[extropy-chat] SECOND LIFE not working

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Sun Dec 10 18:51:40 UTC 2006

On Sat, Dec 09, 2006 at 05:38:38PM -0500, Robert Bradbury wrote:

>    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

Pushing is putting it way too strongly. My only point with SL is
that's it's an *arrived* (Total Residents: 1916105, logged in last
60 days: 690800, Online Now: 14941) and *rapidly growing* (the one
million mark was just 18th October 2006) medium, which is
frequented by mostly young people, some of which are even aware of
transhumanism and have been actively looking for transhumanist
communities. Bugger technology, it's a communication and outreach

>    experiences.
>    When Second Life was first mentioned here I believe it was only
>    available for Windows.  So I waited (having finally transitioned from

Nothing wrong with supporting Windows, it's what most people use.
However, SL supports Windows, OS X and Linux (alpha):

>    Windows to Linux on my desktop I'm not about to go back).  It became

Technically, I've never been a major Windows user, but since Ubuntu 6.06 LTS
there's arguably a desktop distribution most people can live with (there's
still some minor I-need-32bit-Firefox-because-of-Java-and-Flash beef, and printing
support sucks as ever, but these warts I personally can live with).

>    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

The missing libuuid.so.1 and libuuid.so.1.2 have been well-documented, and
since the last build a couple of days ago (there seems to be a new SL Linux
build every second day, or so) not even that is necessary.

>    window).  Hours of googling, reconfiguring X windows, rebuilding and

If you're running accelerated drivers (the only option for Linux is nVidia)
there should be no reconfiguration required. SL runs fine in dual-head mode,
which is about the only way to run it (triple-head is arguably even better,
though I'm still lusting after that 30" Dell).

>    rebooting Linux (several days spent over several months) later I did
>    finally get it to bring up the main SL window.
>    Conclusion:
>    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.

If you run a mainstream distribution (Fedora, Ubuntu) you should be reasonably

>    2) Linden Labs has little or no interest in active support for Linux
>    users. [1].

I disagree. De facto, SL is a proprietary platform, but if you look at the 
walk and talk, Linden Labs seems to be rather open

More importantly, nobody will give a damn whether in another decade SL
still exists, or become an open standard, or something even better has come 
along. Clearly VR has landed, at least in gamer circles, and given presence
of nongaming platforms in SL, perhaps a bit beyond that. Whatever the
next platform might be, it will have core features which will be a lot
like current SL, only better. So there's no point in not getting used to
such an environment, and build communities (which might or might not
move elsewhere), particularly since membership is free (I decided to
go with a year's worth of commercial membership, and 512 m^2 of land, which
is still tax-free).

>    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

Of course you can't do this with modem, you no longer can do anything
online much below 1 MBit/s downstream, and some 128 kBit/s upstream.
Is that much of a handicap? Not really. When I look outside the window,
I see a gray box on the street corner, wherein optical GBit Ethernet
terminates. Should I really want it, I could have 5/25 MBit or 10/50 MBit
connection, and similiar or better bandwidth is available to people in Korea, 
Japan, Sweden, Iceland, parts of the U.S., etc.

>    nVidia GeForce or ATI Radeon graphics cards.  So that excludes dialup

That's just not true. I run 2560x1024 SL on dual-head setup on a passively
cooled AGP nVidia 7600 GS and a distinctly anaemic Athlon64, which still runs
great. According to https://secondlife.com/corporate/sysreqs.php your gfx
hardware requirements are nVidia GeForce 2, GeForce 4mx, or better
ATI Radeon 8500, 9250, or better (Windows), nVidia GeForce 2, GeForce 4mx, or better
OR ATI Radeon 8500, 9250, or better (Mac) which is a joke in gamer
circles. This is high-end, only of 3-4 years ago.

>    users and users with any older hardware or "common" systems (from HP,
>    DELL, IBM, etc. which do not have "fancy" 3D graphics capabilities).

I would consider a current $600 card fancy. I would consider a $1200 current
card very fancy. Luckily, you can do great with a current $100 card -- passively
cooled current card, to be precise.

>    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

Come on, Computer Processor: 800MHz Pentium III or Athlon, or better,
Computer Memory: 256MB or better and nVidia GeForce 2, GeForce 4mx, or better
OR ATI Radeon 8500, 9250, or better is something you buy on the flea market.
"need for a separate 3D tailored graphics card" is not quite correct, because
you a) you can't buy a 2D-only graphics accelerator today b) any onboard
graphic of a modern system is already a massive overkill for SL, and ditto
the CPU (single-core 64 bit is some 350 EUR, and dual-core is entry level with
Dell & Co).

>    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

I very much doubt it. If you happen to have a doornail of a machine, a
$100 AGP card will still make SL run like a fox.

>    juggernaut is similar to the Windows Vista juggernaut -- go spend
>    hundreds to thousands of $$ to upgrade you hardware].

Hardware requirements for Vista are much overrated. 

>    Now because I have been upgrading my Linux system to the latest
>    versions of the graphics drivers (OpenGL, Xorg, etc.) and because

If you're running an open source environment, and not willing to do
the work yourself (the amount of which is, frankly prohibitive but for
young males with no life) you need to stick with mainstream distributions
(Ubuntu is a particularly painless choice), and use hardware that is
reasonably mainstream. In Linux, you have to do nVidia, and you have to
bite the wax tadpole, and go binary-only. If you insist on open-source
drivers, and have the (shrewdly picked) hardware to match, you shouldn't
be really complaining about lack of 3d performance. It's that simple.
Less masochistic people should just buy a Mac mini, or some random 
Windows box, and have it over with it.

>    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

It won't start because there's a new upgrade available, and Linden Labs
won't let you run vulnerable clients with known bugs. I can't blame them,
because griefers are already a major pain as it is.

>    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

You seem to be running a bleeding edge, highly dynamics environment, which 
is just asking for bloodstains on the ceiling. It is *meant* to break.
It comes with boldly lettered warning to that respect. It is frankly for
turboubergeeks and BDSM folks only. I personally, don't have the stomach
for that much pain, and stick to stable mainstream distributions like the
aforementioned Ubutu 6.06 LTS, with AMD64 flavor being already almost more
than I can stomach (I used to do Fedora, which just self-destroyed upon
update one time too many, and which I gave up in disgust).

>    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!

Most people run Windows. If they're feeling to need to Feel Really Different,
they run OS X. Everything else is for ubergeeks.

>    [4]
>    Now, that is *just* the process of getting Second Life installed and
>    running on your hardware and operating system.

SL on Windows does auto-updates. On Linux, I need to drop the tarball,
extract it, and click on a single icon. That is typical for a mainstream
distro Linux users. The other two (all both of you) SL users not on those
platforms: I'm really impressed, and would know how you managed to pull it

>    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

I had no such problems.

>    Javascript enabled (Things only "dummies" would do).  If this is not

You definitely, absolutely need the NoScript extension for Firefox, or
equivalent for Safari. Another handy list of extensions: DOM Inspector,
SessionSaver (or SessionManager), BugMeNot, Adblock, Flashblock, NoScript,
del.icio.us, Torbutton, Adblock Filterset.G Updater. There are others, but
these make still stick with Firefox, despite all the warts.

>    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.

I agree this has been painful for you. However, it's painless for >99%
of all other SL starters.

>    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

There are built-in countermeasures, and that particular brief infestation
has been an on-off event. I don't think we will see many of those. Yes,
right now teleporting needs workaround, and search is currently mostly down.
These are splashes in the pool, probably gone in a week, or two. The
CopyBot incident was of a similiar nature (in fact, I suspect the current
difficulties we're seeing are due to anti-CopyBot countermeasure rollout).

>    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.

You should check back. You might be surprised.

>    So, I disagree strongly with Eugen's comment on David's post regarding
>    "unfounded accusations".  If anything David was understating the case

I don't disagree that SL has problems, at times. The reason I booted
David Ish Shalom (who is very welcome back, provided his posts are on topic)
were personal attacks, and a history of poor content, which got him an
moderated status on both exi-chat and wta-talk. Incidentally, many people
(and all new subscribers) on both wta-talk and exi-chat are moderated, and
have not seen that as much of an issue.

>    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 exclusionary).

I wouldn't say high end, but I don't disagree that for VR you will need
a system and a network connection this side of the 2000s.

>    2) Good support only on closed source operating systems (Windows).

More or less disagree. I consider the Linux alpha client support (don't
know about OS X) exceptional, and for this Linden Labs deserve major kudos.

>    3) A large proprietary closed source system when there may be
>    alternatives available [7].

There is no alterantive with this user base.

>    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.

Griefers are an ubiquitios problem. It's a social problem, and occurs
in all powerful environments, so there's not much Linden Labs can do
about it, apart from buiding a griefer report infrastructure, which is
tolerant to abuse.

>    5) Private, profit driven company behind the software (are the
>    founders looking to "pump" and "dump" the user community?) [8]

It doesn't matter. OpenCroquet and that other project which name I forget
are there to pick up the disgruntled in case the original environment
turns sour.

>    6) A world running on "private" servers where nobody but the private
>    corporation has ultimate control over the "law of the land" (as

You can't give server operators full control over the environment. 
If you thought that the current griefer issue is bad, and people
are abusing their land ownership rights by denial of area weapons, you
have no idea what happens if there's an open server client and a
large community running it. It would not be enjoyable for the majority
of people.

>    compared with say an open source, open server multi-peer virtual
>    world).

How many users has OpenCroquet? Is there a public network is noticeable

>    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*

Unfounded accusations were on part of ad hominem.

>    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.

Second Life has some problems. I never denied that, and in fact, you will
not see me push SL unreflectively. 

>    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.

Welcome to proprietary software world. Anyone who's running closed-source
drivers (whether Skype, or nVidia binary-only drivers, or somesuch) is
completely opening up their white underbelly to that sort of attack. In 
fact, anyone who's not peer-reviewed *all the source* in their system running
right now is doing something very much the same.

Let's face it, whenever we're running a modern information ecology we
call personal computers, we're *way out of control*, if you're anyone
like 99.99% of all users. It would take a cutting-edge security professional
in order to audit and monitor such systems for potential intrusions.
Few people but those with the skills bother (above-mentioned 0.001%
of all computer users). 

>    within Second Life.  You are installing software on your machine which
>    is inherently untrustable [you don't have the source code] [10].  On

I have many thousands packages installed on this system. I have not
read their source, and I have not reviewed every single line of them.
In fact, I can't. I lack the skills, and the time. In fact, I know that
there are enough bugs in the whole assembly that any adversary significantly
above script kiddie level can just walk in, take a look, and walk out
with anything they need, without me being the wiser (or, at least, let them
think that).

>    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).

Come on. Whenever you're going to the restaurant, and pay with credit card
you're running a vastly greater risk of getting your card swiped. Whenever
you're buying things online you're running an equal, or worse risk.

>    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 look.

Don't think about SL as SL. Think of it as an instance of a future environment,
and given the time required to build skills and communities, consider it a
worthwhile investment. Or not.

>    Robert
>    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://blog.secondlife.com/2006/11/04/preview-of-second-life-11241-
>    on-the-beta-test-grid/
>    2. [3]http://secondlife.com/corporate/sysreqs.php
>    3.
>    [4]http://blog.secondlife.com/2006/11/23/how-i-got-second-life-running
>    -on-a-8800gtx-under-windows-xp-x64/
>    4. Didn't the last attempt to promote a Transhumanist event in Second
>    Life end up having more than just a few problems?!?
>    5. [5]http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/11/20/0218221
>    6. [6]http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/11/15/1714241 
>    7. [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.
> References
>    1. mailto:davidishalom1 at gmail.com
>    2. http://blog.secondlife.com/2006/11/04/preview-of-second-life-11241-on-the-beta-test-grid/
>    3. http://secondlife.com/corporate/sysreqs.php
>    4. http://blog.secondlife.com/2006/11/23/how-i-got-second-life-running-on-a-8800gtx-under-windows-xp-x64
>    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

Interesting thoughts. Sorry for the length of it, I just has to disagree

Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a> http://leitl.org
ICBM: 48.07100, 11.36820            http://www.ativel.com
8B29F6BE: 099D 78BA 2FD3 B014 B08A  7779 75B0 2443 8B29 F6BE
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