Open Source

In a response to Tateru’s post on Second Life Insider in which she predicted various developments this year–among them, that the Second Life client would be open-sourced–I commented that I didn’t expect that to happen this year.

Never have I been proven wrong so quickly and so dramatically.

You should have been here when I opened up the home page, on my way to the Events page (to delete an event scheduled for tonight).  I think there was an audible klunk! as my jaw hit the floor.

“But surely,” I thought to myself, “they’ll be using some sort of weird license for the code that’s not compatible with anything else out there?  After all, that’s what Apple did, and Sun, and…”

Nope.  GPL Version 2, with an exception to allow open source licenses that aren’t GPL-compatible.  You can’t get much more standard than that.

Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. Did I say, “Oh my God”? 🙂

I’ve long been an advocate of open source and Free software.  The only reason I use Windows to run SL, rather than Linux, is that I’ve never been able to get the accelerated X drivers to work with my Radeon X1600 Pro.  But I have not only used a lot of Open Source, I’ve written a substantial amount of it…including the conferencing system used by Electric Minds.  This part of me looks at LL’s announcement and gives an unqualified “YAYZERAMA!

And yet…and yet…will this make it more likely that someone will use this open source code to create attack tools against SL?  Obviously, this underlines, boldfaces, and puts red asterisks by the statement I’ve made in the past: “You can never trust the client.”  The question is, has LL properly “hardened” the SL servers against possible attacks of that nature, mis-formatted protocols and the like?  I guess we’ll find out.

It’s too early to guess at the ramifications of this  development, but one thing is certain: The rules have changed, irrevocably.  SL has turned a corner, and now heads down a new road.  No one, least of all me, knows where it will end.



Filed under Current Events, Technical

7 responses to “Open Source

  1. I didn’t expect that this would happen so soon either, I thought next year more likely.

    But it looks like LL really wants to be the “standard” for the 3d Web, Metaverse, Web 3.0 or what ever you want to call it.

    I only hope it’s well commented.

  2. At some point, I guess I’ll have to download the source and find out. I’m curious myself.

  3. Those were the same two lines of thought that flowed simultaneously through my mind when I saw the Linden Blog post.

    I hope they have someone at Linden Research ready to be the viewer patch monkey. I have a feeling they’re going to need one or two to maintain the ‘official’ version. I do wonder how many forks we’ll see.

    I also wonder what this means at a time when there are still mandatory viewer updates every few weeks. That doesn’t seem like an ideal time to open source something.

  4. Erbo, what part of the OSI approval process do you take issue with? Apple’s APSL has been approved since v1.2 – version 2.0 was approved in 2003.

    Or perhaps PHP (, Mozilla ( and Apache ( – applications I heretofore thought of as cornerstones of the interweb – are actually “using some sort of weird license for the code that’s not compatible with anything else out there”.

  5. I was thinking of the original Apple Public Source License, I think, Dol. For Sun, I was thinking of the Sun Community Source License. And I’m all in favor of a variety of licenses; Venice itself (the software that runs EMinds) is licensed under the MPL. But most of those licenses get bad-mouthed by the FSF as “not compatible with the GNU GPL.” LL just neatly avoided that issue…even if the “FLOSS exception” might rub RMS the wrong way…

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