Last year, I spent many an evening on installing and running versions of OpenSim on Linux. The blog items I wrote about that, still get a lot of hits - apparently many people still have the problems I encountered then. It was a lot of fun, and I learned a lot, but some of the early issues with OpenSim prevented me to really do something with it. Not that I blame anyone for it, it was alpha or very early beta software! But after a while I stopped updating the install regularly, and recently I wondered if I, perhaps, should just deinstall it and stop paying rent for an unused Linux box..
But just before I went on holiday, something very interesting happened: a couple of IBM and Linden Labs engineers succeeded in teleporting an avatar from OpenSim to a Linden Lab Second Life simulator, essentially breaking down the barrier between the two simulators. I'm quite sure you read about that!
It looks like this was more than a proof of concept, as Linden Labs has opened a beta program for repeating and expanding on this first experiment: Open Grid is the name of it. I will apply, as did many others; but Linden Labs is giving precedence to those who will be able to bring up an OpenSim region. And I already have one, I just need to update the install and make the connection!
Soo.. time to dust off the cheap rental Linux box, update my OpenSim install, and hope Linden Labs will allow me to participate in this beta. Of course, I will keep you posted.
More information on this whole intergrid teleporting can be found on the Metanomics site. A good list of recommended reading is at the bottom of this page.
All about the..
As for Linden Labs' revenue model, my quick guess is that the Lindens see OpenSim as a good way to expand the reach of Linden Labs compatible technology. After all, anyone using an OpenSim simulator will have a viewer that's compatible with Second Life. This way, SL-compatible technology may be a bit closer to becoming a standard of sorts. Plus, Linden Labs gets to claim the moral high road in the interoperability debate by openly collaborating with an open source competitor to their main product.
Linden Lab could also position itself as the trusted, known grid provider with the most interesting, enduser generated content (products, entertainment) available. But they could also claim to be the most legally compliant or regulated grid and hence (perhaps) safe environment - not sure about that, but it's a thought. These are just quick guesses; I'm sure there are more thorough analyses out there. I'll see what I can find when I have the time.