Over 300 grids run on the OpenSim open source virtual world platform today, a dramatic increase over the last few weeks, mostly due to the release of Crista Lopes’ Diva Distribution of OpenSim, and to the efforts of a growing number of OpenSim vendors.
However, this number does not include any organizations that directly download the OpenSim software and quietly run it themselves.
Lopes, who is a professor of informatics at UC Irvine and the inventor of the hypergrid protocol connecting virtual worlds, says that more than 200 small standalone grids have been set up, many with the Diva Distro, totaling over 1,000 regions. The free Diva Distro comes with automatic registration of these grids with Lopes’ own Metaverse Ink search engine. The Diva Distro default configuration is four regions arranged into a single “megaregion,” with hypergrid teleports enabled. This means that these grids are accessible to avatars on any other hypergrid-enabled grid (though long-distance teleportation problems still sometimes make grid-jumping a tricky proposition).
However, this number fluctuates, Lopes said. “Sims come and go frequently.”
ReactionGrid, one of the most active and pioneering OpenSim vendors when it comes to the enterprise and education space is currently running 60 private grids for its clients, according to CEO Kyle Gomboy.
Second Places runs 12 private grids for clients, according to managing director Mark Duffy.
Finally, Hypergrid Business is currently tracking 33 public grids, totaling over 5,000 regions.
Public grids are often social communities, organized as an alternative to Second Life. Private grids, by comparison, are typically used by individuals, groups and enterprises for purposes that don’t require a large community. These include building and design, training and education, collaboration and meetings, and product prototyping.
Private grids can run behind the firewall of an enterprise or educational institution, allowing only internal access. Private grids can also be hosted externally, but without the hypergrid option enabled — allowing only registered users to log in.
However, a private grid can enable hypergrid teleports, allowing teleports from other grids. This is a good fit for OpenSim deployments where avatars — and virtual goods — need to be able to travel in and out easily. For example, a company building virtual office space on a private grid may shop for building and landscaping products on OSGrid, and business tools on ReactionGrid.
Prices for private grids start at $0. Either a Diva Distro download, or a direct download from the open source OpenSim project, require some technical knowledge, however. This includes the ability to set up port forwarding through a router.
At ReactionGrid and SimHost, prices for fully managed hosting start at just $25 a region.