Phoenix .1050 goes “final”

Phoenix .1050 was issued as a Release Candidate on the 21st April, and slightly surprisingly made the jump to a Final release on the 26th, without requiring any further downloads. The decision to flip the status of the Viewer to Final was bashed on a combination of reduced reported crash rates and generally good user feedback.

The core changes to .1050 comprise:

  • Media filter
  • Bridge prim update (please see the Phoenix READ BLOG on this)
  • HTML link parser updates for local chat
  • Correctly identify server 2008 and 2008 R2, added detection for Windows 8 and Server 2012
  • Windows XP no longer shows as running compatibility mode in help → about
  • Added cookie support for internal web browser
  • Debug setting for making Linden chat blue (PhoenixColorLindensChat and PhoenixLindensChatColor)
  • URLs in picks and profiles are now clickable
  • Links in group charter are clickable
  • Sound fixed in Linux (no more needing to copy files from 373)
  • Sculpt rendering fixes (all those sculpts that didn’t look right should be fixed!)
  • Added more viewer tags
  • Added entries to GPU table to recognize more video cards
  • Messages that fail to send to a group now say what group it failed to send to
  • Ability to not show TP Offers (Prefs > Popups > “Show teleport offer popups”)
  • Added to windows install the ability to have this build used for handling SLURL links from web browsers.

Plus a series of bug fixes and under-the-bonnet interface improvements. From a personal standpoint, the clickable URLs are perhaps the biggest “new feature” in this release. As I run this and other blogs, having the means to direct people to them straight from my Profile without them having to copy/paste is a major boon. The same is very much true for any merchant advertising their goods on the likes of the Second Life Marketplace. If you plan to include URLs in your Profile, remember that they’ll only be active for others viewing your Profile – links will not work in your own view of your Profile.

There are still issues with 1050; many people are reporting reduced frame rates, while the amount of memory the Viewer uses appears far larger than either the last “Full” release (908) or the last Beta (977). Some have reported issues with rezzing and sculpties taking longer than expected to load as well. These last two points may be attributable to the fact that HTTP Get texture loading is now OFF by default. To turn the faster HTTP texture loading back on:

  • Preferences -> Phoenix -> Page 2 -> Advanced Graphics and check  HTTP Get Textures and then APPLY.

You’ll be prompted that you’ll have to restart Phoenix for the change to take effect. This is because your existing texture cache must be cleared. On initial re-logging, allow time for your inventory to full reload.

Another potential performance gain would be to re-enable OpenGL Vertex Buffer Objects, which are turned off by default with this release:

  • Preferences -> Graphics -> click on the HARDWARE OPTIONS button
  • Check the option to Enable VBO and optionally enable Streamed VBOs.

In order to ensure these options are benefiting you, it is best to carry them out one at a time and monitor what happens – so enable HTTP Get and see if there is any significant improvements as you use SL before you try enabling VBOs.

The Phoenix release notes suggest that, as a last resort, you perform a completely “clean” install of the Viewer. However, before you do so, I would recommend you read Nalates Urriah’s excellent blog entry Second Life Clean install – it could save you a lot of time and frustration.

From a personal standpoint, I find 1050 a mixed bag; as stated, I like the click-enabled URLs when viewing other people’s Profiles, but at the same time, 1050 doesn’t get along well with my GeForce 9800-series graphic card as well as 977 or 908, and I’m still finding myself flipping between it and 977 at times.