KirstenLee Viewer S21(6) RC3 Released Review

The complexity of version numbering for viewers and the code dumps coming from Linden Lab make clearly telling you what version and features your likely to encounter nearly impossible. There has been a load of code added to the S21(6) and changing to RC3, while logical to a developer, doesn’t really tell the user the extent of the changes. I think of Release Candidates as less about features and new code than about bug fixes. This new version is more about new code.


Channelwood in Kirsten S21(6) RC3 with Shadows

Kirsten puts it very in the release announcement writing:

S21(6) is now a superset of Viewer-Development, Viewer-Mesh, Viewer-XMPP and Viewer-Social 😀

It has been a monster to get everything working, however the result is a viewer of epic cutting edge niceness.

I don’t know what is called when beyond the Bleeding Edge of tech development, but whatever that is, is where this viewer is.

Kirsten explains the work that has gone into this version of the viewer. I have no doubt this viewer is far ahead of any other TPV or the generally available LL viewers. The last SL Development viewer I was using constantly froze up my computer and required pressing RESET to reboot the computer.

If you like this viewer, stop by the in-world meeting place at Eyefliesz and find the tip jar.

Download & Install

I’ll remind you the S21 viewers are not the stable or everyday use viewers the typical SL resident is used to. These are bleeding edge viewers and you will likely have problems with them. They are nice for those of us that have cutting edge curiosity and special needs for photography and machinima. They also do not run on low end or old equipment.

The download size is about 28mb for Windows. KirstenLee Viewer S21(6) RC3 Download

I’m downloading about 6 hours after the announcement. The download is slow. The approximate release time was announced in world so we may all be hitting the site at nearly the same time.

The 2.6 RC3 install program uninstalls the previous version. This now seems to be standard for this viewer. It spends a lot of time removing skins.

The instructions on the web site say clear the cache files. The uninstall program removes the cache files and the cache folder for the S21 viewer. So, attempting a manual clear or a start and clear from within the viewer is redundant.

However, the user settings file is left in place. I don’t know that it is necessary to clear the settings. Since this is a large update, I chose to clear mine. The settings file is in: C:\Users\[user_name]]\AppData\Roaming\Kirstens S21\user_settings\settings.xml. You can delete it or rename it.

Some Linux users are having a problem getting this version to run and others with shut down. See: S21(6) linux won’t launch.


My first try is without a reboot, which is trying to play the odds. No splash screen…

Since I deleted my settings so the first thing on my to-do-list is get them set before logging in.

General – Be sure to set your name tag options. I found name tags off by default. Along with the chat I ran into this was a real pain.

Graphics – DoF is on by default. You have to have advanced settings on for it to kick in. But once they are on it will go active.  In Graphics->Advanced->Misc is the toggle to turn it off.

Sound & Media – Turn off Allow Media to Auto-play of you are still RedZone paranoid. I’m pretty sure this viewer does not have Media Filters, which is fine by me. I handle blocking at the system level so all my viewers are uniformly blocked by a one pass change. Search on RedZone to find the RedZone articles that explain how to do that.

Chat – This panel has the ability to turn on and off those pesky popup notices of chat and IM.

Move & View – The Disable Camera Constraints setting is in this panel. I like mine off. By default it is on. Also, the click to walk navigation control setting is in this panel.

Privacy – If you want to show up in search, the control is in this panel. This panel also has the the chat logs location control. If you have changed your chat logs location, remember to reset it after clearing your settings.

Setup – By default the cache location is set to a Kirstens S21 folder. So, there is no need to create a separate cache, unless you are trying to install multiple versions of S21. Then you would need to set a new location. Your band width control is here. If you have a good Internet connection you may want to move this up into the 1,000 kbps range. I’ll remind you that setting it to your connection’s max download rate usually does not work well with SL.

Advanced – Since you are using S21 you probably will want to check Show Grid, Show Advanced, and Show Developer menu.

Skins – There are 8 skins installed with this viewer… or it looks that way. It may be a hold over from my previous install and my not removing EVERYTHING for this install. Whatever, Kirsten has started a new thing for skins with this release. I sort of skim over viewer skin creation so I can’t say a bunch about skin creation. I do imagine the new MODES that came with SLV 2.6.1 Development are creating problems for skin creation, or at least adding complexity. I am hopping the plans to have user modes the user can save will get implemented. It will allow me to have a configuration for building, exploring, and Role Playing. We’ll see.

Viewer – This tab of Preferences has some new options. You will want to adjust these settings. A handy setting is the option to have sidebar panels open as floating panels rather than being nailed to the side of the viewer. A feature I really like.

Debug Settings – Of course I have to go in and change CameraOffsetRearView to control the default camera position I prefer. Remember, there are additional camera positions in S21 viewer. Enable to the View Button in the bottom menu to access them.

Logging In

In my cottage I’m getting 30 to 35 FPS with Lighting & Shadows + Ambient Occlusion off. Teleporting to Celtic Myst, which is really fast now, I slow down to 7 to 13 FPS while things load. The area is very complex. As a comparison, I snuck into the Burning Man Exhibit and I get 20 to 25 FPS while the Deep Hole region loads. For now the avatar counts are about the same, just me to 3 or 4.

While trying to handle the IM’s and Group Announcements I ran into oddities. Clicks on announcement pop ups were also triggering the clicky things the behind them. Opening note cards in the Announcements also forced open an inventory window, which surprised me.

Later as I ran around SL I found some other oddities. One of my earrings kept moving to some place above my head. I’ve seen problems with attachments before. For a time it was a wide spread problem. Not so much anymore. Detaching the ear ring and reattaching seems to fix it. I had added and removed ear attachments using the previous version of S21. So, this problem could be an artifact of my not totally clearing the previous version’s files.

Later a necklace I had previously worn appeared floating beside me…


Chat Fail - No Photoshop -Missing Names - Funny Subject

Next, chat is being a problem. Avatar information is not working (see image). Avatar entries in local chat had no name or info button. That problem makes local chat unusable in a crowd. IM’s are ok. I may have lost a setting by deleting my settings, but this should be on by default. Or it may just be a ‘LOADING’ issue.  To see if this is the problem I traveled to another region to see if it is a region related issue. I was in a region with 30+ avatars. I went over to one with about 10 avatars. No improvement, but I did notice other people complaining so this may just be SL acting up.

Update: A bit later in my use of the viewer the problem cleared. So, I suspect this was an SL region problem with the name asset server overloading. Returning to the region where I first saw the problem, the problem returned. At this point I was not even getting names in IM’s. A change over to Imprudence and there was no problem… at first. After a couple of minutes the problem was horrendous. All those cute guys hitting on me and I couldn’t even IM back… really depressing. But, this problem is apparently mostly SL and not a particular viewer.

Those floating panels… not all of them can be resized. My PEOPLE panel one can be resized but the content within the windows keeps to the same size, it does not flow to fill the area. But, at least I can move them around.

Lighting & Shadows – When I click to enable this option the viewer freezes for a few seconds. The screen never blacks. Enabling Ambient Occlusion the same thing happens. The final result is the viewer drops to 0.4 FPS. Clicking OK doesn’t help. The CPU shows 50-60% use so I am assuming there is some video card hang up. I tried restarting the viewer. That improved things by 200%… 0.9 FPS…

I was planning to reboot the computer. While I finished up some thoughts and saved this article the viewer recovered and jumped back up to 25 FPS. Still it may be a good idea to close the viewer and make these settings changes while logged off.

However, being a slow learner on some things, I tried turning on Sun/Moon shadows. That came on quickly with almost no mini-freeze. Lucky, I guess. Clicking OK on Preferences blacks the viewport which comes back in about 10 seconds.

In Channelwood, a remake of a game area from the Myst game, I get 19 FPS with L&S + Occlusion + Sun/Moon shadows all enabled. This is impressive. The viewer does slow down as new stuff rezzes and textures are loaded.


Kirsten has made modifications to OpenJPEG and includes two versions. Which DLL to use is an open question. You will find three OpenJPEG files in this new install. The default in use file is openjpeg.dll, it and openjpeg.dll.basic appear to be identical files. The other is openjpeg(OMP).dll (In the Readme1.rtf it is labeled Openjpeg OMP version (Guided Parallel Build) – vs2005). It is a newer file. I have no other information on the file. I am assuming it is an advanced build of OpenJPEG that uses newer SSE commands.

To use the OMP file is a matter of copying and renaming files.

I tried it. I can’t really tell a difference.


This is a nice viewer and I think it works well in spite of the minor problems I ran into. That it runs with Sun/Moon shadows at about 20 FPS on my nVidia 8800 GTS on a Duel Core2 is just great.

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