Grid numbers double in 2012

The number of public OpenSim grids has more than doubled in 2012, from 98 at the start of the year, to 232 grids active this month.

Total active OpenSim grids, as of end of December 2012.

Here are some reasons why this is happening.

Easier setup from established hosting providers

Companies like Dreamhost Metaverse, SimHost, Virtual Reality, and many others are rapidly gaining experience and improving both support and user interfaces for their clients.

Virtual Reality, for example, hosts AnSky, Urban Nation, and Ice Grid, according to company CEO Oliver Fannar Gray.

Dreamhost Metaverse hosts hundreds of grids, including AviWorlds, AviWereld, Metaverse Concept, The Microverse, and the NOBLE educational grids for the Forsyth School District in Georgia.

Easier self hosting with simple distributions

Nicely packaged versions of OpenSim such as New World Studio, Sim-on-a-Stick and the Diva Distro offer quick and easy ways to set up minigrids. All can be configured to be accessible via the Internet, or via the hypergrid, or both.

Many small grids are set up this way, including Iti Motu Resort, Pathlandia, 3dcolab, Adrianopolis, the University of Bolton grid, Troppo Club, and HewittSim.

Even some larger grids, like the 74-region Savage Grid, the 35-region Rutgers University grid, the 22-region Sanctuary grid, or the 27-region Ignis Fatuus grid, take advantage of some of this functionality.

Increased stability and performance

For many applications, OpenSim meets or exceeds the stability and features available in Second Life. Schools and companies setting up their own grids, for example, can ensure adequate server capacity for their needs, combined with full control, privacy, and full backups.

In particular, this year we’ve seen the quick spread of Vivox voice through the OpenSim metaverse. Voice is a must-have for many business and educational applications, and Vivox is the gold standard of voice in virtual worlds. It is also the same system used in Second Life, so works with all Second Life-compatible viewers.

Name-brand users speak up

Organizations are starting to speak up about how they’re using OpenSim. Georgia’s Forsyth School District has issued press releases and talked with Hypergrid Business and other publications about how and why they created their grid.

Most recently, the US Army’s Research Laboratory Simulation and Training Technology Center went public about its experience with its MOSES OpenSim grid.

As more and more organizations report success with their OpenSim projects, it becomes easier for others to follow in their footsteps.

More ready-made content available for new grids

Moving content from Second Life to OpenSim can be difficult, if not impossible. In the past, content that was available in OpenSim was often of dubious provenance, distributed without clear license terms, or obviously copybotted from Second Life by hackers.

Today, companies, non-profits and educational institutions have several places to get clearly licensed content for their OpenSim grids. Linda Kellie, for example, has 20 complete regions available in the form of OAR files. These regions are fully landscaped and stocked with buildings, plants and freebie stores. She also has thousands of items — individual objects, textures, scripts, animations, and more — available for individual download or in the form of IAR — inventory archive — files. Her content is original creations, licensed with no rights reserved, to use or modify in any way imaginable.

Other creators are sharing their content on OpenSim Creations, typically with Creative Commons licenses. And some creators are setting up commercial storefronts, such as Total Avatar Shop, which can deliver purchases directly to private grids.

The availability of clearly licensed content allows private grids to be set up quickly and easily, with no worries about copyright infringement lawsuits. Many hosting providers will even upload ready-made content, such as Linda Kellie’s Freebie Mall region, when they first set up a grid for their customers.

Gateway grids

There are now a number of successful and busy OpenSim grids. InWorldz reports thousands of active users each month. Kitely can put you in your own region, for free, in just a couple of minutes.

As the number of people on any OpenSim grid increases, so does overall familiarity with OpenSim as a platform.

Some of these users then head back to their schools, companies, or non-profits and recommend OpenSim as a platform for enterprise projects. Or they go home and set up their own grids, for themselves, their families, their friends, and their communities.

At the start of this year, there were around 10,000 active users on those grids that reported these numbers. Today, according to the latest data, there are more than 19,000 on the 232 public grids.

Better promotion and marketing

One other reason that the number of public grids has doubled over the past year could be that the grids are getting easier to find.

Grid owners are contacting Hypergrid Business with opening announcements, adding themselves to the OpenSimulator’s Wiki Grid List, putting up a gate from The Hypergates, and including themselves in the Metaverse Ink search engine.

They are also paying attention to whether their grids can be found by Google, which is useful for journalists using Google Alerts to keep an eye on grid developments.

Related Posts'

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.

22 Responses

  1. Ener Hax says:

    great post – thanks Maria! =)

  2.' Gaga says:

    Good post, Maria. And a Happy New Year to you.

    I gave the post a plug on Opensim Virtual, my G+ community…

    It’s not how many regions that count but the many actual grids for each
    has a small community of enthusiastic world builders, many of whom
    would probably be building regions in Second Life under greater
    restriction and considerably more expense. And each new grid that opens
    means more information about the open Metaverse will be flowing across
    the Internet and social networks.

    Here is a link to Virtual Christine’s blog which I think is a great account on one person’s first year on the open Metaverse…

  3.' Minethere says:

    Good article Maria-)) I would also like to post this link to a site that offers some value in getting content to people

    A simple interface tho i do not know how well .xml files will work there. It ties into paypal also. Their customer service is excellent also.

    I really see opensim growing exponentially in 2013. Just from what little I have been able to see, there is so much already to do. Closed commercial grids, imo, will only offer a place to sell and the rest of the metaverse will be for exploring vw as it should be, with freedom from exorbitant costs, low prim allowances, saving one’s efforts in the form of OARs and IARs and meeting some really wonderful like-minded people.

    Personally I am really enjoying meeting people in various country-oriented hypergated grids, such as Metropolis and Francogrid. The amazing amount of talent and friendliness makes my poor heart sing with joy-))

    And then exploring the places you have in hyperica I find tons of great [email protected] upper and lower

    Thank you for that-)) [looks for more time now]

    •' SnootsDwagon says:

      Minethere: “Closed commercial grids, imo, will only offer a place to sell and the rest of the metaverse will be for exploring vw as it should be, with
      freedom from exorbitant costs, low prim allowances, saving one’s efforts
      in the form of OARs and IARs and meeting some really wonderful
      like-minded people.”

      yaawwwwwwwwnnnn…. ; )

  4.' Guest says:

    removed repetition..very sorry

  5.' Guest says:

    removed repetition..very sorry

  6.' SnootsDwagon says:

    I gotta question. I looked at the list of grids… and what came to mind is “What defines a grid?”

    Since some are so small, I wonder at what point something ceases being a hobbyist’s pasttime and becomes “grid”. For example, I could set up SoaS as a 16-sim “grid” and add the software to allow people to sign up and play and build on it. I could have members, 10 people using it regularly as a kind of family of builders. But am I a “grid”? With 16 regions on a home computer and 10 friends as members?

    For example above, you mentioned some of the “larger grids” and mentioned a “grid” with 22 regions. Elf Clan is a group on Inworldz Grid with almost 50 regions; as such, we have more regions and activity than the majority of “grids” out there. We’re not a grid of course, because we’re part of the Inworldz grid. But can an installation that is smaller than even an average group really be classified as a “grid”? (Not making aspersions at all… just asking a conceptual question).

    The concept: someone playing football once a week down at the park does not make him a “football player” (ie, a professional hired by a team and making a living at it). So do we consider something a “grid” that’s smaller than my Simonastick installation and is run out of a basement?

    In cities, to open up a business one has to have a business and tax license. If they do they’re officially a business. If they don’t… they’re a hobby. So what do we define as a “grid”? Not trying to stir da pot at all; just asking an honest question. Ty in advance for any responses. : )

    •' SnootsDwagon says:

      Follow-up: btw, I enjoyed reading: “For many applications, OpenSim meets or exceeds the stability and features available in Second Life.” It’s nice to see someone recognize that Second Life… despite their toys and bells and whistles, is not the most stable grid in the world and doesn’t have the most features. Now while I’m not sure I agree with your statement totally (nor do I disagree)… it is an interesting statement for thought. I’ve said to others that Inworldz is more stable than Second Life and they didn’t believe me– but I know it is from experience*. The thought that OpenSim itself may in some ways be more stable than SL validates what all of us are trying to do here. : )

      * re Inworldz is more stable than SL:
      I can work on Inworldz all day, but crash on SL within 30 minutes
      On SL group chat and group notices don’t work and haven’t for years
      How many times have we lost inventory on Second Life?
      The lag caused by the Mono scripting engine is turrble
      … etc etc etc

  7.' SnootsDwagon says:

    This is why I ask question about “what is a grid?”. If we’re going to state “grid numbers double” we should at least have a definition of what makes a grid a grid… and what it is that’s “doubling”. I kinda question someone saying “I’m a grid” really qualifies it, especially considering some of the sizes on that “grid” list. ; )

    • No business license is required for many businesses in the U.S. — all you need to do is file a Schedule C if you make enough money at the end of the year. (Sorry, I’m working on my taxes now, so this is top of mind!)

      For the purposes of Hypergrid Business, what defines a public grid is that people can either teleport in via hypergrid, or create an account and log in directly.

      So if you have a 16-region minigrid running on a USB stick, and you’ve enabled hypergrid teleports, then I have no problem listing it as a grid. Chances are, however, that it won’t show up anywhere in the rankings. But we might index it on Hyperica if you have something of interest to visit there — a museum, an art installation, a nice shop, a race course, a virtual farming game, what have you.

      •' watcher64 says:

        Personally I would not define something as a grid , unless they are actually running in “grid mode” , which is a clear distinction in the software as what is a grid and what is not … Standalones linked to the HG are not truly “grids” while some may have many regions, they are by the software’s definition not a grid. I am very glad to see the growth, my only concern is , educating the public on the Metaverse … I am not going to say anything against closed or commercial grids, but I have met people on some of those grids who don’t even know what the HG is .. I think you have SL refugees that see the “size” (which does not always equate to better), of some of the closed grids and think, “OH a replacement for SL”, and never look around the Metaverse. (my point being that some of the closed grids take advantage of the fact that some do not know about the HG and of course for monetary reasons will not tell them.)

        • I call them “mini-grids.” After all, they do look and act like grids. Some get pretty big. You can create your own avatar, etc…

          But, more importantly, from a visitor’s perspective, you can’t really tell the difference.

          Sure, you could say, it’s only four regions, and it uses the Wifi interface. It’s obviously a Diva mini-grid. But then, you also have 100-regions-plus-sized grids using the Wifi interface.

          So then you’re back to size. And, personally, I don’t think a small grid is necessarily better or worse than a large grid. Like I said, a school or museum or shopping mall or company headquarters could be a very worthwhile destination for a visit, but might not be that large in area. Yes, social grids do better with size and traffic.But that’s just one small category of grids — like Facebook is only one kind of website.

          •' watcher64 says:

            Exactly what I said “Personally”, not disputing your definition , just not agreeing with it .. 😉 But I think it is hard to dismiss the fact of the way the software is designed, you don’t call a horse a chicken just because it hangs out with chickens. (now if the statistics said “Hypergrid linked sims” that is a different story)

        •' Linda says:


          Your comment “Personally I would not define something as a grid , unless they are actually running in “grid mode”” makes total sense to me. That is the simple way to look at it. Sometimes we look too deep.

          How do we know if someone is running in grid mode though?

          •' watcher64 says:

            It is actually relatively easy, i don’t have the specifics in front of me right now, but when the server is queried for info, it returns specific information, and with that you can determine what it is running . But it is really an esoteric situation, it is all just a matter of interpretation.

          •' Linda says:

            Well this is what I posted on another blog about this topic:

            I have always viewed it as Grids are like Countries and the regions within them are like states. So this prompted me to visit and apparently there are some really tiny countries so I guess we can have some really tiny virtual countries (grids) too.

          •' Gaga says:

            Now that is something I can agree with easily. Thank you Linda

    •' Gaga says:

      Snoots. I am sure you know how the Opensim platform code works. It simulates a grid map to which virtual regions can be connected and located by coordinates. Thus, a grid can have one or very many regions. It doesn’t need any more definition than that but I rather suspect all this questioning you are doing is just a subtle attempt to diminish the significant’s of the Open Metaverse in comparison to a closed commercial grid like Inworldz which, of course, is your virtual home. It doesn’t matter whether a small standalone grid has one or a hundred supporters because the fact that it exists at all represents a virtual presence in the Metaverse.

      If you come clean and say what you really mean, Snoots then we can get to your point which is that you think people are wasting their time with these back street garage outfits when Inworldz offers a highly developed world – at a price – that really deserves to be called a grid. You don’t see any point in hypergrid connectivity and you will readily dismiss it as insecure I’m sure. Inworldz exists behind an iron curtain like Second Life of course and content is very secure (is it?). Inworldz has the largest active community you will argue no doubt. You will dismiss the, collectively, larger community of inter connecting grids that represents the free Metaverse I’m equally sure. Fact is though a whole bunch of people disagree with you and are not interested in paying for Inworldz closed grid services simply because they are enjoying lower costs and the freedom to travel the Metaverse to meet up with friends here there and every where on their own little grids. The Metaverse is just like the 2D web in 3D form really. People can click a teleport link just like a web link and be taken to the new location on another grid. This makes it possible for lots of small grids like web pages to form their own connections and communities without meeting the excessive charges levied by close monopolies like Second Life. Inworldz might have made some great advances but so too has Opensim which serves via it’s hypergrid protocol to bring together both large and small worlds including all those rubbishy little garage outfits people build with pride and joy.

      •' Minethere says:

        As is often the case, Gaga sees things clearly-)) People who try to hide behind snide, snippy comments are only fooling those who feel the same…this kind of talk will never effect many ppl who know better and are seen for what they are.

        Personally, I find his comments tiresome, but you should know tho he yawned below, he actually did a blog on my comment, in his own little fifedome blog, knowing full well I could not respond since he recently removed comments I made in it due to his parochial tunnel-vision and I no longer comment there, as a result. I am totally disinterested in being a part of any blog site that censors it’s dissenting commentors as it speaks volumes to their lack of basic honor.

        I firmly believe that ppl who wish to live in glass houses, should be ready for any rocks to be thrown-))

        Ppl should be forthright and willing to accept other peoples opinions and debate in an honest and open fashion, if they so desire, doing otherwise, while saying they do, is obvious to others, and as such they deserve no respect whatsoever.

      •' SnootsDwagon says:

        I’m going to be a little un-dwagony in this comment and get right to the point.

        Minethere, you seem to have a pattern of insisting on things going your way and if they don’t go your way, you start a smear campaign on whomever you make your target. You cop an attitude then blame others when the consequences hit. I’m sorry that’s the case– but how you choose to conduct your activities is not my fault, nor are the consequences.

        Your post was removed from the Elf Clan site because you have been conducting a smear campaign against Inworldz for several months– wherever you can. Already knowing better, you brought that attitude to our group blog. You had already been told such would not be welcome. Even when you crossed that line, the post was simply deleted and you were privately told why. You in turn replied with a vicious personal attack the likes of which I could only call a hate-tantrum… just as you have done with me on this blog (but considerably worse). That resulted in your being removed from the group.

        Our Charter stipulates honor, repsect, friendship. It states clearly: No drama, zero tolerance. It was evident that you were just using Elf Clan to further your personal war against Inworldz. You were putting your own vendetta ahead of the welfare of our group… and when you were asked to not do so, you became hateful and insulting. That’s why you were removed from Elf Clan. The fault was yours, no one else’s.

        If you conducted yourself and spoke with the Founders of Inworldz the way you spoke in your Elf Clan PMs– it’s not surprising they banned you. Despite the fact our group cut you every slack possible– you just kept getting worse and worse, until other users were complaining. So you can blame us for that just like you blame Inworldz, but we didn’t cop the attitude either there… or here. It’s always someone else’s fault, right?

        Gaga, you judge me wrongly and unfairly and without any evidence to support your opinion. I have noticed you are often very adversarial on blog comments throughout the Metaverse. Your post is insulting and based on your own opinions rather than any facts, so let me set that post straight.

        I said exactly what I meant. Since the title of this blog is “Grids double in 2012″… I wanted to know the definition of a “grid” and how those statistics were arrived at, nothing more. I think others are wondering the same thing. That was my only motive, there were no ulterior motives. Your charges were unwarranted.

        I have nothing against OpenSim, OSgrid, the HyperGrid or any other grid. I have publicly stated I support grids that give people an option to the exceptionally expensive and oppressive Second Life environment. I have stated publicly– in blogs on the Elf Clan site– that these grids are not competitors or opposed to one another… but rather are complimentary, with each filling a specific need (feel free to read there– it’s open reading for anyone who cares to:

        I have stated that there are some who require the openness and freedom of OSgrid, while others prefer the security and stability of Inworldz. I have stated– publicly– that OSgrid and Sim on a Stick provides people a chance to experience owning a sim who could never otherwise do so. So no Gaga, I am not against grids other than Inworldz. As I have stated, “This is a big pie and there’s enough here for all.”

        I use Inworldz and that is where I have made my home. I am fully aware of its advantages– and disadvantages. It’s certainly no “iron curtain” grid as you stated. Inworldz is very friendly, progressive and helpful to its users. We can come and go as we please, we can export our builds (unlike Second Life), we can import builds, and we have the added stability, security and power Inworldz offers. No one is on Inworldz against their will– as the term “iron curtain” implies.

        That stated, just because I prefer Inworldz doesn’t mean I’m against other grids. They are not mutually exclusive concepts. I just visited 3rd Rock the other day and had a nice email conversation with the people there. I appreciate their vision and approach and wished them well. As for Hypergrid… I do see its value. Just because I don’t personally use it (yes, I don’t trust its “security”)… doesn’t mean I don’t see its value. Is it the future of inter-grid travel? Only time will tell. You’re welcome to your visions– I see alternatives.

        So let me say this plainly: you accuse me of bigotry in the area of Virtual Worlds when in truth, it’s you and Minethere who badmouth grids you don’t particularly like. You present commercial grids and OpenSim grids as adversarial and infer bad motive where none exists. You refer to Inworldz as a “closed grid” and an “iron curtain” world when in reality it is simply a business– one that is very progressive, friendly with its customers, stable and actually employs professional developers. But it’s obvious people like Inworldz. So any feelings of spite or anger or upset you or Minethere have against Inworldz is based on your personal opinions– not the reality of the Metaverse.

        Now, you can both troll da dwagon all you wish. You can attack people’s motives and impose your opinions and label me all you want– but I’m here to learn more about Virtual Reality and what is shaping these worlds. I’m interested in the future of all Virtual Worlds, including Inworldz, OSgrid, Hypergrid, and OpenSim itself. I just asked a simple question. You went off on the rant.

        I asked that question because this blog is basing statistical analysis on the term “grid”. I’d consider Maria as “expert” as anyone else regarding the Metaverse and as entitled to her opinions as I am… which is why I presented this question here, on her blog. But that doesn’t mean I have to accept her opinion as gospel– or that I’m a Metaverse bigot because I consider that answer too generic to explain what we’re experiencing in the Metaverse today.

        Gaga, Minethere, people who know me know I’m basically a friendly person. People also know you two seem to thrive on picking fights. You unfairly attack me, without provocation of any sort. I don’t know what it is in my simple question that prompted your viciousness… but such is totally unwarranted. Do you two always have to be at conflict with someone? Does it give you some sort of perverse thrill to always be adversarial?

        Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll leave this pissing contest and go back to having fun.

        •' Gaga says:

          Well thank you Snoots for that long winded tirade. No one ever won an argument by boring everyone into submission with so much twisting of things to suit your argument. You really are an accomplished propagandist! You see I am here responding not just to your comments on this blog but from so many places I have had the misfortune to read your novelettes, and under several names I might add. It is always the same with you. You are just too sickly nice as you sling your mud. I think you even kid your self that is not what you are doing. You can’t help but sing the praises of Inworldz while attacking Opensim and other grids time and again then twist it all back when called out and ask, Who me? Not I, says Snoots or which ever alt name you are using at the time. Tis those drama queens causing all the trouble. Get real Snoots! No one is fooled.

          Personally, speaking for myself, I have been kind to Inworldz for over a year and blogged positively because Tranquility knew how to speak to me and explain things in a sane manner without resulting to twisting facts one way then another to suit an argument as you do. He never felt the need to call people bigots either. I think you really are a liability to Inworldz trying to start grid wars like this. You should go back to Inworldz and run your clan and slow down a little. It’s doubtful people read much more than your first paragraph anyway if truth be known. I think they know by now where you are coming from.

          I really shouldn’t aurgue with you. It just invites another long winded fiction from you. You should save all that wind for Elf Clan.

          •' SnootsDwagon says:

            Gaga, you want a short answer, here da short answer:

            I usually try to be friendly and helpful to people. But you and Minethere attack me personally on a blog for simply asking a question, then you paint me as the villain for replying and defending my position? That’s pretty typical drama / troll tactics.