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Software Entertainment Games

Second Life To Open Source Server Code 221

mrspin writes "Having already taken the timid steps of open-sourcing the code for its client software, Linden Lab has confirmed that they'll be going the whole way, and will soon be opening up the server code for Second Life. This furthers Second Life's ambitions to be a fully distributed 3D network — built on interoperability and not owned by one company — a bit like the Internet itself. ZDNet's The Social Web asks: 'who will be the first to offer Second Life hosting or use the server code for their own internal purposes? IBM would be an obvious candidate, perhaps offering corporate Second Life services. And for the rest of us? GoogleLife, free virtual land — ad supported of course. It's certainly a possibility.'"
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Second Life To Open Source Server Code

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  • by rednip ( 186217 ) * on Thursday April 19, 2007 @01:45PM (#18801101) Journal
    The real buzz over second life is the ability to create wealth playing the game. Seems to me that they will always be the 'Federal Reserve' for their creation, and their intention is to make money by creating it. If anything kills second life, it will be a widely distributed unlimited money hack.
    • Untrusted third-party servers will not be able to connect to the Linden Labs servers, so you don't need to worry about an unlimited-money hack messing things up: currency records, user inventories, and the like are separate. As a real-world comparison, widespread forgery of Iraqi Dinars isn't going to upset the value of the British Pound.
      • I took it more to mean that since you can see the server code, you could find flaws in the way the server handles the information, and then create a hack to exploit that on the live servers.
        • People are already exploiting flaws in SL. By open sourcing both client and server they will probably end up with a multitude of contributions that enable them to make the system more secure. The question becomes (to me) what will happen first: Either second life gets cleaned up and nice, or the code is forked and someone else makes it far better and steals the show. Only time will tell, I guess.
          • is for some end-user to improve the server code so that they can support more than two clients on their leased server in a datacenter somewhere.

            The server code is GODAWFUL. If a user can get it to scale on the limited resources he or she has access to, then Linden Labs can benefit directly from that.
    • by Speare ( 84249 )

      I think you mean, "So what's their angle?"

      So as not to be a complete git and only respond on the basis of a grammatical error, I am also wondering what they get out of this. As virtual as it is, they were selling real estate based on its perceived scarcity. With anyone setting up a server, and likely FAR improving upon the aesthetics over the SL landscape, who would continue to play in SL? As the saying goes, "there's no 'there' there."

      • by Deorus ( 811828 )
        The userbase is Liden's, if you want to "publish" your land on Second Life you'll have to connect your server to their network (and possibly pay for the privilege), otherwise you'll not benefit from their population. That's probably what they are aiming at.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      What's their angle?

      What is free software's angle?

      Does anyone remember Wolfenstein Enemy Territory? This is a fully functioning game that ID software released for free - completely! I'm not going to search, but since I know that ID often (always?) releases the source for their games and engines after a certain period of time why not then other software companies?

      ID is still in business because they continue to innovate and make new games. By offering the sources for free and even entire games, ID has created
      • Actually, ET was released because Activision killed the project (which was to a be a boxed retail game) when the multiplayer component was finished but the single-player campaign was not. The developers released the multiplayer version free so that it wouldn't be a total loss, and won themselves and their publisher some brownie points in the process.
    • That might be their angle, but forget that. I'm very interested in seeing their source so I can use it for a starting point for my own ideas in MMOs. I just want to know more about their licensing. I have several ideas in that area, and look forward to some examples on how to actually handle the 3d mapping.

      Haven't played second life though, so I dont know how applicable it will be to my ideas.

      Thanks SL!
    • by jofny ( 540291 )
      The real buzz about something isn't the same as the real value. (Id wager it usually isnt, in fact).
  • Real Open Source (Score:5, Informative)

    by Trevor ( 3833 ) * on Thursday April 19, 2007 @01:50PM (#18801195) Homepage
    The Second Life open client code is already out of sync with the production code because Linden Lab just threw it over the wall and then went on happily producing private versions of their software.

    Instead of waiting for them to do the same with the server, sidestep them altogether with libsecondlife.org's OpenSim or pick a new platform altogether from the growing list of real open source projects: Open Croquet, Ogoglio.com (my project), or Verse.
    • by Mateo_LeFou ( 859634 ) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @02:01PM (#18801385) Homepage
      Could someone build at least one world in which you purchase "land" based on the power/CPU requirements of the land, rather than its (virtual) area.

      The "necessity" of getting a return on your per-square-meter fees causes SL to be overtaken by casinos and brothels. Make the fee dependent on something of actual economic value.

      Just thinking aloud, don't have time to do it myself
    • Re:Real Open Source (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Rei ( 128717 ) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @03:00PM (#18802417) Homepage
      I'm interested in the prospects of a distributed MMOG. The world is split up into regions. Instead of an authoritative server doing the processing tasks and stating what is and what isn't, specific clients are granted authority about the regions. Multiple clients, that is. Everyone listens to all of the authoritative clients running a region, and decides what's true based on a simple majority vote. The key is that clients don't get to pick what regions they're authoritative for; it would be distributed by something like a Kademlia network. The only way to take majority control of a region would be a massive DOS, kicking off a large percentage of the network.

      Bandwidth requirements are certainly notably higher (due to the fact that there's not one authoritative server per region, but several), but on the other hand, it's everyone's bandwidth being used; no one company has to pay for it.

      It's actually more complicated to this, since the loads for a given region will vary greatly. You'd likely need realtime tesselation and merging of regions to keep the loads reasonable for a given client -- either that, or very small regions, with each server running a large number of them (when the load gets too high, a server starts offloading some of its regions). Still, the basic premise seems feasible.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      That's not true at all. There are two full time employees at Linden Labs that are responsible for maintaining the GPL licensed releases and they are kept in sync with the production releases within a few days. Right now, April 19th 2007 @ 1:40PM, the GPL releases are in sync with both the production grid and beta preview grid.

      OpenSim is a great project, I work with those guys frequently, but contrary to popular belief it is not a child project of libsecondlife. It is an independent project that happens to u
  • by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @01:50PM (#18801201) Journal
    Once its all open, guess who will be in the line to download the code and get programming? Yep, the pr0n industry!
  • Harsh Realm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HTH NE1 ( 675604 ) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @01:53PM (#18801247)

    GoogleLife, free virtual land -- ad supported of course.
    How about applying GoogleMaps to a Second Life server, a few alterations to allow weaponry, NPCs from census data, and create your own Harsh Realm [imdb.com]?
    • by hotdiggitydawg ( 881316 ) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @02:23PM (#18801813)

      GoogleLife, free virtual land -- ad supported of course.
      How about applying GoogleMaps to a Second Life server, a few alterations to allow weaponry, NPCs from census data, and create your own Harsh Realm [imdb.com]?
      ...then have the server wirelessly transmit your avatar commands to a DARPA contest vehicle fitted with a webcam and a wide range of heavy artillery, and hey presto! You've got the most realistic version of Grand Theft Auto anyone has ever seen...
  • N/T (Score:5, Funny)

    by PatrickThomson ( 712694 ) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @01:54PM (#18801279)
    Second life is the new IRC? I can see it happening. I propose an interface to allow people to be present in second life from an IRC client.

    > look
    You are in a room of user-created content. Exits are north, south, and dennis.
  • by joshv ( 13017 ) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @01:55PM (#18801281)
    Distributed between two data centers, that they control, Linden Labs can't manage better than about 95%-98% uptime. Inventory items and sometimes even portions of entire sims regularly go into the bit bucket when the data centers have connectivity issues.

    And to this mix we will add a heterogeneous server base, geographically dispersed, with network connections of unknown reliability?

    Get ready for a Second Life experience akin to IRC in the 90s.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Carnildo ( 712617 )

      Get ready for a Second Life experience akin to IRC in the 90s.


      That's more accurate than you realize. Because of trust issues, most third-party servers won't be allowed to connect to the Linden Lab network. Instead, expect to see competing networks of servers.
  • by savanik ( 1090193 ) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @02:00PM (#18801359)
    The truth is that so many people are trying to shove content down your throat in Second Life (mostly advertising, no less) that the servers just don't have the bandwidth capacity. I think that's why they're making this move - to distribute the bandwidth load among many, many users. I know I'd spend more time on Second Life if it didn't take five minutes to download 'Buy stuff NOW!!!' graphics every time I took three steps. And now we can all dream about 'how I'd run my private digital world', can't we?
    • by omeomi ( 675045 ) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @02:03PM (#18801431) Homepage
      I know I'd spend more time on Second Life if it didn't take five minutes to download 'Buy stuff NOW!!!' graphics every time I took three steps.

      I have to agree with this. I checked out Second Life awhile ago. I still have it installed, but I haven't gone back because the whole thing felt extremely slow and clumsy to me. Give me a Second Life with FPS-style speed/responsiveness, and I'll be interested...
      • by daigu ( 111684 )
        A FPS frame-rate for a glorified chat room....gotta say that I'm still not interested. It's all about the content indeed.
    • I could see that making sense. Linden Labs comes up with some sort of economic model where you install your own server software, supply the bandwidth, and are responsible for the patching and uptime; then you just pay a fee to make your island(s) part of their network. (Hopefully for less than the current ~$300 a month fee for leasing an entire sim). This lowers their bandwidth charges, their admin and maintenance charges, and they still have a viable income model to continue developing the software.

      T
  • The Street (Score:5, Interesting)

    by C. Mattix ( 32747 ) <.cmattix. .at. .gmail.com.> on Thursday April 19, 2007 @02:00PM (#18801363) Homepage
    Does anyone else think that this could be the beginning of "The Metaverse" as envisioned by Stephenson? (see Snow Crash [wikipedia.org])
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by arcade ( 16638 )
      My thoughts exactly. I started looking for my copy of Snow Crash when I read tis article.

      I'm suddenly getting interested in trying out Second Life, not having been interested at all before.

      This is just Cool(TM).
      • by fbjon ( 692006 )
        Do try it out, it somewhat interesting. Just be prepared: SL = Slow Life, or Sluggish Life.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      If by 'Metaverse' you mean my own personal world where I can ride around on a giraffe and shoot leprechauns then yes.

    • Does anyone else think that this could be the beginning of "The Metaverse" as envisioned by Stephenson?

      i call dibs on the victorian house on tank treads.

  • Croquet? (Score:5, Informative)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday April 19, 2007 @02:06PM (#18801467) Homepage Journal

    I would ask those actually excited by this announcement to please inspect Croquet [opencroquet.org], a collaborative, three-dimensional framework for cooperative computing that is built atop Squeak [squeakland.org], the modern implementation of Smalltalk by Alan Kay and others.

    Croquet is Open and Free now. It's in its early stages, but so is second life.

    I don't know if Croquet is an excellent choice for building a metaverse, but I'm pretty sure it's a better choice than Second Life.

    • Re:Croquet? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Temporal ( 96070 ) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @03:31PM (#18802849) Journal
      Err... I'm afraid not. Take a look at Croquet's design [opencroquet.org]. It's an old fashion P2P protocol in which each user forwards only their inputs (e.g. keypresses) over the network to other users. Every user must run the full simulation locally, making total network traffic and resource usage O(n^2) with the number of users.

      This cannot scale to more than a handful of users. Croquet's design is fundamentally incapable of being "massively multiplayer". I would say that that makes it not "a better choice than Second Life" in quite a few cases.

      (Never mind the fact that Second Life is a huge, proven, production system with hundreds of thousands of users whereas Croquet is an academic experiment.)
      • Never mind the fact that Second Life is a huge, proven, production system with hundreds of thousands of users whereas Croquet is an academic experiment.

        An experiment much more likely to be successful and to evolve beyond its current limitations with a larger userbase. Hence my plea.

      • by BeBoxer ( 14448 )
        It's an old fashion P2P protocol in which each user forwards only their inputs (e.g. keypresses) over the network to other users. Every user must run the full simulation locally, making total network traffic and resource usage O(n^2) with the number of users.

        No, that doesn't appear correct. From the very page you linked to "In Croquet, each simulation has one router designated on the network. All inputs are sent to the router, and never directly to the simulation running on the machine on which the input is
        • No, that doesn't appear correct. From the very page you linked to "In Croquet, each simulation has one router designated on the network. All inputs are sent to the router, and never directly to the simulation running on the machine on which the input is made. The router puts its own timestamp on the message and sends it out to everyone." I'm pretty sure that makes it O(n), not O(n^2). Twice as many clients means twice as many packets on the network, not four times as many.

          I'm pretty sure its O(n^2): while a

    • im sorry but this porject has gone exactly no where from day 1
      (speaking as a person that has a copy of Atmosphere (beta testers edition) which would have by now cremated SL There and most likely everything)
    • by bpb213 ( 561569 )
      um... Eww. We had to do a Squeek 3d map of campus during school, and it was painfully slow...
  • good step (Score:4, Interesting)

    by freg ( 859413 ) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @02:06PM (#18801471)
    This sounds like another key step to making the web how some had originally envisioned it. Back in the day when VRML was born there was the idea of creating virtual worlds where we walk to a clothing store like we would in 'first life', of course the technology wasn't quite there yet... Now with Second Life we're a hair closer but as long as proprietaryness is in the way that's just one more silly road block. Personally I want a Google Earth version of second life so I can travel the world and see a decent recreation of it made with actual photos and 3d satellite imagery, I also want to recreate my college campus and attend class virtually...
  • by Danathar ( 267989 ) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @02:23PM (#18801825) Journal
    Those of you who can't understand ANY motivation if it does not involve making money will have a hard time even considering this possibility.

    I've had the sneaking suspicion that Linden Labs may not be a for-profit company in that their goal is to get rich and IPO.

    My conspiracy theory is that the people who are funding Linden Labs, primarily Bezos and other Internet rich boys with cash set up Linden Labs to PRIMARILY develop and get the tech of a 3d world into wide use. Then their companies (Amazon for instance which is ALREADY working heavily in SL) utilize it in their buisness.

    My inconclusive evidence?

    1. They just don't seem interested in IPOing, when asked it's not really a priority. If you are going to IPO you do it when the hype is big.

    2. They are open sourcing the client and server. If you were going to make money you'd charge a small but significant fee. Open sourcing the whole thing makes no sense. No, I don't think they are going the sendmail or mysql model by providing "consulting services". They don't seem interested in that either.

    3. In their own Ego driven way somebody like Bezos could change the world. Ego inflation feels great!

    So there..poopoo on it all you want. Not everything in the world is primarily motivated by money and profit.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by alienmole ( 15522 )

      So there..poopoo on it all you want. Not everything in the world is primarily motivated by money and profit.
      Um... you're saying that billionaires like Bezos might be funding a company so that their companies can use its product for their businesses, presumably to make more profit. So how is this not primarily motivated by money and profit again?
  • This is a great idea. Hopefully someday something like this will lead to a free (or at least low-cost), user-generated, small-scale MUD for use by us small-time friends-only PnP-type role-players. It wouldn't need to be much more than a sort of visual IRC that can be run on a private server so that "spectators" don't drop by.

    (Have a sort of RPGMaker-like toolkit for making custom effects and stuff would be nice, but I'm not holding out _that_ much hope.)
  • Just check out Ultima Online.

    Ea hadnt been cramping on anyone who is running devised versions of their server in different emulator communities, and as a result there are zillions of free ultima online servers around and zillions of people playing in those. Despite the fact that there are also a goodly number of servers that are letting people play uo with them for a monthly fee.

    But, almost all of them who keep on playing ultima online cease playing on free servers and goes signs up with osi, uo's off
    • Ding Ding Ding.

      This is also the exact reason why i get a little annoyed with Second Life being seen as such an innovation. The larger chunk of the people still playing UO, especially on the OSI servers, use it in essentially the same way. It has become much more of a graphical IRC than the game it was originally (especially with the death of unregulated [read: player regulated] pvp).

      This concept wasnt even new when UO came out, remember such things as Meridian 59? MUD's? granted MUD's werent graphical but i
      • value of popularizing virtual contact, especially for such things as telecommute meetings and Seaquest DSV flashbacks


        its exactly that. its not for gamers, its not for hardcores, its for all people. this is why sl is something. and that something it is is something that is important.
    • It's an interesting idea, unfortunately, given Linden's record in keeping the grid up and stable, I think it is just as likely that you would see the exodus occur in the opposite direction. I have a great deal of time for the guys at LL - they are visionaries and have their hearts in the right place. However running a robust, bug-free, high performing online system does not appear to be their strong suit.
      • ehhhh. given the current state of many emus that are out for a long time for other games, i assure you it will be to the contrary.
  • How many lives does one person need? Most folks don't even have a first life.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by mehlkelm ( 980439 )
      No. Third Life would is when someone creates the internet in second life and on this second internet an online role playing game. You would be able to sit down in front of your computer, log on to second life, fly to your house, go to your computer there and log on to third life.
  • Second Life Hype (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bjohn3x ( 1019164 ) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @03:54PM (#18803191)
    The main problem with Second Life is that everyone talks about it but nobody plays it. It makes for great news stories only because of the title. Even for people who don't play computer games, the name "Second Life" resonates with them. They see people who play games as playing in a second life anyway. When they read stories about Second Life, they imagine that all of their nerd friends are playing it and that it will be the wave of the future. You can see this with all of the advertisers and Presidential candidates thinking they are riding the wave of the future but are really missing the point.
    • There are currently 36,511 users currently logged into SecondLife right now. Somewhat hard to call that 'no one'. Back on December 29th they first broke having 20,000 users on at the same time. The population is growing quite quickly (much quicker than the Lindens can handle, though they have a few projects that should help greatly, such as switching to using MONO as the backend for their scripting system instead of their own hand rolled one, in testing they've had a 200x improvement in performance over
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Acer500 ( 846698 )

        There are currently 36,511 users currently logged into SecondLife right now. Somewhat hard to call that 'no one'.

        That's quite a lot, but it still pales in comparison to many online games.

        Soccer sim Hattrick http://www.hattrick.org/ [hattrick.org] usally has more than that (not right now, it has 13.000 because it's 2 am in Europe but on weekends and Wednesdays, it reaches 50.000 users simultaneously connected).

        I don't play it, but according to this site, World of Warcraft reaches 200.000 simultaneous users!!! and for all I know it could reach millions... http://www.dlib.org/dlib/december05/kirriemuir/12k irriemuir.html [dlib.org]

        Other g

  • by DaveJay ( 133437 ) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @04:52PM (#18804047)
    I want it to work like this: I buy a small house in Second Life, and anyone who comes through my "door" ends up on my server, and the inside of my house is hosted exclusively on that server, and I can control who comes in and out. And it can be HUGE on the inside, a la the Tardis.
  • If people actually start using other servers, won't they lost their income stream? If someone sets up free second life server for particular interest groups, what's the point of using the official one?

    What benefit does linden labs get from open sourcing their server?

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