Category Archives: Hypergrid

Towards HG 2.0

I usually don’t write about the future, I prefer to write about things that are already done and working. But I’m going to make an exception, because people are starting to ask about configurations of the Hypergrid that pertain to the next level; we’re almost there, but not yet. I am going to give an overview of what’s in the works right now that will result in the next big bump in the HG number: the big two-point-oh.

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New diva distro for OpenSim 0.7.2 featuring W2W Friends

Hi everyone! I finally had the time to put together a new diva distro release corresponding to OpenSim 0.7.2 — plus a few minor bug fixes over that. If you already have a d2 world, you know the drill: run Update.exe. Otherwise, grab the zip, unzip it and take it from the README file. If you’re upgrading, I highly recommend running the Configure tool on the new installation, and you’ll see why.

There are many improvements in OpenSim, most notably the new LSL NPC stuff — this allows you to create and manipulate Non-Player Characters (bots) directly from scripts. Really cool!

Hypergrid-wise, the most noteworthy development is the support for Friends across the Hypergrid. As explained in a previous post, I have created a world-to-world social network platform in OpenSim! Diaspora, anyone? Well, I get to actually do it and deploy it in  your worlds 😉

Have fun!

P.S. I also made a new release for Wifi that works with Robust 0.7.2. Enjoy!

Friends and IM over the Hypergrid

Over the past few weeks I have been working on mechanisms for making friends and instant message work across the Hypergrid. These social functions have been a goal since the beginning of the Hypergrid. The big rearchitecture work we did in OpenSimulator 0.7 that strengthened security was also meant to support these functions, but, of course, we weren’t really sure how well the new architecture would hold when these functions were actually implemented. Well, now I know — it handles it just fine. Let me explain how friends and IM work over the HG, the challenges, and the current limitations. Keep in mind that these new functions are still experimental, and subject to changes and improvements.

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New D2 and Wifi for OpenSim 0.7.1

DivasOffice

It has been a while since I made a D2 + Wifi releases. I had been waiting for OpenSim 0.7.1; the changes between 0.7.0.2 and 0.7.1 were such that I didn’t want to risk making a release in between. OpenSim 0.7.1 finally happened earlier this week, so here is the much awaited D2! Technically, it corresponds to OpenSim r15402, which is a couple of commits after the official release — I found a couple of bugs in the official release related to the Library, so I fixed them.

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Diva Distro for 0.7: Introducing Wifi

It took a long time, but OpenSim 0.7 is finally here! It’s quite difficult to explain the value of refactorings and of  re-conceptualizations of the software, which is what happened to OpenSimulator between 0.6.x and 0.7. Those things tend to be intangible at first (“WTF? This does the same thing! And it has bugs that it didn’t have before!”, etc.); the ROI only shows up later.

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90-Degree Course Adjustment

The news came yesterday after lunch: major layoffs at Linden Lab, as much as 30% of their employees. Lindens who had been there from early on, respected engineers, all laid off. All of those who had, at some point, been involved in the idea of virtual world interoperability — gone. Then the new vision: Second Life on a browser, accessible to the masses via well-known social networks. Wow. This is what I call a 90-degree course adjustment.

Clearly, I know nothing about the internal situation at Linden Lab. Probably their VC money has dried off, maybe their revenue is not enough to pay so many people. Who knows what’s behind a 30% ‘rightsizing’… But the new vision is an indication that this is not just about balancing the budget sheet; it’s about redefining what Second Life is. LL’s CEO wants it to be more like FarmVille than like World of Warcraft. Too many people have commented on his vision, I’m not going to do it. He’s the head of the company, he should try to make his vision come to life.

What I want to talk about here is what this 90-degree course adjustment entails for OpenSim. I confess yesterday I had that familiar feeling of having reached the point of having to stand and lead. Not me, personally. But the OpenSim project, as a whole. The torch is on us. Let me explain.

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Serverless grids

There is a new diva distribution available. It is packaged out of the bleeding edge OpenSim, revision 11056. If you have the previous release installed, you can simply run Update.exe.

In the past 2 weeks there has been a lot of plumbing in OpenSim, and things have improved considerably. First and foremost, we have identified and eliminated a memory leak that was causing OpenSim to use all memory over time, and eventually crash. Now OpenSim runs on much more reasonable memory footprint, and stays within that limit [for much longer].

Second, we have rewritten the grid service from scratch. The grid service is the part of OpenSim that manages region registration and lookup. All OpenSim installations have a grid service, even if they are standalones. In fact this distinction between standalone and “grid mode” is becoming fuzzier and fuzzier. So much so that it is now possible to have grids by stitching together standalone installations of OpenSim — without having to run any other servers!

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Standalone but Join the Party

It’s no secret that I love OpenSim standalone installations more than “grids”. For most things I envision doing with virtual worlds, including installations in my university, I can’t see the value of having a huge virtual space that is both shared between several tenants and centrally managed. The things I like to do fit perfectly in a few regions managed and controlled by me. The UCI Grid is about to become a web of hypergrided standalones. I suspect that many people are on the same boat. It used to be the case that standalones were solitary worlds that didn’t connect to anything or anyone; with the Hypergrid, that has changed. Standalones now can connect to the rest of the Metaverse — OSGrid, ReactionGrid, your friend’s standalones, etc. It’s a big world out there, and you can access it from your own small world.

I’m happy to announce Metaverse Ink’s “Diva Distribution”– a lean and mean OpenSim distribution targeting hypergrided standalones that comes preconfigured and that is very easy to keep up to date with newer releases of OpenSim. The Diva distribution is, literally, my personal preferences using the many configuration options of OpenSim. Here is what it consists of:

  • MySQL as the DB backend. I used SQLite for a long time. SQLite is really easy to use, it requires no installation, it’s great for beginners. However, it’s clear that SQLite doesn’t scale well for long-term worlds. Moreover, using a MySQL server on the backend enables very interesting hybrid architectures that I will be talking about soon. The diva distribution requires some expertise for setting up MySQL, but it’s worth it. The instructions that come on the distribution make the MySQL setup for OpenSim really easy.
  • ODE Physics. Easy choice here. Even the official OpenSim distribution is about to change to ODE as the default physics engine.
  •  XEngine as the scripting engine, and lsl as the scripting language. XEngine is the most stable of the scripting engines we currently have, and lsl is the most widely used scripting language. All other language support is still experimental and fairly insecure.
  • One Megaregion of 512×512 meters. That’s right! Megaregions just made it into OpenSim, thanks to Teravus, and they are working great. With megaregions there are no border crossings, everything is very smooth.
  • MetaverseInk Search. If you want to make your world searcheable, mark your parcels “Show in search”, and they will be listed on MISearch’s engine. Others can teleport to your world from search results. Everyone can do this on their OpenSim by setting a certain configuration variable; the diva distribution has that preconfigured.

Over time we plan to add more goodies to the diva distribution, so stay tuned.

Additionally, the diva distribution contains two tools that make it really easy to configure and update your installation. They are:

  • Configure: this is the tool you should run after unziping the first distribution. Be ready to tell it (a) the name you want to call your world; (b) the password for the MySql DB opensim account; (3) your externally visible IP address or domain name. Once you answer these questions, Configure will do all necessary configurations for you. You don’t need to edit any .ini files.
  • Update: once you get the first installation set up, updating it is as easy as running the Update tool. Update asks no questions from you, it just does the right thing.

While the diva distribution comes preconfigured with my own preferences, it is possible to change these preferences to yours. For example, if you want more than a 512×512 megaregion, you can add more regions. The instructions for how to do that come in the documentation that is included in the distribution.

So where can you get it? Get it at http://github.com/diva/d2/downloads — the file to download is called diva-rNNNN.zip, which is listed at the bottom of that page.
Unzip it, read README, and follow the instructions from there.

Let me finish this post by reminding everyone that the current version of the Hypergrid, which we call HG1, is fairly insecure. Don’t take your favorite avatar to places that you don’t trust. HG2 is coming, but it’s not here yet.

OpenSim is the future, and the HyperGrid is part of it

Hypergrid (thanks to HypergridBusiness)

Well, well, well. I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had time to post anything. A lot has happened since my last post. First and foremost, I got so much into OpenSim that I ended up being invited to become a core committer, back in December. This threw me into a serious case of programming addiction, of that kind that you neglect everything else. It was great! My recent one-month vacation got me out of the addiction, let’s see for how long… But here’s what I got so excited about: the Hypergrid.

The Hypergrid (HG) is a system architecture supporting decentralized virtual worlds. In other words, you host your world and it can interoperate with worlds hosted by other people and organizations. Yes, it’s a Web of virtual worlds. Users can teleport seamlessly between worlds.

I did the Hypergrid back in October/November, and it got integrated in the main distribution of OpenSim since then. Lots of people have their sims HG-enabled, including in the main open grid OSGrid.

The work on the Hypergrid is not over yet, it’s only half-way there. One thing is to enable this kind of interoperability; another thing is to make it safe for everyone. Since March or so I have been working on that second side of the issue — security. It requires changes in the client, so it’s a bit more tricky to deploy these changes. But they’re coming.

I will keep making posts about the Hypergrid. In the meantime, here are some useful links:

The main technical reference / white paper

Wagner Au’s post

Another Wagner Au’s post

Interesting ‘Yellow Pages’ of HG sims

An on-line publication about OpenSim and the HG

… and if you want to find Hypergrided sims, simply use MI Search.