The Viewer Release Candidate pipeline is operational. Get ready for some surprises. Remember. I’m writing as a Windows user. Things may be different on a Mac.
Oz Linden explained some of the thinking about and intended operation of the new pipeline. Part of the explanation was getting my terminology straightened out. Words convey meaning and people have to have the same meanings for the words being used to communicate.
First Beta Viewers… we still have them. Release Candidates are NOT beta versions. Oz explains that a Release Candidate (RC) is a viewer that they expect to go to final release version without change. An RC version is post beta… a final stable version that is expected to become the main release viewer.
Oz describes them as, “A Release Candidate is a viewer that we _do_ think is ready for general release, but we’re prepared to be proven wrong. So, we give it to a smallish set of users (so far, 1000 to 2000) and see what happens.”
There will be RC versions all the time. Also, there will be Beta Viewers from time to time. These will be special cases. They are versions that the Lindens feel are not ready for general use, but need user testing. The Beta versions will likely have to be manually downloaded and installed. Oz says they are definitely opt in… beyond the setting in Preferences.
To understand how the RC pipeline works consider: Oz says, “What we expect is that most users that accept an update to an RC viewer will just use it as their viewer… it will install over their previous viewer. If we have reason to update an RC viewer, all users of that RC viewer will get it as a required update. If/when an RC viewer becomes the default download, those users _don’t_ get an update … they’ve already got it.”
This is where some people are running into problems. Provided you do NOT depart from the one viewer installed concept, things are good. It is when someone like me wants to experiment with multiple Linden viewers from the RC channels. Then things get funky.
Whirly Fizzle tells us that the updates install to the last folder where a Linden RC viewer was installed. Think about that. If I have Snowstorm RC and Maintenance RC installed along with the latest main release, and Snowstorm was the last installed, and an update to either the main or Maintenance version comes out, it will over write Snowstorm.
Inara Pey confirms that her Vivox RC version was overwritten by a Maintenance RC update.
I can confirm that my Maintenance RC 3.6.2-278602 was just overwritten by the main version 3.6.1-278007. :/ I have no idea what’s up with that.
The simple solution for those that want to run multiple Linden viewers is to turn off automatic updates and handle them manually.
There is a command line setting that is supposed to help with this update problem. The setting is: –channel. But, this does not seem to be working. The Lindens are looking to see why.
Whirly is trying a change in the viewer’s [install folder]/app_settings where you can find settings.xml. Change the key: UpdaterServiceURL. Change this <string>https://update.secondlife.com</string> to <string>http://secondlife.com/sod-off-don’t-wanna-update/</string> or whatever.
This will stop the viewer from being able to update. Why not just turn off automatic updates? Well, unless you do some custom command line changes to the start icons, all viewers are using the same settings file. So, this change only affects the parent viewer of the settings file you change.
This UpdaterServiceURL key is not in the main viewer’s files. I only found it in the RC version’s file.
Looking through the registry I find several keys with entries for Second Life. These seem to be confused as they refer to some files in my main install and others in the Maintenance RC. For instance the slvoice.exe is listed in two places and referenced by the same data name. Not a normal thing.
And, I haven’t tried to uninstall one of the RC’s yet. There is only one uninstall in the Control Panel and in the Start Menu. This suggests that the RC install process is deeply targeted to a single version install. Any multi-version Linden viewer install is going to be complex. New users are going to get bit when they try to experiment.
Programmers always think they have things working. That is normal human nature. I never press the run button on a program until I am at a place I think the program is going to run. So, I expect some RC versions to have a some fails.
Oz mentioned that in the past they have seen a 1 to 2.5% increase in crash rate as a viewer moved from Beta to Main viewer. One can sort of say 2±% of users are going to some problem with a viewer the Lindens thought was ready for the general population of SL.
Well… that is going to be the RC user seeing those problems now. It is an improvement. Only 1,000 to 2000 will bump into those problems. But, what if it is a problem that knocks you off SL or stops you from accomplishing a daily task?
The problems with installing another viewer will mean you either revert to the main viewer and turn off Willing to run RC or fire up a third party viewer. Between the SL Forum and various blogs there are probably only a few thousand people that will know what is going on. So, each problem will tend to bruise the reputation of RC viewers.
I don’t see an upside for users that try the RC’s. But, since people are mostly unaware of the previous beta process and the current problems with RC’s, there should be adequate numbers opting to help.
Previously it was easy to try an beta version. If you didn’t like it is was easy to fall back to another version. The risk of a problem was minimal. I think this new pipeline changes the risk-reward ratio.
I’m thinking it would be better to not start installing multiple RC and Beta viewers just yet. Over the next few weeks this will probably get sorted out.
If you really need to test with an RC or Beta, turn off automatic updates. And learn how to use the command line options to create separate settings files and caches.