How to install OpenSim

OpenSim is a free, open-source platform for creating immersive, 3D virtual worlds. The user interface looks almost exactly like Second Life.

The OpenSim software comes in two major parts. The viewers allow you to explore OpenSim worlds, while the server software allows you to create your own world.

I want to explore OpenSim worlds

The current recommended viewer for OpenSim is Firestorm.

You will also need to create a user account on an OpenSim grid.

If you are interested in an account on a grid that allows you to travel throughout the metaverse, try Kitely.

Follow the instructions to create a new account and log into Kitely for the first time. To travel to other OpenSim virtual worlds — more than 150 at last count — pull up the Map window (CTRL-M) and past the destination’s hypergrid address into the search field, hit the “Search” button and then press “Teleport.” The Hyperica directory lists hundreds of hypergrid destinations. Also check out the Hypergrid Destinations Google Plus community.

The Hypergrid Safari visits the Hyperica hyperport.

The Hypergrid Safari visits the Hyperica hyperport.

I want to create a small, free virtual world for myself or my friends

If you are looking for a small world — up to 256 virtual acres of land– set up a mini-grid with Sim-on-a-Stick.

This installer sets up the virtual world servers, its associated MySQL database and the Apache Web server. Then use the Firestorm viewer from above to enter your world.

You will be able to use your new avatar to travel to other grids as well, and have residents of other grids visit your world, if your home network is properly configured. More details here.

Sim-on-a-Stick's Ener Hax.

Sim-on-a-Stick’s Ener Hax.

I want to create a big world where I can rent out land

You will need the full grid version of OpenSim, which you can download from

The mini-grid version of OpenSim runs all regions and central grid services inside a single server — more exactly, within a single instance of OpenSim. As a result, it can only get as big as that one server can handle.

The full version of OpenSim uses separate servers for the central grid services and for the regions, allowing a grid to scale indefinitely. However, configuration can be tricky. Read the instructions here.

OpenSim full grid architecture. (Image courtesy

OpenSim full grid architecture. (Image courtesy

I changed my mind and would rather pay someone to do that for me

OpenSim regions equivalent in size and performance to standard Second Life regions start at just $5 a month (compared to $300 a month on Second Life). With no setup fees. (Compared to the $1,000 setup fee on Second Life.)

If you want someone to run a whole grid for you, prices start at $25 a month for central grid services, and then regular rates would apply for the regions you want to have on the grid.

Renting regions instead of running them at home means that you can have more visitors on a region, and someone else takes care of backups and maintenance. Outsourcing full grid management allows grid owners to focus on creating content, building the community, and marketing their grids instead of dealing with the technology.

Check out the full list of OpenSim hosting providers here. Or just browse through the bargain-priced vendors or the editors’ picks.

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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.

26 Responses

  1.' Bryan French says:

    “The current recommended viewer for OpenSim is Firestorm.”
    According to who? Do you have a resource to back up that statement? Or is the recomended viewer the journalist’s opinion of what is recommended?

    Dreamland, Allegro, recommend Imprudence on their websites
    Exo-Life recommends Imprudence, Dolphin, and Radgast
    Metropolis lists Hippo, Cool VL, Imprudence, and Radgast in that order. Firestorm is listed under “other viewers”
    3rd Rock recommends Cool VL and is the only one they link to
    Adreans World lists Rainbow and Hippo
    Avatopia lists Singularity, Firestorm, and Kokua in that order.
    Astraliacraft, AnSky Grid, Contepomi,
    link to Firestorm
    Avination uses it’s own viewer
    BunnehGrid, links only to Singularity
    Avacon links to Singularity and Radgast
    Craft World- CoolVL, Firestorm, Singularity, Kokua, in that order
    Digigrids-Singularity and Kokua
    Dracsoom lists 12 viewers
    Fleep Grid, Singularity
    Great Canadian Grid, Singularity
    Infinite Grid links to Meta7 Viewer
    Inworldz, uses their own viewer
    Islands of Enlightenment, Imprudence
    Island Oasis, Imprudence and Hippo
    Jokaydia Grid-Singularity, Imprudence, Firestorm, in that order
    JOpenSim, Singularity
    Kitely, Firestorm
    Meet Instantly, Firestorm
    Metacosmo uses its own viewer
    Lost Paradise, Singularity, Kokua, Firestorm, Replex in that order
    My First Life, Hippo, Phoenix, Imprudence, in that order
    Neuland, Imprudence
    New Genres Grid, Singularity
    New World, Kokua and Singularity
    New Zealand Virtual, Imprudence (recomended) Firestorm & Hippo listed after Imprudence
    Ocean Grid lists 6 viewers
    OpenSim RU, Avimania Viewer
    OSGrid, Singularity, Replex, Kokua, Firestorm, Radgast in that order
    Rawhide, Firestorm or Singularity is recommended
    Skylife, Singularity or Firestorm
    SimValley Firestorm or Singularity
    Spellscape, Firestorm, Kokua, Singularity, in that order
    Tangle Grid, Replex, Singularity, Kokua, Imprudence, CoolVL, Firestorm, VooDoo, listed in that order
    Tertiary Grid “However, at this time the SL viewer appears to be the most stable. ”
    Virtual Worlds Grid, Singularity, Kokua, Firestorm in that order
    World DC, Firestorm
    Yaps, Phoenix and Firestorm
    Zandramas, Singularity
    Virtual Highway, CoolVL, CtrlAltStudio, Singularity, Firestorm, in that order
    Virtual Life, uses their own viewer

    The rest of the grid webpages were down, wifi pages, or had no viewer listed.

    • Yes. I recommend it.

      I recommend starting out with Firestorm and Kitely. Once OSgrid is back up, I’ll recommend starting out in Firestorm and OSgrid.

      Firestorm is the most widely used viewer. Individual creators, grid owners, and users might prefer or recommend others — and I, for one, have several viewers right on my launch bar that I use for different purposes. But if a new person is coming to me asking for ONE recommendation, I’ll say Firestorm.

      The only reason I’d recommend a less popular viewer over Firestorm to newcomers is if that viewer offered some significant advantages. For example, if Singularity’s “export” permissions were widely adopted by OpenSim grids — and the only way to see what the permission was, or to change that permission on your own creations was to use the Singularity viewer — then that is the viewer I would recommend.

      •' Minethere says:

        dunno, “if Singularity’s “export” permissions were widely adopted by OpenSim grids — and the only way to see what the permission was, or to change that permission on your own creations was to use the Singularity viewer — ”

        that would seem to me to be the perfect reason TO NOT use it-)))

        • The permission is programmed to work on the server. So, regardless of what viewer you’re using, you won’t be able to take “no export” content to other grids. You’ll get an error message of some kind, like you get now with Kitely (though they have a different export mechanism implemented).

          And you’ll just get blank spaces when you try to save an OAR file where the “no export” content is supposed to be.

    • But very nice survey of recommendations — can you please email me? I want to talk to you about turning this is into a small article. [email protected].

    •' Geir Nøklebye says:

      Replex / Singularity is a better viewer. Cool viewer is not bad either. Firestorm is a hodgepodge and quite messy actually, so far down the list.

    •' Zandramas Grid says:

      We at Zandramas actually suggest people use either latest Firestorm or Singularity, we have been wanting to get on the Firestorm Gird list to make it easier for residents to get in to Zandramas but for some reason we still haven’t been added to it. The majority of our users are using Firestorm – We also have web-enabled search that seems to work better on Firestorm Viewer for some reason.

  2.' AviWorlds says:

    Look I could be wrong but selling regions too cheap gives me the impression that the vendor is going to stack up too many regions in one server in order to make the profit on it. The quality will be very poor ….So if you are in the market for a region you must take that into consideration.
    Most vendors have not yet updated their pages regarding what viewer to be used? Maybe that why?

    •' Zandramas Grid says:

      I don’t 100% agree with this, I believe that if it is managed right and on very good performing hardware then it is possible to give a good quality service. it also depends on how you have things set up, I have seen some very low priced regions available at a lot of places in the metaverse that run pretty top notch.

      •' AviWorlds says:

        Yes I agree Zandramas Grid…but you cannot ignore the FACTs that if you are going to run it in a VERY GOOD perfoming HARDWARE it will COST MONEY..All I am saying is that if it COSTS you money you will TRY to place as many SIMS into that VERY GOOD HARDWARE in order to make up the cost.
        Yes people can offer LOW priced sims in a very good hardware and lose money. Thats their choice. But not a very good business choice if you want to make money or generate a profit.
        Yes you can offer all that even if you are loosing money. I am not talking about if it is possible or not. Just saying that it is only NATURAL that the grid which is offering that promotional price will try to FIT in as many sims on an INSTANCE (after 2 sims on the same instance the performance goes down) and also in the same GOOD PERFORMING HARDWARE.

        •' Zandramas Grid says:

          I have seen some very amazing prices for servers for example VersaWeb located in Las Vegas from time to time runs specials like 12 core + hyperthreadding you get a extra core, Intel Xeon Processor “enterprise level performance” 128GB ram 2TB dual HD unmetered gigabit port bandwidth for as low as 99/month when you catch the special offers. With a dream machine like that you could run a lot of regions, as a grid owner I am sure you very well aware of needing a lot of RAM for regions. If you think about it at 99/month a grid owner could lease out two regions at 50 bucks a pop to cover the cost of the monthly server costs and then lease out the rest at lower cost sims, making a profit and as long as they are managing the machine and not overloading it then there are no issues. With all that ram and CPU your pretty much able to do a lot.

          •' AviWorlds says:

            Yes. But regardless of the amount it costs; the higher the region price is the better results u are going to get from it. If I charge 100 dollars for a region; u bet I will make sure it has the quality and power. But if I charge u 4 dollars for a region Im not obligated to give u the same quality and power that a 100 dollars region has.
            It is just that simple.
            I would prefer to run my region at home if I could.

          • im sorry but uumm what? your home connection got the speed for that alex? need at least 100 megs a second both for uploading and download. On top of that for a grid your size your asset computer needs about 500GB of harddrive space.

          •' AviWorlds says:

            No Chriatopher im no longer using my home based server.
            I have my server in a data center now.
            48 gig.ram 4 tb ssd, 5 ghrtz, 8 core processor, 220 upload speed.
            Thats my servers config. now.

          • oh wow that sounds like a OVH server in montreal, congrats 🙂 maybe there is hope for aviworlds to stay online this time.

          •' AviWorlds says:

            I have been trying to do that for about 4 years. Thats the objective.
            Never wanted to quit it. Thanks 🙂

          • yea we all can tell. “i give up” like a month later “AviWorlds is back. FEED IT!” two months later “i give up again” 1 month later “AviWorlds is back and better then ever before” Sorry alex but its a recurring thing with you 😛 its ok thought, its hard running a grid on your own without any previous knowledge or skills on maintaining a opensim base grid. I’m sure even Linden Labs run into major problems with SL, they just have a way of not letting us residents see it.

          •' AviWorlds says:

            I understand what you are saying. I am not ashamed of getting up and trying again. Thats all Christopher. And I am not here to make a point either. I love the game and that is what drives me.

          •' Cinder Biscuits says:

            Feed your imagination, Alex! Feed it!

  3.' Cinder Biscuits says:

    While Firestorm is, indeed, the only viewer there with all it’s boxes ticked on the list (the bulk of which is work I did for the viewer) it’s worth pointing out that the only one Singularity lacks is Parcel Windlight, which is not an OpenSimulator feature, it’s a Phoenix feature. Singularity also includes support for a few more minor OpenSim features than are listed, ones which are lacking in Firestorm, such as OpenSim Destination Guide.

  4.' Bill Needham says:

    i LOVE FIRSTORM best vier out there

  5.' Bill Needham says:

    ive used singularity it sucks is basic viewer if your old ……….Firestorm has alot more options for us littler nerds hehehehe