OpenSim evolution is not analogous to website evolution


this post is spurred on by comments to a post on Monday (if you want to understand a bit about the resources used by a user, read Tranquility’s comments to that post). Tranquility sheds light on just how much data moves back and forth on the InWoldz grid and how quickly it adds up to HUGE numbers. he explains how textures add up very quickly and tossed out real numbers like 15,000,000 asset requests in a 3 day period (that’s 15 million!) o_O

there is a tendency to equate OpenSim to a website and to frame the evolution of virtual worlds to that of the web’s history. both have URLs (URIs) and both live “out there” in the internet and both use servers to dish content up to computers. way back in the day, website hosting was big bucks – you could spend $300 a month for a small amount of disk space for one domain but, today, hosting can be on the order of $4 a month with GoDaddy. we see prices falling for virtual worlds too, like $1000 setup plus $295 a month for Second Life to $10 a month per sim and even less with cloud hosting or free with sim-on-a-stick! =)

however, the demands on the server are far greater for a virtual world than a web page

the OpenSim developers keep improving OpenSim and keep working on not just bugs and new feathures but also on its architecture  (shout out to our own Micheil who contributed a fix last week! thanks Micheil!) =)

for me, i would love to see OpenSim become easier to install similar to a “one-click” WordPress install. many website hosting companies have one-click installs of various blog platforms, e-commerce solutions, photo albums, content management systems, and so on

these one-click installs can be pretty sophisticated with WordPress installing dozens of PHP pages, setting up databases, and installing hundreds of files

furthermore, server apps like WordPress have very easy (non-techy) upgrade tools. WordPress alerts the user to a new version and so do any plug-ins you may be using with it. a simple button click updates the blog app or plug-in in a matter of seconds

WordPress also has very easy to use tools for exporting backups and importing content, including the entire blog if you move it to another host (think in terms of OARs and IARs and if you are a pirate – maybe ARRRs)  =p

monkey_045cropi would anticipate that OpenSim could eventually get to this “one-click” stage and even be offered as part of a website hosting company’s offering just like anything else

BUT . . . an easy install does not mean an inexpensive to run server app. WordPress serves up web pages which don’t need a lot of server muscle and running a blog does not require much resource wise from a server. this blog enjoys a decent level of traffic and runs just fine on a $12 a month HostGator hosting package. our hosting allows unlimited domains and databases and we run about 16 sites from it and our ping reports show 100% uptime for the most part

unfortunately, OpenSim is not a lightweight server app and that makes sense when you think about what OpenSim (and Second Life) is – a real-time shareable, muli-collaborator, instant rendering 3D application

if you have ever used Blender or even Google SketchUp with a ray tracer (like Kerky), then you know that 3D apps need time to render out a scene. OpenSim continually renders “live” and does so for multiple users all at once. that is very sophisticated and it is easy to take OpenSim (and Second Life) for granted and moan about your left shoe attaching to your butt instead of your foot (old timers will remember that from SL) =D

a cheap website host and a one-click OpenSim install (quick! patent that idea before SpotON3D!) does not mean a good OpenSim deployment. it may be okay for a region for yourself and a few visitors, but it will always (/me thinks but my crystal ball is dirty) depend on the hardware available to it. the one sim, one core, and one gig RAM rule will be around for a while (case in point – SL has never changed full sim prim limits and concurrency or reduced tier!)

easier installs will make adoption of OpenSim more widespread, but won’t make a big difference for the hardware needed

more bucks mean more bang – now and probably in the future too

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written by Ener Hax

August 17th, 2011 at 10:19 am

posted in OpenSim,virtual worlds

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24 comments to 'OpenSim evolution is not analogous to website evolution'

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  1. […] OpenSim evolution is not analogous to website evolution at i live in science land avatar ramblings from the virtual world… Source: […]

  2. I would say there is a Technology Lifecycle in this…

    and an according Marketing Lifecycle…

    Both broken at times by Disruptive Technology…

    Those middle-age guild times, where legancy guild statutes used to say – Don’t Invent Anything New, doesn’t apply any more…


    17 Aug 11 at 10:48 am

  3. After seeing Aurorasim-on-a-Stick…

    I would assume that the next disruptive evolutionary step would be
    Aurorasim-Infinite-Regions-on-a-Stick ?



    17 Aug 11 at 11:01 am

  4. This is exactly what I am discovering, Ener. Sure, I can run a square kilometer AuroraSim region or a 16region OpenSim megaregion on my system here at home, but there are costs to going public. You mentioned the costs of a server hosting your Open- or Auroa-Sim ( hmmm OpSim & AuSim? ) and that can be rather expensive. My computer here at home is a single core Athlon with 3Gb of RAM. A 2 core server with 2Gb of RAM costs around US$100 a month, on average. I view such a system as being on a par with my own. There’s some that are cheaper, some that are costlier, but that seems about where the market is. After the information that Tranq provided, my subjective projection is that a person will need at least twice that much power at the beginning, and that is so that there’s no lag with only a couple of people visiting. If your grid becomes popular, then you have to scale up the hardware. Which increases the costs.

    Of course, you can host from home, but that incurs other costs. You can get a hexcore with 16Gb of RAM online for under $600 (I recently heard that TigerDirect is selling them for $400). But then there is your ISP. If your ISP scales your rate by your usage, this can become quite costly.

    It is money, I think, that is the biggest hurdle to the overall growth of grids out there. It also has a negative effect on the development of OpSim and AuSim. The software is free and there is a ton of helpful and friendly support, but it is the simple cost of hosting the grid that holds back their use. More use, to my mind, means more developers chipping in and more users helping to find the bugs.

    It seems to me, that the biggest contributors to those costs is the ISPs themselves. Perhaps a People’s Internet, or a communal grid server network would help. I don’t know.

    But running a grid is very much different from running a website. One’s an apple and one’s a coconut.

    Sarge Misfit

    17 Aug 11 at 11:23 am

  5. @eurominuteman

    Nope, such a thing won’t happen. From what I understand, infinite regions is part of AuroraSim config, like variable region already is, so its simply a matter of using the latest release and configuring it the way I described. And, since the starport is now complete, this seems like a good time to do a complete revamp of the region. I’m going to export the build as XMLs and then do a set it all up as a virgin grid with infinite regions, etc. maybe I’ll be able to get a handle on setting up the WebUI at the same time. And test how scripts react, too.

    I think its a good idea for me to start a page on all this.

    Sarge Misfit

    17 Aug 11 at 11:30 am

  6. we’re hoping to get good mileage for our 4 core/8 gig RAM setup but we will only have visitors – no one builds except for me

    a concurrency of 20 would probably be realistic for the high side and each person is likely going to be on for 15 minutes to an hour at most

    Ener Hax

    17 Aug 11 at 12:45 pm

  7. He Sarge… How many prims and concurrent avatars does Aurora-on-a-Stick / Infinite-Regions-on-a-Stick offer?


    18 Aug 11 at 12:37 am

  8. Beats me, euro, since there’s only me, myself and I currently on my stand-alone. But, it had 37,000+ prims in the build up until a few days ago. I’ve been prim trimming and getting ready to make some major changes to the terrain. When it comes to how many users and such, I imagine that the hardware is the deciding factor. My current system is a single core Athlon with 3Gb RAM and a nVidia GeForce 9500 graphics. I’ve not experienced any noticeable lag, though I’m also not running any scripts, either. I’m testing that today with one of Nebadon’s cars and will be posting the results on my site in a day or two. [mutters to himself “so many things to do, not enough personalities to pay attention”] I am likely reaching the limits of what my box can handle, though. I originally started with SoaS and it bogged down at 22,000+ prims and around 100 running scripts on a 16 region Mega.

    Sarge Misfit

    18 Aug 11 at 6:23 am

  9. concurrency on the default stick is only one because it’s a local setup . . . but you can do the tweak that Erik N. discussed and make it a full blown multi-user environment. the limiting factor will be the lag based on the hosting computer’s RAM and CPU resources


    Ener Hax

    18 Aug 11 at 9:33 am

  10. so Sarge, when you fire up your world, what happens to your total RAM – the 37k prims will take a decent toll on that i would think

    i’m not sure what we have for prims, although i think it’s less than you and we chew up about 3 gigs of RAM

    Ener Hax

    18 Aug 11 at 9:35 am

  11. Keeping in mind the info that Tranq gave us, Ener, regarding the effect of scripts and textures, I just ran a basic lag test. That is, I rezzed a bunch of vehicles and BBQs, all with running scripts, and tried walking. I just finished posting details, but, on my single core with 3Gb RAM with its 1024×1024 region, I ended up with 42k+ prims and a touch over a thousand running scripts.

    No discernible lag!!

    Sarge Misfit

    18 Aug 11 at 11:21 am

  12. Sarge, did you access your grid via the web, or directly on your computer?


    18 Aug 11 at 1:40 pm

  13. dang Sarge! that changes my views on my work. i have been removing scripts from things like chairs because they “remember” those things but sometimes they do lose them. i thought my sit scripts would bog stuff down (like 60 sit scripts in a region). dummy me it seems!

    *heads over to Excelsior Station wiki to check it out* =)

    Ener Hax

    18 Aug 11 at 1:51 pm

  14. “more bucks mean more bang – now and probably in the future too”

    Opensim is probably more analgous to broadband progression.

    Demands on infrastructure and uptake drive requirement increases.

    Just as no-one “thinks of the poor broadband” and for-gos downloading a movie, VW users will not restrict prims and textures to 64×64 because they feel compassion for the server host.

    Unless their definition of compassion is to crush the server with prims and textures till it oozes blood.

    Breen Whitman

    18 Aug 11 at 2:26 pm

  15. ELQ, directly on my computer, so its not only handling the sim, but the viewer, too. I’ve used both Imprudence and Astra with no difference in performance.

    Ener, one thing to keep in mind, I’m running AuroraSim, not OpenSim. On an equivalently sized sim, that is, a 4 region by 4 region OpSim megaregion, I lagged to a stand still at 23K+ and around 100 scripts. The same scripts, in fact.

    Breen, if I understand you correctly, this is my biggest concern, the broadband use. Its expensive for a person on a fixed income and it may be the one factor that prevents me from opening Excelsior Station to the public. The level of broadband available is due to the infrastructure of the ISPs. We’ve all heard of throttling being done. They make a lot of profit, yet they do little to re-invest in infrastructure growth. In fact, it may be the ISP’s themselves that become the biggest barrier to the general adoption of VW technology by the general public.

    Sarge Misfit

    18 Aug 11 at 3:22 pm

  16. Interesting discussion, and one I’ve thought a lot about, whenever I felt like playing SL.

    I say “playing” very deliberately, because to me, SL (and now OpenSim) is a game, despite the numerous opinions I’ve read saying it’s not, most of which contain no facts in support (none actually). However, it isn’t worth arguing about, because it’s an argument involving personal opinions about what is “fun”. Such as arguing that sandbox games are much superior to other games. Might as well argue about whether purple is better than blue or red.

    Short shrift has been given to Maria Korolov’s comments, which I interpreted as coming from an enduser perspective (as are mine), but resulted in many posts whining about how hard it is to host a sim.

    She is right about comparing webhosting PRICING to OpenSim hosting. Hosting OpenSim on your own PC is even easier than webhosting was in its infancy. It never even occurred to me host my own website when I first did so in 1998. I won’t do so now. With OpenSim, you have a lot more information available about how to set up your own sim. Those seeking to sell Sim hosting services will need to add some extra value beyond simply hosting. While your COST might be high, it has nothing to do with whether or not people will buy from you. In a competitive market, the PRICE you receive is not based upon your costs, but rather is based upon whether the buyer considers that what you are selling is worthwhile. And it really isn’t worthwhile to buy OpenSim hosting unless you add something to it, as Maria suggested you do. Unless you do so, your market is narrowed to the ignorant, and there a lot of people , such as this website, willing to help them. Running a viewer requires considerably more hardware resources than running a sim, unless you want a lot of avatars in the sim concurrently. I can see the potential numbers for going after the Facebook crowd, but they don’t need to run a Sim to achieve their interests. Unless you add something of value to them (eliminating Ruth, and being able to avoid wearing a box, until you learned how to get the box’s contents might be enough. I’m still amazed that starting in OSgrid’s newbie area gives you a box of landmarks in a no-res zone.)

    I have emphasized PRICE and COST because they are not at all the same thing in free markets.

    Liralen Lisle

    21 Aug 11 at 4:15 am

  17. hi Liralen, most excellent point you make on price versus cost and it is indeed about the value, not the fee

    i will challenge your game notion and ‘no facts contrary’ though. our endeavor is not framed as a game, though because of the nature of a virtual world, one could always say it is somewhat game-based. there are no game elements in Enclave Harbour in the traditional sense BUT i would hope that our learning objectives are enjoyed like a game because the best learning is done via play (ie, kitten playing with siblings is learning how to disembowel prey)

    hosting a sim is easier than ever and even sim-on-a-stick has been modded to allow for concurrency – following those instructions are very easy

    thanks for the thoughtful analyses and purple is not better then blue or red, clearly pink is! =)

    Ener Hax

    21 Aug 11 at 9:41 am

  18. Oh, yeah, forgot about pink!

    What’s a “game element” exactly? Is it something that SimCity or Flight Simulator has but sim-on-a-stick does not? Is a sandbox a toy?

    We could play that game forever. As I sit here, playing my game, which is involving learning about USGS 7.5 minute quads, how to translate latitude and longitude into map distances, which involve trig functions, and doh! There’s a scale at the bottom if you scroll down far enough, then copy and paste the contours into a file, upload it into my sim, put it on a big prim, and try to figure out what scale would work best, then some more math! ;)

    The important point in this venue is that OpenSim does fulfill the same niche as SimCity or role-playing games. The fact that it can do other things does not alter that. Nor does the fact that some people prefer more structure to their games. Gamers will be an important market for OpenSim in the beginning, and arguably already are in SL, given the number of role-playing sims I’ve seen. It’s annoyed me that Linden Labs has pretty much ignored this market, and it pleases me to know that the gamers are some of the first customers they’ll lose once the word gets out about how functional OpenSim is now, and getting easier and easier to install due to things like Diva’s Distribution and sim-on-a-stick.

    But most of us won’t need sim hosting at first. OpenSim uses a trivial amount of resources on a gaming rig. What will drive us to purchase sim hosting is added value through content, or services such as Internet security. Ironically, the biggest threat to security will come from gamers – there are some gamers who consider Internet hacking just another game, too. Fortunately, OpenSim would be considered very kindly by many hackers, or at the very least, there are a lot of targets out there that would be a lot more fun. ;)

    Liralen Lisle

    21 Aug 11 at 1:31 pm

  19. hey! wanna borrow my Brunton compass!!! my major was geology! =)

    OpenSim is just a platform/app/whatever and you are corect – it’s what is done with it that guides it to the mainstream

    people love games and life can be a game as well and there is nothing wrong with having structure to a game and sometimes the lack of structure is what causes SL and OpenSim to just kind of flop around (i think of farmville with highly defined gameplay and that does not diminish it’s value which i think is to help you relax – something that is an important thing in our stressful lives)

    in and of itself it is as valuable as the alphabet – letters that as an alphabet are nifty but are not much beyond that, but the words crafted with them have shaped history

    Ener Hax

    21 Aug 11 at 1:46 pm

  20. Nice Service… Do you have an OpenSim server and want a way to create a ton of regions easily? We did! So we created this simple tool to help us. Enjoy!


    21 Aug 11 at 5:22 pm

  21. Heh, that’s funny, Ener. You might find the area I’m trying to model geologoically interesting.

    Very poor map, I know – importing it into OpenSim resulted in scale that are about 15 meter pixels:/ Unfortunately, none of the browsers I’ve tried will show me the actual pixels – they insist on blending them, lol. I found a much better map, with contours in a separate layer, but trying to match it up was way too tedious.

    Not part of the Karst area, where I live ( I grew up with a sink hole in my backyard), but I do plan to use a little artistic license, and mix up the water fall with caves. OK, maybe a lot of license, since I haven’t been able to figure out how to explain my cave roof supporting the river. ;)

    Liralen Lisle

    22 Aug 11 at 10:28 pm

  22. Oh, forgot to mention, what’s really interesting about this spot – it’s the moonbow, which is like a rainbow, but reflected off the moon instead of the sun.

    Liralen Lisle

    22 Aug 11 at 10:35 pm

  23. that is a beautiful meandering river Liralen, i have often thought of making an advanced stream complete with oxbow lakes =)

    the moonbow page is fascinating and beautiful! thank you for sharing that (i am about to go to bed so that makes beautiful imagery to think about as i fall into sleepy land) =)

    now for mapping, do you know of this?

    Ener Hax

    22 Aug 11 at 11:51 pm

  24. Thanks for the link, Ener. I might give it a try, but I’m a bit dubious, given the scale I’m working at – 3 regions across covers about 1200 feet of real life terrain – and the fact that I preferred to use 9 separate regions rather than a megaregion, so using raw’s are a bit more tedious.

    Liralen Lisle

    23 Aug 11 at 5:33 pm

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