Monday, September 24, 2007

Building with my daughter on our OpenSim

This is me and my eight year old, building on our OpenSim island:

She's enjoying it quite a lot, and learning fast as well. This object below her first build - I admit, I helped her with positioning the roof, the rest is her own work!

We're having fun as you can see, but we're also noticing the limits of this opensim alpha build. I had a client crash when saving a new outfit, and we have to select our clothing and body shape each time we login. But hey, it's alpha, I'm not complaining!

RL air traffic in SL

This is the US West Coast as recreated at the Daden Prime build. It shows RL air traffic (to or from LAX) in SL. A nice example of RL data mining! It's a bit similar to the way IBM did Wimbledon; they gathered RL game data at the tennis court (using high speed cameras) and used that data to plot the course of the ball at a virtual tennis court in SL. A RL tennis game in SL with a couple of seconds delay.
posted by Sered Woollahra on Daden Prime using a blogHUD : [permalink]

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Installing OpenSim 0.4 on CentOS 5 (updated 06-02-2008)

This weekend, I had the pleasure of installing OpenSim 0.4 on CentOs 5. The OpenSim project wiki has a page on installing OpenSim, which helped me on the way. But it wasn't complete enough for my taste, so here's my experiences. Enjoy!

Install Mono
First off, it was clear I needed to install Mono, even though the Opensim wiki page only mentions this for Mac OSX. For installing Mono on CentOS, I found a howto here: "Installing Mono on CentOS 5". The first thing was easy: get the latest build with wget.
# wget
# wget
# wget
Next, after bunzipping, tar -xvf etcetera, I installed Mono using the instructions linked above, like this:
# ./configure --prefix=/<installed_path>/mono
# make
# make install
Based on instructions found here I also modified my .bashrc file, and added these parameters:
export PATH=/bin:$PATH
export MANPATH=/
At this point, I was not able yet to correctly compile and install the OpenSim software. Without any clear error, NAnt didn't do what it was supposed to do. I decided to download and install Nant. The OpenSim wiki page doesn't specify this as a separate task, but I had to do it nonetheless. Again, after downloading and unzipping I executed this trinity:

# ./configure --prefix=/<installed_path>/nant
# make
# make install

After this, I was able to successfully install OpenSim itself using the commands on the OpenSim install page; but because Nant wasn't anywhere in my PATH, I had to execute them like this:

# cd opensim
# ./
# ./

I could have fixed the path, but figured that could wait until later. This worked, in any case, so I proceeded to start OpenSim.exe for the first time. Initially that seemed to work, the console logging looked good, but then I hit this snag:

Failed generating terrain map: System.TypeInitializationException: An exception was thrown by the type initializer for System.Drawing.GDIPlus ---> System.DllNotFoundException: gdiplus.dll

According to the OpenSim troubleshooting page, which is called "slightly outdated" by the site maintainers, this problem is caused by incorrect versions of software on the operating system level. It was suggested to include 'unstable' packages when updating the system, as to get the newest versions. This didn't seem such a good idea, as the stability of my system is quite important to me. However, I did update or install some tools with these Yum commands, as suggested on a related website:

#yum install glib*
#yum install libtiff-devel.i386
#yum install libjpeg-devel.i386
#yum install libpng-devel.i386
#yum install giflib-devel.i386
#yum install libexif-devel.i386
#yum install libX11-devel.i386
#yum install fontconfig-devel.i386
#yum install freetype-devel.i386
#yum install libtiff-devel.i386
#yum groupinstall "Development Tools"

This didn't help. I poked around the internet for a while, and then decided to do the thing I should have done in the first place. The error says it can't find a dll, so I decided to check if the darn thing is indeed missing! It turns out it is indeed not there, and I should have installed libgdiplus ( together with Mono. I retrieved libgdiplus from this mono project page and again, I executed the configure - make - make install trilogy. Also, I didn't forget to modify the LD_LIBRARY_PATH statement in .bashrc to point to the correct install path for libgdiplus.

After that, OpenSim started just fine. I was able to run OpenSim in standalone mode, and we were able to connect to the thing.

Some useful configuration data is in this file:


It contains the sim name, master avatar username and password, ip addresses, ports and stuff like that. Handy in the first stages of configuration and running OpenSim. According to this blogpost it's possible to run multiple regions on one OpenSim installation by cloning and then modifying this default.xml page. Haven't tested that, though!

Next up: I'm going to try to run in grid mode. I actually tried that yesterday using these instructions, but that didn't work yet. Probably my error, as I've seen others run in grid mode, even though it's officially 'not supported' for OpenSim 0.4.

Update 05-02-2008: OpenSim 0.5 Earlier this week, I upgraded an earlier install of OpenSim 0.4 on a recent RedHat distro to OpenSim 0.5. It seems that the instructions above still hold true for OpenSim 0.5!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Welcome to my world!

Yay - it works. I've got an OpenSim up and running on my own Linux box. I created user accounts for my kids and wife. My daughter is too young for Second Life or even the teen grid, so she's happy her daddy created his own place for her. It's just that, well, it's a bit lonely there, so I'll have to let her girlfriends in as well, I'm afraid.

So what's up next? Dressing up the place a bit, importing other stuff, like a male body shape for instance :-)

Installing OpenSim

I've been busy tonight, installing the latest OpenSim build on my Linux server at home. Had to install Mono and Nant first, that took some time but wasn't too hard. All stuff installed and compiled ok. Finally, I was ready to run opensim.exe. Unfortunately, this yielded an error:

Failed generating terrain map: System.TypeInitializationException: An exception was thrown by the type initializer for System.Drawing.GDIPlus ---> System.DllNotFoundException: gdiplus.dll

This error is actually described in the OpenSim troubleshooting page on the wiki, but those instructions, to include unstable packages, are for Debian. I'm running CentOs with Yum, so that's a bit different. Besides, I'm running some other stuff on the box that I'd rather keep online as much as possible, so I'm not sure running unstable packages is such a good idea.

Hopefully we'll be able to find a solution! I had hoped to get my own sim up and running tonight, but shortly after I hit this snag, my wife came home from her nightshift.. which means I'm done for now, time for an RL drink together!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

OpenSim Ruth

I just paid a visit to Zion on OpenSim Ruth. I'm going to keep an open eye on OpenSim. Or maybe run one myself!


The future of virtual worlds

I touched upon this subject yesterday: there are currently no universally accepted protocols or (de facto or de jure) standards for virtual worlds, like HTTP is on the internet. This lack of standardization means no interoperability between virtual worlds, no exchange of data, avatars or objects between them. When you're in one virtual world, you can't teleport to another!

Of course, several companies and individuals try to fill that gap. There's much at stake: those who create the set of protocols that will eventually rule the metaverse (so to speak), stand to gain a lot of influence - and a lot of money as well.

There are quite a few contenders. I have named a few in the past: Multiverse, a proprietary platform, launched in early August. Yesterday, Metaplace announced they are ready for alpha testing. Metaplace is created by Areae, a company, but is completely built on open standards, to make it open and extendible.

In the mean time, Linden Labs is also contemplating the future. The current Second Life grid cannot scale to the numbers of avatars that Linden Labs would like to see, in a couple of years; a new architecture is necessary. Linden Labs proposed such a new architecture at The First Architecture Working Group Meeting. Linden Labs wants this redesign process to be as open as possible, given the circumstances; you can read about it at the Architecture Working Group wiki. We're all welcome to participate. Linden Labs' current proposal explicitly allows thirdparty hosted sims to be connected to the SL universe, be it as standalone sims or tied together in the grid. Of course, this is all quite preliminary.

Some people just can't wait; they are building their own simulator software, as you can see at There are a couple of public grids available to opensim users, for instance or Ruth. A description on how to connect to Ruth can be found on Vint Falken's blog. I like the fact that I can use the default Second Life client to connect to OpenSIM worlds!

I think I'll be watching these developments closely in the coming months. Important things may happen!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

so many books, so little time..

Some of these redbooks have helped me tremendously in the past, most notably the one about Lotus Domino 6 on Linux. Maybe they should republish that one for Domino 8, now that it's out.
posted by Sered Woollahra on IBM BUSINESS CENTER using a blogHUD : [permalink]

Metaplace, the easy platform? (updated)

Earlier today, I noticed a news item on Metaplace. I took a look at their website, and their product looks very interesting.metaplace_logo.png

Metaplace promises to ease the process of creating a virtual environment. In fact, it should be easy enough for anyone without real programming experience, to create a new virtual world in a couple of minutes, stick it up a website, and have at it. Of course, you can program it for all kinds of games, MMORPGs, chat environments et cetera; but creating a basic environment should be fairly straightforward.

Much like Multiverse, Metaplace wants to be a platform. Metaplace has the advantage that no programming seems to be necessary to get started. Also, there's no need for a separate client, it should work in the browser. These advantages could drive adoption significantly. Multiverse however has 3D, which is currently lacking in Metaplace, with no timeline being given as to when that will be available. That's quite a big thing to miss, frankly, but we'll see how that works out.

Linden Labs of course wants Second Life to become a platform as well, but as long as they don't open source or sell the server code, I don't see that happening anytime soon.

update Ok, so Linden Labs isn't sitting on their hands either. They are hosting a discussion on the future of Second Life which may have huge implications in this regard. The best news: we're all invited to join the discussion. Read the linked blogpost for the juicy details!

One other 'minor' point regarding Metaplace: I haven't been able to locate information on pricing, licensing and other legal stuff. If anyone else has, I'm interested!

But, even with licensing information and 3D missing, I immediately applied for alpha testing. My daughter really, really wants to try virtual environments, but there's not much there for Dutch speaking girls under the age of ten. I'm quite interested in trying my hand at building a virtual environment for her and her friends. Let's hope I get the chance!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Metaversed meeting

Koz Farina was to kind to forward my Metaversed meeting snapshot to me. Here it is:


Tonight it's the Metanomics 101 meeting, but unfortunately I won't be able to make it due to activities. Maybe I'll catch the rerun on - if they have reruns!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A cool picture of the Metaversed meeting

When attending the metaversed meeting friday evening, I took a couple of snapshots and emailed them to They should have appeared on my bloghud page, but that, unfortunately, didn't happen. Koz Farina, the bloghud guy, did some investigating (thanks!) and found the second snapshot, stuck somewhere in the system. The first one apparently never made it to bloghud's mailbox. Koz will forward me that second snapshot; hopefully it will appear here later.

But for the time being, make sure to view this picture , posted by Metaversed's Nick Wilson. It is a beautiful picture of the roundtable meet. I'm on the picture as well; at approximately 17.30 as it were, in my grey t-shirt.

Lessons learned: if you don't want to lose a snapshot, also save one to the harddisk..

Friday, September 14, 2007

Metaversed meeting

Well, that was interesting. Tonight, we had a Metaversed meeting, chaired by Metaversed's 57 Miles. I have only been a member of metaversed for a couple of days, so it was all a bit new to me. But it was nice, we all introduced ourselves to the others, talked a bit about who we are and why we're interested in SL and/or metaversed. That took the best part of the first hour, but was interesting and useful nonetheless.

After that, we had a conversation on how to proceed with these meetings. Keep them informal, maybe do something with smaller groups that share a common field of expertise, who knows. Then, the discussion moved to what tools we can use in SL to facilitate meetings like these. Powerpoint obviously has it's limitations, and there aren't many other tools around.. yet? Several people, among them 57 Miles, had kind words for the i3dnow tools, so I'll check them out one of these days.

All in all, it was good to be there and met some interesting people.

voice and/or text
The introduction round was done with voice. The sound quality wasn't always what it should be, and I failed speak at all, due to a mixup with the 'push to talk' button - very amateurish :-) Interestingly, the discussions afterwards switched between voice and text without much problems. People seemed to be able to merge the voice and text bits into one conversation, on the fly. I wonder how this will develop in further meetings. As people get to know one another better, will voice be used more often? We'll see the next time.

On a different note: I took two snapshots of the meeting, and emailed them to These shapshots should have been posted at my bloghud page, but I received no confirmation of their delivery, and up until now, almost two hours later, they have not appeared. I still hope they will show up!

Thursday, September 13, 2007


The Dutch SL blog writes about Metanomics, the "study of business and policy in the "metaverse" of virtual worlds". Metanomics looks like a series of events, lectures, on all sort of aspects of virtual worlds, mainly focusing on the business side of things. Metanomics is an activity of Metaversed.

The Metanomics activities seem interesting enough for me to sign up, there's some very interesting topics and speakers on the list. Well known virtual world visionaries, the much talked about Anshe Chung, representatives from other companies and even someone from US Congress, who will discuss US Congress' involvement in virtual worlds regulation, will appear at Metanomics events.

The events take place in world, and are hosted by professor Robert Bloomfield from Cornell University; he will also provide lists of preferred reading material. .

The second Metanomics event, which takes place on September 20th, 2007, features Sandra Kearny, IBM's global director of 3D internet. She will discuss IBM's involvement in virtual worlds. This event will take place in the real world, at Cornell University; it will be streamed to Metanomics' island in SL, and it will be broadcast at the Second Life Cable Network. Truly a 'mixed reality' event, which can be viewed by anyone with a web browser and an internet connection!

In preparation for this event, the professor has suggested reading this IBM report: "Virtual games, real leaders".

In this report, IBM says that MMORPGs are a virtual training ground for leadership skills. In these worlds, one can learn how to communicate, how to sell decisions, who to recruit (and when, and why), how to stay on top of things, and many other things - in short, how be a leader. But, being a virtual leader isn't a permanent thing, according to IBM. Fast paced and ever changing, virtual environments don't match well with the traditional view of leading and managing, where someone, once he or she's a manager, usually stays a manager forever, quietly making their way up the corporate ladder. In virtual worlds, someone can be a leader for ten minutes, a week or a couple of months. Transparency in a persons' qualities, ease of communication, the task or project oriented way of handling things: these (and other) factors, create an environment where leadership comes and goes, to whatever person is most suited for the task ahead. TCorporations could learn from this agility and flexibility, says IBM. The report has an intruiging story about such a change in leadership, about young woman, who was part of a Worl of Warcraft guild out on a raid. When the raid went wrong, the guilds' leadership failed too- the leader didn't know what to do and went silent. In the ensuing vacuum, no one dared to take leadership, until this young woman pressed her talk button. She spoke, rallied the troops for another attack, and that's when she assumed leadership of the guild. She went on to lead other, more advanced guilds later, and held a top rank in WoW for months, until she signed off.

Metanomics promises to be an interesting series of events, for anyone interested in the business side of the metaverse.