Why I love OSGrid May 23, 2008Posted by justincc in opensim, opensim-grid, opinion, osgrid, secondlife.
Okay, before we start, let me make it clear that I’m not expressing my undying affection for Ordnance Survey maps (much as I do love knowing where I am). Rather, I’m talking about the OpenSim Second Life protocol grid known as OSGrid (I’ve scattered some random shots of Wright Plaza on OSGrid throughout this post – as you can see, I’m not a very good photographer even in virtual life).
In my classification, OSGrid is one of the “open” grids I wrote about a while ago. To recap, it’s one where anyone (subject to OSGrid’s usually very liberal agreement), can host their own region on their own server and reserve a place for it in OSGrid’s grid map. Once the server is online, it appears in the OSGrid world (as accessed by a Second Life viewer, such as Linden Lab’s) and can be flown/teleported into and out of just like any other region. All the common grid services (currently user, grid map, asset and inventory) are provided by central OpenSim grid servers run by OSGrid.
So why is OSGrid special to me? It’s not that I have anything against commercial grids. Far from it – I wish continuing success to Linden Lab and good fortune to all the seedling OpenSim grids out there. It’s also not that OSGrid is particularly reliable – this is not due to any fault in administration but is more due to the fact that OSGrid updates daily to the latest OpenSim revisions – which means it picks up all our nasty bugs before we have any chance to catch and bottle them.
Rather, one of the reasons I love OSGrid is due to the people running it. As recounted on the OpenSim history page, OSGrid was originally started by Gareth Ellison in July 2007. The person running it today is someone called Charles Krinke (ckrinke) – Charles is the one doing the recounting on the history page. Charles is truly an OpenSim hero – he, along with his merry band of helpers (including Nebadon Izumi, James G. Stallings II (daTwitch) and paulieFemto – sorry if I’ve missed anyone out!) – tirelessly update and maintain the OSGrid grid and its website on a completely voluntary basis (though donations to maintain and upgrade the grid and website servers are very welcome!).
Indeed, it is this constant updating which provides an invaluable service to us developers. Since one of the chief aims of OSGrid is to help with OpenSim development, Charles lets any of the other core developers who want it access to the OSGrid OpenSim logs and consoles (Charles himself is also a core developer). Although it’s possible to do some load testing by automated means, there’s absolutely no substitute for seeing how OpenSim reacts under a real, live load. So when a core region run by OSGrid itself (such as Wright Plaza), or one of the OSGrid central services stop working, console yourself with the thought that every crash potentially helps OpenSim get a little bit better 🙂 Wright Plaza on OSGrid is also where we host the weekly OpenSim development office hour. So to my mind, a monetary donation to OSGrid is also a donation towards the OpenSim development effort (particularly as OpenSim itself doesn’t currently accept donations).
But even more than this, there’s something wonderfully subversive and radical about running an open grid on a non-profit basis. I mean, these people want to build a rebel world with a ragtag fleet of servers spread around cyberspace. Sure, OpenSim is still flaky alpha level code (more so in grid mode than standalone). Sure, as OSGrid expands it meets scalability problems, both in terms of server related issues and in terms of more fundamental OpenSim architectural problems (making these plain is, of course, also a valuable function of OSGrid). Sure, as an open grid I wouldn’t yet call OpenSim secure in any significant way – please don’t upload your L$100000 Second Life object to it just yet. But in my opinion, despite all this, the community and long term possibilities engendered by OSGrid have the potential to be wonderful.