Arnulf Christl

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All truth passes through three stages.
First, it is ridiculed.
Second, it is violently opposed.
Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

Arthur Schopenhauer

If you are interested in "evidence" of how this works, follow me here.

Arnulf Christl is Geospatial Systems Architect and director of metaspatial. He works globally as consultant, innovator, prototyper and project manager for a range of clients, see also his CV (PDF 150kb). He frequently appears at conferences, workshops and seminars and publishes most everything he presents Online.

Arnulf with his father in 1976. If you ever were in doubt why he is like he is.



Arnulf on a trip in Peru in January 2009

Arnulf Albrecht Benno Christl was born on April 28th, 1970 in Frankfurt, Germany to his mother Anna Maria Martha Gerlinde Christl, née Korff (*13.04.1941 +17.02.2016) and his father Rudolf August Christl (*27.07.1928 +13.05.2015). His brother Heino is 5 years older and lives in Leichlingen, Germany, Almut, 11 years older lives in the Bavarian Forest in Tharpaling, Germany. Wolfgang (*1960 +2013) and Georg (*1958 +1989) live no more.

After stays in Indonesia, Germany and Uruguay Arnulf settled down again in Germany where he completed the formal joiner apprenticeship program with journey-level status. For many years his better half was Athina Trakas who works for the OGC.

Etymology of the Names

Etymology of the name Arnulf. Photo taken from a computer screen at the Wortreich exhibit in Bad Hersfeld, Germany

Arnulf is a combination of the two names "Arn" (Old High German "Adler" meaning "eagle") and "Ulf" (Old High German for Wolf meaning "wolf"). Spanish speakers prefer "Arnulfo" because they don't like to end on the letter F.

Alphabetic code: Alfa - Romeo - November - Uniform - Lima - Foxtrot
Morse code: • —    • — •    — •    • • —    • — • •    • • — •    

Albrecht was just added because my mother was unsure whether my father (who at the time of my birth had already moved to Indonesia) actually favored "Albrecht" or "Arnulf". No Internet no mobile, so we ended up with three first names.

The name Benno commemorates "Benno Ohnesorg", a German university student killed by a policeman during a demonstration in West Berlin in 1967.

Christl is a common name in Bavaria and was given to early Christian converts. Some algorithms tend to "correct" this name by adding an "e" after the "t" which makes this a common female first name. In that process Arnulf's gender also gets changed resulting in spam frequently being addressed to Frau (Mrs.) "Christel Arnulf". On other occasions the "l" is misread as an "i" resulting in "Christi" a name more commonly found in Italy.

Longchenthar is the name given to Arnulf on August 13 2013 when he took the Upasaka vows during the Ngakde summer retreat . These kind of Buddhist names have close relation to the Dharma (the "teaching of the Buddha" or "truth" or "reality"). It can be translated to Long meaning "time" or "spare time" Chen meaning "great" and Thar meaning "to escape, to get free". In this context the meaning is to become free of Samsara and enter the vast expanse of great liberation. It is a Ngakpa name from the region of Amdo where students receive three syllable names from their teachers.


Arnulf went to primary school in Buchenau (ZX Spectrum), Germany then moved to Montevideo, Uruguay where we first visited the Deutsche Schule Montevideo, then the British Schools of Montevideo where he received the International Baccalaureate in 1987 (Commodore C64 even then avoiding Mac boxes). During his apprenticeship as a joiner he visited the Konrad Zuse School in Hünfeld, Germany learning about wood and construction, finished as journeyman in 1989. In 1991 Arnulf moved to study at the Geography Department of the Phillipps University of Marburg, Germany. Here he bought his first PC, a discarded office IBM with monochrome amber monitor and 2 floppy drives but no hard disk. He pimped it with a 2.2MB hard disk and later even with a 10MB hard drive removing any and all storage capacity issues forever. Shortly after arriving in Markburg he started to work as UNIX administrator for a (Sun Solaris Sparc Station 10) at the Geography department. This was a technological quantum leap, started his digital addiction brought him in touch with his first GIS software named CATLAS (by Siemens Nixdorf) through Martin Klopfer. In 1994 he worked as GIS analyst at the university of Edmonton, Alberta in Canada. After coming back to Germany he moved to Bonn and continued his studies at the University of Bonn.

Arnulf has always continued to expand his knowledge in as many ways as possible including courses, workshops, conferences and seminars. He is an avid readers of books (you know, those things made of paper and cardboard where you have to actually flip a page over to be able to read it. You can sometimes still find them as decoration in large shelves along the walls. Try to consider taking one of them off the shelf some day, peek your nose in it and read...).

In his real life Arnulf is a Buddhist practitioner. He met his Lama in 2003 (or he met me, who knows?) and has since then received more than 350 formal teachings through the Ngakde Shedrup and spent several months in mostly silent and sometimes solitary retreats. He spent countless hours contemplating the teachings and meditates every day. He gives private introductions to meditation and Buddhist philosophy. Ask him if you want to know more.

Practical Work

Arnulf started to work as a freelance developer in Bonn and implemented desktop GIS applications on the API of the software "WinCAT", later dubbed "SICAD Spatial Desktop". He is not ashamed to admit that he did this on Microsoft Windows platforms and that he knows them all starting with DOS and ending with NT4. He was so good at it that colleagues awarded him the nick "F1" (Help). Privately he stuck with OS/2 until it was just impractical to do so. With increasing experience he started to also provide practical consultancy and give trainings. In 2002 Till Adams put him in contact with MapServer which triggered Arnulf's Open Source carreer. It was the starting point of the natural evolution that most every developer eventually goes through when adopting Open Source development methodology and Free Software business models. It was also - unfortunately - more or less the end of his career as a core software developer. His influence on software development of the OSGeo project Mapbender which he founded in 2001 moved to the architecture level. Being the only one-eyed money monger between all the blind developers he became responsible for the operational side of the project. Eventually he came back to the command line as an operating system and SQL practitioner. He feels too old to do anything about this by now and is happy dealing with architectures, interoperability and connecting people. Later he was voted into the OGC Architecture Board where he advocates REST architecture paradigms. In 2010 he was hired by EuroGeographics as Technical Architect for the ESDIN project which developed a Spatial Data Infrastructure architecture for a selection of European and neighboring National Cadastre and Mapping Agencies. Sine 2013 he contributes to STDM and works for the United Nations, World Bank and several National Cadastre Agencies.

In his spare time he fixes things. Although not really depending on individual mobility he maintains a range of vintage and classic cars. This makes little sense because he either works from home or has to use public transport and airplanes to visit clients. So honestly, this is just a stupid waste of time but it is hard to break habits and there are worse to have.

Business Career

Arnulf is director of metaspatial a private consultancy for gesopatial technology. He is OSGeo Advocate and Liaison Officer for several MoUs, member of the architecture board of the OGC and sits on the Advisory Board of STDM.



In 1998 Arnulf founded CCGIS as a privately owned business in Germany specialized in providing spatial technology. Every year staff grew by one or two people. Since 2001 he shared responsibilities with Peter Stamm to be able to focus more on technology again. With the loss of their technology provider SICAD (taken over by ESRI in 2002) CCGIS started to adopt Open Source Software technologies and consequently Free Software business models. In 2003 he co-founded the Geo-Consortium together with seven companions from affiliated companies focusing on providing comprehensive geospatial training services. In the following years he dedicated his time to organizing user meetings and conferences including the yearly recurring FOSSGIS Konferenz (German) and the annual conference of OSGeo, FOSS4G. In 2007 the companies CCGIS, KARTA.GO and Geo-Consortium merged into the WhereGroup where Arnulf continued to serve as CEO until summer 2008 concluding the merger. In September 2008 Arnulf was elected president of OSGeo and served for four years until August 2012. In 2012 he was contracted by Ordnance Survey Great Britain as Principal Architect and Open Source Advocate and helped to introduce agile project management methods into the organization. In 2013 and 2014 he worked for the United Nations Habitat Office in Nairobi as technical expert for the Social Tenure Domain Model project (STDM).

Currently Arnulf works as external contractor of the Deutsche Telekom AG as Scrum Coach managing three teams working on cloud infrastructure, spatial data management and geoportal software development.


Arnulf is a member of various organizations. Four of them are of special interest to him and get him involved more deeply.

Ngakde e.V.

Ngakde is an international Ngakpa Buddhist center of the Nyingma lineage. The German Ngakde e.V. is the charitable association acting as a legal body to operate the retreat center Tharpaling in the Bavarian Forest. Arnulf has been elected president of the association in December 2015.

Open Source Geospatial Foundation

Arnulf is founding and charter member of the Open Source Gesopatial Foundation. He served on the board of directors from 2006 to 2012 and was elected as president of OSGeo in 2008. OSGeo is the result of a long standing wish of the users of the MapServer software to have a legal entity representing the software community similar to the Apache Foundation. Arnulf took part in building this organization for several reasons. One was to make sure that it would not flounder and fail because that would be worse than to have no organization in the first place. Another reason was that he wanted OSGeo to be truly and wholeheartedly a Free and Open Source Software shop and not something half baked. Both have come true, OSGeo is now a solid Foundation running in it's seventh year of existence.

Open Geospatial Consortium

Arnulf is an active member of the Open Geospatial Foundation (OGC) since CCGIS became Principal Member of the OGC in August of 2006. This put Arnulf right between BAE Systems, Google, Oracle, the US Homeland Defense and other weird players in the spatial big shot's arena. His mission is to introduce Open Source methodologies to the OGC process and provide Free Software advocacy for the specialized players of the geospatial realm like CadCorp, Autodesk or ESRI. He sees advantages in adopting REST architecture paradigms for spatial Web Services and tries to get them solidly grounded within the OGC community.


metaspatial was founded by Arnulf in March 2010. It is the most recent of his undertakings in the geospatial realm and bundles the know-how and experience of many years of work and learning and provides for his Financial Background.


Internet Society
German Unix User Group

Arnulf is a member in a number of other organizations:

Current Work Scopes

Arnulf works as spatial systems architect and consultant under his brand metaspatial leveraging the OSGeo SDI stack. He is consultant and project lead for large organizations, gives talks at conferences and conducts workshops. He makes a point of knowing what he talks about and therefore maintains a running server environment with all the software for which he provides consulting on his own servers at He has fun giving database trainings that run exclusively on the command line and demonstrates how to orchestrate multi-client SDIs with nothing but a web site.

He is an active member of OSGeo (an unsolicited occupation) and currently works on better defining Openness in the context of Geodata. And he never tires to further OSGeo's mission by spreading word on Free Software business models and Open Source development methodologies.

Notes on Personality and Temperament.


Arnulf has contributed extensive material about Spatial Data Infrastuctures, GIS, Open Source Business Models and published articles in magazines and books. Find a selection of books, articles and slide sets on his Publications page. All documents are protected by Copystraight and available for download.

Freedom of the Mind

Arnulf is an avid reader of literature focusing on the human mind, knowledge, science and society. He relentlessly partakes in Wiki style collaboration and he (obviously) is the Lowest Troll of this Wiki.

Freedom of the Mind does not come by itself and is no natural law. It has to be learned and it is not even easy to learn. But it is possible. Freeing the Mind

Arnulf has no idea what this Wiki is all about but he deeply trusts that Seven will help him find out.

(Update:) More recently it appears that this Wiki will not be able to reflect my talks about the mind. Because they are talks to people and a Wiki cannot talk. It is like a CD with meditation instructions. It can get you started but it will never be able to answer your questions. It is a one way medium. Everything else involves sentient beings and listening.