Free OpenSim in a snap

Running OpenSim on your home computer in, in theory, a great way to have as much virtual land as you want — for free.

In practice, it can take quite a bit of time and effort to set it up. I normally have my teenage daughter do it, but with each passing year, she gets more and more sullen and resentful.

The Diva Distro is a big improvement, but you have to download the right files from github and then follow a complex configuration procedure.

Ener Hax’s Sim-on-a-Stick makes the process easier by packaging everything up nicely, but it’s still not a no-brainer.

Today, I tried out New World Grid’s New World Studio, available in English, French and Italian versions. Wow, what an improvement!

First of all, it installs like a packaged software executable. You download it, click on it, it installs everything it needs and puts a nice icon on your desktop. You click the icon, enter your grid’s name, your avatar name and password, decide whether you want your world public or not, and click on the big green “Click to Start” button.

The New World Studio management panel.

It automatically does all the nasty stuff — configuring databases, installing the WiFi system, and loading up OpenSim. I followed the New World Studio QuickStart guide to help me set it up. Though it was hardly needed — the few steps there were, were pretty much self-explanatory

Now all you need to do is run Imprudence (or your viewer of choice), select “localhost” from the grid list, and log in.

After downloading — I swear I’m not kidding — I had my four-region world up in just a couple of minutes.

To shut down, click the big red button that say “Click to stop” in the New World Grid console. It shuts down OpenSim. To start it up again, click that “Start” button — you only have to enter your avatar information the first time.

The OpenSim command console itself. Why does a 3D virtual environment use a DOS-era command line interface? Oh, my eyes, my eyes.

You still have the OpenSim console open in the background, in case you want to load up OAR files – check out LindaKellie’s — or level the terrain.

For example, to load up Linda Kellie’s Boardwalk region, type the following into the OpenSim console:

load oar http://www.lindakellie.com/Creations/boardwalk.tgz

To change the default tiny island to a nice, flat region, type the following:

terrain fill 22 

You can find more OpenSim server commands here.

It even gave me the Diva Distro WiFi panel — which I’ve never been able to successfully set up on my own before. The WiFi panel is a way for outsiders to get information about your grid over the Web, to create or change their user accounts, or just to see how many regions you have up.

It also gives the login URI at the bottom of the page — which doubles as your grid’s hypergrid address.

My WiFi page.

So, a couple of clicks and I was in-world on my pimple island. Now I wanted to travel the hypergrid. After a restart, I turned connectivity on in the New World Grid console and could teleport to my company grid and to OSGrid. But I couldn’t come back. Other people could teleport in — but they couldn’t get out.

Apparently, the automatic port forwarding and router configuring that New World Studio sets up doesn’t work for my router.

I searched for answers on the New World Studio’s connectivity wiki. I went to PortForward.com and found my router and forwarded my ports, and followed their instructions for setting up a static IP address for Windows 7. I even set up my Windows Loopback Adapter. I also checked the New World Studio support forums, where Chrome kindly translated those postings that were in French for me. (New World Grid is based in France.) Nothing worked — plus, I lost my Internet connection a couple of times and had to go back a step.

After a couple of hours, I gave up, and wrote this review. Tomorrow, I might try downloading and using the New World Studio Loopback Installer. Or re-configure and re-forward all my ports again.

Bottom line

If you’re looking for OpenSim to run locally, New World Studio is fantastic and I highly, highly recommend it. Highly. The only caveat is that if you’re going to be using it to create OAR files to upload to other grids — like Kitely — you’ll want to work with independent regions rather than the four-region megaregion. It’s easy enough — simply create a new region in the console by typing in:

create region RegionName 

You’ll be asked to choose region coordinates and … voila … you’ll have a fifth region on your mini-grid. Go in with your viewer, and do your thing. When you’re ready to save it as an OAR file, do the following:

change region RegionName
save oar
c:/Documents/FileName.oar 

You’ll need to change the address of the OAR based on where you want it to be saved. More information about saving OARs — including preserving creator names with the “-home” option — is on the OpenSimulator wiki OAR page.

Correction: Adding regions to an OpenSim instance that already has megaregions doesn’t work. Instead, you will have to go into the .INI files and turn off the megaregions before you do any building, by setting CombineContiguousRegions to false.

On my machine, the files were located at C:\Program Files (x86)\Virtus France Association\New World Studio\opensim\diva-r15592\bin\config-include\MyWorld.ini

In the first [Startup] section of the file, add this line:

CombineContiguousRegions=false

Right before the [DatabaseService] section.

While you’re in this file, you can browse through to see what other settings you can change. For example, you can set OutboundPermission to False by deleting the semicolon in front of that line.  People will still be able to teleport to your regions, but they won’t be able to take any content out with them. (But it could also mean that when you yourself teleport out, you show up naked.)

If you have Windows 7, remember to run Notepad as administrator (right-click Notepad in your Start menu, select “Run as administrator”) in order to be able to edit and save the file.

Working on your own gets lonely.

You can still try out New World Studio. It might work with your router, in which case you’ll be traveling the metaverse in a couple of minutes.

Otherwise, be prepared to manually configure your router and your ports.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I teleported over to OSGrid’s LBSA Plaza, where there are always kind people ready to help out — that’s how I found about the loopback adapter. Other resources include the OpenSim Live Chat channel on IRC, the OSGrid IRC chat channel, and the OSGrid Forums.

Or you could pay 25 Euros an hour for premium support from Virrea, the company behind the New World Studio. You can also download the same software — though called Virrea Studio instead of New World Studio, and without the nice installer — from the Virrea website as well.

Wishlist

Some improvements I’d like to see added to New World Studio are some simple management tasks, such as creating and deleting regions, and loading and saving OAR files, so that most folks would never have to go into the OpenSim server command console at all.

I’d also like to see an upgrade button — right now, you have to go into your Program Files folder, find the Virtus France Association folder, go to New World Studio, then the opensim folder, then the diva-r15592 folder (the number might change), then the bin folder, and run the upgrade.exe program. Make sure to save OAR backups of your regions before upgrading, just in case.

The upgrade issue is particularly important right now because there’s a new version of the Diva Distro has just been released with OpenSim 0.7.3, with some nice fixes and improvements — including NPCs. The New World Studio, however, hasn’t been updated since last summer.

The folks at New World Grid — including New World Studio creator Olish Newman — are having a meeting on March 21 to discuss future developments. The meeting is open to the public — and New World Grid is on the hypergrid, so you don’t even need a new avatar. The meeting will be on the Welcome region, hypergrid address grid.newworldgrid.com:8002 (upper).

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maria@hypergridbusiness.com'

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.

  • Great posting! Good to hear NWG is back on track again. This was the first opensim grid I had my regions on back in 2009 but I gave up after a while due to loopback problems and other issues I couldnt solve. But I had 9 regions on NWG for a while =))
    I have loopback atm in Osgrid too so I will look into this Loop back adapter as I use an old XP as server. Thanks!

  • I’m definitely going to check it out.

    I wonder what sort of problems using a mobility ISP device instead of a router will cause *grins*

  • ah, very nice but it is an installer. i create InstallShield packages for eLearning and have thought of doing that with sim-on-a-stick. BUT (and it’s a big one), an EXE sometimes needs admin rights to run it. sim-on-a-stick came out of the corporate environment that both myself and subQuark deal with. he uses this for corporate work as well as workshops where people’s laptops are often locked down (for example, last year doing a workshop for some eLearning Guild people a few people were unable to install even very simple EXEs like sizer)

    so that’s the dealio with SoaS and, with that said, the New World Studio is an incredibly cool project!

    my big thing is wanting people to access OpenSim as easily as possible and New World Studio is certainly easier on a home machine than SoaS is! (btw, i made a video of how to start SoaS and need to make one stepping back farther now that i have read your post

    lol, this comment is basically going to be a post on my blog!!! =D

    thanks Maria, this is an awesome offering that i for sure will promote!

    well done New World Studio!  =)

  • John Sheppard

    Thank you for your comments/reporting on this! this looks great

  • Just gave it a quick checkout. Installed, loaded and ran smoothly and quickly. VERY easy to use! I only spent a couple of minutes, so didn’t try to connect to anyone. Just went for a basic, minimal setup. It also comes with both male and female avatars, so no Ruth. The only problem was that I remained a cloudy once I logged in. Easily fixed by creating and wearing eyes.

    There’s a couple of features I would like. As you said Maria, you need to use the console to load and save OARs, so adding buttons for that would be good. Same for IARs and for adding/deleting regions. But all in good time. I’ll be passing those on to them as feedback.

  • As someone who has been using this a lot yes it works.  Its not perfect like any pieces of software its always under development and needs love and care.  I find it to be a wonderful tool especially if your a hobbyist or want somewhere to design things for use elsewhere

  • Pam Broviak

    I have really wanted to try this out, but each time I do, it never works because I am on Vista. I’ve even tried following their instructions for Vista users but still no luck – this time it says it is because it can’t start the MySQL service. Maybe one day when I finally upgrade my OS, I can finally get it to work (or if I can overcome what is most likely operator error!)

    • I’m on Vista as well and had no problem at all. Vista 32-bit Service Pack 1 (Build 6001) in fact. Hmmmm …. make sure your system is fully updated? Perhaps one of Vista’s ‘security’ features is interfering, such as Data Execution Prevention. I had that problem getting ICE Chat to work. With DEP, you may have to set New World Studio as an exception.

      • Pam Broviak

        Thanks for the suggestions Sarge – I checked the DEP and I didn’t have it on for those programs. I thought then maybe it was Norton’s firewall so I added to the allowed list all the exe files listed in the troubleshooting section. Still no luck. I have 64-bit service pack 2 running and have had this problem before with programs. It is really frustrating but have had no time to upgrade to Win 7. Maybe I just need to make the time to do that.

  • Its not fully compatible with vista there is an issue with it and Olish has not found a solution.   I usually tell people to downgrade or upgrade.  If your using a 32 bit system use windows xp if your on a 64 bit system better to upgrade to windows 7.  Not the best answer in the world however the issue appears from what I understand to be on the microsoft end 🙂 

    • I must’ve got lucky 😀 Either that or its all the little tweaks I’ve done and open source replacements I’ve made to my system. Take that Micro$oft!!

  • I just read the story.  I saw the management panel image, and noticed the BOINC tab and got all excited!  I use BOINC to participate in the Milky Way Galaxy project on my Vista desktop.  That was a dream to install.  It can be on many PCs, and they all coordinate with each other to optimize processor usage.  I’m going to seriously consider installing this, as all I’m doing with the Vista machine is running the Milky Way project.  I’d love to have my own open sim, eventually!

  • Alexander Duncan

    Thanks for this recommnendation. I was able to get a four region area going according to the software, but only one huge region appears. Although it appears to be set up as four squares, changing the estate in one square changes the terrain for the whole square, except for terrain, which is not able to be changed except in one square. I was also able to connect to the public New World grid after several failures by turning off my Firewall, running the connection software with Public ticked, and then turning the Firewall on again after it successfully configured the router. Now my question is – where do I get my hypergrid address to give to others to connect to me through their viewer?

    • Alexander — Your hypergrid address is 
      24.246.86.158:9000.

      What folks do is have a domain name that points to it — or a free domain name from something like dyndns — so your visitors don’t have to type in all those numbers! 

      Also, that IP address is probably given to you by your ISP, and they reassign it once in a while, or your modem might reset and grab a new IP address. Having a DYNDNS setup means that you can easily change the IP address the domain name points to (in fact, dyndns will do this automatically for you) so your visitors can still find you.

      Your land issues are due to the fact that the New World Studio is, by default, set up as a single megaregion. You can create new, single regions that aren’t part of the megaregion, or you can go into the .INI files and turn off the megaregion settings. I would like this to be an option in the next release of New World Studio — sometimes, you feel like having a megaregion, sometimes, you don’t! 

    • hi alexander yes its a mega region so its actually one large region instead of 4 regions.    The hypergrid address is on the panel with the tab “opensim” on it if you want further info go to the new world grid forums there is a link in the wiki and there is instructions written some english (some french) depending on who wrote them hehe.    The region is not actually connected to new world grid its a standalone region where you hypergrid out .   To create 4 regions there are instructions on the new world grid forums and myself I have made some videos (and still am making videos) The nws install if you dont alter it runs as a single mega region which makes it great because there are no real sim boundaries to cross.  It uses the diva install of opensim.   🙂

  • Timothy Rogers

    They seem to just making it easier and easier to use opensim. I am glad about this, because it will help people feel more comfortable using the platform.

  • Running great on Windows 7.  Unfortunately, I’m basically behind a corporate firewall in my dorm room so I’m not going to be hypergridding or connecting to any outside grids any time soon.  I only use local OS to test animations and mesh before I upload it to $L.

    The one thing that confuses me in New World Studio is the community chat option.  I enabled it, so how do I chat on community chat?  I don’t have any groups set up that I know of and nobody responds to me in main chat.

  • Update: I installed a free piece of software from the folks at Port Forward that sets up a static IP address on my computer, and now folks can hypergrid teleport in, and I can teleport out.

    http://portforward.com/help/setup_static_ip_address.htm 

    Very cool!

    But I can’t log in from the other computers in my house — this is known as the NAT Loopback problem. I’ll try some of the recommended fixes and see if they work.

  • after getting all excited about new world studio they went out of business lol

  • Dolores Foxclaw

    @Guest They’re back, although for a fee. Early adopters get to vote on features. The cost seems reasonable enough ($21 for home use.) I’m going to purchase, because I have a Mac, and darned if I’m going to go through the pain of having Windows running virtually on my machine. Been there, done that! 😉