Saturday, November 8, 2008

OpenSim: still under development, remember

As Linden Labs struggled with a virtual revolt after their OpenSpace announcements, some of Second Life's residents decided to check out the alternatives, most notably the OpenSim based OpenLife Grid. As reported by Hamlet, their experiences weren't all that good.

As I mentioned on Hamlet's blog: it's worth remembering that OpenSim is still very young. Officially, it's in Alpha stage. "Alpha" is is software development speak for "it's a partial, incomplete build, unpolished and probably unstable, but may incidentally work." A quote from the OpenSim site:

"Please note: As OpenSim is still at an alpha code maturity stage, there is absolutely no guarantee that functionality works or is stable, even in the numbered releases. Certain features may not work either because the code is in rapid evolution, or because functionality expected by the Linden Labs Second Life viewer has simply not been implemented yet. However, constructive feedback is still welcomed."

When dealing with customers, expectation management is an important thing, which should be handled correctly. OpenSim users should not expect to find a copy of Second Life when entering OpenSim based grids, simply because the base product isn't finished yet! OpenSim will evolve, and the OpenSim based grids will too. But it will take time, patience and lots of effort from people who code OpenSim in their spare time.

I love toying around with my OpenSim simulators, building stuff with the kids, the fun of creating your own sim, to be your own Linden! But I know and accept it's still under development, and so should other users.


radarm said...

Yeah, but it's not as simple as just the OpenSim platform. You have to have someone who has a VW based on it to use it as a Grid, rather than some standalone sim that only you can get to, right? That means you're reliant on other people to know how and to be able to afford to scale and run a grid, have good policies, etc, etc, etc, etc.

There's a lot more to developing an SL alternative than just having stable, feature rich OpenSim revisions.

Sered said...

Agreed! But my point is, that having a stable, feature rich OpenSim is a prerequisite for having a stable, feature rich OpenSim based grid.

How that grid is operated is another chapter. OpenSim and Linden Labs are running the OpenGrid beta, where sims owned by different people are interconnected. Each sim runs on other hardware, sits behind other network connections etcetera. There's almost no way to guarantee any performance or feature in such a setting.

OpenLife Grid operates in another way, where one single provider takes care of all the engineering. They are, essentially, a Linden Labs like entity in this regard. In that scenario, the grid lives or dies by their ability to operate it.

justincc said...

Well said, sered. OpenSim is certainly still alpha, though I think that we are improving at a very fast rate.

Running a grid on top of this is definitely a very complicated task. In my opinion, grids being run at the moment should be considered as pioneers, rather than fully fledged Linden grid replacements.