Linden Lab to Open Source Second Life Server
Keeping on the trail they began blazing when they open-sourced the client code, is Linden Lab really brave enough to open-source their server code?.
Of course, a big question on the minds of many people is, "How will Linden Lab make money?"
The idea of "free" still hasn't caught on it seems.
There are many ways for Linden Lab to make money. Hosting, consulting, and other service-oriented offerings are a start. If they register as a non-profit, they might get a certain "backdate" window in which their benefactors could claim tax refunds. They also make themselves socially important; by contributing to the betterment of society, they've given themselves the recognition and freedom to work on other projects. There may be other ways that I haven't covered even... but there are plenty of other "open-source businesses" out there changing the world (Canononical, Red Hat, MySQL AB, etc).
What will it mean for us users?
Probably nothing at first. The source-code for a sim is probably rather gargantuan. This means it will take time for developers to skim through the code and figure it all out. It could take a few years before the community of open-source developers fully digest and begin to extend the server beyond tweaks, bug-fixes, and minor enhancements.
What's important is what is possible with the source freely available.
I suspect our classifications and conventions will begin changing as we think of new ways to extend and redevelop the server. There are lists of desires and bugs that the community has wanted fixed or implemented for a long time now. However, as it will no longer be a proprietary system; the onus is largely on us as the residents. It really will become our world at last.
Maybe in the early stages of this development, we'll see a revival of a BBS-like era.
Until we, the residents, decide to connect those disparate networks with our ingenuity and imaginations.