Global Scenery

The global scenery ships with current versions of X-Plane. It covers the world, except for the extreme northern and southern latitudes.

Where do I get the new global scenery?

From either the X-Plane order page, or from the store.

How is the global scenery packaged?

As 7 double layer DVDs. (It's big. You're going to need 60GB of HD space to hold it all.) The complete kit contains either 7 or 8 DVDs, depending on version. In the 7 DVD kit, X-Plane itself is packaged on the US scenery DVD. In the 8 DVD kit, X-Plane is on a separate DVD.

I don't have that much space

You don't have to install all of it. It's organized by region - install as much or little as you want.

What does it look like?

Awesome. See the screenshots.

What areas does the global scenery cover?

The entire earth from 60 degrees north to 54 degrees south latitude.

What about the rest of the world?

60 degrees north / 54 south is the area covered by the SRTM elevation data. The available elevation data for the rest of the world (Gtopo30) is of substantially poorer quality and incorporating it in the global scenery did not fit in the production schedule because of its different format.

What's the difference between "Global Scenery" and "Real Scenery"?

Several differences. Real Scenery is a set of 3rd party payware that covers a couple of specific areas. The terrain textures are based on actual satellite or aerial photos of the area, so as long as you're high enough that the resolution isn't an issue, it will look just like the real thing. The descriptions don't say anything about 3D structures, so I can't comment on what it will look like at low altitude.

The Global Scenery is indeed global. (See above for exact coverage.) You can count on having every little island in the Caribbean, south Pacific, etc.

The global scenery is all generic, however. It uses land use data and highway databases to figure out what textures to use and where to put streets and what kind of buildings. The textures and buildings all come from a generic library (an extensive one!) and are not the actual ones. From any kind of distance any major city will look quite realistic because the land use data results in the right kind of buildings, but look up close and the buildings won't be the same as the real ones there.

The strong point about the global scenery (other than that it's truly global) is the buildings. Many photo scenery packages look great at 10,000 feet, but get low and they're worthless, because all you see is a flat surface painted with colored blobs. Get low in the global scenery and you'll be dodging detailed buildings. To understand what I'm talking about, see the screenshots at the Global scenery web page. Understand that the level of realism will vary. The quality of highway and land use data varies for different parts of the world, and I've seen some bogus land use just in the US.

Will the global scenery be available as a download?

Not real likely, considering its size (56GB).

Does the global scenery support Linux?

Yes! The global scenery files work with X-Plane Linux 8.20 and later, but there is no Linux installer on the early kits. Look for an installer on the DVD; if it's there, use it. If not, Linux installers are available from the Linux download page. From here, click the link to the latest version of the installer. Note there are two different installers listed here.

How do I install it?

You need to start with the primary DVD (labeled X-Plane v8). Just load it and run the installer. This will install the X-Plane version on the DVD - 8.21 in the 7 DVD kit and 8.40 in the 8 DVD kit. With the 7 DVD kit, it also installs the US scenery. Then load each other DVD in turn and run the installer to install that area of scenery. Each DVD covers a region of the earth, indicated by the picture on the DVD.

Just like other installer-based X-Plane versions, if you point the installer at an existing older X-Plane folder it will upgrade the folder to version 8.21 or 8.40 and install the scenery. If you point it at an empty folder it will install a new copy of X-Plane 8.21 or 8.40 and the scenery.

  1. When you are installing the additional scenery discs, make sure the installer destination is the top level X-Plane 8.21 or X-Plane 8.40 folder. Do not select a subfolder or anywhere else as the destination, or the scenery will be installed in the wrong place, X-Plane won't find it, and the world will be all water. 50% of all missing scenery problems are caused by installing the scenery in the wrong folder. The other 49% are caused by installing an update in the wrong place and ending up with a new demo install instead of an update.

  2. If you use a disc image to avoid having the DVD loaded while you run X-Plane, dismount the disc image before you install. The installer looks for a volume named XPLANE8; having two volumes of that name will confuse it. (Same thing applies to having your old X-Plane 8 DVD in a second DVD reader!)

  3. Run the installer from the DVD. Do not use the installer you downloaded from The installer is a network installer and only looks for X-Plane versions on the network. The installer on the DVD only installs the version (and scenery) on the DVD.

  4. After you install the X-Plane 8.21 and scenery kit, the X-Plane folder is named X-Plane V8.20 (not 8.21). To avoid confusion you might want to change the name on the folder. Do this after you've installed all the scenery to avoid confusing the installer. Note that if you change the name, the folder name will no longer match the name recorded in the installer prefs. This means the next time you upgrade you'll have to select your destination folder explicitly.

I've installed global scenery and now I get an error when I start X-Plane

I get an error message like

Unable to Locate terrain definition
(C++/design++/HLutils/Files/io-dsf.cpp line 380)

You've tried to install global scenery into an incomplete V8.50 or later X-Plane install. Either you started out with a demo download, or you tried to manually merge an 8.50 demo install with an earlier version full install (like 8.40). X-Plane updates after 8.40 modify some scenery resource files, while other files are still available only from the base kit DVD. Manually merging the files is too complicated to explain, and it's unlikely you'll get it right. The only way to get this to work right is to first install the base X-Plane DVD, then scenery DVDs, and finally update to the latest version. See below for details.

I'd like to install smaller areas of scenery

If you want to be more selective about what areas of scenery you want to install, you'll have to install pieces of it manually. Each scenery DVD contains a folder with the name of its region, like Europe or Africa, etc. In there is a folder named All. From there follow the path Resources/Default Scenery/DSF 820 Earth/Earth Nav Data. There you'll find a collection of numbered folders; in each numbered folders are files with names like Each of those zip files is a compressed scenery file. What you need to do is to replicate the path on the DVD in your X-Plane folder, so you end up with Resources/Default Scenery/DSF 820 Earth/Earth Nav Data containing the numbered folders. In those numbered folders you need to put the expanded contents of the zip files (i.e., the +nn-nnn.dsf scenery files)

Each dsf file covers one square degree of land. Its name is the latitude and longitude of the southwest corner. For details, see the scenery page.

I manually installed the +10+090 and +10+100 folders to cover Bangkok, Thailand, and I see only water

Not exactly a Frequently Asked Question (got this from one guy on the tech list) but the answer is instructive. It turns out this area is right on the boundary between the Russia and Australia DVDs and you need folders from both. Moreover, the +10+100 folder is present on both DVDs. Most of the scenery is in the Australia DVD, but the +1n+100.dsf stripe is on the Russia DVD. (Guess where Bangkok is.) You need to install both. I'll bet this happens in some other places as well.

I installed some of the global scenery and have since upgraded X-Plane versions; now I'd like to install more

If you started out by installing at least the base X-Plane 8.21 (with US scenery) or 8.40 DVD:
It's easy: Just load the DVD for the area you want to install and run the installer on the DVD. Repeating the two notes from above:
  1. Don't use the network installer - only the installer on the DVD knows to read from the DVD.
  2. Dismount your XPLANE8 disc image (if you have one) or DVD (if you have it in another drive).
I've verified that none of the DSF 820 Earth files have been updated by later X-Plane versions, so you won't get anything out of date with this procedure. (Some of the other scenery resource files have been updated.)

This procedure only works if you originally installed the base X-Plane DVD! The base kit installs a set of resource files (terrain textures and the like) that are not included in the demo download but are needed by all areas of the global scenery.

I have the demo installed and just bought the global scenery kit

Basically you need to install the DVD kit over the top of your existing demo install. This works even if your current demo install is a later version than what's on the DVD, but if you take some care you can minimize the overall effort:
  1. Run the installer on each DVD, starting with the primary X-Plane v8 disc and continuing with the rest of the scenery discs. Specify your current X-Plane folder as the destination. You will get a bunch of warnings about files having been modified. Select the option to keep the modified files - these are files that have been updated by your current X-Plane version.
  2. Run the network installer to verify and repair any files from the current version that might have been modified by the scenery installation process. In theory, there shouldn't be any if the installer has respected your request to leave modified files alone, but the installer sometimes has a mind of its own...

I installed the global scenery, and I still see occasional large rectangular areas of the old scenery.

You have custom scenery installed. The global scenery is default scenery, so any custom scenery packages will replace the global scenery in the areas that the custom scenery covers.

I'd like to fly in Alaska (or other parts of the world north of 60 degrees)

You can install the northern parts of the generation 7 global scenery (or the X-Plane SRTM scenery, which goes even farther north). To avoid blocking out the gen 8 global scenery, either
If you install scenery as packages in the Default Scenery folder, remember that scenery is searched for alphabetically, so that packages appearing earlier in the alphabet will be loaded preferentially.

For more information about installing scenery and how the scenery system works, see the scenery page.

Why are there no buildings outside the continental US?

Update to X-Plane 8.50. It adds buildings for the rest of the world.

I installed just the European scenery DVD, and there's no scenery

The printed labels on the Europe and Africa DVDs are swapped. Install the DVD that says "Africa" and you'll get Europe (and vice versa). This is a problem in the initial production run of the DVDs only and should be long gone by now.

Will the new global scenery be available in the X-Plane demo?

A subset of the global scenery is available in the demo. However, the size of the demo area has been reduced to a single square degree around San Bernardino airport.

Every time I load the install DVD on Windows the installer starts up

The installer is set up as an autostart for Windows. To prevent it from starting, hold down the left shift key while you load the DVD. (This behavior is true of the initial run of global scenery DVDs, and will probably change in later production runs.)

Since I've installed the global scenery my frame rate has gone way down

The global scenery has a lot more detail in it than the initial generation 8 scenery, in terms of elevation mesh density, texture detail and variety, and building density and variety. In effect, the detail level of the rendering options has been increased by about one step. To get your frame rate back where it was (and go back to the level of detail you had with the old scenery), reduce all your scenery detail settings by one step or so.

Here's what Ben Supnik has to say about the global scenery and frame rate tradeoffs:

If you use the US DSFs, you will have to go down one notch on some setting, because there is more 'stuff' in these renders. The overall efficiency of the sim with these DSFs is actually slightly better on most video cards.

The way I look at it, we have a budget of VRAM, polygons, batches, etc. with which to make a nice looking world...we have changed our budget allocation such that if you measure the settings in the sim, it'll look like you get less, but actually it's just a reallocation of resources.

To give a concrete example, consider VRAM. We can spend our pixels on making textures that cover more area (meaning less repetition) or cover more detail (meaning less blurriness when close up). With this render we have definitely done the former...we have done this by adding more textures, which forces you to turn down your res one notch, which makes you lose detail. Total VRAM usage remains constant, but VRAM is used to hide repetition rather than add detail.

Why not just make the textures smaller? Well, there are going to be a few crazy users with 512 MB of VRAM. So we figure...why not give you the original full quality textures that the artists did, and that way if you ever do happen to get a bigger machine, you can scale up, rather than have VRAM go to waste.

Where can I learn more about the global scenery?

See the official scenery design home page.

For ongoing news about recent developments, see Ben Supnik's scenery blog.

Are there any scenery editing tools for the global scenery?

Complete scenery editing tools are still under development. For some preliminary tools, tutorials, and examples, see Jonathan Harris's scenery web site.

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