Firestorm Considerations

The FS Team is working on Materials, Sunshine, and adopting the CHUI to Firestorm. I am sure they would love to see all of those in 4.4.2. But, they aren’t saying what they will be able to do because they haven’t even been able to get all the Lab’s code for these features. The Lab is just not done with it. Things are changing as it is developed. You don’t try to hang pictures in a house before the walls are built.

Firestorm Viewer 4.4.1

Firestorm Viewer 4.4.1

The FS Team asked the Lindens if their release of a new viewer requiring a cache clear is loading up the asset server. Monty Linden says the asset system has lots of head room and is not the likely bottle neck. But, the inventory system that tracks what you have in your inventory is near capacity. Consider the inventory an index that deals with permissions and lots of interactions between you and backend systems of SL.

Jessica has explained that people are convinced clearing cache solves every problem and speeds up their viewer. The opposite is true. But, sometimes without a stop watch people cannot get past their subjective impression.

Whatever the case, it looks like the Lab is going to start making plans to look at cache operation. Monty Linden is going to take a look to see how a Firestorm-clear-your-cache release may be affecting the SL servers.

Most of the current inventory problems are with inventory cache, which is not the same as the basic cache. It is possible to clear inventory cache and not clear the basic cache of textures, mesh, and objects. But, it is a clear that has to be done manually.

You find the caches in:

  • Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\[USERNAME]\Local Settings\Application Data\Firestorm
  • Windows Vista: C:\Users\[USERNAME]\AppData\Local\Firestorm
  • Windows 7: C:\Users\[USERNAME]\AppData\Local\Firestorm
  • Mac: ~/Library/Caches/Firestorm
  • linux: ~/.firestorm/cache

If you are using a viewer other than Firestorm then substitute your viewer name for ‘Firestorm’.

Next you are going to need to know your avatar’s UUID. Well, only if you have more than one avatar. Assuming you do, you can go to W-Hat.com and ask for your UUID. Use Name2Key to get your UUID.

Additional ways to get your UUID:

  • Outside the viewer go to https://my.secondlife.com and log in. Now go to the profile you want, for example http://my.secondlife.com/governor.linden. Click the Message button, then right-click on IM and copy the link. the UUID is in there, between “agent/” and “/im”
  • Inside the viewer: Go to preferences, Chat leaf, and check “Enable plain text IM and chat history”. Now, when you receive IM or chat, you can right click on the name and use “Copy SLurl to clipboard”, that will have the key in it too.
  • Or, try the new search at http://search.secondlife.com, pick People from the menu, and look for their name. When you expand the search result, click the green Profile button you will land on their profile and can click the Message button as above.
  • Or you can put a little script in a prim and ask the person to touch it, there is a simple one here — LlDetectedKey#Examples (updated to make it a little more step by step. —Cerise Sorbet 08:40, 29 May 2011 (PDT))
  • If you use Firestorm, look in the profile inside the viewer. The UUID is shown in the panel.

When you look in the cache folder you will see a file: [your_UUID].inv.gz. The file name for my avatar name looks like: 1fce2750-76a7-464c-a333-195e4f92c666.inv.gz.

When you find that file, delete just that single file to delete just your inventory cache. This deletes the list of inventory things you have on your computer. That forces the viewer to download a new copy from SL’s servers, the inventory system. The exact same thing happens when you login with a fresh install after a clean install. BUT, you DO NOT have to re-download all the textures and meshes.

Monty Linden and TPV Dev’s are going to look to see if they can resolve the problems we are having with inventory not loading. This seems to be a problem more prevalent with Firestorm users, but I have no hard data on that.

From TPV Dev side it appears that as more people do a clean install the worse the inventory problems get. Well… I expected that… so I typically try to avoid a clearing cache with new installs. SL Viewers do not require users to clear cache or do clean installs. So, what’s up with Firestorm?

I have no facts. But, I can make guesses. Firestorm users are running into inventory loading problems. Many FS users have been told to turn off HTTP Get for inventory and cache. That means the systems are depending on UDP which can silently fail. It is especially prone to failure over longer periods of time. Those with poor or weak Internet connections are VERY likely to see more failures during large downloads. If they clear cache, inventory and object/textures, they are trying to get more data over a weak/poor connection and are seeing more failures as packets are dropped and UDP silently fails.

I expect the advice the FS Support team is providing to change. We will see the more informed support personnel moving people to clear ONLY the inv.gz file. But, there are a load of impromptu helpers that chime in. They are often repeating what they think worked for them or what they heard in the past.

Clearing cache is a last resort step only when cache corruption becomes the most likely problem. We will see that more and more strongly emphasized. Those that think they KNOW cache clear is a fix and a performance boost will continue to suffer with problems and slow rezzing.

But, it looks like the viewer cache system could get another rework in a cooperative effort between Linden and TPV Dev’s. I think that would be great. We might actually see caching fixed. The Linden history is checkered on cache performance. When I came into SL in 2008 the standard first step in any fix was “clear cache.” Now the standard first step is “relog.”

The object/texture cache is working well from where I sit. I think it has been over a year since I had any reason to do a cache clear. I think that was for testing with SSA pile-on. Anyone telling you to clear your cache before you have done all sorts of other things like a reinstall and in depth connection testing, is a dangerous person to be listening to. Clean installs and cache clears are last resort steps.

If you are having repeated inventory problems, logout, delete your [UUID].inv.gz file and log into an empty region. If that does not fix the problem read through: Troubleshoot Your #SL Connection. Once you are CERTAIN your connection WITH SL is working well then move on to other fixes.

I have no count of how many people have thought they had a GOOD CONNECTION only to find out that was the problem. It’s a lot. It isn’t how good your Internet connection is, it is: how good is your connection to SL?

Summary

While I titled this Firestorm Considerations, this really isn’t about Firestorm or considering Firestorm.  This is about the Firestorm team and their considering how to make things better and moving this problem forward to a solution.

Remember to thank them when you can. And avoid clearing your cache until you are certain it is a cache problem.

Thanks, Firestorm Team.

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