Hypergrid inventor calls for mass grid migration

Hypergrid inventor Crista Lopes, professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine called today on big public grids to begin a mass migration to lower regions.

The reason is that Second Life-compatible viewers don’t handle jumps of more than 4,096 regions in any direction — causing problems both for grids where regions are located very far apart from one another, and for hypergrid travelers trying to teleport from grids located in the lower regions to grids centered in the upper reaches.

ReactionGrid, Jokaydia Grid, and GovGrid are among the grids centered around the 1,000-1,000 mark — but they are in the minority.

Most grids put their regions near the 10,000-10,000 coordinate, including the largest grid, OSGrid. When new grids are launched, they are usually located within teleport distance of OSGrid for the convenience of their residents.

Crista Lopes

The 4,096 bug has been known for three years, and is an issue with the viewer software, Lopes said, and is not specifically an OpenSim problem — though it affects OpenSim users most of all.

“It’s a fundamental design decision of Second Life,” she explained in her post. “Second Life assumes that a grid will never be larger than 4,096 by 4,096 regions. That design decision is reflected pervasively in the viewer code to the point that very smart developers don’t think it’s worth the trouble changing it.”

And it doesn’t just affect teleports, she added. The 4,096 bug also keeps maps from loading correctly when regions are located above 4,096-4,096. Instead of the entire map loading at once, small block of regions show up instead. Clicking on empty spots on the map causes more regions to show up. The only way to fix it is to move grids to lower locations.

There’s plenty of room in the lower coordinates for any grid, she added. A grid that filled up every region on a 4,096 by 4,096 map would have more than 16 million regions.

And, while two regions on the same grid can’t share coordinates, there’s no problem with different grids having overlapping regions — the coordinates are used to allocate space on a map, and each grid has its own map.

Lopes said that she’s come to terms with living with the 4,096-region teleportation limit, and all future Diva Distro grids will, by default, be placed somewhere within this set of coordinates.

“I hope the OSGrid administrators will also come to terms on this, and force the coordinate change, so that we can finally have an open metaverse free of hiccups,” she said.

Two hypergates on Festa 24H region of OSGrid.

OSGrid president Michael Emory Cerquoni (also known as “Nebadon Izumi” on OSGrid) responded to her post with doubts.

“I honestly just do not see it happening,” he said.

OSGrid, a non-profit run by volunteers, currently has around 6,000 regions managed by hundreds of different individuals, groups, and hosting companies. Whereas some grids host all their own regions, and manage everything centrally, OSGrid allows anyone to connect to the grid, using any free coordinate.

Coordinating such a move would be a “disaster,” he said, and cause a great deal of stress for the grid’s volunteer managers. It also doesn’t help that OSGrid already has some regions located in the lower coordinates, so upper regions couldn’t simply be shifted down.

“It just seems crazy that there is nothing we could do on the simulator side to overcome this problem,” he added.

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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. Follow me on Twitter @MariaKorolov.

12 Responses

  1. vinc@francogrid.com' vinc says:

    I think the solution is modifiy the client for have a REAL Opensim viewer and not a mixed client.

  2. Is this an appeal to developers to throw in the towel and just adhere to SL settings? I agree with the nay sayers this might not work.

  3. Vinc — I agree with you. There's a good chance that the Tipodean viewer (or the viewer from the realXtend guys), neither of which are based on SL code, might be ready for prime time before OSGrid moves all its regions south. — Maria

  4. pmiller@liv.ac.uk' GHraham Mills says:

    Both those viewers are very different from anything used on a regular basis in the past. Though they have much to admire, I can't see them being taken up in the short term.

  5. owen@owenkelly.net' Owen Kelly says:

    Is it not possible to build a social solution to this problem (as opposed to a technical solution)? What if someone maintains one or more sims at strategic locations on the grid – whose sole purpose is to exist as landing and take-off points while making large jumps?

    These would have no clever landscaping, buildings, activities or functions other than perhaps a map of the grid. They could be publicised widely and used by anyone who needed to make a two or three step jump.

    I would see these as a better solution because they would deal – at a human level – with difficulties in the structure of the world rather than trying to patch the world to make it simpler to use. — Owen

  6. jim@barr.net' Jim Barr says:

    While I agree with Vinc, before everyone writes off the reassignment solution as not doable, how about stepping back and really assessing where we OS is and where it could or should go.

    On one hand, many may see the total number of OS regions and grids to be too large to even consider such a move. But compared to SL or so many other internet-based services, is it really such a large number? Changing over to a new numbering scheme would definitely be painful, but if people are serious moving OS forward, maybe it's time to endure a bit of pain–rip off the band aid get it over with, and move forward instead of spinning the wheels.

    On the other hand, if retooling the viewer to make OS more reliable and usable forsaking SL, maybe it's time for the chick to leap from the nest and fly on its own. There would be nothing wrong with providing some methodology for SL compatibility, but to leave OS hobbled because of SL seems somewhat short-sighted to me.

    My point is that if OS is to take off and take off big, someone needs to determine the best direction it should take. Is OS something that should forever be reliant on SL, or should OS evolve into its own self-supporting, self-directed environment?

    There may be no clear or clean answer, but I've seen so many Internet services with huge potential falter and collapse because they weren't willing to do what it takes to move to the next level. OS appears to have such huge potential.

  7. Owen — There already is a social solution in place. At Hyperica, I've categorized destinations as "Lower", "Middle" and "Upper." If you want to travel from a "Lower" destination, you should jump to a "Middle" one first. It's no guarantee — some "Upper" destinations are very, very far up — but it's a good start.

    However, this creates substantial usability problems. Say your home is on a Lower region. And your favorite dance club is on an Upper region. You can't just put a gate next to your house that will take you to the club — the best you can do is put up a gate to some region in the middle, and hope that someone *there* puts up a gate to the club.

    It's like only being able to put links on your website to other sites as long as their names aren't too far away from your sites in alphabetical order. So if your site was abc.com, you couldn't link to xyz.com — you could only link to lmn.com and hope that someone there puts up a link the rest of the way.

    It also means that half of your hypergrid landmarks aren't going to work. And, unless you keep close track of the coordinates of each destination, you'll always have doubts about whether a jump failed because the destination region was down, or because it was running the wrong software, or because it was too far away.

    What I think is more likely to happen is that, over time, people are going to start putting their regions closer to the middle. Instead of putting them at 10,000-10,000 they'll put them around 7,000-7,000 — that way, they can reach the higher ones, but the lower ones are just two jumps away, not three. And the folks who might have put their regions near 1,000-1,000 will put them closer to 4,000-4,000 — still within jumping distance of all the lower regions, but also within range of all the middle ones.

    Eventually – if the 4,096 bug isn't fixed before then — we'll have all the new regions located between 3,000 and 7,000 and the guys at the far ends will start moving their regions over to be closer to everyone else.

    I'm putting my main regions around the 7,000-7,000 mark (though not on round numbers — too many folks put their regions there, and you can't jump between two different regions that have the same coordinates).

  8. amy88smith@yahoo.com' Lani Global says:

    07 June 2011 in the OS "open office" meeting, http://opensimulator.org/wiki/Office_Hours
    OSgrid-sponsored teleport hub regions were discussed, to be placed at intermediate points on the OSgrid grid, to make jumps to lower grid coordinates more dependable.

    These were installed after the meeting, and tested using a herd of qualified lab rats. It seems to work, albeit as a temporary but somewhat- less- than- perfect solution.

    The new official OSgrid teleport hub regions are "jump4000" and "jump8000" .

    I now have a box of scripted HyperGrid Teleporter flags available in my stores in OSgrid, for these teleport hubs. These are also copy/mod/trans for anyone to use. Just input your region and hg address, and put your own textures on them.

    Following Maria's lead, I've moved my own OSgrid regions to lower, somewhat more intermediate coordinates in the 8000 range. One of my OSgrid regions is a popular HyperGrid destination with a HyperGate. So, with all these changes, it should provide even greater accessibility for everyone who has had problems reaching it from lower coordinates before.

    –Lani Global
    Lani region, OSgrid hg.osgrid.org:80:lani

  9. billwindwalker@rocketmail.com' xstorm Radek says:

    Let me stick a bug in all this. First off the viewers that out at this time was made just for second life and as LL try to make better viewers it seems more then working in any way with opensim.
    so there needs to be new viewers just for opensim that will work better with HG and HG Database systems.
    Next a HG quick index system that the viewer and opensim database can make calls to.
    this can be used to make the mapwork better plus cut down on overlapping grids.
    this is why in the past at Linden lab office hours i did say we need to rethink the UUID system to have a marker pointing back to the server data comes from.
    working with other grids and not cutting each other off just to try and make money will not help the HG in the long run its time to think what path is every one taking for the good of all.
    it is just a matter of time befor all grids start to go this way and work with each other.
    if we start to work on it now in the years to come we will have built a all new better working system for every one.

  10. This was one of the first OpenSim-specific fixes in Imprudence, and also the first commit we ever had to revert, as it broke regular teleporting. Unfortunately, the bug is a lot more complicated than just getting a sim to rez. Several people investigated the issue but couldn't find an obvious fix. If anyone wants to give it a shot, I'd love to help 'em out with getting used to the viewer so we could have it in Imprudence. This is one of those bugs that I've always wanted to see us fix! Cheers!

  11. Most of us have lived in the shadow of SL and LL for way to long. It is time to branch out, fly off the edge of the nest and stand on your own two feet. OSGrid is a wonderful place, full of knowledgable smart people, excellent designers, kind generous folks. Its time we shine ourselves up and become the GRID of all grids. Lots of hard work and time go into OSGrid. I've seen the dedication put into OSGrids developement, and know they aren't slackers. The lifestyle we osgridders adapt is a free lifestyle. Free from most constraints many grids place on it's users

  12. Offhand I would be very surprised if it is impossible to fix this "feature" without breaking SL compatibility and regular teleports. Please say more about why this might be so. If a 2**12 limit is strewn all over the code then it is already broken and needs fixing badly just on the grounds of poor coding practice. Why do we even need what is effectively a 2D array layout at the heart of everything anyway? Why not a more flexible set of arbitrary links between regions and more arbitrary unique keys for finding any particular region in a grid? Compatibility with the old scheme would then be supported by using the alternate old-school index pair as an alternate key. Or am I totally off-base?