Last updated: See date to the right.
Updated: See new problem with mesh enabled viewers: Can’t Login Second Life
Updated 1/2012: New code in the release channels is causing login issues, basic ghosting where the system thinks you are already logged in. The official fix is call support. I suggest you read on for steps you can take.
Original October 2010 Article
Due to a timing issue in the region software we are seeing people fail to properly log out. The result is they leave a ghost behind, not a particle ball, more the spooky kind of ghost we expect to see for Halloween. I’ve seen lots of people making this complaint recently. The Beta Server and QA teams are aware of the problem and they are chasing it down.
The problem results in one’s avatar being left behind somewhere in-world when you logout. It causes a user to show in the system as already logged on, thus preventing them from logging into Second Life.
Over time I’ve decided this is not a viewer problem, at least not a specific viewer. It does not seem to matter which viewer one uses. A poor Internet connection greatly increases your chances of experiencing the problem.
Often a failed teleport or region boundary crossing can cause the problem. Such failures become more likely as the number of scripts you are wearing goes above 100. Sizable hair and the beautiful sculpty feet and shoes can drive the script count to amazing numbers. If you or friends use the Phoenix Viewer one can right-click on the avatar and use the S. Count item in the Phoenix pie menu to get the number of scripts an avatar has attached.
When the problem strikes people in-world can usually see the avatar. They can’t push it and often can walk through it, thus the ghost reference.
Fixing the Ghost Problem
First… a reinstall of the viewer will NOT help. Clearing the cache is unlikely to have any effect. This problem is on the server side.
Having Linden Lab or the region owner kick the user out or restart the region clears the problem. The challenge is getting their attention and getting something done. Using Linden Lab’s support has mixed results.
The Linden Route for the main land is to submit a ticket through the Support Portal. Provide the error message, time, and region you tried to reach at logon and/or the last region you were in. Wait for them to resolve it. 🙁
Private regions, anything not part of the main land or Zindra (SL’s red light district) is likely a private region, the solution is to contact the region owner and ask for a region restart.
Or wait for Tuesday. In general, new software is loaded to the main grid on Tuesday mornings. This forces a restart of every region on the main grid. Private regions are a case by case situation and may restart or not on any given Tuesday, depending on the owners preferences. The restart is also dependent on the current Release Candidate passing testing. If it doesn’t, there is no rollout and no restarts. The Release Channels restart on Wednesday mornings. By late Wednesday morning, SLT or PST, all of SL has been restarted.
Waiting O.O …NOOoooo
…OK… I’m not big on waiting for someone to show up and respond to an IM, JIRA, or Tuesday to roll around. Not really an option for me.
The general work around is to try to login some place other than “My last location” or “My Home”. This is most easily done by visiting the SL Destinations Page. Pick a place and try to login. You may still get an error message. Wait 45 seconds and try again some place else (see spam your way in, below). You may have to repeat this 2 or 3 times. Most people usually make it on this way. Some people have to hammer at it for over 30 minutes. But, there is a way to cut that down, I’ll explain later.
Once online travel to where you think your ghost might be. You may have problems tp’ing there. If so, get a friend to go there and try to tp you in. Try to get into the region with your ghost. Walk in if you have to. Once in, do NOT log off, leave, tp or walk out of the region. The ghost avatar should clear in a few seconds of your arrival. You should be able to login to that location once the ghost is cleared. Some claim you have to walk through the ghost to scare it away. I think just being in the same region will do it. I suggest you tp out of the region and log off from some other region. This may be a problem of this particular region or SIM. So, log off from a different region.
Update: 2011-01-26 – Where is your avatar? You may not remember or worse mis-remember. The viewer keeps a log of your teleports. You can find that log here: C:\Users\[user_name]\AppData\Roaming\SecondLife\[avatar_name]\teleport_history.xml. This is an XML file, which is text and readable with most file editors. You are looking for the last entry so scroll to the end and read up from the bottom. You’re looking for something like this:
<map> <key>column</key> <string>slurl</string> <key>value</key> <string>http://slurl.com/secondlife/Tuzandi/213/185/3052</string> </map> <map>
Another recommend fix is to have someone in World IM you… or pay you L$1. Unless you have an SL friend that is also a RL friend, that might be a bit of trick. Otherwise, just create an alternate avatar and use it to send an IM or L$ to your other avatar.
When you make an alternate av it should friend the main av and allow it to map the av’s position in SL. The main av should grant the alt the same privilege. It makes it handy for fixing various problems that can come up. However, some times a ghost avatar will not show its position on the map… but sometimes it will.
Spam Your Way In
Once you get the ‘can’t log in’ notice, clear it, and immediately try to login again. Keep repeating until you get in. For whatever reason the repeated login attempts seems to work. Doing a login attempt quickly helps. Some think the ghost is logged off periodically but actually logs itself back in. They believe you are trying to hit a login window available while the ghost off line. Whether that is true or not, repeated logins work for many.
Update 2011-01-09: More information is available now about how to spam one’s way back in. It seems ghosts that block login are union and take a break every 15 minutes or so for about a minute. Miriam Himanez in a SL blog post explained how to remove some of the trail and error from the spam-your-way-in approach. (Post)
For Miriam’s method to work you need an Alt and to have your viewer set to allow multiple copies to run. In Debug settings is the setting AllowMultipleViewers, set it to true and restart the viewer. Type in all you login information so you can login with just one click. I suggest you also run the viewer in windowed mode rather than full screen. Now start a second copy of the viewer and login with your alternate.
Once your logged in start sending IM’s to your ghosted avatar. They only need to be one or two characters long. You are looking for the answer ‘User not online’ to come back. As soon as you see it, flip to the other viewer and login. You should get right in. This should take less than 15 minutes. You can close the viewer running your Alt. Now visit the sim that has you ghost in it to clear it out. Once the ghost is gone your inventory will take a bit to load and then you are good to go. Stay in the region until you have inventory fully loaded. You can search inventory to speed it up.
Obviously, it is a good idea to allow your Alt’s to be able to map you.
If you keep getting stuck, and it is the same region, file a JIRA ticket with as much information as possible. If you provide very little information, you give the tech’s nothing to work with and they tend to ignore your ticket.
Preparing for the ticket…
Once you know you have a repeating problem there are some things to do before you attempt to logoff.
- Collect the Help->About info. Copy and paste that into a file on your desktop.
- Next press Crtl-Shift-1 to open the stats panel. This is a toggle so pressing the keys again closes the panel. Write the ping time and packet loss values into the file.
- Do an Internet connection speed test. The Lab tech’s will be most interested in ping time (latency) and packet loss at the time of your log-off. So, get those values. A poor Internet connection contributes to the problem. By definition a wireless connection is considered a poor connection. But, if you have good numbers it means there is likely something wrong with the Lab’s stuff.
When you next try to logon and hit the problem, you are ready to file a JIRA ticket that has a really good chance of being addressed.
Filing a ticket when a specific region repeats the problem is important. Repeatable problems are what the Lab needs to track down and fix the problem.
Update: 2011-01-26 – Maestro Linden has asked that people report stuck avatars in JIRA SVC-6193. Add your information. Only 18 votes, as of this update. Even if you skip the reporting, stop by and vote for the problem to be fixed.
Marigold Devin points out there is a JIRA feature request to add an avatar reset button. This may or may not be the best solution. But, it is the easy way to add your voice by voting for the button. You can vote without having to do all the reporting. See JIRA: SVC-6602. As of the date of the update, the JIRA has 103 votes, not very many.
Linden Lab will decide if they think a button is the answer or may compound the problem. The Lab has resistance to adding new controls, especially as a band-aid for a problem. Either way they are looking for a fix and your votes can change the priority they assign to the problem.
Poor Internet Connections, especially wireless connections are conducive to causing this problem. A party or combat sim that is lagging can cause the problem. A viewer crash, region hang, or restarting simulator can supposedly cause the problem. There is no information to suggest older or new viewers are more or less prone to the problem. Some people have this as a persistent problem. If you do, add your information to the JIRA: SVC-6193.
What the Lab is Doing…
There are a number of problems that have gone on for years without a solution. Things seem to have gotten lax at the Lab over the years. The recent crack down and change in operating procedure on Phillip’s return has resulted in much more positive and productive action.
All JIRA’s are being reviewed, triaged, and listed in the appropriate team’s backlog. Weekly and daily progress reports are filed on backlog progress. The Snowstorm Project is the most transparent example of the new process. The Server Beta is the next best example. Others are opening up and some are still hidden in the basement. But, there is hope.
Babbage Linden completed new memory debugging tools for SL software before leaving. These rolled out to the Server Release Candidate Channels last week. These tools should give the Lab’s techs new insight to some problems they have fought with over the years. The SIM crossing and Mono script rez freeze problems may soon see a big improvement. Several fixes for parts of those problems are in the current release channels.
The plan is to stomp out every bug reported. They have a load of them. New features will add more. However, way more people are working on fixing bugs than working on new features. Plus testing of new features is much more rigorous and the new QA process has to be passed before features are rollout to the main grid.
We’ll see if this is a new behavior for LL that sticks. If it does, we should see many of these problems disappearing and the overall SL experience improving.