Exploring alternatives to Second Life

With Second Life® undergoing profound changes, many of us who love it have been left wondering how we should react to the changes.  Some people have been exploring other virtual worlds and a few of us have been experimenting with building our own.  In future posts, I’ll be writing about both.

In particular, I’ll be sharing my own experiences in creating my own little virtual world, which is still in very early stages of development.  I need to state up front that I am neither a Linux expert nor an OpenSim expert.  I’m learning both as I go.  My intention in this blog is to share my experiences from time to time with you, in the hopes that it will help you start and run your own world.

My little virtual world currently consists of 8 sims hosted on my own OpenSUSE server that I built and configured myself, running on my home dsl.  It’s still under development.  Time pressures have kept me from resolving some issues that I want to take care of before inviting more people into it.

I started by creating a test world using WAMP with Windows, and the Diva distro.  Diva is great – you can read about setting it up in an excellent Hypergrid Business explanation.  It allows you to get a basic four sim world up and running quickly, and a WAMP server is fairly easy to set up.  The problem is that WAMP is not very secure.  It’s a great way to start getting server and OpenSim experience, but if you choose to try it, don’t do it on your regular computer, or on any computer containing personal or confidential data!  Because I build my own computers, I had a spare lying around on which I could run WAMP without taking any great risks.  WAMP is a great way to do development on Windows, but it should not be used on a regular basis for an OpenSim grid that’s open to the public.

After getting a good introduction to OpenSim using WAMP and Diva, I built my own OpenSUSE Linux server and created an entirely new world with full OpenSim rather than Diva.

Why didn’t I stick with Diva?  I was impressed with Diva.  It’s fairly easy to set up and works well.  Diva does require a fair amount of technical skill, but much less than regular OpenSim.  For most people, Diva is the better way to go.

However I’m someone who enjoys tackling technical challenges and although I didn’t have much prior Linux experience, I am technically proficient – I’m a former software engineer and I’ve been building my own computers for 20 years – so I decided to plunge into regular OpenSim.

In future posts I’ll be writing about some of the challenges I’ve faced, solutions I’ve found, and useful resources.

I still love Second Life and although I’ve scaled back on my land ownership there, I have no intention of leaving. However the universe of virtual worlds is growing and in the future, we’ll probably be active in more than one.  For me, the prospect of being able to create my own world is even more exciting.  Not long ago it would have been an impossible dream, but with alternatives such as CloudParty, Kitely, Diva, and OpenSim emerging, it’s becoming a possibility even for those without technical skills.