Kokua and Firestorm: moves and views

It’s been relative quiet on the Viewer front of late. However, there is now news emerging about two TPVs: Kokua and Firestorm.


Nicky Perian has updated the Kokua code on Bit Bucket to release, dated June 11th. Available for Windows and Linux, it is unclear as to how “official” this release is  – there is no blog post associated with the release, nor does it appear on the Kokua wiki download page. Notice of its arrival has, however, been doing the rounds on Twitter.

I’ve not had a close look at it as yet, but it appears the release is more about bug-fixing and general enhancements of the current code (with fixes code that addresses both SL and OpenSim) more than prepping a major release and shouldn’t be treated as such – or even as a recognised experimental until the team release further information. As it stands, the release still references itself in places as the “Second Life Viewer” rather than Kokua, again indicative that this is very much still a work in progress. One thing it does do away with is the console window that would open on starting the Windows version of Kokua (and which you had to keep open while logged-in to SL in order to avoid the Viewer crashing).

I’m not recommending the release be put to general use – that is down to the Kokua team; rather I’m reporting that the version’s availability has been reported on via Twitter. Those wishing to know the exact status of the project should keep an eye on the Kokua blog, where hopefully there will be an update soon.


After an extended period of quiet from the Firestorm end of things, I recently noticed Jessica Lyon logging back in to SL once more after what appeared to be something of a period of absence. She’s provided a blog post at Firestorm entitled “Progress Report” , which indicates that the team had in fact  eased off from development; with some taking an outright break from things, as burn-out was becoming a factor.

The announcement highlights three things:

  • The team has new developers in the form of Holy Gavenkrantz, who has been a regular code contributor to both Firestorm and Phoenix, and Armin Weatherwax who, co-incidentally enough given the information on Kokua above, was formerly a lead developer on that project
  • And update on the status of the Firestorm 4.1.1 release, which is still officially labelled “coming soon” but which will include various requested tools and capabilities including Growl support, an LSL pre-processor, additional Windlight effects an “improved build floater”, and a host of goodies
  • The news that the team is branching development for Firestorm between Second Life and OpenSim.

This last point is interesting, as Firestorm has been gaining popularity among OpenSim users (Kitely even set it as their default Viewer).

The use of Viewers to access both SL and OpenSim has been the subject of much debate in the last couple of months since Linden Lab announced they were sub-licencing elements of the Havok physics engine. This requires that any applicable Viewer using the licenced code to only connect to LL’s own servers. In May, Jessica gave a hint that the Firestorm team were considering their options vis-a-vis SL and OpenSim, commenting on SLU that:

There is the possibility that we could have Havok code disable when the viewer is not logged into the SL grid. I have asked Oz if this would be acceptable and he is looking into it. If it turns out this is NOT acceptable, we will provide two versions of our Firestorm viewer. One for SL and one for everything else.

While she has not followed-up the comment with further information directly, it would appear from the blog post that – for whatever reason – the Firestorm team has opted to take the route of developing two flavours of the Viewer. It will be interesting to see how this actually plays out.

2 thoughts on “Kokua and Firestorm: moves and views

  1. I have a feeling that decision by the Havok people could come back to bite them in a few years time… I mean, it could very well be that 5 years from now they’ll look back on things, realize that things on OpenSim grew way beyond what SL had to offer, that someone ELSE devised a system that did what theirs did, only better, became more popular than THEIR system…. and that the *cheated* *themselves* *out* *of* something phenomenal and fantastic, due to short term thinking and having blinders on. I am reminded of the fact that the people behind voicechat in SL, Vivox, decided to make it available for free on any non-commercial opensim grid that wants it, with the option that if someone wants to, they can also pay for support (presumably for commercial opensim grids)…. because they recognized that if they didn’t, some other rival could come along and offer a different voicechat system to the opensim world, and given time, have that market all sewn up by the time opensim DOES get successful, and Vivox would thereby lose out on large sums of money over the long term, or even get left on the dustbin of history. The same thing could happen to Havok and their pathfinding system, because at some point the OpenSim people, or some outfit wanting to make money off the opensim people, will have incentive to create their own system that, at least on the surface, does pretty much what Havok’s pathfinder system does, though maybe coming at it from a different philosophical and technological direction. In fact, COUNT on it!


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