Firestorm viewer to support OpenSim

Firestorm will have support for OpenSim grids, the developers announced today.

Firestorm is a third-party viewer that can be used to access Linden Lab’s Second Life grid, and which also has some existing support for OpenSim grids, as well.

(Image courtesy Firestorm Viewer.)

However, licensing issues have forced Linden Lab to restrict third-party users to just Second Life, or risk losing access to new pathfinding technology from Havok.

“We’ve thought about that and decided we’re going to offer two versions of Firestorm,” wrote lead developer Jessica Lyon. “One for Second Life with pathfinding Havok goodness, and one for other grids without Havok.”

Lyon added that Armin Weatherwax, a developer best known for work on the Impudence and Teapot viewers, has joined the team.

Currently, any Second Life viewer can be used to access OpenSim grids by editing the path of the viewer shortcut on the desktop. This isn’t something an average user should be asked to do, however.

Imprudence, Teapot, Zen, Hippo, and other viewers designed for use with OpenSim, however, have built-in grid selectors that allow users to easily choose a grid from a list of popular worlds, or add their own.

Currently, Firestorm offers only limited grid selection capability, and it can be hard to find. Users have to go to preferences, to the advance menu, and check “Allow login to other grids.” The list of grids is limited, though you can add more by pasting the loginuri into the grid name field. The process isn’t as obvious and straightforward as with other viewers, however.

OpenSim also differs from Second Life in some technical areas. For example, it allows bigger prims, and more prims on each region. OpenSim grids also have different search functionality than Second Life, different currencies, and differently stored profiles. Most grids do not charge for texture uploads. Viewers optimized to work with OpenSim allow for this variation, and remove the “Second Life” branding from throughout the viewer.

In other plans, Firestorm will soon also offer more skins and skin customization improvements, new Windlight effects, improved functionality to estate tools, improved mouselook functionality, and more features, Lyon wrote.

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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.

  • Sounds good. Any estimate on when the OpenSim version will become available?

  • hack13

    It is about time!

  • This is such an important and promising development. Many kudos to the Phoenix/Firestorm team.

  • This is great news. Changing and adding the loginuri by hand is terrible for the users, a good grid manager would be very helpfull.
    Nick – 3DLES

  • I’ve been testing different viewers because I just can’t seem to pull myself away from Imprudence and the V1 layout. Because of building and designing clothing and doing  it for hours and hours each day I am pretty set in my ways. But I need a viewer that can see mesh (mainly because some dear friends want me to see mesh lol).
    Firestorm seems to be the best choice for me. I figured out, with the help of Timothy Rogers (Timothy Hoxley in OSGrid) how to make my firestorm look and act more like the layout that I am use to. He made up this page with a small, easy to follow, tutorial http://s6.cyberwrld.net/ffo.pdf. 
    So I am glad to hear this news of firestorm supporting OpenSim.
    And Congratulations to Armin Weatherwax for joining the team. Or maybe I should say congratulations to firestorm for obtaining such a talent as Armin is.

    • That’s why I created the Index of Viewers, Linda, so people can at least short-list their selections. http://excelsior-station.wikidot.com/misfit-s-index-of-viewers-miv

      I’m like you in having stuck with Imp all this time. But I keep running into the lack of sculpties being available for my needs, so its time to use mesh. And using mesh is inevitable, isn’t it? Anyway, I switched over to Phoenix and look forward to the next release of Firestorm.

      • Thanks for the link Sarge. That is a very useful page so I shared it via twitter. I’m on Firestorm now and I did the little tutorial that Tim made up so that it looks and acts like Phoenix. So far everything is wonderful for me but it has a different “feel”. It’s not lag but it feels like my avatar is walking through thicker air… if that makes any sense. I guess I just need to get used to whatever it is. 
        And I am not pro-mesh. I hate that something was introduced that makes everything more complicated. But it seems to be here to stay. So if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. 🙂

        • Yep, not pro-mesh, wither. The prim is the basic building block and is useable by anyone and everyone, regardless of skill level or learning.

          Btw, I’ve been checking out Niran’s a bit more the last day or two and it looks like I may switch to that for using on my Workshop. Mesh, .001 nanoprims, some really good graphics capabilities while Phoenix/Firestorm allows only .01 nano. Its UI is v3 but that also seems to be the way the metaverse is going.

  • Wordfromthe Wise

    if they would support Windlight/Lightshare settings this would really rock .. 

  • I have been using Firestorm to travel into Second Life and Kitely for some time now. After a short adjustment period, I have been using it rather than Imprudence as my primary viewer.

  • I have been using Firestorm in OpenSim for many weeks also.  Something seems odd about this article or I am seriously out of the loop.  There are two different versions of Firestorm?  So far I am using the same one in SecondLife and in OpenSim.   Why would Havok, which as nothing to do with SecondLife, insist on limiting viewers that can use it?  I am missing something here. 

    Firestorm has an XML file that you can add other grids to get them into the list.  Not as user friendly as it could be of course.  

    • Serendipity —

      The issue is that SL is planning to over Havok pathfinding to third party viewer devs — but only as long as the viewers can only be used to access Second Life. Which I can understand — it costs money to license Havok code, and why should Linden Lab subsidize competing grids? If other grids want Havok, they can go license it themselves.

      So. Assuming that other grids are NOT about to license Havok, viewer developers have to make a choice — do they make an OpenSim-friendly viewer and ignore Second Life, where most of their users are? Do they say “no, thank you” to the cool new Havok pathfinding and keep going the way they are? Or do they grab the Havok pathfinding goodness and forget the crazy open source fanatics over at OpenSim?

      Firestorm devs decided to be nice to everybody, and have a viewer with Havok pathfinding for the Second Life masses, and a version without the Havok pathfinding code for OpenSim.

      Which is very nice of them. 

      You can read more about this issue here:

      http://www.hypergridbusiness.com/2012/04/new-linden-policy-may-hurt-viewer-development/ 

      • How would they  be subsidizing competing grids at all as that viewer code would be useless in grids that did not have the Havok engine, right?  I don’t think the functionality in question in enabled by the viewer alone.  

        If the above is true then I don’t see why it is in the interest of the Havok folks to have this restriction.   If anything it would make it more likely that users of non-SL grids would be pushing their grids to use Havok and thus more likely lead to an increase in their business.   I do see why it is in SL’s interest to have this restriction however.  

        Hmm.  I suppose the Havok folks could see it as more likely that alternate server side Havok-like support would be developed considering the availability of Havok capable viewers.  

        In practice how are viewers going to be restricted?  Is there a clause that says that Havok supporting viewers cannot fall back to work otherwise on grids that do not have Havok?  Or is it simply implicit in the nature of the code?

        I do think the Firestorm devs are being very nice to everyone.  And very wise from a business perspective. 

        • I don’t anyone knows how they’re going to enforce it.
          For example, I regularly use the standard Second Life viewer inside OpenSim (or did, until Zen and Teapot came out with v3 compatibility).

          All you have to do is edit the shortcut path. Okay, it always takes me a few tries to get it right, but it’s not impossible. Will Linden Lab do away with the ability to log into multiple grids by editing the path? 

          Or it will be enough for them that a viewer not have overt OpenSim support — like a grid selector right there front and center on the login screen, reminding everyone that they could be over in OpenSim, instead, paying $30 a month for a region instead of $300.

        • Arielle Popstar

          Possibly because Havok does offer  free licensing for certain cases even if commercial.
          http://www.havok.com/strike
          Perhaps it can be used in conjunction with the viewer code to give Opensim what Secondlife has to pay for.