Philip Linden Announces New Open Source Model for the Second Life Client

Granted, some of them — Nicholaz, Kirstens’ Viewer — have been hallmarks in pure, raw performance. A few, like Imprudence, focus on features. The “Restricted Life” series addresses intriguing ways of adding “plugins” — in-world HUDs communicating directly with the SL client. And quite a few address interoperability with other, non-LL grids (including LL’s own “Open Grid” viewer). The trouble with all those projects — or most of them anyway — is persistence in time. Although quite a lot of developers submit patches now and then, even though most of these patches take 6-24 months to be incorporated in LL’s own code, keeping up developing a SL viewer for months and months is not an easy task.

You might have seen how most SL viewers are often tied to a single developer  (Imprudence might be one of the exceptions). And what happens is that programmers, well, tire out, and give up supporting their code — it happens all the time. To do a long-lasting open source project, it takes stubbornness, a clear goal, and a team with “critical mass” of developers, that can keep it going even after many of the programmers have dropped out.

So what is the alternative? Currently, all those projects are highly individualistic, even if patches do, indeed, get submitted piecemeal on the Public JIRA and are popularly applied on almost all non-LL viewers.

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