The Firestorm announced the release of their latest version of Second Life’s most popular viewer. The release came out yesterday March 12. This is a full release. Previously the 4.5 version was a beta version. Not this one, it is the main production version. Well… the Linux version is beta.
Video about PhotoTools. 20 minutes.
You may remember Jessica had spoken at a Q&A meeting about the possibility of their server not being able to keep up with the download demand. I downloaded just fine this morning. I downloaded the 64-bit version (67mb file). It was quick.
Yes, they do have a 64 bit version. It seems the 64-bit versions do not have the Havok code needed to display the Pathfinding NavMesh. For most of us that is not an issue. But, it does mean only the 64-bit versions can be used on the OpenSim grids. So, all versions except the 64-bit ones are INCOMPATIBLE with OpenSim.
With this version the team is recommending a clean install. Since the Firestorm Viewer allows you to save settings doing a clean install is not as much of a pain as it once was. Still, I tend to install over the previous version and try it. I haven’t got there yet, so I’m not recommending that. Also, if I have problems, I’ll do a clean install before contacting support.
The Firestorm announcement is here: Major Firestorm Release 4.6.1-40478. The announcement includes lots of links to explanations and How To’s.
The changes for Fitted Mesh made it into this version. So, you’ll be able to see Fitted Mesh clothes render properly. Previous versions stretched the parts of Fitted Mesh items rigged to the new bones to the 0,0,0 point of the region, which was distracting.
This is a feature the Lab added sometime back. It is a love it or won’t touch it feature. It allows you to share SL from within the viewer with your Facebook friends. It also allows you to search for people in SL and Facebook and possibly ‘Friend’ them. I’m not sure if the ‘Add Friend’ is included in the viewer, I don’t use the feature.
The HTTP Code
This code also made it into this release. The HTTP update fixes DNS problems, provides better mesh download via improved HTTP communications, and changes in some Debug Settings.
The Debug Setting MeshMaxConcurrentRequests, in the SL Viewer, is an often abused setting. Rumor is that increasing its value improves mesh download and render performance. The problem is people set it to ridiculous values and overload the SL backend. The Lab has talked about penalizing those with viewers make demands for a high number of connections by having the servers ignore that viewer for some time. The result is better server performance, which helps us all, but lags the abusive viewer.
Firestorm has added their version of the setting: Mesh2MaxConcurrentRequests. They say this about it: “Controls the maximum number of concurrent mesh download requests issued by the viewer. If you encounter unreliable networks or routers or have a low-bandwidth connection, you might find that lowering this value improves the your experience.”
From what I read I gather the Firestorm Viewer still has the MeshMaxConcurrentRequests setting. If you enable the new Firestorm setting MeshUseGetMesh1 it causes the viewer to ignore the Mesh2MaxConcurrentRequests and use the previous MeshMaxConcurrentRequests. This reverts the viewer back to using the previous HTTP communications. The FS Team sees no scenario where this would be needed. I suppose they mean a scenario in Second Life. It may be useful in OpenSim based worlds.
Another new Debug Setting is MeshUseHttpRetryAfter. The FS Wiki quotes Monty Linden, “Servers are beginning to provide ‘Retry-After’ response headers for 503 HTTP failures. When this setting is TRUE, the viewer will make use of these headers to better schedule retries of mesh downloads. But there may be circumstances, such as a very high ping-time environment, where it doesn’t work as well. By setting this to FALSE, retries will be scheduled according to an exponential backoff rule; the same as is used for texture downloads. If you find that a FALSE setting consistently gives you a better experience, we’d like to hear about your environment. A report in Jira, say.”
The idea here is that servers know when they are busy. When the cue on the server reaches a certain size the server starts sending a busy message. If it says nothing and cannot respond to an incoming request, the requestion device, your viewer, assumes the message got lost and makes a new request when it times out. Of course that request also adds load to the server. So, a message is sent that says retry in 1 second or 5 or whatever the server calculates its needs.
Once the viewer sees the RETRY-IN message the viewer waits that time before retrying. This takes some load off of the server. But, as Monty points out there are some high-paying situations in which having this value disabled, set default, provides a better experience. If that is the case, file a JIRA report and list the details of your Internet connection and described your experience.
Other New Features
There are several other new features in this version. One is: Request – Teleport. This allows you to request a teleport from another person. This is a feature we saw come out in the SL Viewer in September 2013.
Another feature is the ability to correctly limit region access by the ‘Allowed Residents’ when a region uses ‘Payment Information on File.’ Previously the Payment Information status woodblock people that had been added to the Allowed Residents list.
The Firestorm Viewer gets the improved beacons feature. Beacons will now include elevation information. The part of the beacon that is above the location will be red and the part of the beacon below the elevation will be blue.