Why We Need an Open Source Second Life

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last six months, you will have noticed that the virtual world Second Life is much in the news. According to its home page, there are currently around 1,700,000 residents, who are spending $600,000 – that's real, not virtual, money – in the world each day. These figures are a little deceptive – there are typically only 10,000 to 15,000 residents online at any one time, and the money flow is not a rigorous measurement of economic activity – but there is no doubt that Second Life is growing very rapidly; moreover, we are beginning to see it enter the mainstream in a way that has close parallels with the arrival of the Web ten years ago.

Companies are beginning to set up shop in Second Life, including big names like Adidas, American Apparel, Dell, Nissan, Penguin Books, Reebok, Sun Microsystems, Toyota, Reuters and Wired. Often they choose to create their virtual buildings on self-contained islands, which are essentially three-dimensional analogues of the early corporate Web sites: that is, vaguely pretty to look at, but not very functional.

One of the pioneers in Second Life is IBM, which also played an important part in helping to make the Web (and open source) respectable for businesses. Here's what Irving Wladawsky-Berger, vice president of technology strategy and innovation at IBM, and the man who oversaw the company's GNU/Linux policy in the early days, says about IBM's interest in Second Life:

I think that what we are seeing is the evolution of the Internet and World Wide Web in incredibly important new directions. Foremost among them is a much more people-centric Web.

We see this people-centric evolution of the Web in social networks and Web 2.0 - capabilities that enable people to find each other, form communities, share information, and collaborate on a variety of endeavors. Now we are bringing to this new people-centric spirit the highly visual, interactive applications in Virtual Worlds. This new breed of applications is being rethought around the people who design them, maintain them and use them, instead of asking those people to come down to the level of the computers.

We can now bring these exciting capabilities, already in wide use in science, engineering, defense and consumer applications, into the worlds of business, education, health care and government. This was the step that led to IBM’s e-business strategy ten years ago. Could we be at the onset of v-business? Based on my initial experiences in Second Life, we are all in for an incredible ride.

His boss, Sam Palmisano has backed up those words with actions. A couple of weeks ago, he entered Second Life himself to give a major speech about IBM's future path, and announced a $100 million fund to create 10 new businesses within the company, including:

3D Internet: Partnering with others to take the best of virtual worlds and gaming environments to build a seamless, standards-based 3D Internet -- the next platform for global commerce and day-to-day business operations.

So, things look bright for Second Life and the other virtual worlds that are being developed. There's just one problem: they are all closed source. This means that free software is falling behind in one of the most innovative areas in computing today.

Linden Lab, the company behind Second Life, is very open-source friendly. Its computing infrastructure is based on thousands of servers running GNU/Linux, Apache, Squid and MySQL. Alongside the usual Windows and Macintosh clients for Second Life, there is already one for GNU/Linux (if still a little rough at the edges).

And Linden Lab hopes to go even further by opening sourcing Second Life's software. Here's what Philip Rosedale, Second Life's creator and CEO of Linden Lab, told me during an extensive interview recently, when I asked about his current thinking on opening up the code:

Without speaking to specific timing or plans - and we've thought and are thinking lots and lots where there might be exceptions to this - but it seems like the best way to allow SL to become reliable and scalable and grow. And we've got a lot of smart people here thinking about that.

Further proof of Linden Lab's goodwill towards the free software world can be found in its tacit approval of an open source project to reverse-engineer the Second Life protocols. Called libsecondlife, it has already done valuable work, although this has been overshadowed somewhat by the recent brouhaha over the CopyBot program, which drew on libsecondlife's code. CopyBot allowed some or even all of an object in Second Life to be copied. This is obviously a problem for a virtual economy that depends on selling digital objects. And yet, despite many cries to the contrary, the sky is not falling, as I've explained elsewhere.

More than the blip of CopyBot, there are deep problems that need to be addressed in the context of creating an open source version of Second Life, notably as far as security is concerned. Most of them have to do with how open source clients would interact with Linden Lab's servers, and how it might be possible to allow users to run their own Second Life servers – effectively creating separate virtual worlds based on the same protocols.

As well as libsecondlife, there are a couple of other open source virtual world projects of note. For example, Croquet employs an ambitious approach that goes beyond Second Life in many ways; however, it is still at an early stage. The same can be said about Uni-Verse, a European consortium that includes the foundation behind the popular 3D tool Blender.

These are all useful initiatives, and there will doubtless be others. But if open source is to give the lie to Jim Allchin's famous jibe in the first Halloween Document that it is always "chasing tail-lights", the free software community must become more involved with the existing virtual world projects, and invest much more time and effort in new ones.

Developing expertise with the underlying technologies is particularly important because it is quite possible that the next stage in the Web's evolution will incorporate elements from three-dimensional virtual worlds. Philip Rosedale explained why he thinks that is likely:

People always believe that the idea of simulating a three-dimensional world will make the experience of people in it different because it's three dimensional, and that's certainly true. However, there's a second thing about the 3D web that makes it different than the 2D web, and is really important, which is that there are other people there with you when you're experiencing it.

Look at MySpace. When you go to a MySpace page, you can listen to their music. What is the listening experience like? Well, it's still just you sitting in front of your computer listening alone to that music. But in SL, if you're listening to somebody's music, whether live or pre-recorded, there's a very good chance that there's someone next to you listening to the same music, and so you're able to turn to them and say: What do you think? Or you're able to turn to them and say: Have you been here before, and, if so, do you know where the lawnmower section is?

That, I think, is what makes the potential of the 3D Web different perhaps even more so than the spatial difference between 3D content, and 2D content. And I think that alone makes it very likely that there will be a kind of a 3D Web, that has this shared experience property. That's what everyone will look back on and say: Wow, that is what made it different.

Glyn Moody writes about open source at opendotdotdot.

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second life is so cool...i

350 engine's picture

second life is so cool...i mean u can do so much with it....makes u completely diff person..its gr8

...if this is the future of

Anonymous's picture

...if this is the future of the net.

You got me curious, so I went over to the second life website -- what am I missing? Oh, look, all the business opportunities for people to make money - designing virtual pets, selling imaginary real-estate, building custom avatars. If this isn't a game, what is it?

To me it looks a lot like Dungeon and Dragons, only the players have invested a lot more real energy and finances into it than Gary Gygax could ever have hoped for.

Just because adults do it, and are willing to spend too much time and money doing so, doesn't make this somehow less whimsical than World of Warcraft, or even Nannymud for that matter.

t

Well...

Tibia's picture

True, in fact only new comments are spam...

Second Life Client Goes Open Source

Glyn Moody's picture

Linden Lab have just released the source code for the Second Life client under the GNU GPL v2. Time to get coding....

Evolution and the web...

Jar's picture

Well, my first impressions of the web were: oh my god, that's a bunch of information. My first question was: where do I find what I want/need?

I made exactly the same experiences with Second Life.

Back in those days, a homepage was marked-up hypertext spiced with some cliparts or menu buttons that needed ages to load.

In Second Life, that's textures in a sharp-edged 3d environment.

It took about ten years to reach a point where the web is able to be overloaded with media (see MySpace) and everybody can upload and download loads of stuff everybody/nobody needs.

So, give Linden Labs some more years of development and Cyberspace is "reality". And let all those OpenSource developers be a part of it to get the right ideas and capacity.

OSMP

Hugh Perkins's picture

There's a baby opensource metaverse project at http://manageddreams.com/osmpbb

It's early days yet, but it shows potential:
- chat
- build
- save your world to a webserver
- interact with other people

The difference between web and SL

NikosD's picture

Ok, i agree that maybe no one could have imagined how the web is today but just there is difference between net and SL. In the net you don't need experience, you don't need to spend money, you don't need to spend hours and hours to be a part of it. And what do I mean by "being a part of it" ? I mean, that if i want to get info on a topic, I'll just google it. If I want a new song I'll just stop by itunes, amazon, isohunt (oops! :D) and get it. The response (the result) is immediate. I get the song - i listen to it. I get a tutorial - read it. And so on.. In SL you spend lots of time to "play" (and whatever "play" means). It's just a modern combination of IRC, Instant Messengers, Video Game, Social Site etc... In SL you "socialize", you interact with other people but this is not the case when I surf in web. Most of the time, when i'm online i'm doing much more "personal" stuff like reading articles, finding info on something and of-course interacting with some people but when I WANT TO and for as long as I WANT TO :)

In conclusion: SL can be a part of the net and maybe reform it a bit but it simply can't BE the net itself :)

-Nikos

true - but may be good for kids / learning

MargretS's picture

True it may not be a replacement for the net itself, but it may be a good replacement for some of the online learning centers, it may be a better way to get people together for distance learning. Neat idea.

One of the limiting features

mama i dziecko's picture

One of the limiting features of SL is its scaling; a sim can only support 40 or so users, and pop-up (ie: late-rendering) textures and objects consistently disrupt the user experience.

I don't disagree

Glyn Moody's picture

What might happen, though, is that the interface to the Net becomes something like SL - not superseding it, but simply another way of accessing where appropriate (and clearly for heavy text-searches, it's not).

SL isn't just about "play", it's a way of interacting, and that has wider applications.

Gimme a break.

blackbelt_jones's picture

Quote:

People always believe that the idea of simulating a three-dimensional world will make the experience of people in it different because it's three dimensional, and that's certainly true. However, there's a second thing about the 3D web that makes it different than the 2D web, and is really important, which is that there are other people there with you when you're experiencing it.

Look at MySpace. When you go to a MySpace page, you can listen to their music. What is the listening experience like? Well, it's still just you sitting in front of your computer listening alone to that music. But in SL, if you're listening to somebody's music, whether live or pre-recorded, there's a very good chance that there's someone next to you listening to the same music, and so you're able to turn to them and say: What do you think? Or you're able to turn to them and say: Have you been here before, and, if so, do you know where the lawnmower section is?

That, I think, is what makes the potential of the 3D Web different perhaps even more so than the spatial difference between 3D content, and 2D content. And I think that alone makes it very likely that there will be a kind of a 3D Web, that has this shared experience property. That's what everyone will look back on and say: Wow, that is what made it different.

Okay, I'm not sure how long people have been putting "radio" servers in IRC chatrooms, but I've been aware of it for maybe four years.

That's interesting

Glyn Moody's picture

For me, your example points up the difference between IRC and 3D worlds: the former have no "presence" - for me, it still feels like a bunch of people sitting in front of their respective PCs, hearing the same music and chatting, but separate.

For reasons I don't quite understand, "being" in Second Life changes that: even though I am "really" sitting in front of my computer, it doesn't feel like that way - it feels as if I am "there", with other people. I think this is what Philip Rosedale was saying.

Whatever he was trying to say, that's not what he said

blackbelt_jones's picture

Whether or not you find the illusion convincing (and I do not) it's the opposite of intimacy, and the opposite of communication. When you're reading someone's words, the picture is incomplete, but it's 100 per cent genuine. In Second Life, the picture is rounded out with fiction, often with an elaborate fantasy. An imagined real person is more real than the "real" imaginary person, who stands between you and the real person.

On Second Life and How We Live in Cyber Space

Kaan Bingol's picture

Following the original article and the debate over 3D internet applications, I felt that there are two extremes about the future of 3D internet. Which I believe neither is true but both views support a common direction of internet that will have a more pervasive role in our daily life.

Services that are supplied over internet have many forms, and there will be many more in the future. 3D applications and services will sure have a place in the future of internet. This type of applications will have definitive advantage when it comes to simulation of physical world. Gaming, entertainment, education and any type of physical world simulation will be the primary areas that this technology will create many new applications and services.

On the other hand I doubt about 3D becoming the primary form of service or application creation and delivery. The world which we live in and increasingly record and simulate in electronic form, has more dimensions than the pure physical dimensions. Human knowledge is not in 3D form, but rather expressed in written form. Internet technology has been following and will follow this route to create new services to simulate different parts of our every day life; from messaging to e-commerce, from research to socializing.

I see that a larger portion of our every day life will be simulated (and in fact be actually take place) in an electronic network in coming years. Our perception of real world will be enriched by the applications and services of the internet, no matter whether they are 3D or not. For some this new era will be perceived as only arrival of new tools to ease daily routine, and still for some others, it will be the “life

Excellent points

Glyn Moody's picture

I agree: the 3D Web isn't going to take over things that are primarily text-based - there'd be no point. I think rather that it will provide an easier, more intuitive interface to many things, as well as offering the social dimension that is currently lacking - or at best rudimentary.

See, that's what I don't get

blackbelt_jones's picture

Maybe you're left brain and I'm right brain, I'm from Mars, you're from Venus or whatever, (probably, it's cause I'm not a gamer) but for me there's nothing "easy" or "intuitive " about that kind of interface. It was easier for me to learn the Linux command line than to keep my avatar from crashing into walls in second life.

And socially, my virtual awkardness translates into social awkwardness. I find it much harder to make contact in second life than in real life, or in a less graphically bloated environment like IRC. The avatar gets in the way.

It's so much easier to go to a chat in IRC and just ask a question or just start a conversation. For one thing, I can go directly to where people are interested in something that interests me, or where people are just chatting for the hell of it.

It's not that second life isn't impressive or interesting, but I don't like it.

Fine

Glyn Moody's picture

Nobody's forcing you to adopt any particular way of interacting. If IRC works for you, well and good: after all, free software is in part about having a choice.

But my belief is that more people might be at home using avatars than using IRC - for example, I just feel uncomfortable with the latter, whereas the former seems OK. Because avatars map on to "reality" more naturally, it may well be that they seem easier to use to more people (but not everyone).

And while it's good that you can go to a chat in IRC, there's the question of who is going to be there to answer your question.

You sure?

blackbelt_jones's picture

You really think more people are going want to go through all that rigamarole just to interact with the web? That seems wildly counterintuitive to me, but clearly you and I intuit differently. Truth is, you don't know what most people would prefer, and neither do I. It'll work itself out.

However, the article has turned me into an activist for a reality-based net. I begrudge the Second Life Community nothing but the mainstream. Second Life is utterly cool as a toy, as the future of the internet, I think it's bloated, ugly, ineffecient, discriminatory against the poor, and not incidentally, user-unfriendly.

Your Plan for Unique Content?

Prokofy Neva's picture

When you open-source SL, what was your plan for having all the unique user-created content stream, too? And how does it stream if it is not merely all just copied and essentially stolen from all the content-creators who thought they had IP and a permissions system for 'copy' and 'no copy' when they invested time, talent, and treasure in SL?

And if you don't care about those issues, how do you keep the creative people incented to keep creative? We all understand that hackers want to play around endlessly and only care about building the platform and programming the software, and the world and its attributes are merely annoyances and server loadtests. But most people want to immerse in them and use them, and want stability and want value.

I Do Care

Glyn Moody's picture

Open sourcing SL doesn't actually make much difference to the issue of copying. As we've seen from CopyBot, the way that SL works - sending information from Linden Lab's server to the user's client - means that it will always be possible to make copies of that information. And as we've also seen, CopyBot (and anything like it) is unable to copy scripting, which runs on the servers, not the clients, so not everything can be copied.

But more generally, you're right: we need to come up with a way of dealing with a world where you can't stop copying through technical means. I don't claim to have the answers - I don't think anyone has - but I have a couple of suggestions for things that might be explored.

One is to do with social norms. You can't stop copying technically, but you can impede it socially. So, for example, you would have in-world trade associations that adhere to a set of conduct - no selling of copied materials etc. This won't stop copying, and it won't stop some people from buying copied items, but increases the scope for social ostracism of those who sell - and buy - such items. I think that social norms could be important because of the nature of SL , which derives much of its point from the social aspects. Linden can help in this by providing immutable creator/time-stamp information on all content so that in-world structures can police it more effectively - with the ultimate recourse of calling on the Linden "gods" to deal with anyone that refuses to comply.

The other approach is to focus less on the things created and to shift to the creation. It's true that content can (mostly) be copied, but the ability to create that content can't. So the real thing of value content creators possess is not their inventory but their acquired skills. I think that what we will see is a gradual shift to valuing the latter more. For example, what you will pay for is to commission something from a famous creator. Social norms will frown on copying things, and will also regard later copies as inferior (even if identical). Creators will still get paid because people will want original items, not just an item. Ultimately you will pay for the ability to collaborate with the create and provide input into the creative process - something that mere copies cannot provide. People who create for fun will continue to do so, even if their work can be copied, because of the kudos and peer esteem that accrues to them.

There are two reasons why I think this is important.

First, because as a writer, I am already operating like this. Anybody can copy my words, but nobody can copy my ability to produce them. People still pay me to write for them, even though my articles, when published, can be copied instantly. They are essentially paying for my skills and reputation (such as it is), and for getting the chance to employ them as they wish.

More generally, though, I think that what is happening in SL in terms of learning to live with copying is crucially important because it might help us to do the same in RL. Every day we see the content industry taking more and more draconian steps against people who copy; every day, we see how futile this is in the age of digital content. What those industries need to do is to concentrate on their strengths - providing things that the copiers can't, and regarding copying as a form of marketing.

Here's a straw in the wind. According to an economist, Alan Krueger, only four of the top 35 income-earners among rock stars made more money from recordings than live concerts. For the top 35 artists as a whole, income from touring exceeded income from record sales by a ratio of 7.5 to one in 2002. In other words, these artists could give away all their songs for publicity to drive people to come to their concerts, which is where the real money is made. I think something similar will emerge in other areas of creativity.

For instance, in a

srebrne figurki's picture

For instance, in a distributed virtual reality, what is death? Death would be being persistently denied access by a server. A server can determine who is granted access, and if you're 'dead' you aren't going to spending much money.

It's just a matter of when

Nobody Fugazi's picture

The API is pretty stable. It's the architecture that will be the real joy.

LOL!

Nicholas Petreley's picture

I know this isn't true of everyone, but I have enough trouble handling my first life. I don't want to start a second one. ;)

Fine

Glyn Moody's picture

But here are some other possibilities:

Maybe Real Life (RL) is so dire (for whatever reason), that you need to take refuge in Second Life (SL)

Maybe RL is boring, so you want to try another life

Maybe you feel that RL, great as it is, doesn't give enough possibilities - that you want to live a dozen lives

These are all possible reasons for entering SL. The thing about SL is that if offers a new range of possibilities for people, as well as all the obvious, ordinary ones (like having fun with friends, strangers, whatever).

You're right

Nicholas Petreley's picture

You're absolutely right, and I think it's a great idea. I wasn't disrespecting your premise - it's a great one. My comment was purely my personal perspective. Sorry, but I just couldn't help but chuckle at the idea of adding yet another time-sink to my already overloaded life. ;)

One real comment: If anyone does this, DON'T rely on OpenGL. Microsoft owns the patent to OpenGL. We need a replacement for OpenGL that is patent-free. I'm behind the times on this - is AIGLX a replacement?

Sorry

Glyn Moody's picture

I wasn't suggesting you were. There are plenty of reasons *not* to join Second Life - in fact, there are plenty of very sensible reasons not to join it. What I wanted to emphasise is that there a few less obvious ones why you might want to join.

Value of Open Source Second Life

Horst Henn's picture

The "value" of software moved on from code to user experience, community and worlwide reach. That's the reason why companies like IBM and others are moving to support Open Source. The $ value of a proprietary or Open UNIX system (there have been many around fOr years) is so low, that it is not worthwhile for companies like IBM, Novell, Sun etc to produce such a system. How long will it take till professionals come to the same conclusion? The value of Second Life is not it's code - most of it is open source anyhow - but its successfull scheme and the large number of users. If even more people are using and supporting it - the value of Linden Labs will increase. Why should they care for the code? I would be very interested to see a OPEN Social Network scheme which is not owned by a company but by the people creating it. Is there anything around with more than 100 000 users?

vrml, x3d, ...

Anonymous's picture

There have been many iterations of attempts by groups related to the initial VRML movement to jump-start open-source virtual worlds, all of which have been unsuccessful because of lack of funds, manpower and most of all interest.
SecondLife might finally have prepared the conditions for such a project, that would be open to anyone, students, engineers, architects, teachers, not just the enthusiasts.
I personally have started such open-source projects on 3 different occasions, but have never garnered enough developer interest to keep it going. I will keep on trying and joining other efforts. I believe this is the future. cheers!

Croquet

Anonymous's picture

Could Croquet be the solution?

no

JimmyDean's picture

no

Why?

RPW's picture

Why don't you think Croquet could be the answer?

Well, mostly because

Anonymous's picture

Well, mostly because Croquet may be GPL licensed, but it is NOT an open development process. Changes and development is limited to a handfull of people, who's only interest seems to be to support their own academic grantsmanship.

Remember VRML?

Anonymous's picture

Remember VRML in the mid-90s? For a year or two virtual worlds were hot. Sony and the BBC ran a proto-second life thingy, complete with avatars and customizable objects. Then people got bored with them.

Going back further than that, AOL began in the 1980s as "Habitat", a cartoon virtual reality using Commodore 64s as clients. All these systems boil down to fancy chat rooms.

No, I hardly remember VRML...

Anonymous's picture

... but I remember Alphaworld. That was a user-created, open ended (I mean no quests or levels or other silly stuff) 3D world much like Second Life. No scripting, though, beyond animated textures.

They failed to commercialize it, not for lack of trying.

User-created content

Glyn Moody's picture

And no user-created content, if I remember correctly. That is the key difference between Second Life and all its precursors.

I certainly do

Glyn Moody's picture

- It was clunky and unusable. Second Life may have its problems, but it is not clunky (and only unusable at times, while they ramp up the infrastructure). Just because it is similar to those earlier attempts doesn't mean that it will necessarily follow their trajectories.

Actually

Anonymous's picture

It *is* clunky, and if not unusable, not too usable, either. Have you ever played World of Warcraft? It's *far* smoother and better looking, completely apart from the gameplay. A second-life-alike based on the WoW engine would totally obliterate SL in ease of use.

WoW MoM

DaveOner's picture

Upload your own textures or sounds to WoW. Make a car for your dwarf that flies and seats four. Oh wait...you can't!

If WoW had such features I'm pretty sure it would run as well as SL if not worse.

Good or good enough?

Glyn Moody's picture

Things can always be better, but what I'm saying is that Second Life looks good enough to me in a way that VRML never was.

distributed 3D

Anonymous's picture

One of the limiting features of SL is its scaling; a sim can only support 40 or so users, and pop-up (ie: late-rendering) textures and objects consistently disrupt the user experience.

(This isn't meant as a disparagement of SL).

An evolved system might use a more distributed environment. Your avatar and textures are hosted by you, and you serve them to people who are looking at you. Land is hosted on individual servers. In-game cash is probably the most complex issue, but competing economic models would be interesting.

Yes

Glyn Moody's picture

Money was one of the things I had in mind in terms of problems to be resolved, and is a tricky thing to manage when you (as in Linden Lab) don't have control of the client and maybe not the server. Perhaps some kind of trusted, independent identity system will be needed to overcome this. This might also allow avatars to be portable between worlds.

Money in virtual worlds

Anonymous (again)'s picture

I think things like money are something of a secondary layer of virtuality.

For instance, in a distributed virtual reality, what is death? Death would be being persistently denied access by a server. A server can determine who is granted access, and if you're 'dead' you aren't going to spending much money.

Death

Glyn Moody's picture

You can't die in Second Life (unless Linden Lab zap your database entry), and I suspect the same will be true for similar (non-gaming) worlds.

huh

coward anon's picture

And, still, why do we need an Open Source Second Life? Either I overlooked the answer in the article or the question's not answered ;)
Maybe we need more of a _real_ Open Source Life :-)
I think this direction is only a commercial direction, not very useful for the Open Source Community. Of course, there are other application of these new technologies... I personally see this Second Life as an application for people with much free time / no life resp. (sorry if I offend anyone, I mean it in a more satiric than serious way ;) ).

MySpace

Anonymouse's picture

People often say the same thing about MySpace (that it is "for people with much free time / no life"). Well, your opinion aside, there are many people who view social networking sites as very valuable. MySpace is available to users of FOSS software because it's a web site and any web browser can view it. SecondLife is not available unless there is a free client. If SecondLife does "catch on" like MySpace did, there are going to be quite a few FOSS users that are going to want to use it.

I'll even go further than that...if SecondLife does become the "next internet" (please excuse the term), do you really want it to be controlled by a single corporate entity? That would be like if Microsoft actually WAS able to co-opt the web. I don't really want that, even if I did think SecondLife was for people with too much time on their hands.

btw, Second Life client *is* free, just not yet open source

Anonymous's picture

Go to their site and check it out -- the client, regardless of platform, is free for download. There are three types of account, one of which is so free you don't even enter payment information -- you just create the account and login -- you're in Second Life.

Sorry..I was using the GNU

Dave's picture

Sorry..I was using the GNU definition of free. Perhaps I should say "Libre". This is not a dig at Linden. Clearly they are friends of open source. I just wanted to highlight that it's important to think about standards and Libre software when it comes to things that have the potential to revolutionize the web.

Well,

Glyn Moody's picture

What I was trying to suggest - obviously not very clearly - was that we need free software to be represented in this emerging sector or else the cool stuff will largely be closed source, forcing interested users to compromise. Far better if they had some choice. It doesn't necessarily need to be an open source version of Second Life, but (a) the existence of libsecondlife means there is something to build on, and (b) coming up with a distributed version is probably harder.

I still don't get it

t's picture

I'm still not sure what you're after here. Is Second Life an emerging sector, or just one popular game? I guess I don't understand what new value second life offers that isn't already available for free. Social networking sites are already available, for free. I can find peers on any number of forums and mailing lists. Is the availability of a 3D avatar and opportunity to spend real money on imaginary goods so important that we ought to have a free software version?

Of course, there's nothing wrong with building a free version, but I don't know why it would be better than time spent on any other sort of game.

t

It depends...

Glyn Moody's picture

...on your point of view.

Personally, I don't think Second Life is a game (and I doubt whether many Second Life residents do, either). Instead, I think it is either (a) the future of the Net or (b) a stepping stone to the same. Either way, I think a free software version is rather important...

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Linux has become a key foundation for supporting today's rapidly growing IT environments. Linux is being used to deploy business applications and databases, trading on its reputation as a low-cost operating environment. For many IT organizations, Linux is a mainstay for deploying Web servers and has evolved from handling basic file, print, and utility workloads to running mission-critical applications and databases, physically, virtually, and in the cloud. As Linux grows in importance in terms of value to the business, managing Linux environments to high standards of service quality — availability, security, and performance — becomes an essential requirement for business success.

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Sponsored by Red Hat

White Paper
Private PaaS for the Agile Enterprise

If you already use virtualized infrastructure, you are well on your way to leveraging the power of the cloud. Virtualization offers the promise of limitless resources, but how do you manage that scalability when your DevOps team doesn’t scale? In today’s hypercompetitive markets, fast results can make a difference between leading the pack vs. obsolescence. Organizations need more benefits from cloud computing than just raw resources. They need agility, flexibility, convenience, ROI, and control.

Stackato private Platform-as-a-Service technology from ActiveState extends your private cloud infrastructure by creating a private PaaS to provide on-demand availability, flexibility, control, and ultimately, faster time-to-market for your enterprise.

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Sponsored by ActiveState