Emerald Viewer: 76000 Unique Users Could Be Wrong

by Pixeleen Mistral on 12/04/10 at 5:04 am

Earlier this evening, lead Emerald viewer developer Fractured Crystal claimed that 76,000 unique users run the Emerald client – a significant portion of the active Second Life community and clear indication that the Emerald viewer is the most popular alternative to the official Second Life client software.

But  ongoing rumors of questionable conduct on the part of some of the Emerald development team have led some players to avoid the Emerald client. Are the rumors true – or a case of sour grapes on the part of competing developers? Given Linden Lab’s secretive approach to in-world disciplinary actions, confirmation of less than stellar conduct would have to come from the players involved.

Strangely enough, this seems to be what I witnessed earlier this evening as the Wrong Hands Group questioned Fractured Crystal for approximately 20 minutes. The Wrong Hands originally made a name for themselves by infiltrating the Justice League Unlimited vigilante faction and leaking the JLU’s formerly secret Second Life surveillance wiki to the Internet at large – but now have moved on to take on the Emerald team.

While I was not present for the entire Q&A session, I personally witnessed about half of the session, and was provided with an audio capture of the session. A YouTube video of the last 6 minutes of the meeting has also been published by the Wrong Hands.

Under close questioning by Cam Scientist, Fractured Crystal told the assembled group that he has not violated the Second Life Terms of Service on his Fractured Crystal account, but that his other accounts with ToS violations had all been banned. Apparently Mr. Crystal does not have an entirely clean record with Linden Lab.

Mr. Crystal also claimed that the Lindens are aware of the Onyx project. He went on to agree that the Onyx client has substantially the same functions as the SL Pro client – a client notorious in some circles as a "griefer client". However, Mr. Crystal asserted that the Onyx client is not griefer material because only he and friends have access to it.

Have the Wrong Hands uncovered another case of Second Life misconduct? They claim that more incriminating information is forthcoming. In the meantime, I have decided to continue to heed Plastic Duck’s advice from several months ago and avoid the Emerald viewer. When even über griefers are concerned, it seem prudent to take their advice.

70 Responses to “Emerald Viewer: 76000 Unique Users Could Be Wrong”

  1. Nidol

    Apr 12th, 2010

    My audio recordings come in handy :V

  2. samantha

    Apr 12th, 2010

    And these are the shit for brains you all trust your passwords and bank accounts with! OMFG people wake up! I hate 2.0 but omg emerald is even worse for more reasons.

  3. Antonius Misfit

    Apr 12th, 2010

    I guess I’m even more glad that I switched to Imprudence. That video really doesn’t help the Emerald devs’ reputation at all.

  4. Mikael

    Apr 12th, 2010

    HAHAHA!!! He uses Onix but since he doesn’t copybot (So he says) It’s ok. But yet someone who uses a client that can copybot but even if they don’t copy with it they are Copybotters. What a hypocrite.

    I love his quick getaway when the one person pointed out that his logging on was a TOS violation since he had been banned on a previous account.

    This guy is part of a team that snoops around inside peoples computers and stores what it finds on some server some where using CDS?
    A new sucker is born every day. To think these people who pay for CDS are paying the same type of person that they are trying to keep out of their business to begin with.

    And the beat goes on…..

  5. We

    Apr 12th, 2010

    The Emerald team likely won’t do anything bad with their client, but even so there’s enough shady figures on there like the maker of Cryolife and Skills Hak’s CDS scam, that I’m avoiding using Emerald.

  6. shamus

    Apr 12th, 2010

    Onix if handled correctly and all the necessary security exploits reported to the security jirra would be a great thing for the security of second life as id rather have someone out there looking for the bugs and reporting them then people going out and exploiting them and not working to get them closed. I trust emerald as i believe there responsible people and know what there doing there working to make second life a safer place for all by working with the lindens to find and close the exploits people have abused over the years.

  7. PLAYA

    Apr 12th, 2010

    What a fking tick! Selling cds snake oil and his team uses a copybot capable client.
    I bet he even steals peoples stored passwords and account names.
    LL needs to kick the whole lot out of SL and toss their cds sht out the door withem.

  8. Alyx Stoklitsky

    Apr 12th, 2010

    Some of the emerald devs were griefers on their previous accounts?

    What other revelations are you going to share with us? That John Lennon just died?

  9. LOL

    Apr 12th, 2010

    no more bouncing tits who cares?

  10. Alex Ponebshek

    Apr 12th, 2010

    There is no such thing as a “griefer client”, there are only griefers, and software with useful features. Software is information. Restricting information is censorship, and censorship is a bad idea that doesn’t work anyways. Linden Lab should implement what security they can server-side, because that’s how computers work.

    As for legality, they licenced their client GPL. There is not a thing they can do to stop someone from releasing clients with whatever features they want. The TOS doesn’t even apply.

  11. IntLibber Brautigan

    Apr 12th, 2010

    Alex, as Prok would say, you’ve obviously been sucking at the bouncing teat of leninist technocommunism for far too long.

    Read the TOS you idiot.

  12. Alex Ponebshek

    Apr 12th, 2010

    Linden Lab can say shit all they want. But they can’t actually regulate what people do with GPL software.

    The TOS applies only to use of LL’s services.

    Building a metaverse client is not subject to some random company’s terms of service.

  13. Archie

    Apr 12th, 2010

    This article seems to ignore the basic premise that Emerald is still the most favourite and I believe most competent viewer; I see tags identifying users everywhere I go, often the majority of the creative people in one place too.
    As for former transgressions – ever heard of re-rehabilitation?
    or are you all too prejudice to give a chap an new chance?

  14. Shifty

    Apr 12th, 2010

    Not to mention Emerald corrupts the files on clients (ex: NeilLife/Cryolife) so that they seize to work. Who knows what else they are doing behind out back. I don’t care if they are having it corrupt hacked clients, that is invading my personal stuff, pretty much a virus.

    This is something you can try for yourself, I was amazed that they took it that far.

  15. Calif

    Apr 12th, 2010

    Dude this is soooo old news. They talk openly about their past and even blogged about it http://modularsystems.sl/index.php?option=com_myblog&show=in-regards-to-rumors.html&Itemid=1

  16. Mimika Oh

    Apr 12th, 2010


    Read the code. Or get someone you trust to read the code. Then tell the truth about the viewer, not the childhood acts of the people that make it.

  17. Gundel Gaukelei

    Apr 12th, 2010

    “We’ve got nothing to hide”, followed by a list of nick names…

    @Mimika Oh
    What you are talking about is a full src audit, in order to find obfuscated stuff. You make it look like this could be done on the fly by most ppl. I doubt this could be done on the fly by anyone at all. I also doubt there is even anyone, may it be within Linden Labs or $WHATEVER viewer team to do more than peephole hacking.

    But you are right – its still open source. So your options are limited to
    a) do the full audit – not possible for most ppl
    b) have it done by someone trustworthy – did not happen as of today
    c) blindly trust the developers – thats where the reputation comes into play
    d) do not use it – last resort

    The general public ends up with either c or d. And thats what the discussion is all about.

  18. V

    Apr 12th, 2010

    I think the point here is not to show that the Emerald Viewer is malicious, but that some of its developers are hypocritical at best, by publishing a list of ‘viewers that are not publically distributed’ and 1. not including their own Onyx Viewer in it, and 2. claiming that it is different from ‘griefer clients’ because it’s controlled and only given out to their own peer group, when distributers of ‘griefer clients’ do exactly the same thing.

    Personally, I’d like to thank the wrong hands for obtaining this material, and the Herald for publishing it, because it gives me a glimpse at the mindset of those who are behind Emerald. It confirmed my suspicion that the team consists mainly of immature coders who, while they are good at coding, lack when it comes to areas of legal matters, morale and social conduct.

  19. Darling Brody

    Apr 12th, 2010


    Late last year I invited Fractured Crystal and Andrew Linden to my region.

    Andrew turned on server debugging, and Fractured prceeded to alter the permissions on Andrew’s Linden Bear to make it full permissions.

    Up until then Andrew was under the impresion it was not possible to exploit the permissions system, and alter the original permissions.

    Andrew Linden thanked Fractured Crystal. A few days later we had an emergency rolling restart and the exploit was fixed.

    We have had many emergency rolling restarts since the onyx project started. Each one of them making SL better for all of us.

    I am not involved in the onyx or emerald projects. I do however appriciate the work they do to protect SL.

    Darling Brody


  20. Imnotgoing Sideways

    Apr 12th, 2010

    While I’m currently using SL2.0, I still intend on going back to Emerald once they sort out the new UI and cut in avatar transparency masks and embedded media. (^_^)

    The Emerald team has really shown what a Second Life client can be capable of and revealed a lot of information that Linden Lab already makes available in the data stream to every avatar logged in. They can’t be at fault if other people find ways to abuse it. (^_^)

    As for “shady histories”… Whoop-dee-doo. I know a couple “clean cut” land barons who openly admit they’ve used alts to grief. Not gonna name names. It would be bad for both me and them. (^_^)

    … As if I ever had any credibility in the first place. =^-^=

  21. TrinityDejavu

    Apr 12th, 2010

    Having a viewer designed to help find, track, demonstrate and then help the labs close security holes is a good thing that helps everyone in SL. It also helps that this project isn’t in the hands of the lab, I mean come on, it’s not like the lab have much of a record on this subject!

    Black hats gone white is nothing new and often it takes a black hat mentality to uncover things. Personally I would rather have this done in plain sight by developers who have a huge stake in developing software for SL.

  22. JayR Cela

    Apr 12th, 2010

    Good article Pix *smiles*
    I have used a number of SL viewers, they all have there plus and minus points, I am a builder so I use Emerald. Plain and simple it does the job quite well for me.

    When I was quite young growing up in Detroit, my grandfather caught me trying to steal a candy bar at the local market. He sat me down and explained that people who steal things always,eventually get caught, and have to pay the price for their actions.

    I will continue to use the Emerald viewer for the added slice and dice capabilities, that are great for working with mega-prims in my builds. Anyone that diss’s them, perhaps should step back and take a look at themselves in the mirror one day, they might not like what they see :_)

    Thanks for the good article Pixeleen :_)

    JayR Cela

  23. Darien Caldwell

    Apr 12th, 2010

    I just wonder a couple of things. Is this actually 76,000 users, or 76,000 downloads? Because downloads don’t equal users necessarily.

    And if it’s users, is it counting alts? because if it is, then the real actual # of users is far less.

    And 76,000 out of ??? How big is the actual pool of users. If it’s 76,000 out of 80,000 that would be impressive.

    If its 76,000 out of 1.4 million, that’s not really a ‘significant portion’ of users.

  24. Tuomy Boa

    Apr 12th, 2010

    It’s common knoweledge and not really a secret that several emerald coders started out by making griefer plugins for second life.

  25. Calif

    Apr 12th, 2010

    Onyx doesn’t even contain a copybot, they handle the more serious exploits and get them fixed together with LL. There are only 5 users and that’s the programmers themselves, people who have no interest nor need to steal content. That’s the difference to the woodbury crowd using tools like SLPE. You people have no clue about programming, all you do is copybot each other for the lulz and call it content creation.

  26. UR Kidding?

    Apr 12th, 2010

    Fractured Crystal was banned before? WTF is he still doing in SL?
    People using emerald are logging in and just handing their passwords over to a banned griefer.

    ” However, Mr. Crystal asserted that the Onyx client is not griefer material because only he and friends have access to it.”

    Who have been banned from SL for what? ” Griefing”
    I bet they were in bed with Neillife, cyrolife, Vlife developers so they could make a quick buck with a CDS system. Like a dishonest mechanic cutting your fan belt when he checks the oil then charges a high fee to fix it.
    “questionable conduct on the part of some of the Emerald development team have led some players to avoid the Emerald client.” Best advice ever Also delete the emerald viewer from your computer and reset your password would be another safe thing to do.
    I f anyone thinks they are safe using emerald then ” I got some ocean front propterty in Arizona…..”

  27. V

    Apr 12th, 2010

    Hum. Did that Onyx logo and the phrase “Because Third Party Viewers are weapons in the struggle for power in the metaverse” on the Onyx site just appear or has it been there all along and I just didn’t see it? Anyhow, the creepy is creepy.

  28. PLAYA

    Apr 12th, 2010

    c) blindly trust the developers – thats where the reputation comes into play

    who have been banned for griefing.

    Coming up next meet the ex pedophile who works in a school near you. It’s ok because he is an ex pedophile. you can trust your kids with him

  29. Hydrogen2 Oxygen

    Apr 12th, 2010

    @ Darien Caldwell

    According to fractured, they had over 76,000 unique ips use emerald yesterday. Your “visit” is counted when you first start up emerald using Google Analytics.

  30. Antonius Misfit

    Apr 12th, 2010

    Let’s keep in mind here that what we’ve seen so far is merely the last 6 minutes of a 20 minute interview, and the article stated “They claim that more incriminating information is forthcoming”. So there’s gonna be a “Part 2″ article for sure.

  31. Doc

    Apr 12th, 2010

    “…..As for former transgressions – ever heard of re-rehabilitation?”

    not in this case


  32. Sylauxe

    Apr 12th, 2010

    Every single person in this video sounds like a Muppet with a head cold.

  33. V

    Apr 12th, 2010

    That’s SL voice for you.

  34. FFS

    Apr 12th, 2010

    Wondering why Emerald is not of the Lindens list of good 3rd party list if these peeps are such good bed -fellows with the Lindens.

    Doc couldn’t have answered my question any better with the Wilki link . I really like the one with the Emerald Dev team admitting to stealing personal information and Linden dollars from other SL users.

    FFS it’s bad enough people are duped into giving up their private information when logging on with Emerald. That’s their choice. Now an in world data mining device under the guise of stopping copybot,
    they wish to steal more from the people smart enough not to use their viewer.
    No wonder Second Life is going to hell in a hand basket.

  35. Shifty

    Apr 12th, 2010

    I do believe in rehabilitation, but there is a line you have to draw, especially with someone like Jcool/Fractured.


    It is easy to play off as being the good guy, sure go around and solve a few bugs for LL and gain high respects with them, then do some dirty work behind their back. Read up on his past with SL and then you may understand why a lot of us find him a questionable emerald dev.

  36. PLAYA

    Apr 12th, 2010

    sht people going to trust their login info to some guy who gets his kicks breaking into peoples homes and cars?
    ” Emerald Users find their bank accounts drained in RL.. News at 11″

  37. We

    Apr 12th, 2010

    @Darling Brody
    “I do however appriciate the work they do to protect SL.”

    Good to know you appreciate Fractured Crystal’s work on VLife, one of the first copybot clients.

    I wonder how many people like you she ripped off with that permissions exploit before she decided to tell LL about it. Something to think about.

  38. Miss J

    Apr 12th, 2010

    I guess you guys wouldnt want to trust a check frauder with creating more secure checks for your bank accounts. Guess what…IT IS HAPPENING TO YOU WITHOUT EVEN KNOWING IT.

    Banks go out of their way to hire known check frauding criminals to secure the checks you write out to your landlords, car insurance, electric company..etc…

    This is a simple case of if you can’t beat them…Join them. The emerald dev’s have to much invested to begin copybotting or stealing passwords from you guys. It is pretty obvious these guys don’t really give a shit about that hot new hair and outfit you just bought with your hard earned linden.

    Next topic!

  39. Miss J

    Apr 12th, 2010

    @ We

    It is pretty obvious Fractured Crystal is a male. Maybe “We” would be more inclined to listen to your op when you get your facts straightened out.

    ..Just a suggestion

  40. We

    Apr 12th, 2010

    @Miss J
    Interesting that you go after something as irrelevant as gender, but ignore the other suggestions that Fractured Crystal is behind VLife and used that permissions exploit maliciously.

    Your reference to banking hiring policies is poor here. A more appropriate analogy would be if there was a bank run and operated entirely by check fraud criminals and embezzlers. They may never abuse your money, but I certainly wouldn’t want to take the risk with it, would you?

  41. Baloo Uriza

    Apr 12th, 2010

    This really only adds to the reasons you should not be using Emerald anyway. My top three have to do with Modular Systems overall attitude towards it’s users, the GPL and feature parity.

    1) “Fuck compatibility.” Let’s add attachment points before anybody else can see them properly! Who cares if only a minority of users can see it right, everyone else is doing it wrong!

    2) “Fuck quality.” Let’s add new features without testing them. Who cares if it’s buggy as fuck, it has MOAR FEATURES!!1!

    3) “Fuck the community.” One glance about their opinion of forks pretty much tells the world that they’re only kidding about open source.

  42. TWH FAN

    Apr 12th, 2010

    I believe The Wrong Hand is new age hero!

  43. Codizzo Hax

    Apr 12th, 2010

    And Jcool said he wasn’t a griefer. HA!

  44. HEY!!!!

    Apr 13th, 2010

    WOAH!!!!!! HOLD THE PRESS!!!!

    Linden Labs is allowing the Emerald Viewer written by a scammer and thief to access the grid? People think this okay?

  45. Duh

    Apr 13th, 2010

    why in the f*ck would the Lindens care? They are not responsible for what emerald does. The new TOS means anything anyone does is between the two parties involved not Linden Labs because they are safe from any lawsuit.
    So basically if you go whining to the Lindens about getting ripped off their response will be ” Not our problem.. should have used our viewer.”

  46. Jaden

    Apr 13th, 2010

    I use SecondLife Profesional, I will gladly Admit it?

    I dont use it to copybot, and back in the early day it was a private verson, But what Gives the emerald team Exclusive rights over the technology to our grid.

    Emerald makes desguized Emerald clients, is rumored to illegally log our passwords, and monitor our PC’s hardware info without our concent DEBUG DATA that is.

    Meanwhile they run onyx to get rid of illegal viewers, when they use illegal viewers themself. This is dumb, stupid, and they must be stopped.

    I fully Support Soviet Woodbury.
    I fully Support Jcool, and all the copybotting buddies.
    I fully support FIC
    I fully Support Anything you have to do to stop emerald, & Skills Hak
    I fully support The Wrong Hands.

    In fact I cheer you all on, these guys must not be allowed to do this, and they need to be stopped.

  47. Ted

    Apr 13th, 2010

    Every time new policies are implemented that doesn’t follow the law, the person that boasts of such great achievement are one and the same person who doesn’t have the capacity to understand that they are the ones being harmed. They cannot see the forest through the trees, and only worry about what little vision they have before them. By the same definition, they are usually one of the same that believes they can vote in change, to find out that such vote cast created a further “Big Brother Syndrome” issue.

    Want to backup your data? Tough. Regardless of the permissions, the content would be only of value within the Linden grid services as the polices state. You no longer have the freedom of backing up free items licensed under terms that expressly permit it. Legal terms that allow for such copying and dissemination under the pretext of lawful licensing practices. No, you now agree that to do so, that the Linden permission system, it’s prior ownership, UUID’s will be applied to all prim, script, data and content, regardless of your intention for use on other services. And of course this is unacceptable to anyone that doesn’t want Linden creating havoc in their own databases.

    There are indeed many thousands using the Emerald viewer within Second Life. And due to all the moaners of copyright infringement, stolen objects, and the list goes on, we are now in a place where the Terms of Service in no way protects the data, a users rights, nor prior license agreements of anyone within the Second Life domain as Linden has by policy revoked such end user licensing under terms of their choosing by making it impossible to use such works outside of Lindens’ own Second Life grid without prejudice.

    The policies do nothing to protect the end user, nor the developer in any way as written. And any developer working to abide by illegal terms will end up not being happy with their decisions in the long run. That is just a given.

    It’s your loss all you moaners of intellectual copyright violations.

    You are not protected. You were far more protected when you followed the law itself and created your works under a license that you found appropriate, believing that Linden would uphold the legal system and the terms of such license. Now you will have to suffer the consequences right along with your beloved Linden gods that wrote terms that would not stand up to the scrutiny of the court system that would indeed protect the individuals rights to grant license as they saw appropriate. But no, you wanted Linden Terms.

    What we are now witnessing affects anyone whom even contemplates “connecting” to the Linden grid. By accepting the Terms of Service, you are now stating that you clearly agree to not connect to the Linden grid with any client that doesn’t adhere to the policies of the Third Party Viewer Policy.

    I was told in another thread that I’m clearly on drugs. And that is fine. We will see if people feel the same way over the course of the next year or two without Linden complying with the laws of their jurisdiction within their Terms of Service. If Linden doesn’t comply with the law within their terms, they cannot nor will they be able to control the lawless.

    I said a year ago Linden would wall themselves off, here we are.
    Welcome to Alcatraz. You earned it.

  48. Bubblesort Triskaidekaphobia

    Apr 13th, 2010

    Rehabilitation always reminds me of this video clip (NSFW)


    I love how the furry gets it from the lawnmower. :)

  49. At0m0 Beerbaum

    Apr 13th, 2010

    wow, who gave beavis access to SL?

  50. Plastic F. Duck

    Apr 13th, 2010

    I’ve never suggested avoiding Emerald, I simply explained to you that you can never be 100% sure who compiled the binaries on the site and that in the past releases have been posted by Fractured Crystal and other developers previously banned from SL.

    I regularly use Emerald Viewer which I’ve compiled myself from source, and I do believe that the binaries posted at modularsystems.sl are as safe as any program you would install from the internet.

    A virus scanner will tell you if software has a known and previously detected virus, and sometimes virus scanner heuristics will seek out and find routines within the code that are commonly used in other viruses. A virus scanner won’t find most malicious code written from scratch, and likely would never find malicious code within the Emerald Viewer if it were to exist.

    With that said, I do believe that over 90% of the Emerald devs are honest folks with a clean record and are on our side when it comes to ensuring the binary releases on modularsystems.sl are clean and safe to use.

    Worst case scenario: Someone could sneak some password stealing code into an Emerald release, and the accounts of a few asshats are compromised and used to mess with other asshats. Linden Lab forces a password reset on all Emerald users, and 99.99% of the Emerald user base is safe and can continue complaining about stupid shit on the internet until the next scapegoat comes around.

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