Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Second Life is GPL

I thought it was still at least 8 months off or more before this would happen. However, I just found out that the client source-code has just been open-sourced. This is big news and according to boingboing, the blogosphere is already burning over it.

I nearly fell out of my seat.

I started waiting for this day years ago. It was when I came to the cynical conclusion that Linden Lab could not mature the technology as fast as the demand required. I stopped submitting bug reports and participating in pre-releases. Their management style was very creative and allowed for some really neat breakthroughs -- but it stopped being so wonderful when things like the UI started being ignored and eventually went straight down the tubes. When bugs I reported years ago are still present. When they still haven't hired a dedicated UX designer. When several promises went unfulfilled (I'm still waiting for a full-version linux client guys; let alone the updated physics engine, better avatar meshes, and a distributed asset management system).

This will hopefully change a lot of things.

Things I can't wait to see:

  • An offline sim you can run on your own local LAN (Possible with just a client if you can reverse-engineer the protocol; even if only in a small sand-box sim).
  • In-world hyperlinks
  • A feature-complete Linux client
  • Pluggable rendering engines (anyone want to take a crack at an ASCII version of SL?)
  • More communications protocols with outside services like SSH, svn+ssh, rsync, http, etc.
  • Embed-able text editors
Now that the snowball has been started, I suppose it's only a matter of time before we start seeing improvements in Second Life. There are a lot of geeks that have been really interested in it from the start, but like me, have been put off by the closed-source nature of the beast. Now bug reports can be answered. We don't have to sit and cross our fingers after submitting post and request and report, hoping that our prayers and dark rituals have been answered.

Now the wait is on for an open-source version of the sim code and a published standard of the communication protocol.


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