OpenSim – open source multi user blah blah (sl). dave is in love.

The living archives project is running on apace… and I think we’ve finally come across the solution to the one snag that has been driving me crazy. How do we get kids into a virtual space… a virtual space we can control… where we can do what we want. Where the kids can control the world. Where kids can work in there if they are 11 years old. And could work with their parents. Or their teachers.

Well… I’m sold. Today the fantastic Ian Truelove introduced me to my last best chance to get some kids into a virtual world. I grabbed the software… followed the instructions… jumped onto the IRC channel for some very friendly advice and voila. An ‘ open simulation ‘ server on your own desktop. A virtual world that you could serve up to a single class (no bandwidth issues). A virtual world you could use for a special project. A virtual world that you could measure every damn bit of data you’d like. Want to upload more images? Go ahead… it’s your server.

ok… so what’s the catch. It isn’t quite a clean and wonderful as the SL grid. I saw my feet scoot under the rock a time or two… and the flying is still a little odd. I haven’t yet tested it with anyone other than me… I expect there will be a bunch of other pitfalls down the road of this little journey. But tonight. Tonight i celebrate!

An Open Source BSD licensed virtual world. I’ll worry about server strain and potential crashes tomorrow (no crashes yet however, after a couple of hours of uptime and no idea what i’m doing).

The folks at Second Life said they wouldn’t accept my pre-teens. They said that the ‘conversation we had no longer applied’. I now have to thank them for forcing me to go out and find the open sourced alternative.


Author: dave

I run this site... among other things.

17 thoughts on “OpenSim – open source multi user blah blah (sl). dave is in love.”

  1. Except it won’t really be a virtual world, but a virtual classroom.

    It will miss out on all the great resources that are available in the rest of a true virtual world like Second Life, as it will miss out on the social networking opportunities, network effects and emergent behaviours you see on Second Life.

    Don’t get me wrong – I can’t wait for the day we can host our own sims, and I think there is going to be a need for these more private spaces, especially in the education sector, and especially when young people are involved, but as this conversation goes on I think we need to be clear what it is we are talking about.

    Keep an eye on the Open Grid part of the project – this will allow us to link up with other sims and form our own grids.

  2. Bryan – no idea. I’ll let you know.

    Take a closer look at the project Sean… there’s nothing stopping you from throwing together as many grids as you like. I got asked this morning by a guy on the IRC whether i thought i could handle 1600 sims to do a 1:1 version of PEI.

    I understand your desire to be out with the currently popular grids. But, as we’ve proved with personallearningspace (over 1000 students) a ‘closed’ environment doesn’t need to mean that you miss out on social networking opportunities. You just make them yourself.

  3. I understand it’s possible to combine multiple sims to create your own grid, what I was talking about is combining your sim/grid with other sims/grids out there into a global grid, like the web. This is what I understand the project to be about. I don’t think we are disagreeing on this.

    I will still say though that a virtual world of 1000 students will be far less interesting or resourced than a global grid of millions. Wouldn’t you like your students to access projects like the NASA-funded International Space Flight Museum?

    This is why we need open protocols that allow us to connect sims/grids and have a web-like model.

    Are you aware that Linden Lab plan to open source their server software?

  4. I talked to LL about the ‘open source’-ing of the software and could not get a straight answer.

    As for the NASA funded ISFM… it’s cool to me i suppose, but the kids that i’ve shown it to are all that fussed about it. Bad video game. What i’m very interested in is have students create their OWN space and then sharing that with people their own age.

    And I’m not sure how millions is better than a thousand. Is more, in this case, really better?

  5. Sure Sean… I just read these comments back… i’ve been answering you while feeding Oscar and they read more antagonistic than I meant them…

    my apologies.

    I agree with you. Network yes. emergent yes. long tail yes. But why does it need to come from only one place? I distrust the hegemonic and the overly normative. I think of things like Facebook and Second Life as over impacting our understanding and awareness of possibilities. I would far prefer hundreds of smaller communities that I could go and visit than the massive chunk of space that is SL.

    how’s that sound?

  6. Anticipating more antagonism I was about to say: “Which is more interesting and valuable – students building a project website that only the class and their teacher can see, or students working with other students from the other side of the globe to build a project website that the whole world can see?” but I see we are on the same page. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Maybe I didn’t express myself well, but a distributed World Wide Grid (hey! did I just coin a term?) is exactly what I am hoping to see evolve. I’m all for moving away from walled gardens.

    I was just pointing out the advantage of having the numbers.

    And this is an advantage Linden Lab are hoping to exploit when they open source the servers. They are hoping that Second Life will be so big, and that so many organisations will have invested so much time and money in there, that people will be willing to pay to connect their own servers to the SL grid and the economy.

    Personally I think they are kidding themselves. As soon as they open source the server software competing hosting services will emerge, protocols for connecting sims into a global grid will emerge and SL will go the way of Compuserve and AOL.

    I think Philip Rosedale’s vision is a brilliant one, and I admire how far they have brought us to date, but I say “No” to LL dominating the metaverse.

  7. I think Croquet is designed just for your needs (I’m not 100% sure though). It is a 3D multi-user world app, that is free and open source. It works on local networks (like a classroom of computers) as well as world-wide (like second life):

    Also Sun (creator of java) has an open source, free 3D virtual world offering called Project Darkstar. It’s more of a platform for developing such worlds, and they just released it to the public today:

  8. Hi Doug,

    I spent a few weeks with Croquet. As far as I understand… it’s a ‘development platform’. I would be required to be ‘talented’ to do something useful with it. My experience using it was not particularly positive. powerful yes. but like a rocketship.

    As for darkstar, it just seemed a little over my head as well. Actually getting a big java type app like this up and running… wow.

    I’ve been following both projects. And they are both very interesting… but i can’t see them becoming the stuff of the everyday user.

  9. That’s so weird… i was really worried about the old darkstar license… and just after doug posted, i got an email from the darkstar people announcing the opensourceness of darkstar… oh my.

  10. Great to see you trying this Dave and am looking forward to following your and their adventure. When you’re ready for others to come in and do a little test with you. give me a shout. I think the more we are all trying out different platforms, the better right now. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. There are already some OpenSim installs that allow test user accounts to access (eg. Ruth => and then there is the DeepGrid, with +- 20 sims interconnected.

  12. Leon, The Mac instructions are so transparent you cannot see them ๐Ÿ˜‰ I gave up.

    But just for grins, I did get it running on my MacBookPro running it inside Parallels… but is dog slow (way too many OS-es at work??).

    I’m a fance sitter on the open/closed-ness, my gut says that the development and energy in the open community will drive some innovation. I think I’d like to have the crowd benefits of the big place as well as locations for doing what Dave is, and I support his rationale.

    Yes, keep us in tune….

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