Free Open University offers free OpenSim hosting

Note: See comments below for some warnings.

It’s been in the works for a couple of years now, and finally launched quietly last month — now the Free Open Grid project from Free Open University hopes to get 200,000 schools into OpenSim.

As part of its initial push, the group offers free regions for anyone, whether or not education-related. The only exception is elementary schools — Free Open Grid is currently working on creating a secure virtual private network to support the safety requirements of younger students.

Those looking to find out more about the free region offer can email [email protected] or hypergrid teleport to the grid’s welcome region at (upper) and friend or IM the avatar named Free Regions.

Free Open Grid’s welcome region.

The free regions can be set up as standalones or attached to large open grids like ScienceSim and FrancoGrid. OSGrid is not currently supported.

They can also attached to Free Open Grid-sponsored minigrids. The project typically deploys 25-region mini-grids using the Diva Distro distribution of OpenSim, with megaregions disabled.

Megaregions is an OpenSim feature that makes many regions look like a single region to the viewer, eliminating border crossing issues. The downside, however, it is that it becomes harder to save backups of the individual regions as OAR files.

The technical specs of the free regions vary, since Free Open Grid has a number of different kinds of servers with different configurations.

Scott Provost

“The free regions service is like a box of chocolates,” said Scott Provost, the administrator for Free Open University.

If there are problems, the regions can be moved to another server, he added.

Free Open Grid is currently hosting around 1,000 regions, though not all regions are up all the time.

The project is fully self-funded by its academic backers, Provost told Hypergrid Business. The group is not accepting donations, government support, or grants from other universities.




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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.

28 Responses

  1.' Lani Global says:

    Scott got himself banned from OSGrid for impersonating OSGrid management and other things.
    Interesting to see Scott Provost’s claim of “1000 regions”. It is likely that those claimed regions are what he enticed unsuspecting OSGrid noobs into while he was giving away “Free Regions”. He sat trolling in Lbsa Plaza every day in OSGrid, and it turned out that all 1000 regions were on the same server. Perhaps he should rename his grid to “Lag City”. 

    If it seems too good to be true, perhaps it is.

    Sorry to rain on the parade. 

  2. Good to know the Commercial grids are still all about making money. Finally a grid that just wants to share the technology with all.

  3. graymills says:

    Sorry, not impressed.

  4. As with any free or low-cost hosting offer, some precautions should be taken.

    * Get plenty of OAR exports. These are backups of an entire region. If the hosting company doesn’t offer OARs, save as many of your creations as you can through the export feature of the Imprudence viewer. Or find another host.

    * Get IAR exports. These are backups of an avatar’s entire inventory. IF IAR exports are not availalbe for OARs are, keep copies of your key possessions in a box. 

    * You should also, whenever possible, use an avatar from a large, established grid. For example, when I play around with my home-hosted mini-grid, I don’t log in directly but teleport in from OSGrid. If I ever decide to move that mini-grid to a real host, I’ll just upload the OAR files and teleport over with my OSGrid avatar.

    * If you need a service level agreement or support, expect to pay for it.

    * Don’t plan to use free or super low-cost regions for mission-critical meetings or events — well, this is true for all regions everywhere, actually. So … don’t use them for semi-important meetings then until you’ve had a history with the host and know they’re reliable. And, even then, have a backup plan, such as an alternate date, alternate location, or alternate platform (such as Skype) if things go wrong.

    •' Ilan Tochner says:

       Hi Maria,

      I can think of one big commercial OpenSim grid that provides free and low cost hosting and is robust enough for mission-critical meetings… Kitely also doesn’t require you to log into your worlds from another grid. 🙂

    •' Lani Global says:

      I befriended Scott when he first arrived in OSGrid in 2011. He started out very nice while in his “Professor Packinrat” avatar. I even contributed some custom builds to one of his “university” projects. But soon Scott ran into odd networking bugs with his server interactions that he as mistook as malicious attacks. This led to paranoia, and the creation of his “Free Regions” avatar, and his “rage against the machine” vendetta. By the time he was banned, his story was almost like a parallel to The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

  5.' Linda Kellie says:

    Although this sounds really nice on the surface I don’t get it. Anyone can host a free region on OSGrid simply by downloading the OpenSim software and setting it up on their computer and probably have it run smoother than this guy will do. Your article makes it sound like this is some sort of first. There are plenty of people who give out free regions on OSGrid and on other grids too. Hell I even host a couple for friends for free. When I started OSG I was given free regions to use.
    Also never ask this man to load any of my OARs on his grid because from what I hear he refuses to do that stating the fact that too much of my content is out there already. So apparently there is some sort of agenda he has yet I don’t know what it is.
    I spoke with him once about the fact that I thought his sitting at LBSA Plaza in a grim reaper like avatar and trying to promote free regions yet not giving any explanation why made him look like a scammer. His response was that he wanted people to see him that way. Made no sense to me so maybe he would like to reply here and explain some of this. He did, however, have a ton of conspiracy theories about the paid hosting companies within OSGrid. Maybe he would like to talk on that issue as well. 
    I don’t trust this man as far as I could throw him. He try’s to rally people to boycott any paid commercial grids which to me shows an agenda as well. 
    Please note that all of the above statement is only my opinion from my experiences with him on the OSGrid  

    •' John Sheppard/Nielsen says:

      What Linda said. I’m one of those that hosted with him for about 1.5 months. And he refused to load Linda’s oars. I also never got oars from him. 

  6.' hippie says:

    Please remove this. As most of us know better, he has a problem.


    • I’m leaving the article up, in case anyone Googles it and wants to know more about the project — these comments should provide adequate warning for people. (I’ll add a note to the top so they don’t miss it.)

  7.' MD says:

    Scott Provost is not an educator. He often spoke in lbsa plaza about beginning an underground illegal education system as an University. Scott Provost will just make real educators look bad with such actions. 

    •' Linda Kellie says:

      I just went back and looked at my IM history and found a comment the “Free Regions” avatar made to me in OSGrid. Of course remember this is  taken out of a whole long conversation that I don’t feel should be posted here. But he said … and I quote “All universities and Colleges Train people to do commercial activity. Even Fake Illegal Undeground Universities like Free Open U”. When I told him I didn’t know what Free Open U was he directed me to this page… I might be getting this mixed up but I am pretty sure that’s Scott Provost’s page for his Free Open University … it goes to the same page that Maria points to from this article. 
      So is it or isn’t it a “Fake Illegal Underground University” like he stated to me?

      •' MD says:

        I see it as aFake Illegal Underground University. This open university has no accrediation or any other for profit or other academic institution supporting its efforts. 

  8. Revel Peters says:

    I dont normally post much controversial but they are using plain wiffi on a connection that looks like its on his home pc using the wrong ports?   I dont know this person but as someone who is pretty quick at judging what can be shady this looks shady.    Is he datamining or something? 

  9.' Bea says:

    Sorry but this man is very scary.

  10. Key Gruin says:

    Maria? Your first sentence sounds like you have followed Scott for a couple years now, and that you are excited about the news finally being out. News? Are reporters supposed to have credibility detectors, or do they just repeat what they’ve been told? Did you ask him why OSGrid was not included?

    • Key —

      I’ve been talking to Scott by phone about this project for a couple of years now, and this is the first time they’ve had something concrete to offer, so yeah, I was excited to finally have something to write up. 

      I hadn’t heard about any of the problems (until now!).

      And, aside from the quality and other issues mentioned in these comments, I  also haven’t heard of this organization doing anything deliberately malicious.

      There are scammers out there doing malicious things (virtual stock exchanges, anyone?) but they’re in it for the money.

      With a free service, it’s hard to see malicious intent — and there are lots easier ways to do data mining than giving away free land. 

      •' Linda Kellie says:

        I’m not sure I read your response right Maria. This man might be giving free regions away on his new grid just as he did on OSGrid but he does make money at this. He charges or at least did on OSGrid – To quote his avatar profile ” If you are an NGO   or a Not for Profit Org we provide 40 region instances for $39 per month and Hosted Grids for $100 per month plus $1 per per  region over 40.” And then he also told me that he makes money teaching people to be gridmasters. So I am assuming he uses the free regions as a connection and a way to draw people in. This in itself is not wrong. But don’t think he does this totally for free out of the goodness of his heart because that may or may not be the case. And if you read my other comments you will see where he states that his university is illegal and fake. 

  11.' Freeopenuniversity says:

    The Servers are on commercial connections with committed information rates and SLA’s. Processor to user ration is good and performance OK for non OSGrid regions. OSGrid was excluded because of high incidence of hacking. The openness of OSGrid could be the cause of this. We like the openness and recommend OSGrid and their staff highly.
    As a training ground and software testing ground OSGrid is great. It is simply not economical for us to provide free regions there when the Diva distro and Hyper-grid meet the need at less cost.

    •' Nebadon Izumi says:

      For the record there was never one incidence of “Hacking” reported to the OSgrid volunteers or admins by Scott, Scott in fact has done nothing but spread lies about the grid Administrators and Operations and done nothing but confuse users and offer substandard services from what I could tell, at the time of his account being banned he was running 157 regions on 1 physical server.  We had literally received well over 100 complaints from OSgrid users about his actions false claims and accusations about grid administration and affiliations.

  12.' hippie says:

     Why promote a hacker like Scott Provost, he tried to convince me that osgrid was being hacked from a Turkish vps that englishgrid was using. He had me tracing them and thats when i found out the truth about Scott Provost.

  13.' Linda Kellie says:

    I felt the need to add another comment here. I don’t want this man to feel like we are trying to beat him up here. But many people, including myself, have some concerns. It would be nice for Scott to answer some simple questions like who his academic backers are and why he is doing this. What’s in it for him? I guess most people will assume there is a catch when something is given away free. I know because I get asked all the time why I give stuff away free. Once I explain my reasons people feel better. 
    And mostly what I don’t understand is the 200,000 schools thing. Why does he want to get them all there and is he going to host them all? And if he is doing this to get schools in OpenSim then why give free regions to just anyone and why does his profile say he charges for non-profits (which I am assuming are schools).
    If  everything is legit then he will have no problem answering these questions. He sure wouldn’t answer them to me in world when I tried to get this information out of him.

  14.' Boba Solo says:

    I would like to say that there many out there with mental illness using Opensim to live there life in there own way, What scares me is some have the ablility to take many folks with them down the pit and it makes me very sad to see how this one turns out. First time in three years for me to see such Drama spread across the metaverce. I know first hand seen first hand the hardship that will follow with anyone putting all there eggs in one basket. Ask when the disability started or when the checks stop. I am frightened just to make a comment here,..Really, but take note: This to shall pass.

  15.' Ener Hax says:

    interesting story and very interesting coments! i don’t know anything about Scott but his free university site has loads of broken links when you look at courses. his site is a moodle site that you can easily install freely through most webhosts (godaddy, hostgatro, mediatemple)

    i don’t know why anyone with a serious project would ever put themselves into something like this unless they were friends. getting your own server is small money compared to SL or a very inexpensive and reputable host would be Kitely!