Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Diary: 29th October 2008

OpenSim Releases Pass the 7000 Mark
Yesterday, on the #opensim irc channel, I was pleased to see three releases in a row (which fix various bugs, implement various SL features, or introduce new ones, etc), that took the number of releases past the 7000 mark (the version now is 0.5.11.r7002), and the binary for release can now be downloaded from the OSGrid website, and has the new Search facility switched on.

Second Inventory is now Back Up Again
I was also pleased to see that the SI website was back up and running (I have not seen, either for the last outage they had, or for this one, any mention on their website about the same. No words of explanation, no apology to its customers, nothing. They need to be a bit more forthcoming with the PR aspects of their business.

Blue Mars
Coming soon, in April 2009, Blue Mars, the absolutely stunning new MMVW from Avatar-Reality, based on the awesome CryEngine 2.

Just take a sneak peak at this new World.

After seeing this video I really began to worry about the future of Second Life and Opensim. If Blue Mars, with its truly stunning graphics, allow content creation and an economy, as in SL, then Second Life will look quite amateurish compared with Blue Mars. I will keep a close eye on this one.

Blue Mars hopes to go beta in late 2008, and launch in April 2009 (but we all know about 'hopes' don't we?).

If they want beta testers, they can sign me up, yesterday.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Diary: 27th October 2008

Something Strange with DynDNS?
I went to log into my sims but I got the error message from Hippo saying that the name could not be resolved?? I then tried to ping it, but got no response. I then pinged the IP address that anubia resolves to, and that pinged ok. I then went to the DynDNS website, went into my account, checked my hosts, and anubia was there. I then tried to ping it again, and this time I got a response, and was able then to log in.

Two hours later, I tried to log in once more, and the same problem, and again it just fixed itself after visiting the DynDNS website. A real puzzler.

Second Inventory is down again
For the second time in a month, the Second Inventory server and website are down. could not be found. Please check the name and try again.


Saturday, 25 October 2008

Diary: 25th October 2008

Latest Server News
I now have 9 regions up and running, five of which I will build on, and 4 void regions (they are just sea, no prims, but you can sail on them and fly over them). I will then surround the 9 regions with 16 void regions, so I can sail around every region.

No issues as yet with the server.

Updating the World Map
I have found 1 method to force the World Map to redraw:

a) Stop the opensim server,

b) Open each file in the Regions folder and set the value for lastmap_refresh to '0',

c) Restart the opensim server and log in,

d) Open the World Map, and over the next minute or two you will see it redraw.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Diary: 18th October 2008

Moving a MySQL Database

While I am waiting for my server (which hopefully be available on either Monday or Tuesday), which has a Windows 2008 Web Server OS, I thought I would have a go at moving my opensim and MySQL database from my home PC to my laptop, to see if it was straightforward. I am glad I have tried to have a go, because I got bogged down for quite a while, but fortunately with the help of DigiDaz from the #opensim irc channel, I eventually got there. Here are the steps:

1. Getting opensim onto my laptop was as easy as copying my bin folder from my home PC onto a memory stick, and copying it onto my laptop.

2. I then installed MySQL onto my laptop. When configuring I used the same user name (root) and password as on my PC, I then created an empty opensim database. (see article 5 on the 6th September, below, for full instructions on installing MySQL and creating the opensim database).

3. On my PC I made a backup copy of my opensim database. I did this by opening a command console window (go to Start, Run, and type 'cmd' (without the quotes) in the Open: box.). In the command console I typed the following:

mysqldump -u root -p opensim > opensim.sql

This command starts the mysqldump backup utility. The full syntax for this command is:

mysqldump -u [username] -p [databasename] > [backupfile.sql]


username = the user name you use in MySQL, usually 'root'
the -p switch will prompt you for the password you use for MySQL
databasename = the name of the database you wish to backup, in our case this is 'opensim'
backupfile.sql = the name of the backup file, can be anything, I chose 'opensim.sql

Like this.

I had to do a search to see where this file had been saved, I found it in the 'C:\Documents and Settings\Colin' folder.

4. I then copied opensim.sql file onto my memory stick, and pasted it in the C:\ root folder on my laptop.

5. I then opened a command console on the laptop, and navigated to the root folder by typing:

cd c:\

(it is important to be in the same folder as the test.sql file)

6. I then restored the database by typing at the command console:

mysql -uroot -p opensim < opensim.sql

It was successful and it returned me to the c:\ prompt.

7. After starting my Opensim, and logging in with my Hippo viewer, I was pleased to see my region exactly as it was on my PC.

A very happy bunny indeed, eventually :)

Again, many thanks to DigiDaz.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Diary: 16th October 2008

My First Steps with Linux
I have not been having much luck in my first attempts to get to know Linux. There are a number of problems which together conspire to deter the newcomer to this Operating System:

1. There are just too many flavours of Linux to choose from, and there is no clear guidelines on which one to choose, or how to go about choosing, other rather reading the documentation of each and every one of them. If you ask in the #opensim irc channel 'which one?' you will likely get as many different answers as there are people in the channel.

2. Linux users (at least in the #opensim irc channel) tend to be developers, rather than pure users. Consequently they speak a language all of their own, which no newcomer can understand, even if they declare themselves to be newbies.

3. Some also like to try to convert users into developers. They abjure the use of binaries, and encourage you to compile and build your own OpenSim software, using terms such as 'svn', 'trunk' and 'bleeding edge', which may mean something to them, but means absolutely nothing to me.

4. Many also seem to have a strong dislike for any kind of Graphical User Interface, GUI, (which is what Windows and Macs use), and prefer you to get a flavour of Linux that has no GUI and instead you need to learn the command-line usage, with all of its syntax and switches to remember, reminiscent of the old DOS.

So, I need to make it completely clear, I am not a developer, nor do I wish to be. I want to be a user, nothing more. My raison d'etre is the social interaction within my Opensim. In order to experience that I must engage in some designing, building, scripting, animating, texturing, which I enjoy, but are secondary to the primary reason. As far as the software itself is concerned I have no interest at all (except to report bugs, or wish lists). The only interest I have in which Operating System to use lies only the fact that if I choose one over another I will save money and have a faster system.

Now, having said that, let me be equally clear on what my requirements are:

I want my Opensim to be hosted on a dedicated server, so I can have it available 24/7, and my friends can visit without being lagged to death. It is noticeable that servers are much cheaper when the default Operating System on them is Linux (no license fee), rather than Windows (which requires a license fee). I am also told that Linux is much faster than Windows, as it has much less overhead (fewer processes going on in the background), and thus takes up far less valuable resources, such as CPU time and RAM.

However, I do not want to learn Linux from scratch (for the reasons stated above), I just simply want to get up and running as quickly as possible, to enjoy my Opensim, and be reasonably confident of knowing what to do if a problem should occur.

Therefore, I would like to take a server service that uses Linux, to save me money, but with a Windows-like GUI, such as Kubuntu or Knoppix, so I am not outside of my comfort zone.

Having decided that, I now need to know how to load OpenSim onto a Linux server. With Windows I know what to do, I go to the OSGrid website, download the latest binary and unzip it, edit the OpenSim.ini file, double-click the OpenSim.32BitLaunch.exe file, and I am up and running. I want to do the same with Linux, so how is that done?

Does anyone compile the OpenSim software and provide a binary for Linux users, in the same way as binaries are provided for Windows users? I shall investigate, and report my findings.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Diary: 15th October 2008

Another Server Failure

Hot on the heels of the Second Inventory server failure reported earlier, comes another server failure, this time it is none other than the OSGrid, and their website too.

Why is that companies and organisations such as SL, SI, and OSGrid deem it wise to host their websites on the same server as their services? When the service goes down, so does their websites and their forums, so no-one can ask what is going on.

IRC Channels
You may have heard me mention about the help I get from the opensim irc channel. What IS an irc channel anyway, you might ask. "Internet Relay Chat (irc) is a form of real-time Internet chat or synchronous conferencing. It is mainly designed for group communication in discussion forums called channels, but also allows one-to-one communication via private message, as well as chat and data transfers via Direct Client-to-Client." (courtesy of the WikipediA entry).

To access irc channels you need to either download a client, such as Bersirc (which I use at home), or use a web service such as Mibbit (which I use when away from home). Mibbet is an excellent irc web client, just go to the website and type 'opensim' in the Find Channels box at the top-right. The first hit should be, just click on this link. Then give yourself a nickname, and you are in. Here you can follow the chat among the developers and the users, and when you feel comfortable, introduce yourself, and pose a comment or question. There is no archive, so I just leave it running in the background and scan the chat every so often for any interesting threads.

I learnt today that there is an irc channel for OSGrid too, #osgrid. Do the same with Mibbit above, and type 'osgrid' into the Find Channels box.

Anubia Update

Been working on my standalone region this last three days, as I had some time off work. I got an intra-sim Menu-Driven Teleporter system working, a Video Jukebox, and a Dance Machine. Yesterday it was poseball making for all my sofas and chairs, various sits and lounging, that sort of thing, and the day before I made the sofas and chairs. I am going to start work on sounds tomorrow.

Have fun with yours,

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Diary: 11th October 2008

Second Inventory Down
Second Inventory has been down for the third day now. Rumour has it a server HD failed. People who have downloaded their inventory from SL to their HD cannot restore it to OpenSim or elsewhere, as the SI program will not even start up as it needs an authentication from its home server. I bet they wished they never encouraged people to buy their product for this reason on their website: "The SL™ Asset Server is not absolutely reliable and often loses irremediably the hours of your work or the expensive objects that you bought." I guess they don't know all they think they know about reliability, backups, and server redundancy strategies.

Edit (12th Oct 2008): Second Inventory is now restored. The earlier notice about a hard disk failure has now been superceded by a notice saying that the server farm they were on had a massive problem.

Attempt to Get a Server Failed
I tried this week to get a dedicated server to host my OpenSim. The attempt failed miserably at the first hurdle. The two suppliers I tried (both USA firms) insisted that my Credit Card be issued in the same country as my billing address. I wonder if they insist that US cardholders have the card issued in the same State as their billing address?

No such problems with Europeans suppliers, but I will have to re-evaluate their plans.

Is it time to bite the bullet and switch to Linux?
It is noticeable that server plans are far cheaper if you take Linux as the OS (no license fees to pay, as with Windows). The gurus on the Opensim irc channel also tell me that Linux is faster too (it is much slimmer than Windows and has far less processes taking up valuable CPU time and other resources) and that OpenSim was mainly a Linux development.

Perhaps I will get that Linux-on-a-Bootable-CD and give it a whirl. Or maybe load it onto a spare PC and play with it. Could save me a packet in the long run.

Have fun

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Diary: 8th October 2008

Deleting a Region
In Article 9 I bemoaned the fact that there was no OpenSim command to delete a region. Fortunately, with the latest release of OpenSim, Version 0.5.11. 6676, we now have a new command, delete-region. This command deletes a region and its associated region file.

Just in case the command was introduced earlier, and I have been lacking in observation, it might be a good idea to benchmark the current commands in release 6676, so I can tell at a glance if they are changed in future.

Current OpenSim Console Commands
alert - send alert to a designated user or all users.

alert [First] [Last] [Message] - send an alert to a user. Case sensitive.

alert general [Message] - send an alert to all users.

backup - persist simulator objects to the database ahead of the normal schedule.

clear-assets - clear the asset cache.

create-region - create a new region.

change-region - select the region that single region commands operate upon.

command-script [filename] - Execute command in a file.

config set section field value - set a config value.

config get section field - get a config value.

config save - save OpenSim.ini

create user - adds a new user.

debug - debugging commands.

debug packet 0..255 - print incoming/outgoing packets (0=off).

debug scene [scripting] [collision] [physics] - Enable/Disable debug stuff, each can be True/False.

delete-region [name] - delete a region and its associated region file.

echoTest - this echos your command args to see how they are parsed.

edit-scale [prim name] [x] [y] [z] - resize given prim.

export-map [filename] - save image of world map.

force-update - force an update of prims in the scene.

kickuser - kickuser [first] [last] - attempts to log off a user from any region we are serving.

load-xml2 [filename] - load prims from XML using version 2 format.

load-oar [filename] - load an OpenSimulator region archive. This replaces everything in the current region.

quit - equivalent to shutdown.

restart - disconnects all clients and restarts the sims in the instance.

remove-region [name] - remove a region.

reset user password - reset a user's password.

save-oar [filename] - Save the current region to an OpenSimulator region archive.

save-xml2 [filename] - save prims to XML using version 2 format.

script - manually trigger scripts? or script commands?

set log level [level] - change the console logging level only. For example, off or debug.

set-time [x] - set the current scene time phase.

show assets - show state of asset cache.

show info - show server information (e.g. startup path).

show stats - show statistical information for this server.

show threads - list tracked threads.

show uptime - show server startup time and uptime.

show version - show server version.

show users - show info about connected users (only root agents).

show users full - show info about connected users (root and child agents).

show modules - shows info about loaded modules.

show regions - show running region information.

shutdown - shutdown the server.

terrain help - show help for terrain commands.

If you have any comments on any of the above commands, or if any do not operate as expected, please feel free to post a comment, which I will be sure to pass on to the developers.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Diary: 1st October 2008

Premium Content
There is a lot of freebie content in the OpenSim Community, and the garden in OSGrid's Wright Plaza is well stocked in that regard, and by using Second Inventory you can move all full-perm objects from SL to your OpenSim. However, to make your OpenSim experience really great you will need some premium content, but the news there is not so good.

I have been speaking with a number of premium content makers in SL, the sort that rely on more than just prims - the gurus of animation, texturing, particles, scripting etc. who provide us with our quality poseballs, beds, dances, showers, plants and trees, and so on.

None of the creators I spoke to were prepared to supply their products to the OpenSim community, simply because they had no protection against their intellectual property getting out into the wild and destroying their SL business.

I was wondering if this could be managed by having a Premium Inventory Content Server (PICS), that could serve all the independent grids, containing the premium content purchased by customers, but held securely, and with full permissions applied. The server could have a merchant window, similar to SLX, but the products are never actually delivered to the customer, but are maintained on the PICS and are accessed in parallel with the normal content on the customers own Inventory Server in his OpenSim. In other words, a mixed local/grid mode as far as inventory is concerned.

The good news is, I finally managed to find a very realistic bathroom shower particle effect, that was full-perm. I had searched for quite some time. I found a link for it here.

Gridnauts Project - Latest News
OGP teleports between the Linden Lab beta and preview grids and OpenSim regions, running in both grid and standalone mode, are now a fact of life, with over 100 residents teleporting successfully. The OGP teleport specification has now been released, but bug fixing is still ongoing. The Gridnauts team are now currently considering the next steps, exciting days indeed.

I sincerely hope that avatar appearance at start and end of teleport can be maintained, and if the entire inventory of the avatar cannot go with him on his teleports, then at least an avatar suitcase facility. After all, when you travel in RL you do not take everything you own with you, do you? You take a suitcase.

Some Terminology
Maybe it is time to start a small glossary of terms. I will get the ball rolling with these two. Please feel free to add some more in the Comments. I will collate the best.

OpenSimmers (NOT OpenSinners, that was definitely a typo!): people who own and operate an OpenSim region or regions.

OpenSimmering: Getting frustrated with a release that fixed one bug while introducing three others.

Have fun