Binders World


An introduction to OpenSimulator. The below text is written by Magnuz Binder and released CC0 / public domain.


OpenSimulator is a server platform for 3D virtual worlds, inspired by the virtual world Second Life. Users are represented by avatars, 3D graphical virtual figures, who can be both humanoid and almost any other shape. Users can interact with each other through visual signals, animations, public text chat, private text messages, and voice where enabled. They can also interact with the virtual environment, both physically and functionally.


The OpenSimulator environment is built up by rectangular modules called regions, often resembling landscapes or cityscapes. Users can move within and between regions by walking, running, flying where enabled, and teleporting. The content in the regions and in avatar inventories can be created using in-world tools, or by importing models, textures, sounds and animations created elsewhere. Objects in-world can be scripted to interact with users or perform various other tasks. OpenSimulator also supports display of visual media, including web pages, and streaming of audio from external sources.


OpenSimulator today is deployed in hundreds of public virtual worlds on the Internet and probably thousands of private virtual worlds. These range in size from one legacy region (256x256 m) to thousands of regions in sizes from 256x256 m up to 8192x8192 m, having user counts from one single owner to several thousands of active users. Many of these worlds are linked together in a hypergrid, similar to hyperlinking between web sites, permitting users to travel between different worlds.


OpenSimulator worlds are used for purposes such as social interaction and role-play, science and education, art and culture, creation of avatar apparel, clothing, furniture and vehicles, and design studies, building and landscaping. In total, there are tens of thousands of both regions and active users in the public virtual worlds based on OpenSimulator, and probably far more in private virtual worlds.


There is a huge amount of content available for OpenSimulator, ranging from body parts and clothes to entire regions with landscapes and buildings, or even fully furnished malls. Much is free and some is sold for more or less symbolic prices. Most can be modified to suit the specific needs or desires of the individual users. One problem, especially for newcomers, is to find the goods, and especially high quality such. However, today there are several meta-indices listing creation outlets.


To access OpenSimulator worlds, special viewers are required. These viewers are mainly the same that can be used to access the virtual world Second Life. Some viewers have extensions customised for OpenSimulator, and there are also attempts to create viewers which can run as plugins in ordinary web browsers.


OpenSimulator can be run both intermittently on home computers and continuously on hosted servers. The basic distribution sets up a one-region private world on a computer, but this can be modified and extended, and there are distributions creating larger, public, hypergrid-enabled worlds or connecting to existing, open worlds, already having many regions run by different users. Many worlds, hosts and "land barons" also offer users fully maintained regions, or parts of regions, at an often moderate cost, requiring no or little technical skills from the users to set up and use.


OpenSimulator is an open-source framework software, using a number of exchangeable plugin modules för various functionalities, such as data storage, communication and physics. It is written in C# and has a core maintained by a group of voluntary core developers, but also a number of forks and extensions for customised functionality, written by individual or groups of core or other developers. It runs on computers with Windows or, using the Mono platform, Linux and OS X.


The OpenSimulator project started in 2007 and originally aimed at being compatible with the virtual world Second Life, started in 2003. It was triggered by the open-sourcing of the Second Life viewer in 2007, and based on reverse-engineering of its protocols. However, today it has developed several new features and extensions, such as own scripting extensions adding functionality, hypergrid capability enabling avatars to move between different virtual worlds, region and inventory archives permitting saving of entire regions or avatar possessions, and varregions permitting variable sized regions from 256x256 m to 8192x8192 m in size.


For many working with OpenSimulator, the aim is to make OpenSimulator "the Apache server of virtual worlds" (referring to the very popular Apache web server). The fact that OpenSimulator is open-source, fully functional "out of the box", and already deployed for a wide variety of uses makes that a possibility. However, the technical threshold to get into OpenSimulator virtual worlds is still a lot higher than to use the web, so there is still work required, especially regarding usability of viewers and installers for the server software.

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Created 2015-09-15 and updated 2016-02-11 by