Second Life Server Software Updates

Tuesdays and Wednesdays, depending on your region, the server’s software is updated and the region restarted. New versions are rolled out early morning. On Tuesday it is the new Production version that is rolled out. On Wednesday a new Release Candidate is rolled out to the test regions. The Tuesday process takes between 4 and 5 hours.

The changes just rolled out and upcoming changes are discussed in Server Beta Office Hours. Here are the things I found interesting from the latest Server Beta office hours. One is a big one for builders. 

Threaded Rez

This is a change to using multiple threads to rez objects. One would expect to see performance improve in regions with complex builds. The feature is in the Le Tigre channel now. Initially Threaded Rez was disabled. The Lindens have been enabling it on various regions in the channel and watching what happens. I’m not seeing any hard data on performance yet. Empirical evidence is that it has reduced slow rez complaints.

Holiday Slow Down

During the holidays (mostly USA) there will be fewer upgrades and rollouts. With the main staff taking days off they will take care to avoid the chance of rolling out hidden problems they won’t be around to fix.

So, we’ll see no new rollouts during Thanksgiving week. Then only 1 or 2 are planned for December.

Testing Burnout

The three release channels are proving hard on those living and running businesses in them. It is generating complaints. So, a plan is being considered to give them more time between software updates. Oskar Linden is thinking about a plan to divide the grid up into 5 zones, 20% in each zone. It would reduce the time anyone group is the guinea pig. Testing would rotate among the zones.

Currently 25% of the grid is in testing. The estate managers are not happy about that. The Lab is trying to balance resident pain and statistical relevance needed to make RC’s worthwhile. Whatever is decided some type of testing has to happen or the grid will never get fixed.

While there are no plans to go to five zones, it is being considered. I suspect region owners are simply uninformed of what is going on. I see some estate owners in the blogrum asking clueless questions. Those owners that are attending the Office Hours are mixed on the subject. Some that are watching performance stats are happy to be in the RC because they see better performance. Others are just annoyed the region has to restart. But, if it doesn’t restart they are complaining about how hard it is to get a region restarted. The Lab can’t win. The desire to please everyone, or at least the most, may slow down development and bug fixes.

ADITI Reconsidered – Bug Bounties

The Preview Grid, ADITI, is getting less and less use. This grid was for those testing scripts, clothes, weapons, cars, and etc. Now about the only use it is getting is from those working with mesh. Some of the reason for that is tests coming to ADITI come so fast it is hard to know what one is testing against. Also, the Release Candidates are much more representative of what will be on the main grid next.

ADITI is where things are tested before they are moved to Release Candidate status. Without a lot of people in ADITI it is hard to do testing.

To get more people testing on ADITI the idea of Bug Bounties is being considered. The idea is the first to find and document a bug would collect a bounty. The idea is a specific issue would be targeted and hunting season from may be Friday noon to Monday noon would be opened in a specific set of ADITI regions. Those finding a new issue with new code and documenting it in the JIRA with enough information for the Linden to reproduce it, would receive an AGNI L$ bounty. The bounties would be offered on specific new code on which the Lindens want early testing.

Oskar is considering making a trial run over an upcoming weekend. It is not set in stone yet.

Link Ability Rules

Link rules control how one links prims together. The coming of mesh will also mean a change in maximum prim size. That leads to a necessary change in the linking rules. The new linking rules are here: Linkability Rules.

The basic idea is prims are linkable if they are within 54 meters of the smallest sphere of the collection of prim centers. The max number of prims that can be linked is 256.

As of November 15, 2010 the new rules are in use on the ADITI grid. They appeared in Blue Steel 11/12. I expect them to make it to the main grid this year.

Additional Notes

There are some things going on that I’ve come across outside of the meeting. For instance Threaded Rez is running in Blue Steel. The new Inventory API is in use in Magnum.  Also people are still getting past estate land bans. The behavior of scripted items made physical is erratic. A rethink of the Script Error Debug Channel is in progress. Vehicles jump when crossing region boundaries.

Compile Your Own Viewer

The Second Life Viewer can be compiled by anyone, provided you understand compilers and have the software. The process for compiling the SLV2 series has changed somewhat and the wiki is in the process of being updated. While this is not for the novice you can find the Information here: Get source and compile. The new SLV2 on Microsoft Windows has just been created.


Several performance improvements are making their way to the main grid. Parts of the upgrade to meshes are making their way into the main grid. I think things are improving.

Things are going to slow down over the holidays.

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