SL project news week 50/2: server and viewer

Server Deployments Update

The RC channel deployments went head as scheduled, and included the promised fix for offline IMs from scripted objects failing to reach people’s e-mail (BUG-1002). A further issue (BUG-1027) with group owners receiving garbled messages on ejecting group members was reported over the weekend of the 9/10th December, and this also received a fix which formed a part of the deployments.

As reported in part 1, Magnum received code to double the server-side memory allocation from 60KB to 120KB. Animations within SL have two core limits: loop time (30 seconds) and memory allocation (60KB). Apparently, some complex animations which ran within the 30-second time frame have been hitting the memory allocation limit. This initial change should help to ease that issue when encountered. A future change on the viewer-side of things should eventually increase the animation run-time as well, allowing for animations longer than 30 seconds to be uploaded and used.

Server Deployments Week 51

Given Magnum has all the same changes as both BlueSteel and Le Tigre, plus the additional stability improvements and memory leak fixes, it now looks likely that this code will be promoted to the Main Channel on week 51 (week commencing Monday 17th December).  No news was provided during the Server Beta meeting on any proposed RC releases during week 51.

Again, as a reminder, there will be no server code releases during weeks 52 (commencing Monday 24th December) and week 1, 2013 (commencing Monday 31st December). There will also be no further Server Beta meetings until Thursday January 3rd, 2013.

Viewer Updates

Linden Lab continue to work on the beta and development viewers in order to clear the backlog of releases resulting from the memory leak / crash issues. Currently, they are “almost” at the end of catching-up on the release schedule. Some of the focus at present is on the Mac side of things, with Oz Linden reporting that there should be “A bunch of changes for the Mac build and the Mac implementation coming into viewer development” over the next few days.

The beta viewer has seen a further 3.4.3 code release (3.4.3.268139 on December 14th). This should mark the last of the 3.4.3 code releases for the beta viewer prior to that code moving to the release viewer, possibly in week 51. After this, the beta viewer will move to the 3.4.4 code base, which will include the changes for the Mac side of things as well. This should then see the viewer branches all more-or-less back to a normal pace of development and update, with fresh releases on the order of every three weeks or so, including more HTTP service updates and improvements.

Tcmalloc has been set off to one side in order to clear the backlog, but “has not been forgotten”. Currently it is still enabled in the beta release, but appears to be disabled in upcoming viewer development versions.

Avatar Baking

The biggest news of the week came with the announcement that for Avatar Baking, the countdown has commenced. This is going to take the next few months to implement, and requires both changes on the server-side of things and significant changes to the viewer. An update had actually been promised at the Content Creation User Group on Monday 17th December, but given the large impact the changes have on viewers, Nyx Linden rightly announced the news relating to the project at the TPV Developer meeting on Friday 14th December.

Nyx linden discusses server-side baking at the TPV Developer meeting, Friday 14th December
Nyx linden discusses server-side baking at the TPV Developer meeting, Friday 14th December

Threaded Region Crossings

The work on multi-threaded region crossings is still with the LL QA team. In the meantime, further regions have been added to the simulator version (server code  DRTSIM-184) running the new code. Four of the latter are GC Test 9, GC Test 10, GC Test 15 and GC Test 16, which form a block of four regions which may assist with testing the capability (remember these SLurls are all to Aditi!). Caleb Linden has been testing the capability and reports that he has encountered some issues himself, with crashes during “automated horde testing” and with repeated crossing with heavy scripts. He’s interested in hearing constructive feedback from anyone willing to carry out informal tests on the code.

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Phoenix: hard truths

Update 17th December: The video of the meeting is available on You Tube (and embedded below). Links have also been added to the official announcement and a transscript of Jessica’s presentation given at the start of the meeting.

PhoenixJessica Lyon and members of the Phoenix Firestorm Team hosted an in-world / streamed meeting on Saturday 15th December, 2012 to discuss the future of Phoenix.

As expected, the core of the news was the Phoenix has essentially come to its end of line. As from December 31st, all official support provided by the Phoenix / Firestorm team will cease.

There are many reasons as to why this step is finally being taken, but they all have their roots in the fact that in late 2010, the decision was taken that to ensure future ease-of-development and enhancement of the viewer, it would be more in the Phoenix Team’s interest to develop a viewer which could more easily keep pace with LL’s development curve, rather than attempting to continually backport new code and features into a viewer that would be based on what would become an increasingly outdated code base. Thus, Firestorm was born. Whether one agrees with this decision or not is actually moot. It was a decision the Phoenix Team were entitled to make.

Jessica Lyon (stock image)
Jessica Lyon (stock image)

The major reason as to why the team has opted to formally announce the end of line for Phoenix now is because Linden Lab have notified TPVs of the forthcoming roll-out of server-side avatar baking in 2013.

As I’ve explained in a recent blog post, server-side avatar baking is a significant change in the way Second Life operates and which should see an end to the major issue of avatar bake fail. However, it brings with it not only changes to the server-side of Second Life, but very major changes to the viewer itself.

Such is the complexity of these viewer changes that Linden Lab has sought to provide TPVs with an eight week window in which to implement and test them. Given the overall status of Phoenix, it simply is not possible for the Phoenix Firestorm team to implement the changes in Firestorm and backport and integrate them into Phoenix (together with all the other changes required to get Phoenix back on a par with LL’s viewer development) in that time frame. The reason why it is vital for all TPVs incorporate the new code is because without it, avatars will fail to render correctly – so if Phoenix does not have the code, it simply “won’t work” when the new service is deployed.

Avatar baking 2013 and Phoenix in brief: These images show the impact of the new avatar baking service on viewer which are not updated to the new code. (l) as I appear on a viewer without the code, and someone on another viewer (regardless of the code it is using) looks to me. On the right, someone running the new code, and how I look to them - a never-rezzing cloud.
Avatar baking 2013 and Phoenix in brief: These images show the impact of the new avatar baking service on a viewer which is not updated to the new code. (l) as I appear on a viewer without the code, and someone on another viewer (regardless of the code it is using) looks to me – a “grey ghost”. On the right, someone running the new code, and how I look to them – a never-rezzing cloud.

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