Friday, 25 February 2011

Aurora Sim - breaking the mould!

I have been following closely the progress of Aurora sim which is a branch development of Opensim and promises some new and advanced features that will surly break the mould. The list of features is impressive and includes restructuring for greater efficiency, many bug fixes and pretty well all that which is missing from core Opensim. To that they promise to upgrade the physics, add centred gravity and mega regions of a totally new type which promises spaces up to 256 times standard SL regions.

The lead developer, Revolution Smythe felt mega regions were a hack and there had to be a better way. The team has worked out a way to have variable region sizes and even the possibility of none-square border shapes which fits in with the centred gravity possibility to create massive Space-like regions with planets and orbital objects such as asteroids and space craft in a much more realistic environment than the current flat spaces of SL type regions.

The aurora team have their own test grid known as Aurora-sim development grid which I added to my Hippo viewer and visited but there was not much to see at the time. It just amounted to a few standard regions. However, on the Aurora team web site they announced that on the 14th February they tested the first variable region. The test grid is at and you need to add that the an Opensim compatible viewer and the web announcement is here Aurora sim variable region sizes

Gaga in Aurora Virtual World grid wondering around. Nothing exciting - yet!

Currently, and surprisingly, there are actually two new grids - one of them commerical - running the pre-alpha Aurora sim branch. Ansky and Aurora Virtual World, the later being owned and run by Enrico Ranucci of the New Voice OpenSim hosting company, better known for their $10 hosted sims attached to OSgrid. I visited AVW too and it really did not work well, apearence was borket and I couldn't keep hair in the right place but it was a fun experience. I did notice they are currently giving Free parcels with a generous 18,000 prims to play around with though.

Maria of  Hypergrid Business  blog has written an in-depth article on Aurora sim and raises some important issues about it regarding software licenses.

Kokua, the projected viewer based on SecondLife 2x from the Imprudence developers announced back in November 2010 they would be supporting Aurora sim and working with the Aurora team but, currently, they have not done anything other than consentrate on getting Imprudence 4 released so they can wrap up their work on SL 1x code and switch their attention to Kokua.


Back in December I asked if Hypergrid would still be a feature of Aurora sim and was told not until it stops being in-compatible with itself. The developers claim they aim to stay compatible with Opensim core but after reading Maria's article I have my doubts. Anyway, in January I was told that Aurora sim is compatible with HG and that person had successfully hyper-gridded to another grid but now, in Maria's article, Ansky grid owner, Andrew Simpson who converted to Aurora sim server on the 17th February said the current version did not support hypergrid and, where Ansky was formally accessible via HG, it was now shut off. He went on to say there were still problems with HG anyway so he wont miss it at the moment.


I think Aurora sim is an exciting development but it remains to be seen if the team can actually deliver on the impressive list of features. That said, I keep wondering what SecondLife would be like today had Linden Lads shown the foresight and taken in some of these amazingly talented people and given them free reign to advance the server. Alas, I don't think any of these ideas could happen in SL and the open source community will forge ahead and break new ground for the benefit of the free metaverse. I think they are true pioneers.

Full list of features on Aurora Sim

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Growth of Opensim & Hypergrid Progresses

I did a rough count of Opensim traffic on the top grids back in September and got a figure of around 600. This month for the same sample I got a figure of around 1200 which is double. I don't claim this very rough count says that much but it dose show considerable growth in recent months. Most remarkable of all has been the rapid rise of Avination, a new grid launched by Melanie Thielker (also known as Melanie Miland), a core Opensim developer.

Avination has come from no where to a peek traffic average of around 220 online in just one month which is unusual when many grids are still struggling and yet have been around for a long time. This has sparked some negativity on the forums however - mostly from supporters of other grids worried they will loose residents - but that has done nothing to dent it's growth.

I noticed that Avination traffic has grown rapidly from around 35 online when I joined and quickly increasing to 165 peek about a week or so ago. At the same time InWorldz had dropped from 233 peek for the same period to 157. Meta7 dropped from a peek of 53 online to a peek of 29. There was not much change to OSgrid during this time so Avination seems to have gained some users from both InWorldz and Meta7 but I think they have probably gained more from SecondLife and the Internet. Over all though I think it shows an increase in traffic for Opensim grids in general since both InWorldz and Meta7 seem to have recovered some ground now even while Avination continues to grow. This is in stark contrast to Second Life which remains static.

Naturally, I had to go visit Avination but first I checked their web site which
proved easy to navigate and informative. I registered a name. Gaga Gridlock (couldn't get gaga gracious *sighs*), added the login URL to my Hippo viewer and arrived. No one was there to meet me but the grid did have 65 people on it. So I looked around and it proved average. It was bit laggy but at least I didn't need freebies to dress up. The avatar I got to chose was actually quite good for my visit (see pic) and I didn't need to race to find freebies to deal with the usual ruthed avatar.

I found some good brand names from SL there so that was a good sign and it was clear enough, the owners of the grid wanted to give maximum protection to them. I still didn't meet the rude person everyone was ranting about above on the forums so I put that issue down to anti-Avination propaganda. I set off to explore and as you see from the pic the builds aren't half bad. Seems lots of people are beavering away constructing and as the sims are relatively cheap at $40 and free setup that was not surprising. I did have a problem with search initially but this was down to Opensim viewer because search worked fine when I returned using Imprudence.

Hypergrid; Important Update!

Diva Canto (Opensim developer, Crista Lopes),added an OutboundPermission configuration setting to the HGInventoryAccessModule in the Git ‘master’ branch of Opensim.  Setting this to false prevents foreign Hypergrid visitors to a local grid from taking assets back to their home grid.

This news was published on Justincc blog.

The most secure grids are walled gardens which prevent content being removed to another grid and mwhere it might be copied. Adding the new setting effectively makes HG grids walled gardens too but still allows avatars to visit with their full appearance and clothes drawn from their home grid. Thus, with the new setting, nothing is exchanged between grids during HG travel.

According to Hypergrid Business blog...
The way it works is that you - or the hosting company running OpenSim for you - have to set the "OutboundPermission" setting to "False" in OpenSim’s HGInventoryAccessModule. The setting applies to all the regions running under that instance of OpenSim. Typically, each instance of OpenSim would handle between one and four regions, but it can go higher.

According to Lopes, this is just the first step towards having asset security on the hypergrid.

"I did it now because ScienceSim is planning a big event," she said."A lot more will be coming regarding these kinds of policies."

Melanie Miland, owner of Avination grid, and Opensim developer working with Deva Canto has said in another topic on SLU, "Avination, is anyone there yet?"
And, to confirm, I work pretty closely with Diva Canto, who I will meet up with on February 24th. That will be our second real life meeting. The first time we put our heads together, Hypergrid 1.5 was the result, this time, I'm hoping for a push towards HG 2.0.
I do promote the secure Hypergrid; Avination is not a walled garden by choice. However, to keep the work of our creators safe, we can't, with the cuRrent state of HG security, safely enable hypergridding in Avination. Rest assured that, once it can be done without inviting wholesale permission exploits, it will come to Avination.

No one can say how this will work out yet and it wont be available until the next general release of Opensim, by which time it is sure to be much more developed, but it is as well for content creators to be aware of the progress and consider how it might help them grow their business on the free metaverse as it becomes more secure.

On the face of it, it may not seem helpful to content vendors if their virtual goods can't leave the grid in which they are sold but the important thing to remember is that someone came from another grid via Hypergrid teleport and was able to buy something and that means a bigger consumer base since you are no longer limited to your own grid's population (I have read elsewhere that HG grid owners are reporting that 50% of their traffic is via HG links). However, the question remains; Why would someone buy something they can't take away with them?

My thoughts are that stores will have access to a much bigger market via Hypergrid and I would want to find out which grids I could trust with the stuff I sell. It's unlikely I would trust a standalone but a reputable grid with a good track record and policy should present no problem. If I already have an outlet on the customer's home grid then that should make it easy but, given that I have some accounting record on my off-world server, or should have, then I should be able to make the goods available provided the grid is on my trusted list.