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Linden Lab

When I came to Linden Lab over five years ago, Second Life had gone through a period of the coveted hockey-stick growth, and we had just not kept up with the technical demands such growth creates. One or more major outages a week were common.

In my first few months at the Lab, we removed more than a hundred major single points of failure in our service, but several major ones still loomed large, the granddaddy of them all being the core MySQL database server. By late Winter 2009 we were suffering from a core database outage a few times each week.

With a lot of hard work and countless long nights we stabilized the service and started making major improvements to the overall stability and performance of Second Life. However, despite our continued improvements, and the relative tranquility they have created, the spectres of technical debt and single points of failure still loom over our operations. In recent weeks some of them have struck and disrupted Second Life. So much so that I want to explain the outages that have occurred, how we addressed them, and what we are doing going forward.

First, that core MySQL database cluster still exists. It is still the core of many of our central functions. When the write server fails it takes a minimum of thirty minutes to promote a new server into position. The promotion itself is actually relatively quick, but its numerous dependent services must all be taken down and brought back up carefully to ensure that they are all functioning properly.

In the last two months the core MySQL write database has hit two different fatal hardware faults, driving us to temporarily halt most Second Life operations. In some sense, two major write database failures close together is bad luck, but we cannot depend on luck to ensure the reliability of Second Life. In the very near future, we are moving the core MySQL write server to a new hardware class, on which production read servers are already running. Moving the write server will further improve overall database performance and make failures less frequent. It does not of course solve the root single point of failure problem so in the coming days, weeks, and months we will be reducing the impact of database failures even more. This includes continued improvement to the rotation process, extracting more functions out of the core database cluster, and further reducing the number of features that depend on the single write server.

The core MySQL database, however, has not been our only problem recently. A few weeks ago there was a massive distributed denial of service attack on one of our upstream service providers that affected most of their customers, including us, and inhibited the ability of some to use our services. We have since mitigated future potential impact from such an attack by adding an additional provider. There have also been hardware failures in the Marketplace search infrastructure that have impacted that site, a problem that we are continuing to work through. Most seriously though was this week’s four and a half hour long login outage.

On Tuesday morning, users stopped being able to get into Second Life. The root cause was created over ten years ago in a system designed to assign a unique identifier to the hand-off of sessions from login to users’ initial regions. At 7:40AM Pacific Time, that system quietly ran out of possible numbers to assign. It took us four hours to isolate the problem, test a fix, and deploy the change. Users could immediately log in at that point, but it took an additional two hours for systems to settle out. When tens of thousands of users rush back into Second Life following an outage, we have to deliberately throttle some services to prevent further breakage.

Having such a hidden fault in a core service  is unacceptable, so we are doing a thorough review of the login process to determine if there are any more problems like this lurking. Our intent at this point also is to remove the identifier assignment service altogether. It not only was the ultimate source of this outage, but is also one more single point of failure that should have been dispatched long ago.

We want to apologize for all of the recent problems and the frustration they have caused. We too are frustrated and are intent on making our service better. Few things give me more pleasure than every day helping to make Second Life a happy and fun place. Thank you for your patience and support. We simply could not have a more devoted user base and for that we owe you better.

Most sincerely,

Landon (Linden)

 

Linden Lab

UPDATE: 04.24.2015 - For an update on how the Tool Viewer Release affects these systems, visit this blog.


 


We have made some changes to the Second Life System Requirements to bring them more up to date, and are making some related changes to the Viewer:




  • We have removed Windows XP and Mac OSX 10.6 from the list of supported operating systems. Microsoft has announced the end of support for XP, and it has been some time since Apple has released updates for 10.6. For some time now, the Viewer has been significantly less stable on these older systems, and the lack of security updates to them make them more hazardous to use.
    We have no plans to actually block those systems, but problems reported on them that cannot be reproduced on supported systems will not likely be fixed.




  • The Windows installer has been modified to verify that the system has been updated with the most recent Service Packs from Microsoft. While we will not block installation on Windows 8 at this time, we strongly recommend upgrading to 8.1 for greater stability. Our data shows that the Viewer is significantly less stable on systems that have not been kept up to date, so the installer will now block installation until the updates have been applied. This change will be effective in a Viewer version to be released in the next few weeks, so it would be a good idea to get your system up to date before then. You can find information on how to install the latest updates at the Microsoft Windows Update page.



Guest

Last week, we made a new page available as a replacement for the old Transaction History page. Due to your feedback, we rolled back the changes to this page to allow us to gather more feedback, and we are now providing this new page for review, without removing the old Transaction History page.

We have not yet made any changes to the new page, because we would like time to collect your feedback and review it. We have created a wiki page giving background on why changes were made to this page, where the new page is, and how to provide feedback. We will be closing feedback on April 30, 2014, so please take a look before then.

 

Linden Lab

Many of you may have read about the Heartbleed SSL vulnerability that is still affecting many Internet sites.

You do not need to take extra action to secure your Second Life password if you have not used the same password on other websites. Your Second Life password was not visible via Heartbleed server memory exposure. No secondlife.com site that accepts passwords had the vulnerable SSL heartbeat feature enabled.

If you used the same password for Second Life that you used on a third-party site, and if that third-party site may have been affected by the vulnerability, you should change your password.

Supporting sites such as Second Life profiles are hosted on cloud hosting services. Some of these sites were previously vulnerable to Heartbleed, which may have exposed one of these servers' certificates. As an extra precaution, we are in the process of replacing our SSL certificates across the board. This change will be fully automatic in standard web browsers.

Thank you for your interest in keeping Second Life safe!

Linden Lab

We’re happy to report that the Photo Upload feature of SL Share is once again working (as we previously blogged, that portion of the service had been temporarily disabled by Facebook). Thank you again for your patience as we worked to resolve this issue.

The restored feature no longer automatically includes SLURLs when you share a picture to Facebook, but it’s still possible to let your Facebook friends know where you are inworld by using the Check-In function in SL Share.

As you may have seen, we’re expanding the functionality of SL Share to include not only Facebook, but also Flickr, and Twitter. You can read about that work here and try it out with the project Viewer now available here.

Linden Lab


UPDATE - April 3, 2014: this issue is resolved and the Photo Upload feature is once again working. Thank you for your patience!

 

Facebook recently contacted us to let us know that the Photo Upload feature of SL Share is not permitted to automatically include location SLURLs in posts made from the application. We’re working with them to get a hotfix out ASAP, but in the meantime the Photo Upload feature in SL Share will not work, as Facebook has temporarily disabled that part of the application. SL Share’s Status Update and Check-In features will continue to work.

When SL Share’s full functionality is restored, SLURLs will no longer be included when you share a picture using Photo Upload, but you will still be able to let your Facebook friends know where to join you in Second Life by using the Check-In feature.

We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause you and are working to get a fix out ASAP.  We’ll use this blog to keep everyone posted with any updates and will of course let you know once the issue is resolved as well. Thank you for your patience.

Linden Lab

The Oculus Rift offers exciting possibilities for Second Life - the stereoscopic virtual reality headset brings a new level of immersion to our 3D world, making Second Life a more compelling experience than ever before.

Though a consumer version of the headset isn’t available yet, we’ve been working with the development kit to integrate the Oculus Rift with the Second Life Viewer. We now have a Viewer ready for beta testers, and if you have an Oculus Rift headset, we’d love to get your feedback.

If you have the Oculus Rift development hardware and would like to help us with feedback on the Viewer integration, please write to sl_oculus_beta@lindenlab.com to apply for the limited beta.

Linden Lab

As we blogged about last week, we’re making some changes to our JIRA implementation to make our bug reporting system a more transparent and productive experience. We just wanted to take a moment to let everyone know that these changes are now live!

One of the questions we’ve seen in the past week is how previously submitted issues would be treated - namely, will those also be viewable by everyone and open for comment prior to being triaged?

While we want to make issues visible for the reasons described in our last post, we’re not going to extend this to old issues, because at the time they were created, users knew that those reports would have limited visibility and they may have included sensitive and/or private information. We don’t want to take information that someone thought would be private and suddenly make that visible to everyone, so the new visibility settings will apply only to new issues.

 

Linden Lab

Today, we’re happy to announce some changes to our JIRA implementation - the system we use to collect, track, and take action on bugs reported by users. You’ll see these changes take effect next week.

Recently, this system was working in a way that wasn’t very transparent, and it frankly wasn’t a good experience for the users who care enough about Second Life to try to help improve it, nor was it the best set-up for the Lindens tasked with addressing these issues. So you can see why we’re happy to be changing it!

Moving forward, we’re going to make our JIRA implementation a more transparent experience. All users will be able to see all BUG issues, all the time. You’ll be able to search to see if there are duplicates before submitting an issue, and if there’s a bug that’s particularly important to you, you can contribute your info to it and see when it’s been Accepted and imported to the Linden team.

You’ll also be able to comment. Before an issue is triaged, everyone can comment to help isolate and describe the issue more clearly. Do remember, there are some basic guidelines for participation that need to be followed. Once an issue is Accepted and imported by Linden Lab’s QA team, the original reporter will still be able to comment, as will Lindens and a small team of community triagers - a group that includes some third party Viewer developers and others selected by Linden Lab for having demonstrated skills in this area. This group has been invaluable in helping to keep the bug database orderly and cross-referenced as well as troubleshooting bugs before they’re triaged, and we’re glad to have their continuing help with this process.

Lastly, “New Feature Request” is back! If you’ve got a great idea for a feature, you don’t need to slip it through the system disguised as a bug report - just select the “New Feature Request” category when you submit. Commenting for this category will work just like for bug reports, and submitting improvements through this category will make things much easier for the Linden team reviewing these. Please remember that JIRA is an engineering tool - it’s not meant for policy discussions and the like nor is it a replacement for the Forums, where you can have all kinds of stimulating discussions.

If you’re one of the many who have taken the time to submit a bug report through the JIRA system - thank you! We really appreciate your work in tracking down the issues, and it’s a significant help to us as we continue to improve Second Life. 

We think these changes will make for a better, more transparent and more productive experience for all of us, but if you have additional ideas on ways to improve our implementation, you can share them with us in this Forum thread.

 

 

Linden Lab

As we continue to work on improving the Second Life experience, one challenge we’ve been tackling is the length of the Viewer installation process. No one likes waiting, and now with Project Zipper, you don’t have to!

With the project Viewer available today, there’s really only one thing different - the installation is super fast. Rather than waiting for install to complete, you’ll quickly be in Second Life doing what you love.

Try out Project Zipper with the project Viewer here.

This is still a project Viewer, and if you find bugs while testing it out, please let us know by filing them in BUG project in JIRA.

Linden Lab

On deck for immediate release are more improvements to Project Sunshine. New updates include better stability and performance enhancements in retry logic, redundant requests, and better detection for appearance conditions. This release also includes lots of bug fixes and quite a bit of cleanup of old code from the old client-side baking framework.

Additionally, we’ve integrated support for the latest AISv3 code (which will improve how back-end processing of inventory items work). We are just awaiting the latest server components to go live before this feature is fully functioning. More on this soon.

Update to the latest Viewer today and take advantage of the new Sunshine refinements!

Linden Lab

 

Since late in 2012, there's been a project to improve HTTP communications between Viewer and grid services. One of the metrics we've tried to improve is maximum request rate: the number of  HTTP requests that can be issued and responded to over a time interval. Improving this figure has been challenging. There are and will always be factors beyond our control, such as the characteristics of the home network, ISP policies and capacities, physical distance to services, and transient network problems, to name a few. However, we can do something about other factors that are under our control.

These factors can be fixed limits intended to implement a rate throttle. Or they can also be side-effects of other decisions, such as connection handling. The impact of fixed limits and connection handling is shown in the diagram below taken from texture and mesh fetching. The lowest curve (red) represents the highest possible request rate when using a unique connection for each HTTP request for a maximum of five (5) concurrent connections. The curve above it (blue) shows the doubling of the request rate limit when HTTP keepalives are used. And both of these limits are strongly affected by packet round-trip (ping) times. Finally, the horizontal line at 100 RPS represents an approximate limit on request rate that's independent of ping time.png;base642573309221b495a0.png

At the beginning of this project, most HTTP traffic, texture fetching in particular, was constrained to region 'A'. This was the result of a combination of factors. One was the lack of connection keepalives. This forced a TCP connection handshake prior to every HTTP request. Another was the delay in launching new requests on completion of previous requests.

 

Viewer 3.4.3

Released in early 2013, Viewer 3.4.3 included a new library, llcorehttp, to begin to address the above issues. It was foundational in that it didn't attack the above problems directly (nor other problems not discussed here), but it established a structure that would allow the problems to be addressed over a series of releases.

While its goals were modest, the efficiency and latency improvements yielded some nice gains. Texture fetching was the first component to use the new library and throughput and robustness increased while tendencies to stall have disappeared. With these changes, texture fetching solidly entered the 'B' region of the diagram.

 

DRTSIM-203

Deployed in April, 2013, the DRTSIM-203 server release included the first support for HTTP keepalive connections between viewers and simulator hosts. For small transfers, it halved the number of round-trips required to fetch an object. For larger transfers, the impact of TCP slow-start was also reduced. There were several other beneficial side-effects; the greatest of these was creating fewer TCP connections for a given workload. A high rate of connection creation, called connection churn, is one factor in destabilizing many home routers. Symptoms of this include: router reboots, loss of connectivity, timeouts, and DNS failures.

Keepalive connections were enabled for texture fetches and SSL-encrypted HTTP between viewers and simulator hosts. This raised the ceiling into region 'C,' increasing texture download throughput. Mesh downloads continued to use the original connection scheme, and monitoring and enforcement watchdogs were added to protect common services from monopolization.

 

What’s next?

We continue to evaluate our HTTP protocols with goals of improving our user experiences. Here are some of our most recent areas of interest.

DRTSIM-216/229 + Viewer DRTVWR-329

Mesh fetching, like texture fetching, is a relatively heavy-weight activity in the viewer. It takes time to acquire these assets and display a scene. So mesh fetches will be the next area to receive the above treatment, putting them in region 'C' as well.

The challenge is that mesh fetching has been built around extremely high connection concurrency. A new capability service, called 'GetMesh2', will supersede the existing 'GetMesh' service. It is designed around low connection concurrency. That, in turn, will permit connection keepalive and even HTTP pipelining while promising higher throughput, lower overhead and improved router stability.

 

Pipelining

As significant as the above changes are, they still leave most users under a ceiling strongly influenced by ping time. Europe and Asia are usually over 100 ms and South Africa often reports 250 ms. There will always be a 'ping tax' on those who are far from grid services. But there is something we can do: HTTP pipelining.

Pipelining reduces the impact of ping time by issuing multiple HTTP requests at once without waiting for responses. This will allow our servers to keep filling the download stream rather than stalling between requests. Mesh and texture fetching will get first crack at pipelining. There will be new problems to discover. An essential library, libcurl, has only just started supporting pipelining. We will need to update some of our services as well. But those will be solved and asset fetches will begin to operate in region 'D'.

 

Sky's the Limit

Progress doesn't stop with pipelining. There are more opportunities to push upwards into 'E' and 'F' regions. A few possibilities:

  • If you participated in the DRTSIM-203 beta test, you had an opportunity to try our 'Happy' regions (TextureTest2H, MeshTest2H, etc.). These regions ran on hosts with elevated limits to see what would happen. The results were positive and invite a permanent increase as HTTP behavior improves.

  • Updating other HTTP-based services, moving them up the throughput curve. This would include services such as inventory operations and display name lookups, which make heavy, bursty demands.

  • Looking into other transport protocols. SPDY is interesting and tries to solve some of the challenges Second Life presents. How well it solves them is yet to be seen.

 

These shouldn’t be taken as commitments or written-in-stone plans, as priorities and goals may shift, but we’ve seen good results from our work on the HTTP project and are looking forward to continuing to improve Second Life’s infrastructure.



Linden Lab

A new set of Materials work has become a Release Candidate Viewer. This Viewer includes support for Materials underwater, render support for impostors, and fixes that will address issues with transparency and alpha layers. See the Release Notes for full details.

 

UnderwaterCoral.pngA quick coral study with Normal and Specular maps shown underwater. Land Impact is 14.

As of today, approximately one fifth of the regions in Second Life have at least one object using Materials, and this is increasing at a rate of about 2% per week. Users with high-end graphics cards are seeing a significant increase in frames per second when Advanced Lighting Model (ALM) is turned on -- we highly recommend that those users turn ALM on. In addition, we will be updating the GPU tables to include newer graphics cards, allowing more users to take advantage of advanced graphics features like Materials.

 

original.png

 

Thanks to those who have already tried out Materials and submitted a bug report to the MATBUG JIRA project! Once this release candidate has completed the release process, we will be moving any active MATBUGs to the BUG project and track any future issues from the BUG project.


If you’d like to experiment with Materials, download the Materials Release Candidate Viewer today. And don’t forget to check the Good Building Practices wiki for more tips and tricks and the Knowledge Base for updated user documentation.

Linden Lab

We are making some improvements to how we release new Viewer features. Our goal is to accelerate the pace at which we bring new features and improvements to all Second Life users by removing what had previously been a bottleneck in our release process.

 

In a couple of weeks, we’re going to begin following a process similar to what we already do with the simulator. We’ll release more than one new version at the same time in parallel to subsets of users for final validation, and then promote the most important of the best of those to the default Release Viewer when that testing shows it to be ready.

 

In the past, we have used the 'Second Life Beta Viewer' channel for this final user validation, but because we had only one Beta channel, some features and fixes have been significantly delayed waiting for their 'turn' in the channel. We will now be able to put those Viewers in the regular Release channel to a smaller randomly chosen group, allowing us to test and release new features more quickly.

 

If a development project wants to put out an early version for testing prior to it being ready for the Release channel, a channel specific to that project (either 'Project <project>' for very early versions, or 'Beta <project>' for more mature ones) will be created, just like we do today. These will be shut down when the project is ready to move to final testing in the Release channel, and users in the early project test channels will automatically be upgraded to the corresponding Release candidate version.

 

Because several different beta Viewers will be tested concurrently in the Release channel, the ‘Second Life Beta Viewer’ channel will no longer be used; there will be a web page where users who want to try early versions can find them. The existing inworld 'Second Life Beta' group is not affected.

 

Following a similar process has enabled us to accelerate the pace at which we release improvements to the simulator, and we’re looking forward to using this new process to more quickly introduce new features to the Second Life Viewer.

Linden Lab

The Snowstorm project is happy to announce that we have a Materials Project Viewer available for alpha testing of support for Normal and Specular maps on Second Life objects!  When generally available, this will enable content creators to make much richer looking materials with less geometric complexity.

This is a very early test version - there are still known bugs, and certainly some that we don't know about yet. We do not recommend using it to manipulate content that you care about. Bugs should be reported in the Materials Project Viewer (MATBUG) project on Jira.  If you use it, please leave automatic updates enabled, because we expect to release updates relatively frequently.

Information on how to prepare textures in a way that's compatible with the Materials Project Viewer available on the wiki.

This project is a great example of how we can improve Second Life through collaboration: it includes contributions from members of the Exodus, Firestorm, and Catznip development teams, as well as from Linden Lab. We don't yet have a target date for when it will be in the regular Release Viewer, but we're working toward that, and your help testing will make that happen sooner and with higher quality.

Linden Lab

Engineering and Operations at Linden Lab are constantly striving to make performance improvements to Second Life and we want to share the results of a recent one.

An optimization on a single query against the read pool of one of the main core database clusters has resulted in nearly a 75% reduction in load on that cluster, improving numerous systems including group functions and teleports. There has been a 7% improvement in teleport performance in peak concurrency hours and an 86% reduction in group query times.


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This is only one of the performance changes we will be making over the next few months, so keep an eye out.

Linden Lab

User-submitted bug reports help improve the Second Life experience for all Residents, so we greatly appreciate all of you who take the time to provide this invaluable information to us.

Because we want to make it even easier to report bugs, today we are making some changes that will streamline the bug reporting process, allowing us to more quickly collect information and respond to issues.

Following is a summary of the JIRA changes:

  • All bugs should now be filed in the new BUG project, using the more streamlined submission form.
  • Second Life users will only see their own reported issues.  When a Bug reaches the "Been Triaged" status, they will no longer be able to add comments to their issue.
  • Once a Bug reaches the “Accepted” or “Closed” status, it will not be updated. You can watch the Release Notes to see when and if a fix has been released for your issue.
  • Existing JIRAs will remain publicly visible. We will continue to review and work through these.


To those of you who have taken the time to alert us to bugs and provided the information we need to fix them -- thank you! We hope that you will continue to help us improve Second Life, and this new process should make it easier for all of us. Ideas about how we can continue to improve the bug reporting process can be shared here.

For more information, visit:
How to report a BUG (Knowledge Base Article):
Bug Tracker (wiki page):
Bug Tracker Status/Resolutions (wiki page):

Linden Lab

 

pr3AP_DADAY

 

One of the challenges that virtual world creators face is the trade-off between rich visual detail and geometric complexity. Ideally, by adding more and smaller faces to an object, a designer can model different surface textures and create realistic variations in the interplay of light and shadow. However, adding faces also quickly increases the size of the model and its rendering cost. Normal and Specular Maps are ways to address this by allowing for the appearance of a complex surface without actually modeling fine scale geometry.

A Normal Map is an image where the color codes indicate how the renderer should reflect light from each pixel on a surface by modifying the direction that the pixel "faces" (imagine that each pixel could be turned on tiny pivots). This means that pixels on a simple surface can be rendered so that they appear to have much more detail than the actual geometry and at much lower rendering cost. Light and shadow are rendered as though the surface had depth and physical texture, simulating roughness, bumps, and even edges and additional faces.

Similarly, a Specular Map allows each pixel to have its own degree of reflectivity, so that some parts of a single face reflect sharply, while adjacent pixels can be dull.

The open source developers of the Exodus Viewer are contributing Viewer support for Normal and Specular Maps, as well as some additional controls for how light reflects from faces. Linden Lab is developing the server side support so that this powerful tool will be available in Second Life.

Design and development are under way. Watch this blog and the Snowstorm Viewers page for information on when test Viewers with these new capabilities become available.

For additional information, or to learn more about how you can participate in the open source program, please contact Oz@lindenlab.com.

 

Linden Lab

Somewhere below the regolith in the Linden Lab secret lunar base, some of the Lab’s top minds have been tackling performance issues in Second Life. The areas of focus range from infrastructure improvements to server-side texture compositing to object caching.

This year, Linden Lab is making the single largest capital investment in new server hardware upgrades in the history of the company. This new hardware will give residents better performance and more reliability. Additionally, we are converting from three co-locations to two co-locations. This will significantly reduce our inter-co-location latency and further enhance simulator performance.

The Shining project is the name given to a recent Lab effort to identify and measure delays and other problems with streaming avatars and objects and to propose and implement solutions. During the Shining project, several small improvements have been identified and deployed. The next small improvement from Shining to be deployed will be pre-rendering the starter Avatars to improve the new resident experience.

As a result of the Shining investigation, the project has been split into three larger performance projects: Project Sunshine, Object Caching, and HTTP Library.

All together, the hardware upgrades and the Shining projects should improve avatar and object streaming speeds significantly. Depending on your unique situation, your mileage will vary.


Project Sunshine (Server-side Baked Texture Generation & Storage)


Currently, all client viewers are responsible for compositing their own Avatar textures, then sending the results back to the Sim for other viewers to access. This method can lead to slowdowns and errors. The actual calculations for compositing textures are straightforward and not particularly time-consuming. However, in order for the viewer to do the calculations it first has to download a lot of individual assets from the Sim, and must then upload large results back to the Sim. This pushes a lot of bits through the Sim / Viewer connection, which can be slow and unreliable.

Depending on client hardware to do the compositing and uploading of the resulting baked textures can introduce erroneous results (like way too much pink). In order to handle these errors, a number of retry and fallback mechanisms have been put in place. This adds further load and overhead to the whole system.

Project Sunshine stands up a Texture Compositing server that is separate from the Sims servers. When a Viewer needs to render an Avatar, it sends a message to the Sim, which in turn sends a message to the Texture Compositing Server. The Texture Server then performs the texture compositing and sends the results back to the Viewer.

The Texture Server has access to a database of previously generated Avatar textures. If the Sim is asking for the baked textures for an Avatar that has been previously calculated, the Texture Server can pull the results out of the database instead of recalculating. Even if it’s not the same Avatar, but the set of clothes is the same, the Texture Server can use the previously calculated results.

An additional advantage of having a Texture Generation server is that the heavy HTTP communication about the individual assets that make up an Avatar will happen on reliable, fast internal network connections instead of external connections.

Object Caching & Interest Lists

Caching objects on a resident’s hard drive is intended to provide faster drawing of objects that are most likely to be redrawn later in a resident’s session or in the next session.

The current object cache implementation has room for improvement. Currently, the viewer only caches objects at the point the resident disconnects from a region and only objects currently in view are cached. The current caching communication between Sim and Viewer when a scene is initially being loaded is inefficient and resource intensive.

The new system is designed to make sure that a viewer never has to download object information that it already has and is still valid. This will reduce the load on the Sim and on the Sim / Viewer connection.

With the new system, when the Viewer connects to a region, the Sim first says to the Viewer, “Here’s a list of all my object groups by UUID.” The Viewer checks its cache and replies, “Here are the timestamps for the object groups that I found in my cache.” (If an object group is not found in the cache, the timestamp is 0.) The Sim checks the Viewer’s timestamps against its own data and responds, “Here’s a list of object groups in your cache that are still valid.” While the Viewer starts drawing valid objects from its cache, the Sim starts streaming the new object data that the Viewer needs, based on the particular Viewer’s object priorities.

HTTP Library

Top performance for the Shining initiatives depend on the speed and reliability of HTTP messages initiated by both the Viewers and the Sims. The third part of the Shining project, the new HTTP Library, implements modern best practices in messaging, connection management, and error recovery.

Linden Lab

Latest Update on Mesh

With the initial release of mesh in August, Linden Lab introduced an entirely new way to measure the impact that objects have in Second Life. Since then, we’ve seen that providing customers with this additional insight has allowed them to design with more performance efficiency.

Now, with this new release of mesh, creators get a more detailed understanding of the actual impact of objects on the world around them. Being able to see Resource Weights, as well as how they drive Land Impact, helps creators more easily build responsive and low-lag locations, improving the overall resident experience.

To better show what effect an object will have inside Second Life, we have developed four weight values: Download, Physics, Server, and Display. Each of these values can be used by creators to determine the impact that a given object will have on performance from different perspectives (e.g. client vs. server) and under different circumstances.

 

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Here’s how they break down:


  • Download measures how much bandwidth we need to send out the information about an object so that everyone can see it.
  • Physics is a value that shows how difficult the object is for the physics and Havok processes to create, track, and update the object.  
  • Server is a value that shows you how difficult the object is for the server processes to create, track, and update the object.  
  • Land Impact (formerly PE or Prim Equivalence) is the highest of the above server-side weights. It defines a theoretical limit under which performance remains acceptable for residents.

 

  • Render is a value that shows you how difficult it is for the client renderer (your viewer) to draw the object. Because it’s related to the client, this is informational only. This is the same calculation used to create Avatar Rendering Weight.


    Knolwedge Base Article on Weights and Impact.


How you see it in the viewer:


WH_NdAFmN4D9wDfs78LgyW5CO8IUZxrgRWWVve5KdV1ROknnqtM1YwrWZgTI9LALwAA9LgTA6dyHQzStdBq6IJIxcJOm_NcknH-1NCLw66QUJM3S5nw



We hope understanding the relationship between objects and performance will help land owners and creators make even more efficient content. As always, we welcome feedback to help us make this information even easier to understand.


Linden Lab

You may have noticed that we’ve added a Mesh Enablement tab to your Account. Get ready to explore the latest innovation from the Lab!

Mesh? What the heck is that?

We’ve had quite a few questions from users about mesh —  mostly along the lines of what is it? How can I use it? When will it become available? Well, we’ve got some answers for you — and some good news!

First of all, what is it, exactly?The term “mesh” refers to an object that consists of polygonal geometry data. Essentially, it’s what you see in modern video games, special effects and 3D animation. It's extremely flexible — and when it’s well-made, it can be way more efficient than the existing prims and sculpties you’ll find inworld currently. Mesh objects are first created in external programs, such as Blender or Maya, and then imported onto the Second Life grid. Once there, mesh objects can be manipulated in pretty much the same ways you would manipulate a regular old prim. And, here’s the best part — the wait is almost over! We’ve been rolling out mesh-upload capability to selected regions over the past week, and the rollout pace will increase in the coming weeks.

Mesh on the Main Grid

Because we’re rolling out mesh-upload capability across the Main Grid over the next few weeks,  mesh is not going to be available everywhere all at once. But, you can get a preview. Ready to try mesh? Here are a few steps you'll need to complete to get started:

1. Get enabled. To do this, you'll need to first complete a short tutorial about mesh and intellectual property rights.

2. Download the Mesh Project Viewer.

3. Once you’re inworld and using the Mesh Project Viewer, teleport to the selected Project Regions where mesh capabilities are enabled. If you're interested in uploading mesh objects, you will want to visit public areas to test. View the list of current mesh enabled sandbox regions here.



If you have a region and want to get upgraded early, check here.

Before you do visit a Project Region, you should check out the Mesh Project Wiki Page and read about uploading mesh.

It's also a good idea to read through the Mesh Forums to get more info and to ask questions of your fellow creators.

During the rollout period (until we enable upload in the next version of the Release Viewer), Linden Lab will charge a discounted fee for uploads. Also, during this initial period, no mesh items should be posted to the Second Life Marketplace due to the limited availability of places to rez mesh objects.

We’re excited to share our latest project with you — and can’t wait to see the awesome things you’ll build with mesh!

Go out and create something amazing – have fun!

Linden Lab

Linden Lab

Mesh Update

Linden Lab is excited to announce the latest updates on one of our coolest new features — mesh. With mesh, you’ll be able to create, build and beautify even more incredible objects inworld! You’ll find a new Mesh Enablement functionality tab in the My Account section of your Account screen. It’s just another part of the innovation and imagination that makes Second Life the magical place it is.

Uploading Mesh

Now that mesh is in rollout stage and many users will soon be able to utilize its content-creation capabilities, there are a few things creators should know before giving it a whirl. Potential creators will need to satisfy a couple of requirements in order to gain access to mesh-upload capabilities. First, you’ll need to review a short tutorial that is intended to help Residents understand some of Linden Lab’s intellectual property policies — they can be kind of tricky, and we at the Lab want all content creators to be well-informed This tutorial outlines some of the key points relating to intellectual property.

Second, if you have never given us billing information, you'll need to enter it into your account. Why, you ask? Because having payment information on file is an important step in establishing direct relationships with content creators who will be working in mesh. Note: We do realize that with the current configuration, some Residents will need to make a purchase in order to enter their billing information.

The first round of rollouts of mesh will be happening over the next few weeks! We look forward to seeing your continued imagination, skill and creativity in this exciting new format. We hope you’ll be pleased with our innovations — and can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Now go create something amazing!

Linden Lab


Linden Lab

Today, we released the latest version of the SL Viewer into general availability with Voice included in Basic mode. All that new users have to do is click on a simple microphone button--a well-understood symbol for voice/sound. For those seasoned Residents, the microphone button is where the Speak button is in Advanced mode.

SLViewerBasic-voice.jpg

Look for more improvements to the SL Viewer coming soon. In the meantime, download the latest SL Viewer and give Basic mode a try.

Helpful Links
    •    Download SL Viewer with Basic and Advanced:
    ◦    Windows  |  Mac  |  Linux
    •    SL Viewer Release Notes
    •    Feedback Forum on SL Viewer Basic Mode
    •    Twitter hashtag #slviewer

Samuel Linden

Today, we’re releasing a new feature with the SL Viewer Beta, available only in Advanced mode--Enhanced Avatar Physics. In this viewer, you can now configure the amount of movement that you would like for your avatar’s soft body parts, making your avatar much more (ahem) realistic. Since the physics are controlled by a wearable object, you have the ability to easily customize and personalize your settings just as if you were editing any other clothing item. So whether you want lots of movement, or only a bit, you can adjust your settings and they will apply only to your avatar’s targeted body part.

Of course, we continue to smash bugs and make strides in viewer stability and performance, but we figured that you would be much more interested in avatars bouncing and jiggling. Please check the SL Viewer Beta Release Notes for system compatibility and known issues. So, download the new SL Viewer Beta today and give it a try.

See you inworld!

Helpful Links
    •    Download SL Viewer Beta (v2.6.3) with Enhanced Avatar Physics:
         Windows  |  Mac  |  Linux
    •    SL Viewer Beta Release Notes
    •    SL Viewer JIRA for Bugs Click on the "bugs" button on the upper right.
    •    Knowledge Base Article on Enhanced Avatar Physics
    •    Feedback Forum on SL Viewer
    •    Twitter hashtag #slviewer

 

UPDATE ON 4/26/11: SL Viewer with Enhanced Avatar Physics is now out of beta and generally available as the default Viewer for new users. Download it today on the main Second Life Downloads page. Then, let us know what you think on the SL Viewer Feedback Forum and in Twitter using the hashtag #slviewer.

Q Linden

Today we launched Viewer 2.5, now out of Beta. The most significant update is a new, web-based profile system, which allows profiles to be viewed and edited both on the web and in the Viewer. For example, here's mine. Please note this is just a starting point for the web-based profiles; we’ll be doing a lot of work to refine the usability and make them richer over time.

In response to your feedback from the early beta versions of Viewer 2.5, we've added some privacy settings that will allow you to control just how public your profile is. Once you’ve logged in, click on “Privacy Settings” in the upper right corner of your profile. Group settings set in the Viewer will be overridden by these group privacy settings.

  • "Everyone" means that the information is available to the whole Internet and can be picked up by search engines.
  • "Second Life" means that the information is available to all Second Life Residents who are logged into the website or inworld. This is the default for all existing Residents using Viewer 2.5.
  • "Friends" means that only your Second Life friends can see the information on the web and inworld.

This is why we have a beta process--to address concerns and improve your user experience. We will continue to iterate as we get more feedback. Thank you for all your help and comments. Please attend the Viewer 2 User Group meetings if you would like to share your thoughts and feedback directly with me and the Snowstorm team.

Viewer 2.5 also has some other new features. The one I like best is that you can now have your Favorite landmarks also appear on the login screen, so that you can log directly into your favorite locations. Torley made a video about this, so check it out! We've also improved some texturing performance and fixed another batch of bugs. Watching the internal data, we've already seen a noticeable improvement in stability and performance--on par with Viewer 1.23.

Download Viewer 2.5, try it out, and keep the feedback coming! And, if you Twitter, please use the hashtag #slviewer2.

Helpful Links

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