very easy, and every single operation that must be carried out is described precisely, guiding the user step by step; on the contrary, as lessons proceed, some steps will be taken for granted. It is always possible to access the tutorial at different levels, depending on the skill of the user. The tutorial is organized in five sections: introduction and description of GRASS, exercise, commands description, troubleshooting, links.


In the introduction the purpose of the work and a general description of GRASS are reported.


Exercises must be carried out following the proposed order: this allows a gradual learning growing in complexity through the path. Some of the exercises are designed to use specific data formats, while others guide the user through a logical path to create environmental models or tools to support decisions. While most of the exercises have been developed by the tutorial's authors, a few of them have been inspired by others resources available in the Internet, like the tutorial created by John Mackenzie of the University of Delaware. The commands description, available also through the links in each exercise's page, are sometimes the man pages and sometimes their revision. For each command the link to the man page at the official GRASS site is always available .


The troubleshooting section contains the solution the most common problems encountered by new users, result of a long (since 1996) teaching experience with GRASS.


Links page helps to reach the main GRASS resources on the Internet.

Tutorial development

The first version of this hypertext tutorial dates back to 2000 and was developed by Marco Ciolli and Paolo Zatelli starting from the exercises written in simple text format and used with the students of the Faculty of Engineering of Trento since 1996. Since 2000 the tutorial has been updated and reviewed each year to follow GRASS updates and development and also incorporating comments and suggestions coming from users and students. New sections containing thematic exercises and GeoDatabase have been added. The present version has been released in August 2009 by Marco Ciolli, Clara Tattoni, Alfonso Vitti, Paolo Zatelli and Fabio Zottele. The tutorial has been updated to 6.4.0 and to 6.4.1 GRASS versions, introducing the new python user interface and using the North Carolina dataset instead of the old Spearfish dataset.


These pages are always in development. New exercises are added to answer the requests of GRASS users and students. Each year the new exercises are tested with university and professional students for an immediate feedback and the correction of errors and ambiguities. A part of this tutorial is currently available only in Italian, but it will be translated soon.