OpenLife and OpenSim November 7, 2008Posted by justincc in opensim, opensim-grid.
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).