[extropy-chat] SECOND LIFE not working

Robert Bradbury robert.bradbury at gmail.com
Sat Dec 9 22:38:38 UTC 2006

On 12/6/06, david ish shalom <davidishalom1 at gmail.com> wrote:
> [snip] it does seem SL is full of bugs and not really functioning in
> friendly and smooth way and i suggest that before inviting us to waist our
> time there, check  firstly its proper functioning and than spread the word.

I must concur with David's points.  Because there are a group of people
pushing SecondLife to the ExICh community without perhaps providing
sufficient "due diligence".  I thought I would relate my experiences.

When Second Life was first mentioned here I believe it was only available
for Windows.  So I waited (having finally transitioned from Windows to Linux
on my desktop I'm not about to go back).  It became available in an "alpha"
state sometime late this summer.  I downloaded it and it did not work
(complained about not being able to open a window).  Hours of googling,
reconfiguring X windows, rebuilding and rebooting Linux (several days spent
over several months) later I did finally get it to bring up the main SL

1) SL as distributed can only work under Linux for people who are either (a)
lucky or (b) really know what they are doing and want to spend the time to
make it work.
2) Linden Labs has little or no interest in active support for Linux users.

If you look at the documentation [2] you will see that it requires a Cable
or DSL internet connection is only supposed to run on high end nVidia
GeForce or ATI Radeon graphics cards.  So that excludes dialup users and
users with any older hardware or "common" systems (from HP, DELL, IBM, etc.
which do not have "fancy" 3D graphics capabilities).  This gives rise to
people's comments that Second Life is an adventure only for "Uber Geeks from
Mars" [3].

However, if one understands graphics processing and CPU processing tradeoffs
it is fairly clear that Second Life should be able to run reasonably well on
Intel 810 and greater graphics chips without the need for a separate 3D
tailored graphics card.  It runs on my HP machine under Linux with an I915
chip (under Linux) and on my cousin's Dell machine under windows with an
I845 chip (both of these having mid-range Pentium 4 processors).  (So the
Linden Labs system requirements documentation is completely misleading.)
However, for machines older than circa 2003 and most laptops one is probably
going to have a difficult time using it.  [So the undercurrent behind the SL
juggernaut is similar to the Windows Vista juggernaut -- go spend hundreds
to thousands of $$ to upgrade you hardware].

Now because I have been upgrading my Linux system to the latest versions of
the graphics drivers (OpenGL, Xorg, etc.) and because Second Life isn't
generally following "open" standards, esp. under Linux, I was not surprised
when I went to start Second Life today and it refused to start (surprised
no, pissed yes).  Three hours later after some more googling and looking at
debug logs and fiddling with some environment settings regarding library
location and load orders I can once again get Second Life to start (I guess
that makes me an Uber Geek).  But *NOT* everyone on the ExICh list *is* an
Uber Geek and presumably the people who want to promote transhumanist
discussions should be trying to make it easier for non Uber Geek's to
participate! [4]

Now, that is *just* the process of getting Second Life installed and running
on your hardware and operating system.

If you attempt to register for Second Life using the Linden Labs web
interface, as I tried to do at one point when I got tired of wrestling with
making the software work, one may easily run into problems.  I ran into
significant problems with their Captcha interface (the type in what you see
software which is supposed to verify you as a "human").  They apparently
require that one either use IE and/or have Javascript enabled (Things only
"dummies" would do).  If this is not the case one gets hang up during the
registration process.  So not only do they overly complicate using their
software but the can't even get "open" web form applications to work right.

Now, this is all *before* I even get into the Second Life virtual world.

I ran into Mike Lorrey at David Lubkin's party a few weeks ago and we had a
brief discussion about Second Life.  He has been playing with it fairly
extensively and has a good understanding of various aspects of it.  He
mentioned the problems that Second Life was having with "grey goo".
Subsequently Slashdot (and even the public press) has had discussions about
"grey goo" running amok [5] and Linden Labs having a big problem with people
stealing designs [6] (potentially violating both real world copyright laws
as well as the intellectual property protections that allow an "economy" to
work in SL).  This annoyed a segment of their user community sufficiently
enough that they started shutting down their stores and boycotting the game.

So, I disagree strongly with Eugen's comment on David's post regarding
"unfounded accusations".  If anything David was understating the case of
problems that currently exist with Second Life.  My short list would be:

1) There focus on high end hardware and high speed data connections (quite
2) Good support only on closed source operating systems (Windows).
3) A large proprietary closed source system when there may be alternatives
available [7].
4) Problems with users running amok within the game creating problems and
questions as to whether Linden Labs will act aggressively except in the
worst cases to eliminate this.
5) Private, profit driven company behind the software (are the founders
looking to "pump" and "dump" the user community?) [8]
6) A world running on "private" servers where nobody but the private
corporation has ultimate control over the "law of the land" (as compared
with say an open source, open server multi-peer virtual world).

Now you can critique these points in various ways but I find it
disappointing that people who should be most in favor of open systems (and
thus opposed to much of SL architecture and implementation) are criticizing
"unfounded accusations" when my personal experience *and* that of some who
have been participants in this list in the past *and* public news sources
*and* even the Linden Labs blogs seem to suggest that such criticisms
deserve serious consideration.

I would *stress* that Second Life is a closed source system and because
Linden Labs is a relatively young company (I haven't bothered to investigate
who the founders are or what their reputations are).  Second life is one of
the single largest programs I have ever encountered [9] and it would be
extremely easy given the amount of file I/O that has to be done to the local
SL disk cache and the amount of network I/O the program requires for either
a corrupted version of SL or "evil" programmers at Linden Labs to "piggy
back" disk scanning, personal information harvesting functions, keystroke
loggers, etc. within Second Life.  You are installing software on your
machine which is inherently untrustable [you don't have the source code]
[10].  On top of that you are giving them your name and a credit card number
so using whatever information any trojans might harvest from your disk or
keyboard would be very simple if people within Linden Labs are not
completely trustable (ot if their security and/or implementations cannot be
trusted -- which history to date would suggest might well be the case).

As the saying goes, "If you do not change the direction in which you are
headed you are likely to end up where you are going."  I strongly question
whether SL should be the destination and would suggest that those involved
may be leaping (and trying to convince others to do so as well) before they


1. For example from the Second Life blog -- "Linux users: We'll get a Linux
viewer up as soon as we can." (this was over a month ago...).
2. http://secondlife.com/corporate/sysreqs.php
4. Didn't the last attempt to promote a Transhumanist event in Second Life
end up having more than just a few problems?!?
5. http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/11/20/0218221
6. http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/11/15/1714241
7. http://www.linuxjournal.com/node/1000133
8. Orkut may be a good example of this.  Build up a large user base, dump
the software and user community on Google and end up with minimal support
and improvements since that time.
9. The executable itself without libraries is 41MB, the resident program
after start up is 56MB with 194MB of virtual memory.  The resident program
size is about 70% of that of a full java implementation running a P2P file
sharing application to many more systems than SL is handling (and Java is a
notorious pig in terms of system resources).
10. I would be extremely surprised if the individuals who run the SPAM
botnets around the world did not currently have people trying to disassemble
Second Life and determine whether the security could be breached to allow
them to use SL as an agent to collect private personal information.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/attachments/20061209/c719f2d4/attachment.html>

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list