Second Life Server Not Going to Be Open Sourced "Any Time Soon"

This is a bombshell to me, although it wasn’t covered as such in this story on Second Life. The Second Life servers are basically not going to be open sourced, at least not anytime in the near future. Last year they were hinting that they would open source the server after they did open source the Second Life viewer client.

But don’t expect to see the SL Grid server source code released any time soon. “There are a number of things about the architecture of our current server infrastructure that inhibit a source code release. There are a lot of cases of monolithic design and improper trust relationships between components that would need to be addressed.” [Rob Lanphier of Linden Labs]

That’s a very good and perfectly justifiable reason for not open sourcing the servers, but it still means Linden Labs is going to keep control over all of Second Life, and you’ll never be able to for example run your own private or shared Second Life server. That pretty much writes off Second Life as a viable long-term option for educational development in my opinion. Or at the very least you have to be more cautious when developing for proprietary platforms like Facebook, Flash (Adobe is now adding DRM controls), and Google Apps. Plenty of educators and schools have already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars building worlds in Second Life though, and even the theme of the AECT conference this year is Second Life, and AERA has a new virtual environments SIG centered around Second Life. People may have already forgotten about ActiveWorlds, which was another popular yet proprietary 3D multiuser world created prior to the emergence of Second Life. It’s still around, but taking a back seat to Second Life. That leaves Croquet and Project Darkstar as the main two open source alternatives to Second Life, although they are not user-friendly applications like Second Life. You can’t start them up and instantly meet up with others online. Rather they are development platforms for creating your own custom online 3D worlds.

Posted in development, edtech, opensource
5 comments on “Second Life Server Not Going to Be Open Sourced "Any Time Soon"
  1. Celebrity Trollop says:

    Have you looked into OpenSim? Its a 100% open source reimplementation of the SL Grid server. Its far enough along that you can connect an SL client to it and build some prims.

  2. Sean FitzGerald says:

    I think you have misread “don’t expect to see the SL Grid server source code released any time soon” as the SL Grid server source code will <>never<> be open sourced, and I don’t think this is true.In fact, Joe Miller, VP of platform and technology development at Linden Lab said in January: “Second Life in 2009 will change from one grid to multiple grids. Linden Lab said in April it plans to open-source the Second Life server. The company open-sourced the client a year ago. Next year, users will be able to run their own Second Life servers, optionally behind a firewall or temporarily, for an individual event. Residents will be able to bring the same identity with them from one private Second Life grid to another.”< HREF="" REL="nofollow">Linden Lab Working To Beef Up Second Life Stability, Usability — Second Life — InformationWeek<>Indeed, they have already released some of the server architecture: < HREF="" REL="nofollow">SLGA: Linden Lab releases Capabilities Server as Open Source (technical) —<>And yes, as the previous commenter has said – you should take a look at < HREF="" REL="nofollow">OpenSim<>, SL server software reverse-engineered from the SL viewer. A < HREF="" REL="nofollow">number of grids<> have popped up based on that platform already.You should also take a look at < HREF="" REL="nofollow">RealXtend<>, which has developed a virtual worlds platform extending the work of OpenSim.No matter what Linden Lab do and what path they take Second Life related virtual worlds will continue, and this is why I think it is still worth exploring what Second Life can do for education until something else as functional and flexible and well-featured comes along.

  3. Sean FitzGerald says:

    Oops! The correct URL for the ‘Linden Lab Working To Beef Up Second Life Stability, Usability’ article is – < HREF="" REL="nofollow"><>

  4. Doug Holton says:

    I’m sure they will open source it eventually, especially when it is in their business interest to do so. That might be a year, or 5 years, who knows. Maybe ActiveWorlds will open source their stuff to be more competitive.The main thing that has changed for me is that now I am taking a “wait and see” attitude, instead of the previous “wait and expect to see sometime soon”.

  5. Doug Holton says:

    Apparently there is already a fork of opensim called realXtend:

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