Open Source Second Life – The Geeks Strike Back

OS Grid LogoRecently, Gareth Ellison, one of the promoters of the Open Source Grid, did a promotional event by being in-world to explain how exactly the OS Grid works and how people can connect to it.

The OS Grid is one of several that run the reverse-engineered (but Linden-approved) Open Grid Services / OpenSim software suite. Each has a different goal, but OS Grid is strongly encouraging the creation of a completely free environment, and want to establish a foundation to draw resources (financial and human) to support a free, costless, Second Life-compatible grid.

You can connect to the OS Grid with any standard SL client, or compile your own SL-compatible client. The beauty of it is that it relies on the almost-completely-documented SL Protocol. In effect, these SL-compatible grids are very similar to what LL is doing with their own grid: server and client are pretty much independent, but both agree on a common protocol, which is going to remain stable for a while. So LL can launch new clientes without changing the server software; and the reverse, of course, is also true.

So how advanced are these reverse-engineered solutions? Well, the mere fact that they work at all is a pleasant surprise. OpenSim allows you to run your own server, using applications running on top of libSecondLife; Open Grid Services is the “glue” that replaces LL’s “central servers” (login and asset servers, etc.) and make several disjointed sims be part of the same grid. When you register with OS Grid, you can pick any avatar name and join any sim that is on the grid. Similarly, if you managed to compile and run a version of OpenSim on your computer, you can add your own sim to the existing grid (note that avatars will require around 100 Kbps of upstreaming bandwidth, so forget about running your own sim behind an ADSL/cable modem connection — it’ll handle 3-4 avatars at most).

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