Kokua’s new release is focused on OpenSim


imprudence logoThe Kokua Viewer team has released an OpenSim-friendly version of their viewer this week, and 3rd Rock Grid is set as the default grid in the grid manager.

Other grids included are Craft, InWorldz, Kitely, FrancoGrid, OSgrid, SirinHGpole, Spellscape, and Tangle. Users can also add their own grids, as well. Full list of active OpenSim grids and the loginURIs are here.

Default login screen on the new release of the Kokua Viewer.

Default login screen on the new release of the Kokua Viewer.

The viewer can also be used to access Second Life, but the new low-impact simplified Jelly Doll avatar views are not supported, according to the release announcement.

Why an OpenSim-focused viewer?

Geir Nøklebye

Geir Nøklebye

“My own first realization that a change to the viewer in the direction of pure OpenSim support came at the announcement of Sansar, and the fact that the client for Sansar would be close sourced,” Xmir grid founder Geir Nøklebye, who is also known as Gavin Hird in-world, told Hypergrid Business. He is also a developer on the Kokua project.

“The next realization came last fall when Linden Lab announced they would no longer develop the Linux version of the viewer,” he added.

Then, in the spring, Linden Lab announced that hey would turn off fundamental communication protocols and messages the viewer used with OpenSim, he said.

Mac users were also having problems with image quality, due to changes on Apple’s end that weren’t reflected in the viewer code.

“I thought the timing was right to make a split,” he said. “It also turned out that Linden Labs had done a significant amount of development to prepare this since early 2015 without us knowing anything about it, and the barrage of code changes they released was simply too overwhelming to be integrated into one functional viewer in a short timespan.”

The new release includes some minor improvements, but the next release will actually remove some Second Life-specific functionality like experience keys, pathfinding, and the Second Life Marketplace.

“We can remove some code duplication, and finally it means we can start to add to, and refine OpenSim functionality,” he said. “At least for the time being it also means we need to keep a sharp eye on the Second Life viewer so we don’t loose content compatibility.”

Kokua doesn’t have the user base of some other viewers, like Firestorm, which is the viewer recommended by most grids, as well as by Hypergrid Business, and is the most popular viewer in both OpenSim and Second Life.

The new release isn’t intended to compete with those viewers head-on.

“The Kokua viewer does not have all the bells and whistles of Firestorm or even the Singularity viewers,”  said Nøklebye. “But takes a solid ground in providing a great set of tools wrapped up in an interface that is familiar to the majority of Second Life users, and increasingly OpenSim users.”

Logging in to Kitely with the new Kokua Viewer.

Logging in to Kitely with the new Kokua Viewer.

Some users prefer to Kokua viewer for particular tasks, and Nøklebye himself is one of those users.

“For someone who started out with a version 1 interface viewer, Kokua became the least frustrating version 2 viewer for me, and it increasingly grew on me where I can do most building, traveling and grid management task comfortably without being overwhelmed by the interface,” he said. “Many users find the Firestorm user experience overwhelming. Kokua tries to keep it simpler but still much richer and satisfying than the standard Second Life viewer.”

Kokua also supports the new OpenSim-only “Export” permission setting, first developed by Avination and Singularity in 2013.

Other differences between Kokua and Firestorm is that Kokua does not have radar functionality, a viewer-based pose stand, or a way to backup the settings, which some people use during a viewer upgrade. The Kokua viewer also only has the most-used chat commands, a single skin, and fewer preferences, adding Kokua developer Nicky Perian.

“We try to be good neighbors to all third-party viewer projects,” Perian added.”Sometimes we fail and then try to make amends and move on.”

Kokua also has full support for the “Restrained Love” roleplaying functionality. The main viewer that supports it, Marine Kelly’s Restrained Love Viewer, only has a Windows version.

“So we bring Linux and macOS support, complementing her releases,” Nøklebye said.

In addition, Nøklebye, as the owner of an OpenSim grid, is particularly interested in OpenSim development.

“Firestorm’s target audience is Second Life users where they have a very significant user base of over 450,000 users,” he said. “Their OpenSim base is tiny in comparison, so they will focus less on OpenSim.”

3rd Rock Grid is the default grid because that grid has supported the viewer team by providing a region, and by listing it on their viewer download page, through Firestorm is the recommended viewer.

Grids that want their own pre-configured version of the Kokua viewer, or a version of the viewer without the Restrained Love support, can contact the developers.

Different people with different systems get different results with different viewers, 3rd Rock Grid spokeswoman Tara Dockery, who is also known as Thoria Millgrove in-world, told Hypergrid Business.

“What works well for one person ends up being completely unworkable for another,” she said. “I personally have primarily used Kokua, and Imprudence before it, on my Ubuntu Linux laptop, my Mac Mini, and my Windows tower, almost since Imprudence first came out. It’s nice to be able to use the same viewer on all three platforms, and have found it to be utterly reliable and much kinder than Firestorm on the limited resources of the laptop. Over the years I have also tried a lot of other viewers, but I have not found one that has convinced me to permanently leave Kokua. I have not tried KokuaOS viewer yet, and so I cannot at all speak to its capabilities, but I will certainly be testing it this week.”


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.

  • Just a comment to this that needs clarification in the story “ Mac users were also having problems with image quality, due to changes on Apple’s end that weren’t reflected in the viewer code.”

    Before OS X 10.6 Apple used a system gamme of 1.8, which also their monitors were calibrated to. By the time 10.6 was released the rest of the industry had settled for a system gamma of 2.2, so with the 10.6 release Apple changed to 2.2 also.

    The macOS version of all viewers has up to this day been coded with a gamma of 1.8 despite the switch to 2.2 in 2008. This has resulted in a washed out color tonal range for the macOS version of viewers compared to the Linux and Windows versions that is set to use gamma of 2.2.

    The code change is very small, but with the new version(s) of Kokua for macOS also using gamma of 2.2, which the monitors are calibrated for, the scene will look richer, more saturated, with deeper blacks, and finally look the same as on the other platforms. This is particularly important for developers – their creations look the same across all the 3 platforms supported by many viewers.

    • Cinder Biscuits

      This is not true. The gamma setting you changed only applies to png’s. ie. Most of the UI, nothing to do with the 3D world.

    • Justin Time

      I downloaded and installed the “TEST” version KoKuaOS from 3rd Rock Grid and found the viewer quite robust when used inworld on 3rD Rock Grid. Since the viewer is still in Beta, there were some features missing. I personally liked what I saw and was able to easily install and run the viewer in a Windows 10 environment. I had absolutely no issues with textures, prim, or mesh renderings. I did notice that all textures tended to blur then update often. I am not sure if the blur and update are a Windows 10 intrusion or something the viewer itself may be responsible for.

      • I can’t say we have everything running optimal for Windows 10 yet, but you can try this workaround and see if it improves your situation.

        – Texture thrashing may occur at a clean install or settings wipe due to texture memory being set at maximum. This does not occur on all GPU cards. The workaround is simple; Open Preferences->Graphics->Hardware and while observing the scene lower the Texture memory (MB) slider until texture thrashing stops.

        There should be new test builds during the weekend with a number of bug fixes.

        • Justin Time

          Good suggestion XMIR Grid… but throttling texture memory may indeed reduce viewer performance when entering (rendering) a region for the first time, or so I would expect. I noticed the “thrashing” while on an empty region void of anything but one textured prim. The GPU at the time was an nVidia GTX 960 reference unit if that is any help. I will support your suggestion and look forward to improvements.

          • The Linden Labs rendering code (that all viewers use), is essentially constructed to top out at 512 MB texture memory. There are some modifications to this in the TPV viewers, but they all come with a YMMV sticker.

  • Lani Global

    Hopefully, Kokua devs can make it so we can see entire Var regions in OpenSim. We lost that capability about 2 years ago due to Second Life viewer codebase changes. There is a “render-clipping” in all viewers at 1024 meters distance from the camera. That is too short for OpenSim Var regions.

    • JayR Cela

      I have not used Kokua much within the past several years, but this new version seems to be extremely fast at rezzing scenes when traveling from one Sim to another, or from one Grid to another, to be honest I forgot completely to test this out on some Var regions. I will be testing this further during the next few days.

      I would also like to add, it is great to see another TPV, finally get fed up with LL and their (Walled Garden) Closed Grid approach to the Metaverse.

  • Allan Carr

    Am I missing something? I cannot even get the OS version to run for more than a minute before it crashes, but the SL version is just dandy. On the same pc (Windows 8 4gig), in SL I am happily running ultra graphics for long periods in mesh-heavy environments. This is exactly the sort of thing that kills FS and even Viewer 3 after an hour or so. I am guessing this is due to the lack of support for the jelly-doll “feature”.

    • It would be interesting to know where you log in (since you think jelly-dolls would help)?

      • Allan Carr

        “feature” in quotes. I find it sort of annoying, but if this viewer runs so well and with such a low memory footprint without it, it says something about how much resource is being tied up in what is an exercise in Linden trying to put a good face on the lag in Second LIfe.

    • Da Hayward

      I noticed it slow loading when i tried it yesterday , I just assumed it was loading the everything. even with FS after you clear cache its a bit slower to rez initially

      • Alex Ferraris

        Slow loading may also mean the server the var is on has very little upload speeds.

        • Da Hayward

          could be but i think it was more the first time i ever loaded Kokua and it needed to load, Firestorm loads in no time at all.
          The servers that have been provided to us seem to be ok.

  • Korgi Silvercloud

    I downloaded and tested the OS Version of Kokua extensively the other day. I am running 4.1.0, the version available directly from the Kokua download page. System is windows 7 64bit, with 16gb RAM and a GTX 750 card. Overall, my experience was very well however I did notice some issues, most notably with Rezzing in objects. it seems that this version (atleast for me) takes a very long time to load in mesh objects that would otherwise rez near instantly on Firestorm. I have not noticed the issue posted elswhere so don’t know if its because there just arent that many full mesh regions in OpenSim so people aren’t seeing the issue to report it, or if it is something wrong on my end but IMO this is the only foreseeable drawback thus far. Excellent work to the Kokua team 🙂

    • It would be interesting to know where (grid/sim) you made the test. Does the slowness persist when the items are in the Kokua cache? Thanks!

      • Korgi Silvercloud

        I made the test on DreamNation Grid, wich is currently running OS 0.9.1 BETA (not sure if makes a difference) on several sims, and the issue seems to persist non-discriminantly in each. It seems to affect Mesh objects the most, including full mesh avatars and vehicles. Later on I also experimented on AdreansWorld Grid with Kokua as well and noticed the issues largely gone and things worked fine. They are running OS 7.6 on most regions and 8.0 on 1 I tried. Also yes, the same issue on DN persists after I have cleared the viewer cache completely. Thank you for your response. I am beginning to wonder if maybe this is a compatability issue of sorts with the unreleased 0.9 code in some areas?

        • There has been periods of scene loading slowdown in the 0.9.dev code in periods (there is no such thing as 0.9.1 yet). It is hard to say unless you know exactly which patches they have deployed to the grid or simulator.

          It also might have to do how they serve mesh. Some grids do via http, but usually you’ll get the best (local) performance if served via UDP on OpenSim as the http server is very slow.

          You can experiment with the httpPipelining debug setting which default to True in Kokua. It might perform better with this set to False.

          The reason I asked about cache or not is do you compare performance with FS/Sing with a fully loaded cache, vs an empty Kokua cache? Also, please check the network speed setting in preferences. If it is too low, the scene will load slowly, but also if set too high, the scene will also load slowly (as it may kick of throttles server side in the 0.9 dev code).

          Kokua is tested in mesh only regions and the scene should normally load fast.

    • Nicky Perian

      Hi, I recommend adjustment to the Object detail slider, the underlying debug variable is “RenderVolumeLODFactor”. On KokuaOS the initial setting is 2 with a max of 8 adjust it up to desired performance and no higher.