It seems a number of people are no longer able to open SLViewer version 2.7.4 and newer. The problem apparently started in June 2011. So, what is the problem and what is the fix?
nVidia and Second Life Shaders
Some change in the Second Life render pipeline’s shader code has created a problem between the nVidia driver and the OpenGL drivers used by Linden Lab in the viewer. It appears the nVidia GeForce GTX 460 card with any driver newer than 260.99 has a problem. If the graphics level is set at the default or on High or Ultra, the viewer crashes on login.
The problem does not exist in the nVidia driver 260.99 WHQL and presumably earlier drivers.
See the Second Life JIRA CTS-657 – Last big Shader/Code update causes NVidia Drivers to crash
While the item is marked fixed and closed as ‘not able to reproduce’, people are still running into the problem. The fix is explained in CTS-657. Basically, one has to strip out the current nVidia driver and install the 260.99 version of the driver. Unfortunately, installing over the top of the old driver apparently does not work.
A work-a-round is also explained by Dora Gustafson in CTS-657. Before login open Preferences and set the graphics level to Medium. Once logged in, you can increase the graphics level.
If you have run into this problem, please add your information to the JIRA item. Also, click Vote and Watch. Clicking Watch is more important than clicking Vote.
…now I don’t feel so bad using my 8800.
Update: Runitai Linden says he is currently working on the problem.
Update: Follow progress on SH-2240
Update: The SL Development Viewer now has a number of fixes for the OpenGL problems and uses OpenGL 3.3. These are version 3.2.1 viewers. The OpenGL project viewer is named Shinning. It is a bit hard to track down. The Dev Viewer is a bit better tested and seems to work for most users.