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OpenLife and OpenSim November 7, 2008

Posted by justincc in opensim, opensim-grid.

opensim-logo-shortIt seems that with the recent rise In Linden Lab’s OpenSpace sim prices there has been a corresponding increase in interest in OpenSim and OpenSim grids.

A significant proportion of this interest has been attracted towards the OpenLife grid – unsurprisingly since it is probably the biggest Second Life style grid out there at the moment apart from Linden Lab’s grid.  I’d like to take the opportunity to clarify the current situation as regards OpenSim and OpenLife.

The server software running the OpenLife grid is unquestionably currently based upon OpenSim.  However, from reading OpenLife press releases such as this one (the original post has gone away) it would appear that they have developers of their own (called the 3DX team) working on the software.

At the OpenSim project we have not seen any of these patches.  We have only ever received back a few patches from OpenLife, the most recent being about 9 months ago, though before that Steve Sakai was a frequent contributor of bug reports.  The source code being developed by 3DX has not been released anywhere, as far as I can tell (I’m presuming that this isn’t part of the realXtend server release, though I’d be very interested if someone can authoritatively tell me that it is) .

Now, from a license point of view this is fine – OpenSim does come under the BSD license, so anybody is free to take the software, build on top of it, and potentially rerelease it without making the source available (as long as they retain copyright and credit information).  Indeed, some other OpenSim developers, myself included, belong to companies that take advantage of that.

However, even those of us so doing recognize the value of making contributions back to the community, and we frequently so do.  In using OpenSim we’re benefitting from a lot of the code freely given by the community, so its only right that we freely give some back, especially as we want to see OpenSim succeed as a general virtual environment platform.  Moreover, we know that if everybody contributes back improvements, then OpenSim will develop much faster and in a better manner than if we kept the changes only to ourselves.

We would welcome it if OpenLife were to do the same.  Certainly, there may be a good business case for not doing so for code that implements features specific to OpenLife (though even here I would argue that open sourcing the code would be better for the long term adoption of those features across the metaverse).  But I find it hard to believe that they haven’t made some bug fixes or improvements to the basic core OpenSim software, particularly considering the alpha nature of our code base.  We’re currently nowhere near an Apache like level of server stability, where only a tiny proportion of commercial users would contribute back to server development.

Of course, there is an alternative scenario that might explain why this hasn’t been happening.  It could be that the internal 3DX server has changed so much from OpenSim that code changes are no longer easily transferable between the two.  In that case, one would have to say that the 3DX server software is a fork, and that the OpenLife grid is no longer based upon OpenSim software.

If you’re interested in a somewhat longer discussion of these topics, see this opensim-dev mailing list thread (the title is inaccurate since the thread was hijacked from another topic).



1. Orion Shamroy - November 8, 2008

I wonder, maybe you all should start something like a brand for OpenSim? For starters maybe a logo or sticker type of thing we could put on our sims, websites, and grid sites similar to what Apache offers? Only Powered by OpenSim instead?

I’d give it a shot myself, but I’m not much for graphics programs and it would probably look more like something a three year old scribbled out. 🙂

Thanks! 🙂

2. G2 Proto/Kyle G - November 8, 2008

I can understand this argument completely. I am new to the OpenSim community but anyone can understand that it would be fair for those using it to give back. We will always do everything we can at G2 to give back. Well said!

3. Kai Ludwig - November 8, 2008

Commercial exploitation, rebranding, forking and more is all formally correct for OpenSimulator as long as it happens within the applyable BSD license.

So OpenLife Grids actions are fine from that point of view, even if they don’t mention they source of wealth on their website. What they do is incorrect from the ethical point of view, but that’s of no interest in many commercial decisions.

To have or not to have a sophisticated ethical undestanding is something that can’t be enforced. If the guys from OpenLife don’t have it we just can blame them for that, nothing more.

The same is with kids playing together in their sandbox. If one of them behaves bad you can’t beat or kill it. You even can’t tell it to do something special because it is not yours. But you can hope that the standards set by the society and the examples given by others will make the bad behaviour disappear on the long run.

Even if it hurts our feelings the best solution to the OLG case is just continue working on improving OpenSimulator and its’s community and with that make OpenSimulator the best choice for the majority. Many commercial products have and will spin of, some will join the dark side by taking the OLG way, some will behave better and finally some will become jedi. On the long run simply the best technical product will survive.

It’s something like digital evolution where the different approaches will all be judged by time …

4. Jani Pirkola - November 8, 2008

3DX team contributions will be part of realXtend modules once they are working on top of Opensim and we can make the transition from our fork to using opensim trunk. I am sure, some of the improvements will find their way as patches to actual opensim as well.

5. Virtual - November 9, 2008

It’s good to hear that Jani, while realXtend offers great technical innovation that we are eager to work with and see in Opensim we feel the most comfortable by staying with the Opensim project for several reasons. Opensim has been made by people who have a thing for virtual worlds, people like Ckrinke, Teravus, Nebadon etc… have always been ready to help or answer questions and still do so. In return we use the software, support bugs, make suggestions, give feedback, test and test and test and invest time and resources in the project.
The programmers came up with the software and now we are starting to use it and work with it. It really forms a chain, new grids are coming online at the moment, people explore them there is a huge interest for them, excellent for the programmers to get feedback from the people who run the grids and work on them. Excellent to tweak certain things to make a robust platform. People are impressed which is a good thing.
In the future meshes will become important and the RealXtend modules will also become more important, the grids will start to link and something new will start to exist.

If Linden would opensource their server code tomorrow this wouldn’t change anything, I would still stick with opensim because the project is backed by 100’s of people worldwide who want to keep improving it. Opensim is already more advanced in several ways compared to Second Life.

As for Openlife well it doesn’t matter really does it what they do. I’m sure plenty of usage will be made of Opensim for all kinds of various reasons, what about the childplay grid for example? I think it’s important just to stick with the project and move on, keeping to improve it.

6. Me - November 9, 2008

Just curios, but did you bother to talk with Sakai before you all gave him the boot?

Did any of you ask him what was going on before you made this choice?

7. Gumby - November 10, 2008

I would really suggest a chat with Sakai before attemping to sling mud.
To the best of my knowledge the Openlife stopped adding patches to the opensim base, that they are using, as they caused so many problems. A patch would fix one area and break 5. Its was a total mad house. Between installing a new patch and rolling back we have settled on stability as opposed for extra features, As you may see we still dont have ecconomy and the permissions problem have still not been settled in Opensim or Openlife.
I have been in OL since Feb this year, beta testing and breaking stuff along the way. Stability seems to have settled. 3DX is not activated yet but will be when the Realxtend chaps are ready.
As Im NOT a coder I can offer little to the dev side of OS short of testing things and reporting back. And this is what I do , as well as pay for the servers and hopefully devs ( via land tier) that make this project happen.

8. justincc - November 10, 2008

@Orion – the OpenSim logo (seen at the top of the http://opensimulator.org wiki page) should probably play this role, along with some additional buttons perhaps. The question of how it can be used needs to be raised (since it’s not currently completely clear).

@G2 – thanks G2, I look forward to your contributions!

@Jani – I am glad to hear that. I will look forward to seeing these contributions.

@Me – nobody gave Sakai ‘the boot’ – his organization stopped participating of its own accord. Anybody is welcome to come and contribute to the OpenSim project (though contributions that come in the form of code patches cannot always be accepted, sometimes due to technical grounds and sometimes due to license issues).

@Gumby – I don’t think that this is mud slinging – I believe that the facts speak for themselves.

Regarding stability, it is true that we have issues in this area and will have them for some period to time. Part of this is because we are an alpha level project – the code is simply too immature to be all that stable. However, the other part of this is that we simply don’t have the manpower to maintain a stable branch (and this is going to slowly become more important). If OpenLife were to contribute some effort towards this then in conjunction with other contributors it might become feasible.

Until OpenLife actively contribute patches towards stability (and from Jani words this may happen in the future), then the work you are doing and the money you are paying benefits only OpenLife, not OpenSim.

9. Me - November 10, 2008

No, OpenSim gave him the boot. Nebadon acted like a gloating child on Prokofy Neva’s blog and on that thread you showed in your post for the dev list.

It seems you all are going quite out of your way to banner the fact you guys did this. Maybe you feel justified but the public perception shows the truth. I mean really, did this warrant a blog post to explain your actions? If so then it must not be as clear cut as you are trying to imply. 😉

Now, answer the question please. Did you all approach Sakai before you made the decision to push him away? So much effort in making blog posts and crying on Neva’s blog and I doubt you all took the few minutes to Email him first and explain what was about to happen. So unprofessional.

10. rjs - November 14, 2008

Just an opinion, but it doesn’t matter really who did what when and where really. The kernel mailing list is always full of issues, arguments, and sometimes downright anger due to frustrations. People get past it for the most part and carry on the “bigger picture”. You can usually tell when you start “Seeing_more_of_this”. The underlines say hey “I mean it”.

I’ve been working with Opensimulator for about a year now. I started off slow and worked my way into wanting to do something with it. I have seen the ups and downs. But I would say that over all the progress in just under a year has been incredible. Much to do, more hurdles, more arguments. But people end up working it out. If you love the software you just do.

I’m always happy to see the contributions. Things happen, but they are still contributors nevertheless.

Onwards and upwards. I hope 2009 brings more people interested in the software.


11. rjs - November 17, 2008

I take back what I said. There are certainly issues with some of the core development that need be resolved immediately.

I’ve removed myself from any further testing on the linux platform due to the issues at this point. Maybe once the internal issues are resolved the progress will continue where all may participate and enjoy the software. But after what I have witnessed both yesterday evening and today on the mantis, I think there need be a change first with those that are bickering over the software direction. This is absurd and shows the lack of good will for those that participate in the software.

There are a few whom need a reality check. If it’s open source, lets leave it open source.


12. justincc - November 17, 2008

@rjs. I haven’t been around at all this weekend so I’m not sure what has been happening. Let’s discuss this offline.

13. Me - November 23, 2008

Nah, let’s discuss it here. It was good enough to air out the dirty laundry on Openlife so what is happening there in the inner sanctum that needs to be hushed up?
Can we get a blog post on this development please?

14. Keeper of the scrolls. - January 28, 2009

Hi JustinCC.
In paragraph two you have a link to a press release that seems to have been removed. Googlefoo found it in another spot:
Here it is if you want to update it.

15. Keeper of the scrolls. - January 28, 2009

Actually that was paragraph 3.
You do not need to mod these posts through. I just wanted you to have current information.

16. justincc - January 30, 2009

Thanks for the headsup, Keeper, I did amend the post.

17. Open apology re: OpenLife - SLUniverse Forums - February 15, 2009

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