Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Linden Labs At War With Opensim!

You will forgive me for opening this post with a little dramatics, the rebel flag and all, but read on and you will see why. Linden Labs has been firing shots at Opensim for some while now and I don't just mean a war of words here. The Lab is taking an aggressive stance with direct action now where, in the past, they seemed not to care too much. They were big enough to ignore the upstart. But the story has taken a new dark twist and the knives appear to be out and pointing.

For many month's now we have been witnessing the steady decline of Second Life losing up to a 100 or more regions a week. Linden Labs has lost close to 2000 sims since the start of last year and that represents an awful lot of money in tier payments. In an interview with Botgirl Questi, Zombie Linden agreed that last spring Linden Lab said they were going to cut off access to emerging SL features unless third party viewer developers stopped linking SL customers up with Opensim grids. In the interview Zombie Linden complained, "It didn't make sense to give technology weapons to the 'rebel' grids they could use against us." He went on, "Business is war isn't it?"

Botgirl's Identity Circus: Interview with Zombie Linden on loginURI Controversy

Botgirl reminded Zombie Linden that the Lab use to encourage open standards and wanted other grids to do the same. In deed, Linden Lab was fully engaged at one time under the direction of Mark Kingdom in developing the original inter grid teleporting between SL and Opensim. Hypergrid teleports and the notion of an interconnected open Metaverse grew out of those experiments. However, the Lab has clearly run up a flag of war now, and using language to match. The Opensim grids are Rebels they declare - all 200 of them, or 200 at least known to exist at this time. And growing! Business is war in their words and they are at war with the open Metaverse!

Zombie Linden went on to say the Second Life community is dysfunctional and thrives on drama which, when Botgirl put it to him the Lab would rather stir up drama than worry about releasing new features and fixing bugs, he didn't deny it. In fact he had already said rather cynically, "The more drama we create the more time and money people spend on the grid." He even dismissed Linden Realms as a lame feature!

Opensim Reaction

Reading the log of OSgrid's resident Town Hall Meeting the LoginURI controversy was a hot topic with many points of view being aired. Basically, given the Lab's decision the main issue was what would happen with the viewers and would some developers toe the line and turn their back on Opensim. Firestorm/Phoenix developers have already stated they aim to produce two viewers - one for Opensim and one for Second Life but no one yet knows how rigidly Linden Labs will enforce their policy. It could be the TPV (third Party developers) have to chose which viewer to work on with no option to work on both, even separately.

The issue is, of course, the grid manager and the Labs changes they aim to make in the viewer code to enable client-side Havoc physics. But clearly, that is only part of the argument. Linden Labs want to curb Opensim development because they are losing out to it more and more. Before, while the Opensim server code was still unstable and buggy, the Lab didn't care too much but the platform is far more stable now and easily starting to rival Second Life. Declining traffic to the Second Life grid and the huge loss of sims is taking it toll. The Lab has run out of patience and the directors want action. That clearly comes over in the Botgirl/Zombie interview.

The Second Life grid has been changing too as it declines. A full 12% of the regions are dedicated to Adult content and this includes gambling, a fact probably not gone unnoticed by parents and teachers for Linden Labs, in a change of policy last year closed their Teen grid and allowed children onto the main grid - albeit under supervision. But, kids being Kids and computer savvy they quickly get round restrictions and the age verification process was found to be a total farce anyway.

Linden Labs is obviously pointing a finger at Opensim grids stealing their customers while they should be looking closer to home for all their bad decisions, contempt for their residents, and a shockingly expensive and poor,  service.

Opensim is growing while Second Life is declining and perhaps the single greatest reason is the low cost of Opensim hosting. But there is more, anyone can use the open source software and set up a virtual world for school, business or just a private home, role play game or small club hangouts. Linden Labs could have opened some doors to Opensim people and fostered cross-grid cooperation and mutual support. The Lab could have been at the heart of the open Metaverse but instead it chooses war with it in pursuit of profit. Trouble is, not everyone in the Open Metaverse is bent on commercial interest and the Lab is not up against just another rival company. They are up against many companies and many educational institutions as well as a whole bunch of individuals getting on with their private  and affordable interests.

Dose Linden Labs really want to go to war with people, many of whom are actually still their customers?


  1. Misfit's Marauders are now recruiting to fight off the LLab-er Horde!

    But seriously, the best thing we can do is simply keep on building and providing quality development and builds. Linden Lab is their own worse enemy.

    But that doesn't mean we can't have some fun with it, though. How about infiltration "behind enemy lines" and leave care packages of freebies textured to look like something the Red Cross would drop in war zones? Build "refugee centres" on OSGrid and post pictures with instruction on how to "cross the borders" to escape?

    1. lol, Sarge. You are ever the soldier marshalling the troops!

      Seriously speaking, yes. The Lab are their own worse enemy and many people say that. They just amble along from one bad decision to another and the Linden Grid is now starting to look like it is in trouble. Two years of steady decline has got to be worrying the investors so it is not surprising really that the gloves are coming off.

      I definitely think you have some good ideas on refugee centers and all such actions can serve to focus attention on the issues and at the same time bring more attention to the open Metaverse.

    2. Yep, OpenSim's Soldier of (mis)Fortune!

  2. i would have stayed with Second Life had it not been for the poorly executed OpenSpace thing. my estate was doing well until i had to make drastic changes that later on were extended a year. if i would have had that year, the transition would have been handled by normal turnover

    oh well, screw the Lab - they got $50K funneled through me so i don't feel badly . . .

    1. Hi Ener

      I remember the OpenSpace fiasco so well. What was it? Something like 1800 sims returned after the price hike and the word on everyone's lips at the time was "Bate & Switch." I joined the campaign to fight LL at the time and got warned off for posting links in my LL forum posts encouraging people to take a look at the, then, very young Opensim Metaverse - in fact they actually blocked me and sent several people to visit me. LL are well versed in dealing with decent. Bit like Putin's Russia I would say.


      I think you did well by Linden Labs, Ener and, as I recall, you went the extra mile and put time in to help noobs as a mentor. The Linden have never been very grateful for all the free time people have given over the years. The profit line is all that matters to them.

  3. This issue could be easily solved if we just had an open-source replacement for whatever Havok provides for pathfinding.

    The TPV policy does not, at any point, prohibit TPVs with loginuri or grid managers from connecting to SL (at the moment, anyhow). It's only the Havok sub-license that does this. And right now, only two things in the official viewer use Havok; Convex Hull generation for mesh uploads, and pathfinding visualization. We already have an replacement for the convex hull stuff that doesn't require Havok. If a clever developer does the same for the pathfinding stuff, TPV's can tell the Havok sub-license to take a hike, and continue producing viewers that can connect to Opensim.

    1. Hi Marcus

      I don't know too much about Havoc and Pathfinding tech so thank you for filling us in a little and making suggestions. As you say, the TPV's are not prohibited yet but it is expected give all what has been said. The one thing is for sure, LL have now made it abundantly clear after viewing the Botgirl interview that they are all out now to stop Opensim.

    2. InWorldz is using nVidia's PhysX physics engine and I just took a quick look at their EULA. It appears pretty liberal and may be usable as a general OpenSim physics module. But I will leave any interpretations to those who know more about it than I. Not sure if links can be posted here, so bear with me

      http colon slash slash developer dot download dot nvidia dot com slash PhysX slash EULA slash NVIDIA%20PhysX%20SDK%20EULA dot pdf

      As for the Havok pathfinding and all, well, if we're not using the Havok physics, then the rest of it simply doesn't matter.

    3. I think it can be posted. here goes...


    4. I put the link at the bottom of my RESOURCES page and made it clickable to get the pdf file up.

      Thanks for letting us know, Sarge. I will read it.

  4. Robert Adams has been doing some awesome work integrating Bullet Sim physics and did mention that he might venture into the viewer code to see about using it to fill in the missing parts.

  5. By the way, this is not a rebellion - for a time, we had several Lindens at Wright Plaza Office Hours. Linden Labs were very active in open development with the AWG and the Open Grid Project. http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Open_Grid_Public_Beta/Map_Locations shows OpenSimulator regions that were connected to the Linden OGP beta grid.

    After a few months of successful testing and cooperation, the project was abandoned and Philip was removed, plus the AWG meetings were stopped. Linden was pursuing an open metaverse but somewhere the train left the tracks and directions were changed. However, the V3 has code inside that is tailor made for TPV to integrate with OpenSimulator. I think the V3 was the last real thing Philip worked on at the lab.

    This is just another step along the path the Lab took wen they pulled the plug on the OGP project. I feel really sorry for organizations that have invested in the SecondLife platform expecting it to become a viable business platform like the web.

  6. I'd love to be a fly on the wall of a few Linden business meetings. The way they keep throwing out these kinds of changes with either little or no explanation (strategic or otherwise) almost demands this kind of speculative parody.

    1. *laughs* What the hell Botgirl. We're all having fun even if Linden Labs are loosing their shirts and tearing the hair out trying to figure how to stop the rebels. Because that really is what's going on I'm sure.

      Bottom line as Sarge Misfit pointed out, Opensim can now move on without being forever the slave to Second Life or Linden Lab's bad choices.

  7. Hi Gaga,

    My comment is relatively unrelated to the actual posting here but I had a quick question for you. I am just discovering OpenSim now and am interested in doing some experimentation with a standalone sim. I've come across Aurora-Sim and OpenSim as options for doing this and you seem to be highly involved in the metaverse community and quite knowledgable about both sim server codebases. Which is your preferred codebase currently My experimenting will be with attempting to build a reasonably realistic and accurate representation of at least a part of Akihabara... depending how that goes then expanding it to cover additional areas of Tokyo.

    I liked the sound of the VarRegions in Aurora-Sim as it sounded like it could cover quite a large area without needing to worry about behicles (such as trains/subways) trying to cross region boundaries and the potential shown with hundreds of bots able to be wandering about to breathe life into the area. But it seems no substantial forward movement has been made in quite some time. The github is updated but no news, no forum posts... and it seems limited viewer support too.

    Would you have any suggestions to offer? Both for the sim server to use and for a good viewer to use with it to get the most out of the server.


    1. Hi Chris

      Welcome to our little corner of the Metaverse. Okay, first I haven't been much involved with AuroraSim for some time and I dropped my regions and gave up on it due to the lack of progress. In fact I've not been involved since last September when the team leader, Revolution Smythe went off to college to further his education. The regular meetings stopped after that and in the following months the work slowed right down and some members of the developer team drifted away (I know a lot more but I don't want to comment on it). Anyway, from the start of this year things seemed to pick up again with more work being done but I was disappointed with the lack of information and the fact Nova grid, which doubled as the testing grid, closed down. After that I returned to Opensim and OSgrid.

      So, what can I say?

      Well AuroraSim was and is truly cutting edge and I think the var regions are much better than mega regions. The problem is, in my view, Aurora Sim has lost the momentum it had and, given it was such an advanced platform application, it really needed a full team effort and consistent leadership which it was sadly lacking. Also it needed much more support from the viewer developers than it was getting, and, unlike Opensim which sticks fairly rigidly to SecondLife protocols, Aurora Sim, which doesn't, really needed specialist viewer attention to realize its full potential as a viable 3D platform that was forking on it's own path away from both Opensim and SL.

      Singularity, Astra and Imprudence viewers all support Aurora in varying degrees but it seems to me to be a piecemeal affair with little of no information being made available. Check out Sarge Misfit's viewer list at the Excelsior Station blog in the Useful Links on the right hand side bar here. Sarge keeps an up to date and detailed info list of third party viewers for Open Sim and Aurora.

      Personally, I really would like to see Var regions and some of the other innovations in Aurora Sim adopted into Opensim. Ilan of Kitely has said they want to offer bigger regions too but he hasn't elaborated on that yet. I think he means mega regions but it would be nice if they offered var regions. All that aside I would actually like to see serious improvements in Opensim border crossings anyway and that may come soon if Melanie of Avination contributes their own improvements back to core. Inworldz, also, has made considerable progress at improving border crossings and I know a lot of people would prefer this because mega's and var's each present their own unique problems that conflict with other aspects of the core platform.

      Aurora Sim is without doubt faster than Opensim and the tools are generally more responsive and less buggy. Landscaping a var region is many times faster than Opensim and when it comes to mega regions, landscaping is incredibly slow and is better done before linking regions. The latest versions of Opensim have improved no end though and, given that the developer team is quite strong and consistent with a good leader in Justine and plenty of support for testing from OSgrid owners and residents, I have to give my recommendation to Opensim.

      I hope that helps you, Chris and do let us know about your build as it progresses.


  8. Well, based on the information I''ve received from both you and Sarge Misfit, I will give OpenSIM a try. At least to start. Both you and Sarge have advocated the benefits of AuroraSIM but have also mentioned that lately they have cut communication with their community. We really have no clear information on what they have done and are doing which really impacts the desire to use their product. If they were to again open up communication with the community, monthly updates on current progress and future goals, and get some new official releases out there then they could regain a lot of support. With no real news from the team in over a year it is hard to want to jump onboard with their project unfortunately.

    Thanks for the expeditious reply and for putting such an informative and inspiring site. :)

  9. Hello Gaga! Reading your blog I see that your sim in OSGrid is off for now, but when we could visit your RPG? Will be a pleasure for me see your work.

    Kind regards!

    1. @Montnegre

      Hello there and welcome to my blog. My main sim in OSgrid is called Farworldz and I am often in and out working. I also have regions under construction at Boston 1775, Steamworks and Kadiz. These regions are mostly for developing OAR files of builds intended for download to my Hypergrid enabled standalone or other grids that I may join later. I also have my long-standing RPG sims in Second Life at Korat and Slave Hunter. Out role play is based on 18th century Barbary pirates and dose include a degree of adult or mature content. But at base it is essentially pirates on the high seas capturing slaves and trading in the ports of the North African coast in historical times. There is a Revolutionary American element too based on Boston Harbor at the same time with Americans sailing as Privateers. We also have the British element based out of Plymouth with a base at Gibraltar.

      The role play dose extend across oceans and for that Opensim offers more regions for seascape that could possibly be afforded in Second Life.

      We also have the order of the Knight of St John based at Malta who serve as mercenaries.

      Presently I am making clothes and building in OSgrid but I also have to re-script my combat meter to handle http data from the SL version in order to maintain player data across all worlds. This is important because we have meter coinage and trading in food, healing products and other things for the game.

      I am planning to also make themed clothes available to role players who play in Barbary coast for which they can earn coin by fair means or foul but all with in the role play of course.

      Do look in some time it will be nice to meet you sir.


  10. Gaga; *crashtackleshugssss!* miss u :`)

    1. Grabs that one and dances round the floor with her...

      *huggles* miss u too!