Aurora devs building bridge to OpenSim

Developers of the Aurora Sim version of OpenSim are building a hypergrid bridge to mainline OpenSim, said Enrico Ranucci, head of New Voice, d.i., an Italian technology company that’s been in business since 2005.

Aurora Sim uses a different version of hypergrid, called IWC — InterWorldConnector — to allow teleportation between grids.

Currently, such teleports are possible between the Aurora Sim-based Nova Grid, and some Aurora Sim testing grids, Ranucci told Hypergrid Business.

However, the Aurora Sim developers, including the lead developer known as Revolution Smythe, are working on a bridge that would allow people to teleport to Aurora Sim-based grids from OSGrid, which runs mainline OpenSim.

Enrico Ranucci

“Right now, we have successfully teleported between standalones,” said Ranucci, referring to OpenSim regions not connected to any grid. “We need to do more work for grid mode.”

He said he hopes to have the bridge finished to connect regular OpenSim grids to Aurora Grids “in a very near future.”

Once the bridge is built, residents on new Aurora Sim-based grids will no longer be cut off from friends and events on other grids — and will be even able to teleport over with their existing avatars and inventories. This may help spur adoption of the Aurora Sim software by grid managers. (See our previous story about Aurora Sim here.)

Ranucci currently runs the Nova Grid, a new 34-region commercial grid that runs on the Aurora Sim platform. It is currently the largest grid using the software, and the chief commercial grid.

New Voice is probably better known for its $9.95 OSGrid regions. OSGrid is the largest OpenSim grid, and allows anyone to connect self-hosted regions for free, though many residents choose to use third-party hosting providers like New Voice to get their hosting in order to get higher concurrency, stability, backups, more prims, and better support than they could get at home.

New Voice is currently running 187 regions on OSGrid. If it was its own grid, it would be the 12th largest on OpenSim. (Full story about current grid sizes here.)

Most recently, a Gor-themed role-playing community from Second Life moved over to OSGrid and rented regions from New Voice, Ranucci said.

But despite its significant presence on OSGrid and mainline OpenSim, New Voice has been building out its own private commercial grid, with Aurora Sim.

“I’m not reducing OSGrid hosting,” he said. “OSGrid is still the main open source grid. But I have to admit, many of my customers switched over to Aurora, ever since I gave them one month of free rent to try out Nova Grid.”

A tropical island-themed region on the Aurora Sim-based Nova Grid. (Image courtesy Enrico Ranucci.)

Setting up his own grid would create new business opportunities for his company, he explained.

But what’s it in for the customers?

Many features not currently available in main line OpenSim, and more stability, Ranucci said.

“Aurora is simply cool,” he said. “It is all working out of the box, so it’s really simple to set up — groups, offline instant messaging, search, profiles, currency, voice, abuse reports, a grid manager, a grid website, support for Second Life Viewer 2 features [such as media-on-a-prim], physics, a script engine — plus a lot of new features, fully working.”

For example, one of the new features unique to Aurora is variable-sized regions.

“And the best part of it is that it never crashes,” he added. “A protection module prevents region crashes, disabling all services in the region and keeping it up. This allows the region owner to do a safe backup of the region before restarting it. That’s really useful.”

In addition, a region is often able to restart itself on its own, he said, if the cause of a problem was something temporary like a misbehaving avatar or script.

Hosted regions on Nova Grid start at US $9.95 a month for up to 80,000 prims, with voice and currency included.

People wishing to try out Aurora Sim can also do it on their own for free, by down loading the region server software, Ranucci said. They are welcome to connect their regions to Nova Grid if they would like to be part of a larger community. Full connection details are here — the process is straightforward, but does require the ability to open and forward ports. There is no charge for the connection, though donations are welcome to offset asset database costs. Half of all donations go to the Aurora Sim open source development team.

The future is commercial

Non-profit grids have an important role to play in OpenSim, helping develop and push the boundaries of the software, and allowing people a low-cost way to get into the virtual worlds.

However, commercial, for-profit grids can offer a much higher quality of service for residents, said Ranucci.

“A for-profit grid owners can’t delay assistance to customers by saying, ‘Hey, it’s free, so don’t complain too much,'” said Ranucci. “I see that, unfortunately, very often in non-profit projects. Running a for-profit business means you’re cut off from that excuse.”

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Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. She has been a journalist for more than twenty years and has worked for the Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and Computerworld and has reported from over a dozen countries, including Russia and China.

  • csunberry

    Enrico, also known as Sir Suave, is doing a great job to really improve virtual worlds. We hope to make it THE best kind of grid out there, and I'm thankful to be here. As time goes on, Aurora will grow, as we continue to make leaps and bounds into the future. Good work, Sir Suave! Sunny out. 🙂

  • fmeads

    I have been in a few virtual worlds, more than I care to admit, but NOVA grid is by far the most impressive regarding features, support, and after talking with Mr. Ranucci about the direction he plans to take it, I am so pleased to be part of it. I am one of builders on the grid and am most excited about teaching others to build, primarily architects so that they may utilize the grid to provide a realtime platform for their clients. Land prices are sane, prims allowances are a builders dream. It's fresh, it's exciting, and I offer sincere plaudits to Mr. Ranucci and the dev team.

  • RachelleHamelin

    I have been with Enrico on OS Grid and joined him in the beginning when he started Nova. His support is 2nd to none and gives what no other grid can even think about… Like any new grid, updates has its ups and downs but if you want great support and a grid with a better vision that that big one that will cost you 2 arms and a legs to play on. Take a serious look at Nova.

  • Astra Viewer is a client for virtual worlds that focuses on new feature development for open source Second Life based virtual worlds. Optimized for OpenSimulator and Aurora-Sim virtual world servers. Astra Viewer contains features from the Imprudence viewer, as well as features from our now defunct project, the Meerkat Viewer http://astraviewer.com/

  • Gaga Gracious

    Great article Maria and as I personally follow Aurora development and blog on it I would like to add that Aurora 3 has just been released which is a very stable version with many improvements and comes just 7 months after the project was started which is a tribute to a very enthusiastic and dedicated team of developers, not least the lead dev, Revolution Smythe who has an almost wizard-like understanding of the code and the ability to work at break-neck speed. Enrico too is very much a part of the team and gives a lot of support. In deed, as I sit in on some of the meetings and the IRC channel I have got to know some of the team a little and they all have fantastic ability and imagination.

    When I first came across Aurora I was sceptical if they could deliver the impressive list of features promised but they have been true to word so far and I don’t detect any loss of faith. The team really do seem to work together very well so I am confident Aurora will go far.

    I’m a believer!

  • Gaga Gracious

    I should mention that Revolution Smythe said he might build a module to bridge IWC and HG when asked if the two protocols will be compatible. He never stated it as a definite thing. IWC has still to be implemented first anyway.

  • SammmyGalicia

    I think the Aurora Project is really cool. But have been hesitant to invest any time in the project for two reasons. Both of these reasons could have already been addressed, so any further discussion is encouraged here to correct me if I'm wrong. First of all, I was discouraged by the more than negative attitude of "some" of the chatters on the Aurora IRC developers channel concerning OpenSim and their developers, of whom Ive have somewhat of a loyalty towards. And Secondly, Ive been discouraged concerning the unknown legality of the software considering it is very closely developed with SecondLife viewer code knowledge. I havent wanted to invest my time and energy into something (especially for commerical use) if I have fears of a future "cease and desist order" from SecondLife. Ive emailed SecondLife asking for their position on the software with no reply back. In conclusion, I do want to say that Aurora is awesome, and I want to thank 3 of the developers for being very kind and gracious to me. Those being Eryn, Greybeard, and RevolutionSmythe. I hate to have to write things like this, but at least from a legal standpoint, there are differing views.

  • Watcher64

    Awesome to hear, Aurora is awesome, but IMHO, the lack of HG support has slowed it's growth .

  • Sammy, I respect your view but first off I would like to mention that there will always be those members in any group that snipe at others. It's unfortunate and I don't like it either. I have supported Opensim from almost the beginning and there has been no shortage of drama in the core team either in its time. But there are strong points of view involved here and it doesn't mean everyone shares those views.

    That said, I am glad you see the project as cool. It is really quite amazing what has been achieved in so short a time while Opensim core development has been very slow (4 years and still alpha?). I don't want to be hard on the Opensim devs, we all owe a lot to their work and dedication, but I have to say the most stark difference between Aurora and Opensim is progress!

    SecondLife is a dinosaur and Opensim has slavishly followed in the beast's enormous foot prints which, in my view, has held it back. I think the Aurora devs would like nothing better than to be free of the SL viewer protocol while retaining the look and feel of SecondLife. For example, Opensim could have rolled out Mesh over a year ago and RealXtend actually rebuilt the viewer from the ground up so they could implement Mesh over 2 years ago. Linden Labs is only just arriving at the point where they can roll out Mesh and it still hasn't happened yet (discounting the beta grid).

    Aurora is leaving Opensim core behind while still adding amazing advances like var-regions and the power that promises. Remember the golden rule: One core, One Gig ram to run one region if you want to avoid lag and improve stability? Aurora has the same rule but the region can be up to 256 times more area and still be low lag and stable. That speaks volumes for Aurora! But there is so much more already; Robust server replaced and underlining communication framework, enhanced Windlight features that surpass OpenSim’s Lightshare, better integration with viewers and a partnership with Imprudence to bring forth better features and interoperability, more osFunction and added aaFunctions, totally rebuilt scripting engine from the ground up, see further than one region away, Interworld connector (IWC) – more secure than Hypergrid, easier to understand with a more intuitive configuration, Groups, Profiles, Abuse Reports, full Search, growing support for 64Bit, true server side bots (NPC), more responsive land editing, integrated backup system, integrated combat system. The list goes on.

    Even more important from my point of view is the work they are doing on physics. They have rewritten parts of ODE to help improve vehical physics and are even talking about replacing it with PhysX which Revolution Smythe has already done a lot of preliminary work on.

    I have locked horns with other people that have forked off from Opensim in the past like InWorldz and OpenLife but the difference here is that Aurora is, as far a as possible still compatible with Opensim and is intended to remain so. What's more Aurora is open source same as Opensim while the other forks have gone proprietary.

    Moreover, I have to say, I find most of the team very helpful and they do listen to their community. I know, I am there and ask questions about everything. I get good answers too. Perhaps another big difference I see in the aurora team is that they are game minded while the Opensim team of more focused on education perhaps.

    For all these reasons and more I have become a believer and I don't mind admitting it.

  • x8ball

    Maria,

    I'm kind of a minor dev working with the aurora guys. I work primarily on the NPC side with a view to creating server side scriptable combat bots or NPCs as exist in major gaming engines. Anyways I digress:

    I just want to clear something up: right now IWC doesn't interconnect with hypergridded opensim worlds. i.e. you can't hypergrid either in or out. I confirmed that with rev this aft.

    What *does* work however is the following:
    If you bring up an Aurora region (as long as it's a *standard sized region* and NOT a variable sized region) then you can hook up said Aurora region to e.g. osgrid and you can use standard teleport out of the osgrid connected Aurora region to any of the other regions on osgrid more or less. On the way back i.e. from osgrid back into Aurora there are some minor glitches but it's mostly workable.

    So to recap: Aurora hypergrid to opensim doesn't yet work and there is no timeline. Grid connected standard sized aurora regions more or less work to allow teleporting to other vanilla opensim regions connected to the same grid.

    • So it is an actual bridge. If you want to go from a mainline OpenSim grid to an Aurora Sim grid, you travel to OSGrid, then to that region, then from there you can go anywhere else that connected via IWC?

  • x8ball

    Good thinking outside the box Maria! It definitely sounds plausible but unfortunately right now the teleporting/hypergridding is controlled by the grid. So although teleporting *more or less* works into an aurora region, since IWC isn't compatible with vanilla opensim you won't be able to hypergrid out.

    But the definitive answer *lol* from Rev (paraphrased is this): "I don't know if it will work like that but probably not"

    But I digress. There's kind of a bridge based on teleport as long as a non-variable sized region is connected to a vanilla opensim grid, otherwise IWC hypergrid is not compatible.

  • Yes, I guess there is a legal issue but, when you think about it, OpenLife forked off little more than a year after the Opensim project was started and produced their own viewer so it's probable (I think certain) they were looking at the viewer code while developing their fork and nothing has come of that. It's probably true to say the same of InWorldz as they forked sometime ago too. You also have to remember, Aurora team are not developing a viewer. That is left to the Imprudence team and Astra. Personally, I don't think there is a problem.