Friday, March 31, 2006

SL LUG Meeting - April 1st 2005

Just a reminder that the next in world SL LUG is going to be held at 12:00 SL time on April 1st at Maryport(181,147). Lots of things to cover this week including any ideas for guest speakers.

In game just pop open the find, click events and search for Linux (if nothing shows up, select 'upcoming' and try again).

In related news, Rizzermon Sopor has hacked together a short video clip from the start of the last meeting using the Linux client and open source tools (gimp, gimp-gap, blender, and avidemux). Check out his post on the SL Forum : Linux User Group Movie.

Make the most of your RAM

One thing I did try recently with the Second Life Linux alpha client, was to set the cache to 500mb and replacing the cache folder with a link to /dev/shm - Essentially putting the cache in a ram drive. If you don't have a ram drive - its a kernel thing, see your distro.

Now, as the cache is cleared every time the Linux client is started, you can probably get away with a 50mb - 200mb cache depending on how long your play sessions are. (You can use df -h to see how much ram the cache is actually using)

Made quite a difference when returning to an area that has been loaded previously, the world geometry reloads noticeably faster. You still have to r.click everywhere to get the textures back, but as they're coming from ram it is much quicker.

If you have any joy, post your results in the SL Forum : Tips for the SL Linux Client thread.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Second Life 1.9.0(18)

An optional update to the client has been released for Windows, MacOS and Linux. Among other things, this fixes a couple of known issues that crept in with the previous release (SL Forum : Second Life 1.9.0(18) Release Notes).

If your using Zonax Delorean's SL Alpha Installer Script you will be pleased to know it works like a charm :)

Bug reporting is now working from the Linux native client, just make sure you enter "LINUX ALPHA" as the bug summary. AFAIK no bugs have actually been fixed in this release so you wont be able to stop drinking the wine quite yet (The 0.9.9 vintage is recommended).

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

SL Alpha Installer Script

Zonax Delorean has cooked up a little perl script to automate the installation of the Linux Second Life client. It checks you have the latest version, downloads and installs if needed and copies your configuration files.

I was going to waffle on sarcastically about it not getting any simpler than tar, but I am far to lazy.

You can get the script from this thread on the SL forums : SL Alpha Installer, Direct link : SLInstaller.pl.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Second Life Linux 1.9.0.17 !!

After almost a week of Windows and Wine, the Second Life Linux 1.9.0.17 alpha client has been released. Unfortunatly, it fails to run for me and just hangs (SL Forum : 1.9.0.17 Hangs on startup). Bugger.

Update : It seems that copying all the config and user files from the previous version is enough to jolly the client into action. Just a little odd, as, if you're a new user you wont have any files to copy.

As far as I can tell, and aside from all the global 'in world' updates and new features, the only Linux bug's fixed in this release are that the Alpha blending workaround is no longer required and reporting PvP abuse will no longer crash the client.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

No Linux 1.9.0 Client *Shock*

Windows and MacOS clients have been updated, as expected there is no sign of an updated Linux client. The new Windows client has been reported to work with Wine 0.9.9 so you might not need to reboot to get your fix.

Well, that would be the case if the logon servers were working! Turns out there is an issue with some users (myself included) being unable to login (SL Forum : Login issues in 1.9.0). Update : This now seems to be resolved.

Partly out of desperation the Linux client forums has degenerated into the usual religious squabble about open and closed source software (SL Forum : 1.9 Jitters... Nervous again).

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Linux 1.9.0 Might Miss Deadline

Karen Linden has posed on the SL Forums (Linux 1.9.0 is in the works...) that the Linux client might miss the Wednesday (15th March) deadline for being updated to 1.9.0 (a mandatory update that includes a grid update).

It has been confirmed that the Linux client does not have its own developer, and that the dev who did most of the work to get the Linux ball rolling is busy with other projects. There is no set date for his return although it should be "soon".

So, if the Linux client builds without a hitch it will be released on Wednesday. It will almost certainly not contain any Linux specific bug fixes.

Maybe I'm to much of a skeptic, but it reads to me like the Linux build was pushed by a very small number of devs, Linden labs just don't take it seriously enough to devote any real resources to it and it will have to live with an "if and when" attitude toward development.

Its been over a month now and aside from a couple of required updates (that we might not have got if we didn't scream when they pulled the plug) there has been no progress on the Linux client. Every bug that existed on day one is still present.

I supposed I'm just concerned that if Linden Labs don't (or are not seen to) take the Linux client seriously, Linux users wont, Linden Labs won't see enough uptake to justify committing resources and the Linux Client will end up little more than lip service.

Maybe I'm just far to addicted and all this uncertainty has filled my wellies with poo.

A separate thread has been started by Zi Ree to discuss the announcement - SL Forum : SL 1.9 Linux alpha client news.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Linux Alpha LUG Weekly Meeting

A weekly SL meeting for users of the Second Life Linux client has been set up.

Meetings will take place every Saturday starting March 18th 12:00 SL time (8pm GMT, 9pm CET) at Maryport(181,147). Don't forget to thank Vinci Calamari (Blog) for organising and Angel Sunset for providing the land.

SL Forum : First meeting, weekly meeting.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Pasting into Second Life Linux

Zi Ree has come up with a truly evil hack for getting text into the Second Life editor. Write LSL in your favorite editor and then invoke a little perl/xse voodoo. SL Forum : Pasting into Second Life Linux client.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Linux Alpha VS Windows Beta

So, how does the shiny new Linux alpha client stack up to the established Windows one? Well, as you would expect there is a (not so long) list of bugs and issues, the big question is, what can you live with?

My system is an AMD 64 powered Shuttle box, 1 GB Ram and an Asus 6800 V9999 GT (128MB). Dual booting between Windows XP Pro (used exclusivly for games) and Gentoo AMD64. I run the Second Life 1600x1200 full screen on both.

No Audio


There is no sound, nothing, not a squeak. The Windows client on the other hand has lots of sound, there is music playing almost everywhere and lots of things in world have their own effects.

This isn't as much of as issue as you would think, from my own experiences and having spoken to a lot of residents in world it seems the general trend is to mute the sound and put some mp3s on anyway.

I have rebooted into Windows just for the sound as sometimes you will find yourself at an event or meeting where it is required.

Rendering


Even after you've manually set the texture memory in your settings.ini (SL Forum : Linux Client Tips) and applied the patch (SL Forum : Fix for Messed-up Appearance Problems), the in game textures are not downloaded and displayed as promptly as the Windows client.

It's like the world only rezzes to medium detail by default, you can encourage the client to display the high resolution textures by hovering the cursor over or right clicking on whatever you want to see.

This is possibly to blame on the hardware detection getting it wrong and the client is behaving accordingly. Second Life is unable to determine my CPU and thinks I have 1MB of ram, so if it does anything with this information you might expect it to go easy on the memory usage!

Genrally this is only an issue when shopping, you cannot just walk into a mall, make a brew, and find everything at full resolution when you get back. Right clicking on everything to get it to rez up soon becomes second nature.

On the Windows side this is much better but by no means perfect. It loads most things most of the time. You will still find yourself waving your cursor at things, usually the very things you're interested in looking at :)

Performance


As the Linux client isn't pulling in as much texture information as the Windows client by default, comparing performance is a little hit and miss.

Going to the same place in both clients, makeing sure everything is rezzed properly before making any judgements. The frame rate tends to peak at around the same in both clients and genrally performace is very similar, the Linux client feels considerably smoother.

When it comes to providing a consistant experience. the Linux client doesn't suffer from the same sudden split-second drops in frame rate as the Windows client and there seems to be a lot less lag (makes you wonder how much lag is really lag, and not just the Windows client). The Windows client did lockup, loose connection to servers and genrally misbehave. The Linux client is rock solid.

Bits and Pieces


There's whole host of other minor niggles that only effect specific functionallity. For example, copy and paste not working when editing scripts (etc) is a real pain, image upload is broken. So if you're doing any serious content creation or scripting, you might be aswell to use the Windows client.

The Bottom Line


I find myself using the Linux client 99% of the time. Partially because I'm a Linux nut and partially because I am hopelessly addicted to Second Life and would rather use what I find the better client. Dispite all its problems, I think that's the Linux one.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Avimator goes GPL

Following on from a previous blog (Frustrated Character Animator?), Avimator has gone open source! (See this thread on the SL forums).

This is a fantastic move by Vince and I hope everyone who finds his software useful will donate a few Lindens :)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Nice to know.... Part 2

Within minutes of my last blog, Don Linden posted the following on the Second Life forums :-

"The linux client is now in the 'main' codebase. However, not all of our developers have a linux workstation to test it on. Until we get a linux box for the specific purpose of building/testing the linux client, however, the linux deploy needs to wait for me to get a chance to run a build.

Building another linux box for testing is pretty trivial, though, so it shouldn't be long until this is a part of the normal process.

(The 1.8.4.7 client is building right now. I'll hand it off for deployment soon)."

So, fingers crossed this whole episode is just a case of poor developer communication.

Update : The 1.8.4.7 Linux client has been released so life can return to normal :)

Nice to know....

Well, it's good to know where the Linux Second Life client stands in the grand scheme of things over at Linden labs. It looked so promising only yesterday, the 1.8.4.6 update was released for all 3 platforms and it looked like it would only be a short while before the alpha status would be revoked.

But it was to much to soon, turned out there was a rather nasty glitch in the new client, 1.8.4.7 was released for Windows and MacOS as an optional update (no Linux update, but we're alpha so no worries).

Withen a couple of hours the new release was flagged as mandatory, and you guessed it, still no Linux update. A Linden was spotted saying "We have a couple of other builds to do first, but this one will definitely be done sometime in the next week.".

No appology, no explanation, no notification, nothing. Just no Second Life on Linux till somebody gets round to it.

As I say, nice to know where us Linux users stand. Now where did I put that Windows CD....... :(