Second Life Losing the Linux Viewer?

The fate of the Second Life Linux version viewer is now up to the Linux community of Second Life. In the Third Party Devlopers’ meeting Oz Linden spoke about the Lab’s Linux support for the near term future. Basically the Lab is going to provide less Linux support.


Identity by Jewel Appletor aka Karalyn Hubbard, on Flickr

There are two reasons; one is the Lab’s limited resources and second the new projects they will be starting in the next months or so, which I take to mean late May or early June.

It seems in the effort to bring CEF (Chrome Embedded Framework) into the viewers to replace Webkit, Linux is a sticking point. There are so few Linux users, the time being taken wasn’t justified. Oz feels he cannot assign the number of people for the time needed for Linux version of the viewer. So, while I think we will have a Linden Linux Viewer, a lot of stuff is not going to work. Currently most of that not-working-stuff is media related.

Oz tells us the Lab is not receiving Linux code contributions. He does get a few complaints about something in the Linux viewer not working, but no help from Linux developers.

This means the Lab is dropping the Linux Viewer… at least their priority for working on it. The Linux Viewer will move into the realm of being a viewer Third Party Developers will have to support and build. This is the general state of Linux in most projects. The user community supports something or it doesn’t exist in the Linux world.

The Lab will provide build services and integration support. But, little more.

It looks like implementing CEF for Linux was the breaking point.

Update: 5/13/2015Inara has posted an update with information from Linden Lab. See: Lab confirms open source support sought for Linux viewer development. That headline puts a positive spin on the issue.

The important part of the article, to me, is the Lab revealing that less than 1% of the Second Life users are running on Linux. My blog shows a long term 3.2% of my readers visit using a Linux OS. This past month that has risen to 4+%. My readership is a small percentage of the SL users. So, I’m not surprised the numbers on Linux use disagree.

The Lab posted their statement here: An Update on Linux Viewer Development.

The Lab will continue to have a Linux version of the viewer available for download. I’ve never gotten it to run in my Mint VM. I may bring up a Linux laptop in the future and try again. But, it looks like the Lab’s Linux Viewer is a bit of an orphan now. And probably will never be that good a viewer. The best Linux viewers will remain mostly in the realm of third party viewers.

33 thoughts on “Second Life Losing the Linux Viewer?

  1. This is, simply put, revolting…

    Linden Lab keeps their work on CEF behind closed door, not Open-Sourcing it, *then* they complain they get no contribution from Linux Open Source developers (HOW COULD THEY ?) and take this as a pretext to drop Linux support !!!

    I’m flabbergasted by so much cynicism and so many lies (where are the proofs of Linux being less used than before ???) !

    • There is no statement there are less Linux users in SL now than previously. I can’t find any statement of how many Linux users there are. All I have heard is it is a small number. Do you know of any stats?

      My take is that the Lab’s work on moving CEF into their Linux version is non-existent. I can’t see where they have any useful work to publish. It sould lik you haven’t seen it either. So, how does one decide if someone is hidding something or they don’t have it?

      The complaint about no contributions sounds to me like it was about Linux contributions in general, not CEF specific.

  2. Do you know, why any SL blogger wrote about a “Chrome Embedded Framework”? I think the correct name is “Chromium Embedded Framework”.

  3. That’s really ironic given that a large amount of the work originally done on what CEF is was done on Linux initially. Ah well. The labs is moving on to SL2 anyway. Hopefully the TPV’s can pick up support. I really have to wonder what the [word world] looks like for TPV’s when SL2 releases. I’d hate to see innovation stop and the viewer just become about maintenance.

    • I’m not a big Linux user. I’ve never gotten a Linux SL Viewer to run. So, I’m not surprised that few SL users are running on Linux. I think that leads to the problem we have now, too few Linux users and even fewer Linux developers.

      • “I’ve never gotten a Linux SL Viewer to run. So, I’m not surprised that few SL users are running on Linux. I think that leads to the problem we have now, too few Linux users and even fewer Linux developers.”

        Actually, I run Linux and have for well over a decade now, and my own experience with Linden Labs was pretty crappy. They regularly mistreated their paying customers, and the free accounts were basically on their own with any technical issues they had, and Linux users were pretty much looked on with derision at best. The official LL viewer for Linux crashed pretty consistently, so I finally had enough of it and moved to third party viewers and InWorldz/OpenSim, because InWorldz actually cares about their customers as much as they do their project, and OpenSim is open (InWorldz pretty much is now, too), and the third party viewers were just superior and more stable not only on Linux, but on other operating systems as well… Don’t care what they do with their new project. I ain’t interested in anything LL anymore. They burned their bridge with most Linux users and a mess of Linux devs, too, and we’re mostly all over on OpenSim, InWorldz, or something else non-LL these days… LL has nobody to blame but themselves for that loss. It’s a shame, because Linux developers tend to be quite loyal to projects they believe in, and tend to work much harder on those projects than you might imagine free coders would work.

        • You do realize that both OpenSim and InWorldz are reliant upon LL updating and maintaining the viewer source right? What do you expect to happen when Sansar opens up and takes hold leaving SL and its viewer by the wayside? Who’s gonna fix the inevitable bugs, glitches, and breakages that will crop up once LL and the SL side no longer has a reason to maintain it?

          • I think you misunderstand what LL is doing with SL. There is and will be ongoing support for SL and the Linden viewer, just not the Linux version.

            I thought I made it clear in the article that there are simply too few Linux users in SL for the Lab to support a Linux version. Why or how it got that way doesn’t matter. That is the way it is now.

  4. I doubt it’s that there are few Linux users, just that most don’t shout about it. If it comes up in conversation, I find a lot of people are running Linux. It’s not really a conversation starter though 😛 As to never getting a Linux viewer to run ? I can’t understand why. In 8 years the only problems I’ve had running a Linux viewer is when I moved onto a 64 bit system and had to spend some time adding extra software to get 32 bit viewers to run. Singularity and other 64 bit viewers run without a hitch. Try Henri’s, his viewer actually has a binary installer to set things up and add a nice menu entry for you 🙂

    • You thinking works for empierical experience. The Lab looks at actual login data. So, while you may think there are lots of Linux users, unless someone has actual data, it is hard to refute the Lindens’ claim.

      • Are they using the data from their own Linux viewer or data from ALL TPV Linux based viewers ? It would be interesting to know which and the difference it possibly makes. Like Mike, I don’t use the official LL viewer on Windows or Linux. Even in the early days the official linux build (forever in beta even now) was astonishingly bad and it was some relief when I stumbled across a TPV.
        I disagree they don’t get comments or feedback from the Devs..didn’t Henri used to be mentioned as a contributor to the code in the help-about section, as well as other member of the FS team if I recall ?

        • I assume they use the count for the Linden Linux viewer. But, they can see use numbers on all viewers.

          I may try a third party Linux viewer. I never did get the Linden Linux to even run. So, I’ll take your word that it was pretty bad.

          Henri is a unique case. He seems to have reached a level of furstration and given up, to some extent, to move the Lindens or provide code. Cool VL seems to be mostly a proof (code please) of his ideas on which is the best way to do things. He and the viewer are remarkable in several ways.

          Comments and feedback can fall in the complaints group. So, we may disagree on a minor point of syntax. From what was said, I take it the Lindens are not geetting the contributions they need to make it worth the effort to keep their Linden Viewer up to date.

  5. Secondlife is IMO a cash cow for LL’s *next big thing*. It has been for years. So if you are looking for warm bodies to work on your next big thing it makes sense to take them from support on a platform that is least used. Even Oz admitted that they dont get community feedback from Linux devs. Most of the TPV’s are doing a good job of supporting Linux and I imagine will continue to do so. I haven’t used the plain ole LL viewer on my Linux box in years.

  6. Pingback: Second Life News Week 17 TPD | Nalates' Things & Stuff

  7. So in an effort to glob more features into a system that’s already suffering from feature bloat during a time when their staffing resources are already stretched to the max… They plan on dropping support for what they see as a small subsection of their users. … Oh well, if it comes to the point where I’m forced to choose between switching to windows or mac just to log into Second Life then I’ll be dropping Second Life.

    As it is, there are barely people or things to do left in SL to warrant my latest $2000 upgrade for my PC – forget altering the workflow for everything else I do on my computer by changing operating systems just to suit one company’s little development crisis.

    • Every one seems tot think because the Lab is not going to put effort into a Linux based viewer, there won’t be one. How many people actually use the Linden Linux viewer vs a third party version anyway?

  8. Interesting , it true that we have to take LL words for user count and whatever the comments are its their business decision to support linux users with official viewer.
    On the other end looking at your own blog titled some stat
    \ Since this blog is primarily about Second Life™ I think it fair to say my visitor stats are representative of SL Users. \

    it would be of interesting to this trend to do the same exercise you did then today and see what would be your own conclusion .

    Hope it helps

  9. Ebbe Altberg is a former Microsoft guy, so no one should be surprised about LL dropping Linux just now, after a decade. This has nothing to do with number of users or lack of contributions or anything. See Henri’s comment above.

    There’ll be no SL2 viewer for Linux either. But that’s ok, HiFi is more interesting anyway.

  10. Giving less Linux support is a step in the complete wrong direction. Windows is losing importance in the gaming industry and even Steam is available for Linux. Android is a huge Linux-based environment for mobile devices and a lot is developed for it. Distributions like Ubuntu are pushing into the mobile marked and gaining importance there and last but not least, more and more platforms and the whole Web is moving away from proprietary technology towards open standards and open source.

    Reducing Linux support is therefore a huge step back into pre-2010 and certainly not forward-looking.

  11. Given the history of very poor business decisions that the Lindens made, I can imagine they only look at the number of Linux Viewer downloads and not the number of hours spent inworld by Linux users. Because I know many Linux users that spend a huge amount of time inworld. Most are oldbies and most use 3rd party viewers. The Lindens might get the numbers totally wrong. Many people that use Linux might log in to SL via Wine, because there are huge problems with SL on 64 bit systems, which most Linux systems are these days. There is no media for example and it is very complicated to install the 32 bit libraries to get SL run on a 64 bit system. If the Lindens would finally fix that, then a lot more Linux users would show up in their stats.

  12. Btw, Nal, I suppose you have stats about your blog visitors. Do you have any number about how many are using Linux?

    • The Lindens look at the number of Linux users logging in. They also have the hours of Linux users in world.

      3.2% of my readers use Linux. 79.8% use Windows.

      • Which only goes to show stats aren’t the whole picture.
        I’ve visited your blog using both Linux and Windows Firefox, Internet Explorer via a virtual machine under Linux and Konqueror identifying itself as a windows browser so that the web based yahoo mail will work properly. Heck, even my Android browser is set to appear as a desktop browser using an extenson because the mobile versions of most websites suck so bad.

        • Generally, until a minority hits 10% of a customer base it just isn’t economical to support.

          While stats aren’t the whole story, they are the basis for many rational decisions.

      • I suppose this number is pretty close to the actual Linux users in SL, since you have a SL blog. I find this number significant. Considering 1 million active users, this is 32.000 people, which would resolve to about 1500 Linux users logged in at average at any time. This is the Second Life of real people, who have friends or businesses inworld. It is just wrong to just stop support for them. I find it much more important to make work what we have right now instead of adding new features like Materials or Experiences. SLs main problems are bugs/lag and the extreme cost for land and not lack of features.

        • It is still a small number of users. To make 968,000 wait while working for 32,000… The Lab chose to focus on the majority.

          Materials and Experience Tools were finalized on the Linux side (viewer side) well before the Lab decided to back off Linux. If you feel a Linux Viewer is more important than new features, then you should work on the Linux viewer. The Lab is not abandoning Linux developers. But, if the Linux devs aren’t interested in helping, why should the Lab spend their limited resources on the project?

  13. I spend a large amount of my time helping people on SL. I use Linux exclusively there is nothing else.
    I don’t even charge people for assistance. I do a lot of mesh, coding, ect for free. (Just cost of upload).
    I also make

    Quite a bit of open source software is made on Linux first, and cross compiled later for windows, and mac. Its not required to make them cross compatible, but its a courtesy thing.

    I am not switching OS to use SL.
    Kind of sad really, but I have access to my friends still outside SL if it should come to this. This wasn’t a technical throw Linux under the bus thing this was trying to get more people to help. I understand that, but
    not everyone in Linux is a coder either.

  14. SL business decision is theirs to drop that minority. There is no change in my mind that LINUX is and always has been a minority. Some figure can be found here and support your assessment today and historically. To me the reason for SL dropping of linux is to be search elsewhere .

    LINUX strength is a lot about open sources. Opensim and alternate viewer will sure welcome 32,000 minority users ….

    From one Happy member of an alternate minority community .


  15. Pingback: Bits of Stuff Around Second Life | Nalates' Things & Stuff

  16. What’s cause and what’s effect? Linden Lab has never bothered to create a version of the viewer for 64-bit Linux. though for years the Ubuntu web site has told x86 users that unless they have a reason to run 32-bit, they should run 64-bit. This has left would-be Second Life users running Linux with an ever-shifting list of 32-bit libraries to find and install if they want to keep up. How many eventually decided it wasn’t worth it and perhaps dissuaded other Linux users from bothering with SL because of it?

    (And the successor of SL is going to at least start out closed source. How can open source programmers support it?)

    • I suspect there will user made viewers just as the OpenSim simulators duplicated most to the Lab’s proprietary simulators. That both side are closed source does complicate the process. Since the data stream has to pass over a public network to your computer it will still be possible.

      Your Linux point is well enough made. The answer is there just aren’t that many people in the SL demographic that use Linux. There is no chicken and egg problem. The gaming world is not interested in supporting Linux because there are too few gamers running Linux. 2013 Steam reported Less then 2.8% Linux, 3% Mac, and more than 93% Windows.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *