C_witch --- I'm intrigued. I'm a big fan of the open source software movement (OpenOffice, Gimp etc)
I'm also on the Canadian East coast (Halifax area). I bought Nav-x and the Canadian maps for the iPhone which works ok for now. But I'd like to have the added functionality of a laptop. What did the chart set cost? I presume the USB antenna you are referring to us a GPS
Yes the antenna is a gps usb puck. Its a BU-353. The linux version that I run is Mint and it comes with all the daemon (drivers) to speak with the antenna and programs requesting information from it. I don't care for the CHS charts as they are raster and the vector charts are so much nicer when zooming in.
I looked for months and finally found a site with the CM-93 version 2 charts w/o cost. The ones I have are 2010. I can't remember the web site that I got the charts from now. I can tell you the file is massive slightly over 50 giga bytes, but this is the world chart set.
If you plan on using a laptop you should be aware of the power usage it requires. Mine takes 5 amps/hr when awake. I have not as yet been able to figure out the draw with the screen off or when its in suspend mode.
Our boat has a 300 amp hour house bank and all lighting is LED. We use a Humming Bird depth sounder/fishfinder and a Standard Horizon vhf which are on while in motion. We typically only use OpenCPN while navagating into or out of port and if there are coastal dangers while sailing along the coast, other wise it is suspended and we wake it to get a position fix once and hour. Our outboard generates 5 amps so it pretty much takes care of the power requirements into and out of port with minimal drain to the batteries.
We sail out of Petpeswick Inlet by the way. Our home is PYC. In the future we will be adding 180 watts of solar panels to keep the batteries topped up.
PS we are the boat in the foreground