Second Life Client Goes Open Source

by prokofy on 08/01/07 at 7:49 am

Link for new revolutionary development still not now working (UPDATE 10:00 am EST).

I’m sure many more tekkie heads will be around to parse the significance of this cyberspace-shattering development, but Phoenix Linden just announced that Linden Lab is open-sourcing the Second Life Client.

First question: what will this do to land values?

Seriously, this is the model the Lindens have used to raise money for their own bottom line; will it continue to work for them and for those who make money in SL from land and content development?

What will it mean for intellectual property?

The announcement comes so much earlier than anyone thought, that I had to wonder if Phoenix was leading a rogue band of Lindens that have decided to break away from the mother ship.

Unfortunately, the page with the download is broken already, probably from being bombarded by too many metaversal myrmidons.

Let’s play pirates!

52 Responses to “Second Life Client Goes Open Source”

  1. marilyn murphy

    Jan 8th, 2007

    i have no clue what this means. im not tech savvy at all.
    please can u explain in plain english what it means for something to go open source?
    thank you.

  2. marilyn murphy

    Jan 8th, 2007

    yes, i read the linden announcement. i still dont understand the basic nuts and bolts of this.
    does it mean that now anyone can start their own version of sl with the right hardware to back them up?

  3. Boss Melnitz

    Jan 8th, 2007

    The nickel explanation for those wondering…

    Every network, groupware, or Internet-based application is made up of two basic parts: A client and a server. The server is the central location of all the data, and the nuts and bolts of the system. The client is the piece of software that runs on individual user’s computers that gives them access to the central system, or server. Second Life operates in this manner. Linden Labs has servers that contain our data (inventory, etc.) and that hosts all the places we visit in Second Life. We have the client on our machines that allow us to access and interact with their system.

    What the Lindens have done is made the source code for the CLIENT available. This means that people with programming knowledge can now modify the Second Life client in any manner they see fit. They could potentially add new features at the client level, strip out pieces to make the client smaller, or develop a client that is designed to do one particular function.

    This opens up a lot of potential issues, but most people who have dealt with open source software will tell you that, in a general sense, this is a good thing. One of the most obvious benefits is that instead of a handful of Lindens pounding away on the client to try and kill bugs, now the code is available to anyone in the world who has the time, skills, and inclination. Many more sets of eyes equals a higher number of problems solved, at least at the client level.

  4. Onder Skall

    Jan 8th, 2007

    Making the client “open source” means that other people can create their own clients. This means that, in theory, Microsoft could create a bloated crash-tastic and insecure way to access the Second Life world just like they did with Internet Explorer for the Web.

    It also means that we can expect about twelve dozen Copybot-or-worse clones. We’re going to have to figure out how to live with that. How that affects land values: if people don’t think they can make a profit selling in-world things (“people will just steal it!”) then they won’t bother to buy land to sell things on. Of course, that’s a little over-dramatic… MP3′s haven’t even dented record company profits, but hey, that’s a whole other argument…

    On the positive side, it also means that maybe somebody will make a graphics engine that doesn’t make everything look like paste and that loads graphics a little faster. This was honestly the only way Linden Lab was going to be able to keep Second Life competetive graphically. Five to ten years from now people will look at SL’s graphics and think of them as a complete joke unless that client is re-written.

    Finally, it gets us one step closer to people being able to run their OWN servers to serve up content QUICKLY and CONSISTENTLY, something I think we can all appreciate as an absolute necessity considering how often the grid has been going down lately.

  5. Mako Mabellon

    Jan 8th, 2007

    Onder Skall – libsecondlife is more than enough to create CopyBot or any other application of that sort. Open-sourcing the client should have more beneficial effects – for example, someone might actually get around to adding video playback under Linux (probably using the LGPLed ffmpeg – the licenses are probably just about compatible, if you’re careful)…

  6. Prokofy Neva

    Jan 8th, 2007

    Date/time stamp of David Kirkpatrick’s story for Fortune:
    By David Kirkpatrick, Fortune senior editor
    January 8 2007: 7:00 AM EST

    Date/time stamp of Phoenix Linden’s announcement
    on the public Linden website:
    Monday, January 8th, 2007 at 4:15 AM PST by phoenixlinden

    Tateru Nino’s date/time stamp:
    Posted Jan 8th 2007 7:30AM by Tateru Nino

    My date/time stamp:
    Posted by Prokofy Neva on January 08, 2007 at 07:49 AM

    Your date/time stamp:
    This entry was posted on Monday, January 8th, 2007 at 7:59 am

    Guess that about summarizes about how it will go, with future iterations.

  7. marilyn murphy

    Jan 8th, 2007

    thank you for your explanations boss and onder. i appreciate it.

  8. doesn' matter

    Jan 8th, 2007

    The page with the download works perfectly.

  9. Prokofy Neva

    Jan 8th, 2007

    It didn’t for 45 minutes — it worked again — stopped again — it is likely to face a huge amount of interest.

  10. Prokofy Neva

    Jan 8th, 2007

    Thanks, Boss!

    Now for a dime, go further on this one. The server code is NOT released — that they are keeping close to the chest. Presumably that’s the stuff that also contains all our “unique IP stuff” that is of course really pwned by them — the stuff on/in the asset server.

    I’d like to understand how the client being monkeyed with affects the ability to strip things out of the server, or the world.

    Example: can land data now be scraped? Personal data?

  11. Trevor F. Smith

    Jan 8th, 2007

    From the SL licensing page:

    “Note that some components necessary for use with the Second Life viewer are licensed from third parties under different licenses. The license for those components is clearly marked inside the distribution of those components. Some components may require payment of royalties or have other restrictions associated with copying, modification or redistribution. Please consult the license for all components when licensing the software.”

  12. Eloise

    Jan 8th, 2007

    Effect on land prices – minimall would be my prediction.

    As the techie heads have commented this is about the client going open source. It will still only connect you to the grid (although swapping around to connect to test grids easily etc. might well be available soon) since all of that sort of stuff is kept at the server end.

    Since, as we all know to our occasional pain, all our assets etc. are kept centrally too it won’t make ripping off assets any easier than copybot did either.

    What it will probably do is sort of client side bugs faster, because some tech-head will scream in frustration and sort it out NOW rather than waiting for it to get to desk of a bug fixer in LL, and it will make things like foreign language localised versions easier. I.E. Prok, you’ll be able to get a russian client if you really want one.

    It could well lead to a properly developed mac client that obeys the Mac GUI guidelines (if any reader comes up with one please let me know!) and will let those that want to tweak things like menus, items in menus etc. – one obvious possiblity: if you want to stop people building in your space you force them to use your (branded) client and just block access to all the build tools and remove the tools menu.

  13. Onder Skall

    Jan 8th, 2007

    Mako Mabellon: excellent point!

    Also, I’d be interested in finding out if my comments about the graphics hold any water. Upon further investigation, isn’t the actual graphic renderer inextricably linked with the non-open Havoc engine? Any techies in the house?

  14. Boss Melnitz

    Jan 8th, 2007

    I am not a programmer, nor do I play one on TV. I am a web developer who has tampered in the domain of systems administration.

    That being said, I can’t be 100% sure of what can or can’t be accomplished by modifying the client from a security standpoint. It stands to reason that if libsl could reverse engineer the client (without the benefit of source code), that this tool in their hands could assist them in finding a way of doing more malicious things, such as a fully functional copybot. However, I subscribe to the belief that open-sourcing the client for everyone will have the opposite effect. With everyone having access, instead of just a small group of virtual thugs who chuckle while they reign their particular brand of havoc (no pun intended) on the populace, security exploits will become public knowledge more quickly. They won’t be exploited first to for the gain of a few, and then made public in a thinly veiled attempt to look benevolent.

    For Linden Labs to open-source the entire platform, server included, would turn the system into something that they’re not entirely prepared for (as if they’re normally prepared). What you would get from that would be a bunch of Second Life clones, that may or may not communicate with the main grid, and/or a bunch of businesses who link into the main grid to take advantage of the large user base, but who host their own sims. Almost immediately we would see one or two companies who take these tools, improve upon what Linden Labs is doing 10-fold, and promptly hurt their bottom line. While that’s good for the consumer, it’s not good for the Lindens, and would be a huge embarrassment. I’m not taking a position about open-sourcing the server pro or con…I’m just saying I can see why the Lindens don’t do it as a means of self-preservation. Perhaps it makes more sense for the Lindens to release the server software in a closed, commercial medium, which WOULD allow businesses to run their own sims on their own hardware, and CAN communicate with the main grid, but don’t have to rely on Linden Labs for hosting or hardware. It at least opens another revenue stream for them.

    As for using the client to strip things out, I was only referring to functionality at the client level, and to the limit that client interactivity provides. The client has the ability to interact with data on the servers, but does not have the ability to alter data structures or server functionality (at least I HOPE it doesn’t). Just as an example (and I preface this by saying I don’t know why anyone would want to do this), what if someone had a need for a client that operated in text-only mode? Remove the graphics and the slick interface, and build a simple text-based interface that allowed access to inventory and navigation features. That is something that an open-sourced client can do. Add to that the fact that under the GPL, any such clients are required to be released to the public. Now you’re giving people options that they haven’t had before. A good thing, in my opinion.

  15. Prokofy Neva

    Jan 8th, 2007


    Why minimal? The very first thing that any coder with an interest in making a fortune in SL will do what people who have messed with the innards of SL in the past have already done. Remember the question asked about Rathe Underthorne sniffing packets? Now, you won’t have to sniff, you can eat the dogfood directly. And very soon there will be website/client links that have real estate info, i.e. the land-for-sale list and information off all our parcels, as well, whether we wish it or not, that will create directories of available land that will be easier to sort.

    In this controlled, synthetic world, having all that data will be used to the advantage of whomever can code it scrape it and bag it first. So they will be able to view and buy land without having to sit like the current lifer land-swoopers and refresh the list.

    I don’t need a Russian client, and Russians are already working on Russian interface and tools even before this, and will work it themselves quickly, I’m sure.

    I’m sorry, I totally reject this idea that having all these eyes and hands on a problem suddenly makes it more fixable.

    It was never logic LL EVER used on us before, nor did their swarms of fanboyz among programmers who would snark at us on the forums that if there were bugs, adding 10 more Lindens to a problem 20 were working on wouldn’t create 30 good hands and eyes and work it faster, but would be unnecessary or they’d get in each other’s way. I really wonder how you MANAGE THE INFO from a project like this, or whether LL will BOTHER to sort through thousands of emails with frisky and eager little dweebs saying “look at me, look at me, I fixed a bug, look at me” to get themselves a resume buff and a pat on the head. They may only filter in input from their feted ones.

    We have no expectation whatsoever, given the culture of this Lab, that it will change in its behaviour and patterns of practice. It won’t.

    If you don’t want someone to build in your space, turn off create, or non-group create, after grouping your land, Eloise, that’s simpler.

    Much of the thinking about the SOCIAL impact and impact on THE WORLD of coders is based on various “illness as metaphor” or other metaphors they adopt. And the idea that being exposed to LOTS of viruses makes your immune system stronger, and you are the better for it by having many little hands wrecking havoc instead of just those view, isn’t logical to me. MarmelaGramela was right to point out that this defies her common sense. Good for her, being first to put up that obvious point.

    I mean, if I kept my kids sequestered indoors they might never develop sturdy immune systems from being exposed to other kids and building up a tolerance for micrcobes. But when I take my kids to the clinic where they sit in a concentrated session for 2 hours with very sick kids and get heavily exposed, they tend to get really sick. Sooner or later, the law of exposure to many bugs = strength breaks down, and the person gets sick. If they are going to apply metaphors like this, apply them all the way.

    While the client cooked up in somebody’s basement possibly can’t get at the L$ system, perhaps it will have features that take L$ and decieve people just as pyramid schemes in little prims do now.

  16. Myrrh Massiel

    Jan 8th, 2007

    …yay!.. ^_^

  17. Cocoanut Koala

    Jan 8th, 2007

    I am wondering about bug reports. Somehow this feels like another distancing mechanism to me. Will the Lindens still worry about bugs? Or will they wait for someone else to fix it? Or will they say, well, someone should fix this eventually?

    Just how does that work? Will this have anything to do with bugs?


  18. Prokofy Neva

    Jan 8th, 2007

    Good question, Coco. I’ll bet they’ll say, well gee, we have all those fanboyz out there working on this, let them do it, especially the less fun ones.

    All the fanboyz will be rushing to try to get glory and be the first and get their name in a book or something so they’ll cut corners.

    I find this whole system evil, the toadying, the secrecy, the creepiness, the nastiness of the people and how they have, with such arrogance and superiority.

    It’s the first open-source project that everyone had to live inside of as their home.

    I’ll bet the Lindens will figure that anyone who isn’t on their inner circuit making bug reports is a feeb and a choad, and unless they’re writing code, they will not want to listen to them. User-found bugs will likely not matter anymore.

  19. Quango the brave

    Jan 8th, 2007

    This is great news. I genuinely believe this wont make much of a difference negatively at all. The whole copybot beatup turned out to be pretty much that. Whilst a bunch of tech illiterate chicken littles ran about crying about the sky falling, a few cybercrime incidents happened then it all seemed to resolve itself. No harm no foul.

    In this case, theres a much stronger potential to build better digital defences of the commons by using the huge knowledge of thousands of coders who know there stuff.

    Almost everything worth protecting (the scripts) is stored server side, so like libsl no damage to the ‘nervous system’ of SL is really possible (The graphics cant be protected, and any attempt is doomed to fail).

    Those worried about what sort of ‘evil’ can be concocted really fail to understand that SL has *always* exposed code in the scripts. Nothing changes here, except a change to improve the client experience.

    What WOULD be good is open sourcing the server, so the obnoxious copy protection and useless “linden buck” nonsense can be removed so folks can finally look at liberating the SL metaverse from its mindnumbing obsession with money over fun.

    The quicker the parasites who monopolise land and assets can be made redundant the better. The commercialists should never have been allowed to drag the real worlds curse into the virtual worlds.

    This does nothing towards that end, but at least it means coders can make a more enjoyable experience for people.

  20. Joannah Cramer

    Jan 8th, 2007

    “Almost everything worth protecting (the scripts) is stored server side”

    A fascinating concept. Please, do elaborate what’s so special about the scripts that makes them “worth protecting” as opposed to all other content types which ain’t.

  21. Prokofy Neva

    Jan 9th, 2007

    I’m so glad that Quango the brave has explicated the extreme Leninist position for us so that we can see not only the Marxist inherent contradictions, like Joannah has aptly pointed out, but ask the pointed question of who’s going to pay for all this. Cory Linden put forth the vague concept of “services”. Quango imagines there will be an endless supply of fools willing to sustain him and his infantile sandboxing buddies in free sandboxes and other freebies.

  22. Calderan Gregoire

    Jan 9th, 2007

    The scripts are the only thing that _can_ be protected. Everything else is downloaded by your client and stored in the memory of your computer and video card. From there it can be extracted with any number of debugging tools. Thus it can copied by anyone with enough initative even without copybot or access to the client source code.

    Basically if you have somehow developed a business that isn’t a service but is instead selling some item, texture, etc if it doesn’t involve scripts you are on borrowed time.

    This isn’t unique to Second Life at all. This is why Microsoft is taking away control of your own computer from you when it comes to digital media in Windows Vista. Yay for DRM.

  23. Calderan Gregoire

    Jan 9th, 2007

    Oh and lets not forget that network protocols can always be reverse engineered. Everything people have been afraid of as happening with an open source client has already happened.

    As LL said the release of the client as open source was “inevitable”. If they didn’t do it either SL would die due to its crappy technology or someone like libSL would offer alternative clients and hacks that would make Linden Labs lose control over the client anyway.

  24. Prokofy Neva

    Jan 9th, 2007

    Just because something is the only thing that “can be” protected, doesn’t mean that other things that “can’t be protected” can have some sort of effort around them to protect them better.

    Cory relies on social pressure only. He hopes that a million angry prim divas pecking the eyes out of plagiarists will do the job — the kind of social work that he doesn’t leave for any other part of Second Life.

    The idea that little smug assholes can arrogantly tell others that they are “living on borrowed time” — time that they themselves work avidly and gleefully to whittle away — doesn’t sit right with me. It feels immoral to me — because it is. In fact, it’s really a deeply fucked-up way to set up a society — to have one privileged class of smug little assholes whose products CAN be saved and protected and a million others “living on borrowed time”.

    Yeah. And that’s why they won’t be around forever to sustain the asholes with the scripts so they can go on getting subsidized sandbox time.

    They, too, ultimately are living on borrowed time with this deeply fucked attitude.

    The “crappy technology” that the Lindens made garnered them millions of dollars in revenue, subsidizing the Lab’s experiment, and it brougnt them the attention of the whole world and the largest corporations and most powerful people in the world.

    I suggest they’ve probably made something a little less crappy that a bunch of rag-tag college kids whose claim to fame so far has been giant prims the size of their egos that lag servers; God-stalker mode, and CopyBot.

  25. hotlips Tornado

    Jan 9th, 2007

    Prok, as always your comments are insightful and refreshing.

    I can’t help wondering what you get out of SL though, with it being run by a bunch of people whom you clearly dislike. I get the impression you wouldn’t piss on a Linden if they were on fire, yet you invest so much time in their creation.

    I guess it’s not really relevant to the topic at hand, but it’s a question that does fascinate me.

  26. Eloise

    Jan 9th, 2007


    Why minimal impact on land prices?

    I don’t really dabble in the land market, but it strikes me the swoopers et al already have systems that are pretty efficient. They may, maginally, increase their efficiency (although they’re still going to be grabbing data from the central servers hence I expect it will only be a marginal increase in efficiency). Buying land will require being logged in in some sense, teleporting to the right location etc. unless the client is a lot smarter than I expect, so they won’t gain that much there either.

    I also wonder just how much impact swoopers have on land prices. A lot of the barons strike me as moving away from playing on the mainland, but their pricing still seems to affect the mainland prices. You’re one of the ones I know of that still plays the mainland market – but how often do you get into strict competition with the swoopers and/or run out of land for rent?

    Additionally, the open sourcing of the client can’t affect the supply of land so that side of the equation won’t be affected by this.

    You with a russian client may not be of interest, but it’s an illustration of the sort of thing that will be easier to do.

    Whilst I agree turning off the building is an obvious approach, if you’ve got people coming into SL for meetings etc. for the first time, slimmed down clients without access to the building tools etc. will be part of making it easier for them to use SL without having to worry about lots of menus and menu items. You might never use it, but, although I posted it here before checking my emails several people on the educators email lists are talking about doing precisely this to make a client that’s easier to explain to new users.

  27. bubbles

    Jan 9th, 2007

    Prokofy, maybe now it will sink in that you are dealing with a computer game and you are at the mercy of programmers. Knowledge is power and you don’t have it. It’s no use whining about tekkie this and tekkie that because unfortunately for you in a computer game these guys are superior to you. Your online life is reliant on these types whether they work for LL or spend their time anti-LL. You call them ‘smug’ as you are seething with rage because they can do something you can’t and it also shows you how fragile ‘living’ inside a computer game is. However you keep on antagonising those people if you want, you’re always the one to suffer unfortunately.

    By the way, you’re more of leech than the scripters or the builders. They created SL, put their creative input to SL and paid for the pleasure. You put time in sure, but then you TAKE big time. These people built a world free for LL that LL could then use to attract corporates.

  28. Quango the brave

    Jan 9th, 2007

    “”"A fascinating concept. Please, do elaborate what’s so special about the scripts that makes them “worth protecting” as opposed to all other content types which ain’t.”"”

    Because anyone who believes the media components ever where protected or is capable of being protected is sadly and hopelessly deluded.

  29. Quango the brave

    Jan 9th, 2007

    I’m so glad that Quango the brave has explicated the extreme Leninist position for us so that we can see not only the Marxist inherent contradictions

    What the fuuuu?

    You drooling whackjob prok.

    Are these the same “Marxist” ideals that have lead to open source being used by ALL of the top fortune 500 companies, the “marxist” ideals that have inspired Anarcho-capitalist Libertarian philosopher Eric Raymond to champion it, or the same “Marxist” ideals that lead to 90%+ of all western people to risk imprisonment by challenging the authoritarian iron fist of copyright facism. What about the EU and US Justice department whos concern to protect capitalism and competition have lead to them recomending open source


    Just do me a favor Prok. Before shooting that mouth off of yours at least go and read some books on the topic ok. And for the record your a very rude person.

  30. Quango the brave

    Jan 9th, 2007

    THIS is why copy protection is an anti-freedom technology;-

    Many aspects of this dystopia have already started to happen in the DMCA world.

  31. Prokofy Neva

    Jan 9th, 2007

    Quango, your spelling and expression in general is atrocious, and YOU are the rude person first here.

    We all know — duh? — that open source is everywhere, and gosh, governments and universities and People Everywhere rely on it.

    But what YOU represent is a sectarian, biased, very extremist version of this movement.

    You don’t represent anything that is ethical or balanced.

    That can be seen by your dumb-ass statement about how having a free economy or Linden dollars or things for sale was somehow “evil”. (Actually, when you get talking like that, I’m thinking you might be so far to the left you began rightist and fascistic).

    THOSE people aren’t the “communists” — but you may well be, given your outrageously extremist — and juvenile — and naive — positions articulated here.

    It’s a very good example of the young, aggressive tekkie out loose on the Internet with their half-educated, half-baked ideas.

    Copyright isn’t ‘anti-freedom’ — that’s absurd. Copyright enables people to be recognized and paid for their hard work — it’s a valuation of their labour that makes a society possible where they can go on working freely. If they had to just work to support little dweebs like you making whatever lameass and mediocre coded thingies you make, they’d not bother.

    The dystopia here isn’t copyright or proprietary rights of business. The dystopia is the extremism we’re hearing from this youthful ijjit. He’s the whackjob, not me. Even the Creative Commons people still believe in *copyright,* i.e. that if you reprint a work, you acknowledge the author, you don’t change it unless they’ve stated it can be modified, etc. etc. Like the SL permissions.

    I’m not going to go running off to read histories of open-source movements when I think it’s clear what we have here: clueless and aggressive exremism that moderates should rebuff so that our world isn’t overtaken by them and our freedoms lost.

  32. Prokofy Neva

    Jan 9th, 2007

    Oh, and on Raymond, I think I’m going to be a Bezroukovist this for now, even having read Raymond’s anti-Bezroukov essay.

  33. Joannah Cramer

    Jan 9th, 2007

    “Because anyone who believes the media components ever where protected or is capable of being protected is sadly and hopelessly deluded.”

    A weak dodge. I asked specifically what makes you believe scripts are *worth* protecting, as opposed to other types of content. You have to admit, the notion of scripts deserving protection is especially hillarious when you are in the very same post calling for making the source code of SL itself public so “the obnoxious copy protection and useless “linden buck” nonsense can be removed so folks can finally look at liberating the SL metaverse from its mindnumbing obsession with money over fun.”

    If protection of content is obnoxious then it shouldn’t be granted to anything. Scripts included. Otherwise you still allow some capitalist parasites to make the hideous linden buck writing and selling protected scripts… and clearly, that isn’t what you want?

  34. Calderan Gregoire

    Jan 9th, 2007

    Scripts do not deserve protecting anymore than any other form of “content”. It just happens that they are easier to protect due to the server client architecture that forms Second Life.

    My understanding is that unless a script is being edited (with appropriate privileges) or a flaw is found in the server the client never sees the contents of the script. If the client never sees it, can’t request or download it, then it requires the exploitation of a flaw in the server to get. Whereas all other forms of content are routinely sent to or requested by the client. Second Life even seems to use a load balanced HTTP server cluster for serving up various content types to the clients. (I’m not sure if any kind of authentication is required but I’ve seen such servers show directory listings without auth so I doubt any is required. I honestly have not poked around that much.)

  35. Prokofy Neva

    Jan 9th, 2007

    Calderan, we got all that long ago. Honestly, it is not news. Seriously, we heard *exactly these points 100 times* for weeks and weeks in the CopyBot debates.

    And yet, if you zoom out from the seemingly technical issue of the fact that the client never “sees” it blah blah, you can come to the political conclusion: the same kind of efforts can — and are — made to make sure the client doesn’t see the texture codes and such, either.

    But they aren’t.

    It’s political.

    Cory says he doesn’t want to be in an arms race.

    WoW gets into an arms race to keep the integrity of their world. The entire world of software all over the real world spends $69 million US dollars a year making sure that they are in that arms race. Everyone like the extreme copyleftist Quango may find this irrational and want everything to be free, including a free lunch, but keeping integrity is about keeping value and getting things paid for.

    When they want to be, they are in an arms race. They protect. When they don’t want to be, they aren’t.

  36. Prokofy Neva

    Jan 9th, 2007

    sorry $69 billion

  37. Calderan Gregoire

    Jan 9th, 2007

    “And yet, if you zoom out from the seemingly technical issue of the fact that the client never “sees” it blah blah,”

    If you zoom out from the seemingly technical issue of how computers and software actually work you can try to say anything apparently.

    ” you can come to the political conclusion: the same kind of efforts can — and are — made to make sure the client doesn’t see the texture codes and such, either.”

    Yes. Because a political solution can be made for the fact that in order for your computer to display a texture applied to any 3d object it actually has to get a copy of the texture in a form it can render and send to the video card. A texture is just an image file where the artist had to create an image that repeats or such so that it can be applied to a surface and obtain the desired look.

    There is nothing about it that can be kept from the client. You can encrypt the transmission from the server to the client but at some point the client will have to unencrypted it. It will have to unencrypt it to send it to the video card in the format the video card needs to do its job. At that point you can just have another programming on the computer simply read the memory of the running copy of Second Life or copy it from the memory of the video card.

    The RIAA, MPAA, and Microsoft have spent many years and many many zeros worth of money trying to find a solution for this “problem” all because they refuse to adapt their business model to the fact movies and music can’t be sold as if they are physically scarce when they are not. If companies worth countless billions dollars working together have not solved the issue yet what do you expect Linden Labs to do?

    “WoW gets into an arms race to keep the integrity of their world.”

    I don’t see how WoW is relevant in this conversation. The entire asset set of WoW is stored as part of the client in unencrypted files. They are in a proprietary format but tools exist to easily extract art assets and many in the machina community use such tools to create warcraft videos. Blizzards efforts are in the anti-cheating department and not the anti-copying. They can protect their revenue as the servers are required for the game to be functional. They rely on a legal team to stop widespread copying of art assets. End-users do not create content, have no rights to content. Therefore it is irrelevant in the context of this conversation.

    “he entire world of software all over the real world spends $69 million US dollars a year making sure that they are in that arms race.”

    Uhhh… can I get someone to translate that for me?

  38. Cocoanut Koala

    Jan 9th, 2007

    “By the way, you’re more of leech than the scripters or the builders. They created SL, put their creative input to SL and paid for the pleasure. You put time in sure, but then you TAKE big time. These people built a world free for LL that LL could then use to attract corporates.”

    Um, Bubbles . . . what’s so wonderful about working for LL for free? Do you think the Lindens are working for LL for free? Is this just one huge labor of love?

    And their financial backers – are those guys donating all their money?

    Why should we build a world free for LL?

    And anyway, you are wrong about what Prok does for SL. People who deal with players – such Prok, or Nexus Nash and Adam Zaius, providing communities for us to live in, of course contribute a great deal to SL. As much if not more than people who write scripts or build with prims.


  39. Just a thought

    Jan 10th, 2007

    There is no such thing as a true “community” on or IN any platform.

    Second Life is a massive, open space chat room, with 3-D Graphics and online shops (though very little real merchandise is sold) integrated into it by the users.

    That is not a community. No living, breathing people getting up in the morning (important part there by the way), eating breakfast (another important part – stay tuned), going to work, coming home to eat dinner (also important), going to bed (Yep, important), and eventually dying of old age and being buried.

    Notice something in the above paragraph? Yep, those are all things real, live people content with or do each and every day – and real people die each and every day – avatars do not eat, they do not sleep, they do not die. The closest thing to a “community” they can really have amounts to little more than a cluster of computer data and pixels – the same as any other “community” on AOL, Yahoo, MSN, and every other major service.

    So please stop deluding yourself in this manner – the only “community” you have going on here is the sort that is common on the Internet already ….. the sort that already has issues with people taking things far too seriously.

  40. Lewis Nerd

    Jan 10th, 2007

    Evidently you never played Sims Online; there really was a sense of community there amongst the majority of the playerbase.

    I’ve said many times that effort should be made to get one community together in SL, but Linden Lab don’t seem interested in any way in working for that. Sure you have the Gorean community, the furry community, the ageplay community, etc etc – but very rarely will they interact and stand together on an important issue that negatively affects anyone.

    Cory’s admission last night that ‘there is no way’ (ie they can’t be bothered to work on it) to stop ‘home made clients’ connecting to the main grid is probably the most worrying part of all. Sure, if people want to play, then let them go to a separate, experimental test grid (which it seems like there will be) but that should be mandatory, not an option. It’s just like giving someone who’s never driven before your car keys, and letting them take a trip down the freeway. They might get to the other end OK, but there’s a very good chance they’ll wrap themselves round the back of a truck on the way.


  41. Just a thought

    Jan 10th, 2007

    Lewis – not a single Computer program has a true community – not a one. Again, a community is comprised of living, breathing individuals, not pixels, computer data and words on a screen.

    The notion that such things are a real community only fosters the false belief that such things are ‘real’ and leads to people being unable to disassociate when logged into such services. There have been numerous suicides caused by this issue on text only services – a clear indicator that people take what they see on their screens too seriously.

    I have always been of the mind that if a person is incapable of treating such programs and services as they truly are – pixels, computer data and words on a screen – then such a person should be prevented from ever logging into and using said service.

    Second Life has only served to anchor this mindset in cement, cased within both titanium and diamond. The reactions I have seen in various places leave me dumbfounded …. The fact that a Human being can make grand leaps in logic, broad base accusations, and all other manner of response that would previously have been limited to first hand experience or the evening news is frankly a frightening one.

    I once looked forward to true VR immersion in such a program as Second Life …. Now I dread that day.

    Second Life, TSO, AOL, MSN, Yahoo – ALL services in fact – cannot ever have a true community – a mob maybe, but not a true community.

    If an avatar requires sleep, food, drink and ages until death, along with being able to truly think for itself and act independently of the user, which would require it to continue to move about when you are not logged in (and no, Sims characters do not count in this as the AI is incapable of truly complex actions and the like when no one is even logged in) – then MAYBE such a thing could form a community.

    Of course if that ever happens we have a problem don’t we?

  42. Prokofy Neva

    Jan 10th, 2007

    Calderan, you keep spouting literalist truths, when we grasped them long ago. If your notions were so correct, there’d never be a hacked copy of Maya sitting on kids’ laptops now, would there?

    You can encrypt the transmission from the server to the client but at some point the client will have to unencrypted it. It will have to unencrypt it to send it to the video card in the format the video card needs to do its job.

    Duh. But the fact is, for those games that wish to be secure and proprietary, like WoW, they invest the time and technology and money to assure this, and also expell the hackers and farmers they need to expel. They protect their property.

    the $69 billion I reference came out of article I was reading in a netcom circular about computer training which had an article or two that was interesting about open source, Java, Novell, and Microsoft and how they were interacting. Of course MS pwns 90 percent of computers in the known unviverse. The industry experts talked about the money that has to be spent annually all over the world to secure systems from hackers. That’s a big price tag to pay — that the world pays — for the script kiddies to play. We are in a miniature version of that, where we’re supposed to pay for them to keep hactivism-ing Second Life.

    The efforts of Blizzard to deal with anti-cheating — and their efforts to protect their own copyright — taken together — are an analogy to Second Life. Those who hack into SL to grab the textures and labour and IP of others are in a sense cheating in the game of Second Life as much as they are violating copyright.

    I have always been of the mind that if a person is incapable of treating such programs and services as they truly are – pixels, computer data and words on a screen – then such a person should be prevented from ever logging into and using said service.

    This is Bolshevism, pure and simple. The idea that only the extremist nihilist attitude toward the immersive, integral world that many people want to have in Ssecond Life should prevail is just plain evil. It’s something I fight strenuously. It it the worst kind of totalitarian vision — inflicting what YOU make of a situation — that it is mere pixels that you can be cynical about — should prevail — even as it means so much more to other people — is just sick. It’s wrong. I don’t say, from my school of thought as a liberal, that people who take a cynical attitude toward SL and think it’s just pixels and texts should be forced to log off and banned from registering in our immersive worlds. That would be wrong. A platform like this has to be open to a huge variety of interpretations of what it is for, or it can’t be free. Yet you, as a little script kiddy sitting in your mom’s basement plying the joystick, and tell others in a free world what to do and how they should view that world.

    Anyone who wants to read the transcript of the townhall where I was booted, plus the follow-up astounding conversation with Philip, go here:
    There’s an underlying assumption there that worlds can and should be endlessly open and free in cost and free in access to be “free”. But freedom comes from creating restraints and barriers to having the few make it unfree for everyone else, too.

    Gosh, even Tateru Nino grasps this logic with her yammering about how “incivility” can – and even is! — prosecuted under the First Amendment in America in the name of making sure the timid and those easily suffering from eye-bleeds from posts on forums are able to say their piece.

    Lewis, I think you’ve summed up the attitude of the Lindens here perfectly — they cannot — will not, refuse to — sustain any universal community in SL.

    The ONLY community they are willing to fete, sustain, coddle, and even call “the community” is the elitist community of coders. Note how this new Rob Linden speaks of “the community” and the need to get its input on this open-source stuff — and means those elitist programmers who can speak his language and walk the walk.

    If you object to the high-handedness of this process, that allows for no prioritizing or rationalization of features, but just accepts them helter-skelter from whatever pet project a Linden or a script kiddy wants to have — you are told to shut up, exit, leave, tier down, or learn coding yourself. You are told by extremists like Jarod Godel that gosh, Egyptian hieroglyphics are in the public domain, but only Egyptianologists read them, and nobody objects to that.

    I guess because Egyptologists don’t behave like fucktards, crash grids, and actually affect the very nature of the entire world, they stick to their lasts, so to speak and don’t invade the entire structure of your life experience. No so coders in second life who actually make and move the world and want to make sure you know it and feel utterly dependent on you.

  43. Prokofy Neva

    Jan 10th, 2007

    *and make you feel utterly undependent on you — ultimately, for people like just-a-thought and Calderan here, it’s about having unaccountable power over other people

  44. Just a thought

    Jan 10th, 2007

    Wrong Prokofy- I’m pointing out the reality, I am stating pure and simple fact.

    There is NO “community”. The avatars are NOT people, any notion of Second Life or a similar program being a “world” in the traditional sense is absurd.

    Welcome to the truth Prokofy – there is no such thing as a free world – period. You want a free world? Go take down a government somewhere and begin to slowly destroy any and everything that protects you from those you see fit to criticize.

    Until you are able to see the basest and purest facts regarding computers, the dangers of allowing yourself to lose that barrier between what is REAL (IE: The person sitting there, reading these words on the screen) and what is FANTASY (IE: Your Second Life Avatar, a character in a game, your online personage, and all other forms of data, ideas, et cetera that the term “living Being” cannot apply to) then quite frankly you don’t deserve to have access to such a dangerous medium.

    I do find it interesting that you skipped right over the fact that suicides and far worse have been committed over simple text on something as base as a message board or chat room. But what should I have expected? If it doesn’t fit in with the way you see the person you are responding to, you ignore it.

    As to your banning – you were banned for knowingly bringing an object in that could start a riot or worse. It is that simple. If you are unable to grasp a concept, do not post on it, do not attempt to criticize others who have posted on it. In fact, until you know what is going on or what you are talking about – don’t bother attempting to read it.

    Telling someone to go study international law …. Hmm, last I checked that has nothing at all to do with the client becoming Open Source. Now someone suggesting that you go out and learn the coding scheme being used in the Second Life client is perfectly relevant – they are telling you that instead of complaining you can actually DO something. That is the way it works.

    In the future, please refrain from putting some socio-political spin on a simple opinion and do not place words or ulterior motive where there is none. It tends to backfire – case in point, my OPINION on the way the internet should be run.

    See what I mean about things backfiring? The next time you’d like to quite me out of context or assume there is some dark and evil motive – refrain from posting. It’s been made clear in this response that you’ve taken an opinion and blown it out of proportion.

  45. Quango the Brave

    Jan 10th, 2007

    “It’s a very good example of the young, aggressive tekkie out loose on the Internet with their half-educated, half-baked ideas.”

    Quit it with the ad hominen. I wish I could say I was young, and even more that I was half educated, but alas I can claim neither.

    But I do believe in debating the topic rather than the debator.

    And on some research you seem to make this “marxist” accusation repeatedly. It answers a question thats puzzled me since my university days in the eighties as to where the marxists all went. They now live in the metaverse it seems!

    Right on comrade.

  46. Calderan Gregoire

    Jan 10th, 2007

    “Calderan, you keep spouting literalist truths, when we grasped them long ago.”

    Prok, try actually reading my damn comment. All I’ve said is that there is no technical way to limit things like content theft. Meanwhile you’ve hopped all over the place and without knowing you better I’d swear you were trying to claim you were on every side of the issue.

  47. Prokofy Neva

    Jan 10th, 2007

    Calderan, we got that. You are beating a dead horse, truly. Anything you can see with your eyes can be copied. Except…not scripts lol. Which is silly because of course programs are hacked and copied all the time, not through the literal way of intercepting through the viewer, but by hacking into people’s accounts. Scripts just can’t be copied *that way* that textures can in SL.

    What is uber annoying is that through this entire debate, each time we try to get at the social and political implications, we have to endure one of these tiresome harangues about the technical means in which the copying is seen and done, as if this fait accompli of the physical capabilities of the system must rule us.

    But it need not rule us. I only have one word for you: Napster. Did people get sued and harassed by companies over downloads? Yes they did. Did Napster morph into a for-pay system today? Yes it did. Did everyone think the Napster Golden Era of Unlimited Downloading would last forever? Yes, they did.

    Obfuscation is indeed one way to prevent it — and there is a case that even tekkies make for obfuscation in the small population setting of SL.

    The analogy I like to use about this is the door lock. Door locks are utterly pointless in SL. Tekkies can sneer that they are hacked and that people are stupid to even try to use them. Some landlords never explain to tenants that they are hackable with the cubes and sitpos and offer in their ads “secure this and that” and “user driven security systems” as if these notecards with somebody’s name in them can prevents camera zooms and prims being sat on. They can’t.

    But…so what? It’s not just that “obfuscation” works because each new generation of newbies flying around and griefing won’t discover it right away. It’s that it works *good enough* for many people. Their friends push on the door, find it locked, don’t bother them. A newbie looking for a rental sees it is locked and moves on.

    Any of these people could cynically use sit-pos — they don’t. So while it is patently stupid to go on using locks, people ask for them, use them, and enforce them as a kind of signal of peer pressure.

    The noir, narf-narfing nihilists natter on about how people are retarded for trying to hide behind a bit of script that doesn’t protect them (only security orbs, banning, or possibly turning off the move-objects will work). They think that if something doesn’t work ONE HUNDERD PERCENT and has that 30
    percent flaw in it, that it’s pointless to use the device. This is stupid and dense thinking on the tekkies’ part which I always try to get them to see is illogical. Just because you can’t do EVERYTHING doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do SOMETHING.

    Indeed, armed with at least a symbol generator that says “leave me alone,” people get something done. So if it works in 70 percent of the time or even 30 percent, it’s good ENOUGH.

    In the same way, people expect that more moderate, rational approach to the security problem of textures. Forcing people to master complex copyright law and actions and precedents is cruel, when you first lured them into an enabling environment where they were led to expect that code-as-law was already present in the permissions toggles (good example of how code-as-law is never enough).

    What’s AMAZING to me about all this is that Cory Linden, who believes along with libsecondlife that we have no security for our textures or copyright and we should be stoic and resigned to this reality and there is no technical relief then turns around and urges everybody to use social pressure. We’re to count on a prim diva to peck out a thief’s eyes for us if our dress is taken. Great concept.

    I’m not trying to say I’m on every side of the issue. I’m trying to get you to drop this droning about the literal means by which CopyBot works to rise your head up above to a higher level to examine the social and political ramifications.

    Heaven forfend if anyone invoke obfuscation, even a tekkie, because they will have committed a great sacrilege, but it is arguable, and is argued. As are other interesting aspects to this problem –

  48. Prokofy Neva

    Jan 10th, 2007

    I can only burst out laughing at Justa’s sputtering. Not worth replying to. I will say that you are allowed to bring signs to town halls. It is a hallowed tradition. Cory and Linden praise signs in the past 3 years. It’s all on the record. Hell, if Baba could carry a pro-OS sign, I could carry an anti-LSL sign.

  49. Just a thought

    Jan 11th, 2007

    Bah, thank you Prok for showing everyone reading that you can mistake attempting to start a riot for a calm protest.

  50. bubbles

    Jan 11th, 2007

    Coco, I am disgusted that we built a world for free for LL just so that they could sell the idea to the corporations. I made that point because Prokofy gives the impression that he thinks his contribution is superior to the scripters, programmers and builders. In a virtual world written by programmers that is kidding himself.

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