Avination, Diva work on hypergrid permissions

There are two approaches to hypergrid content security currently being discussed by OpenSim developers and grid owners — the first, using the existing permissions system, is embraced by grids like Kitely looking to roll out something quickly.

But the other approach — to create a brand-new permission that allows content to be exported from a grid — just took a big step forward.

In late March, hypergrid inventor Crista Lopes met for a three-day working session with OpenSim core developer Melanie Thielker to hash out the basics of the new system, Hypergrid 2.0.

Lopes, Thielker in Germany at the offices of software company Careminster Ltd. (Image courtesy Avination.)

Lopes is also a professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine and the creator of the Diva Distro distribution of OpenSim, and Thielker is CEO of London-based Avination Virtual Ltd. and founder of the Avination grid.

According to Thielker, Hypergrid 2.0 builds on the “suitcase” feature added in Hypergrid 1.5. The “suitcase” is an inventory folder that isolates certain assets so that the rest can’t be accessed by rogue grids. With Hypergrid 2.0, only items with the new permission set will be able to be added to the “suitcase” and taken to other grids.

In addition, Hypergrid 2.0 will put additional controls in the hands of grid owners, such as the ability to prevent users from rezzing items from the “suitcase” that they have brought home from other grids. Grid owners can also keep appearance assets from traveling to other grids.

“Hypergrid 2.0 will be a comprehensively secured and highly configurable system, that will let creators sleep soundly, knowing their creations are safe,” Thielker said in a statement.

Hypergrid 2.0 will work with existing Second Life and OpenSim-compatible viewers.

Reusing existing permission settings, the way Kitely has already done with OAR exports and plans to do soon with hypergrid travel, would be significantly easier because it requires no changes to the way permissions work. Kitely checks to see that each object has copy and transfer permissions before saving it to an OAR file. The company has also donated the code to OpenSim, so that any grid can add its own combination of permission checks before exporting regions.

But this approach has its disadvantages, as well.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea to reuse the copy and transfer permission concepts that were thought out for exchanges of assets within grids,” Lopes told Hypergrid Business. “Some people may tag objects as copyable and transferable assuming that they will still be inside the grid, not outside.”

That’s why a new permission is needed, she said.

“For that, we need to extend the asset server with that kind of information, as well as give the users an interface to be able to express it on a per-object basis,” she added.

According to Lopes the new technology won’t be ready this quarter, but may be done sometime this summer.

This isn’t the first time other developers have contributed to the hypergrid effort, she added, including  Jonathan Freeman, Intel’s Mic Bowman, “BlueWall” and “Snoopy.”

However, Thielker has been her main collaborator on the hypergrid effort, she said. “Melanie has been involved in the design since very early on, even when she had no plans to ever use it. I credit Melanie for significant contributions to the architecture.”

The collaboration has been purely technical, Lopes added — there is no business relationship, nor non-agreements between them. But Lopes added that she knows that there are business reasons for Avination to be looking at the hypergrid.

” From where I stand, it’s great to see commercial grids starting to show an interest in decentralization, and getting serious on helping shape the policies for user and asset exchanges,” she said.

 

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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.

  • If this discussed Hypergrid 2.0 functionality is implemented as part of the default OpenSim code base and works with people’s existing viewers then we will be happy to adopt it on Kitely as well.

  • WhiteStar Magic

    This is where “Export Flagging” would be useful.  

    If Export = YES then object/asset can go HG, be exported XML, saved in OAR /IAR.
    If Export = NO, no transfer to HG, No IAR/OAR or viewer XML exports.

    too simple ?

  • I would be very interested to see how this proposed interoperability would work with very large systems that pull binary data out of the database and store in the file system.  Knowing the asset UUID’s it is possible to harvest those assets without even using a client…  How are permissions preserved in this case?

    • At the end of the day, the permission system is another kind of DRM (Digital Rights Management). And, so far, no DRM system has been able to protect content against determined hackers. Movies, music, software, you name it — it gets cracked almost before it’s released. (Sometimes, in fact, before it’s released.)

      Where DRM plays a role is in keeping honest users honest. 

      Some industries have started moving beyond DRM — iTunes, for example, sells DRM-free music these days, as does Amazon. The idea is that honest people are going to pay for their music anyway, and DRM just makes life less convenient for these paying customers, while doing little to stop the hackers. 

      What Hypergrid 2.0 will do is give grid owners and content creators more choices. 

      Previously, there were three choices — totally private (only insiders can log in, often hosted behind a school or company firewall), closed (public can create accounts, but no automatic OAR exports, no hypergrid, or self-connected regions) or open (OAR exports, hypergrid, etc..)

      Hypergrid 2.0 allows more options, allowing grids to set up content protection while also allowing travel and communication with other grids. Now that we have hypergrid groups and hypergrid instant messages and hypergrid friends, this communication will become increasingly important.

      • In addition to the respect for intellectual property rights, I am also very interested in maintaining operational security to resist hacking, theft of assets, and even some forms of griefing.  This is the main reason I have not allowed a hypergrid connection to the MOSES project.

  • Jayhre

    Christa rules …Just sayin’….

  • It’s good to know Crista and Melanie are working on HG2. I recall Melanie saying early last year she would be meeting Crista when she made a planned visit to the US to discuss HG2. Melanie said then Avination would open up to Hypergrid once they had the content security. I thought that would happen towards to end of 2011. That was wrong but it is good to learn they are aiming for this summer and I think it is now quite urgent with the growth of HG connected standalones and new start up grids looking to do business in a growing market. If it takes a semi-walled garden approach to make it happen then I can live with that.

    Avination probably needs to open up anyway since they have been loosing traffic and land. And yet they have some good solid services, quality content and top name vendors. It would be good to be able to travel to Avination with my avatar to socialize and do some shopping for items that, subject to permissions, I can bring away to use in OSgrid, Kitely or even on my own standalone.

    I still don’t know how they are going to make it work but I look forward to anything that works well enough to give confidence to more vendors to take a chance on Opensim and Hypergrid before LL makes it virtually impossible to use an SL compatible viewer to access both platforms.

    We know LL is out to kill OS off but I think there is a good chance that will back fire on them and Opensim will finally go it’s own way and still take a huge chunk of SL traffic with them.