Lab updates SL system requirements

(Copyright Linden Lab)
(Copyright Linden Lab)

Update: the requirements for ervice pack installations has been revised following clarification from Tankmaster Finesmith – see comments below.

Linden Lab has updated the Second Life system requirements page to better reflect the current status of the Windows and Mac OSX operating systems.

The new requirements list Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8 as the minimum OS requirements for Windows systems and Mac OS X 10.7 or better for Mac systems.

While there are no moves to actually block older operating systems from accessing Second Life, the Lab notes that assistance will no longer be given to users accessing Second Life on unsupported operating system version. Additionally, the Lab is updating the Windows installer so that it will verify whether the latest Service Packs for Windows XP versions have been installed, otherwise viewer installation on XP will be blocked until such time as the relevant service packs have been installed. This means that the 32-bit Windows XP will be checked for the presence of Service Pack 3, and the 64-bit Windows XP will be checked for the presence of Service Pack 2.

The blog post announcing these changes reads in full:

We have made some changes to the Second Life System Requirements to bring them more up to date, and are making some related changes to the Viewer:

  • We have removed Windows XP and Mac OSX 10.6 from the list of supported operating systems. Microsoft has announced the end of support for XP, and it has been some time since Apple has released updates for 10.6. For some time now, the Viewer has been significantly less stable on these older systems, and the lack of security updates to them make them more hazardous to use. We have no plans to actually block those systems, but problems reported on them that cannot be reproduced on supported systems will not likely be fixed.
  • The Windows installer has been modified to verify that the system has been updated with the most recent Service Packs from Microsoft. While we will not block installation on Windows 8 at this time, we strongly recommend upgrading to 8.1 for greater stability. Our data shows that the Viewer is significantly less stable on systems that have not been kept up to date, so the installer will now block installation until the updates have been applied. This change will be effective in a Viewer version to be released in the next few weeks, so it would be a good idea to get your system up to date before then. You can find information on how to install the latest updates at the Microsoft Windows Update page.

Firestorm implemented a similar policy where windows is concerned with release 4.6.1, and STORM-1966 (from Tankmaster Finesmith of the Firestorm team) has been put forward as a means of enforcing similar controls in the Lab’s Windows installer. This code is due to appear in the upcoming STORM viewer release candidate.

For details on the availability of the STORM RC, please refer to my Current Viewer Releases page, where I list it as it becomes available.

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19 thoughts on “Lab updates SL system requirements

  1. Compulsory Microsoft updates? Absolutely, gob-smackingly stupid. Even Microsoft does make them compulsory.
    I know of several windows computers (mine included) that cannot be updated because an official MS service pack bricks them.

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  2. Very odd move by the lab here, I fully understand them changing the system requirements but enforcing which version of an OS you’re running is beyond their remit, not at all sure what they are thinking here.

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  3. Just a note, while the latest service pack for XP for both 32bit and 64bit are required to be installed before installing the viewer, Windows Vista and later only have a message at the end of the installer that it is recommended to update to the latest service pack.

    Windows 8 does not have any message recommending upgrading to windows 8.1 due to the code used in the program to make the installer (NSIS) being unable to distinguish between the two OSs (as noted in the STORM jira). These changes were done largely due to how unstable the viewer is performing on the old OSs, including Mac and upgrading will give a better user experience which will help with the user retention rate. So no, it is not required to install the latest SP for vista and later. Prior to this update, the Windows installer allowed installing on as old of system as an unpatched version of windows 2000.

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  4. I can’t see this aiding user retention one iota, the people who are not running windows updates are likely to feel they can’t run Second Life anymore, not that they should go update their service pack to run Second Life..

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    1. Let’s be realistic for once. Windows Me, 2000 and XP have been obsolete for centuries now. XP has ceased being supported as of last month, and even before that time, systems running XP (and older iterations of Windows) have been less than ideal for graphics-intensive applications – and Second Life is one such application.

      Back in my clubbing years (2011), I would hear some club staff (DJs and hosts) positively whining about how they can’t see mesh on their (then) ten-years-old machines that had not been upgraded (1GB RAM, Pentium IV, ancient graphics cards). Still: Those people spent upwards of $200/month on SL directly (land tier, shopping, etc) and indirectly (hosting their audio streams etc), yet they could not justify the one-time $150 of a properly powerful GPU or a second-hand desktop that, while not cutting edge, at least it would be current?

      That said, I’m running SL on a five-year-old laptop that was midrange back when I bought it new, and now it’s borderline obsolete. I know it, have accepted this fact and don’t bitch at LL for “not supporting my (obsolete) hardware” when even my graphics card vendor can’t be bothered to support my GPU anymore.

      Computers and operating systems become obsolete with time. That’s a fact that cannot be denied. Demanding LL to keep supporting an operating system that’s not even supported by its own vendor is, to say the least, counter-intuitive and counter-productive. Mind you, it has been mentioned time and time again at the Firestorm Q&A sessions that the worst crash rates were experienced by people on Windows XP – that should say a lot.

      Also, let me remind everyone of the big purge that happened in the early ’90s, when the Amiga, the Atari ST/STE/Mega STE/whatever died a rather inglorious death at the hands of PCs equipped with VGAs and SoundBlasters. It was also around that time that the whole 8-bit menagerie went the way of the dinosaurs. The vast majority of developers ceased producing software for these platforms and simply told users “tough luck, get a PC or whatever.”

      Windows XP is dead. People insisting on depending on it should simply take the plunge and upgrade. Last night, at the end of Simon Linden’s meeting, one person who was on Windows XP SP2 insisted that XP SP3 and Windows 7 were… spying on their users, while XP SP2 did not – which was, of course, false; XP SP2 was sending data to Microsoft, and so did Windows 2000 before it, and so did Windows Millennium Edition before it, and so did even Windows 9x. And don’t get me started on Adobe products.

      Getting back to the topic of user retention and hardware/OS requirements… Even though my current laptop (which has been my main computer since 2009) is no longer up to par, although it runs with ALM activated all the time… I know it’s obsolete and am not foolish enough to blame LL for it. People should understand that machines and operating systems become obsolete and, if they want more shinies in SL, they’ll have to have the CPU and GPU horsepower to put up with it. Linden Lab shouldn’t be burdened with having to put up with whining from a small minority that insists on running an antiquated, insecure, unsupported OS – and, of course, the Lab shouldn’t be required to listen to wearers of headgear made of tin foil (as a matter of fact, tin foil as a fabric is not a good fashion statement at all).

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      1. The UK and Dutch governments have paid Microsoft money to extend support of Windows XP for them. Plenty of machines are still running XP but more to the point, the Second Life viewer still runs on XP.

        Linden Lab aren’t just stopping support for Windows XP, they are stopping people from installing the newer clients on XP, even if they work fine.

        If the Second Life client won’t technically work on a system that’s one thing, to decide they just want to stop people running it, that’s a silly step.

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        1. That’s a bit of a silly comparison. The UK government paid £5.5 million for Microsoft to provide security patches for public sector PCs still running XP, because the vast majority of their PCs are XP based (around 85% of 800,000 PCs used by the NHS alone).

          The XP usage in SL is nowhere near as significant (it is estimated to be below 10%).

          LL are not stopping anyone from running the SL client. What they are requiring is that those who wish to continue to use XP to have the relevant Service Pack installed as well. That’s actually a not unreasonable expectation, given the overall benefits to users in having the Service Packs installed.

          As it is, I believe Firestorm (who have the largest user share) implemented this approach with the release of version 4.6.1, and they don’t seem of have encountered any significant backlash.

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          1. It’s not a silly comparison at all when the claim is that XP is dead. XP still has large market share for a dead operating system.

            If there’s a security risk to the Second Life service by people using these older operating systems then it’s a sensible move, if it’s going to prevent people from being disappointed by a service that won’t run on their OS, again that’s fine but in that case the warning should come when someone tries to download, not at install, beyond that this isn’t a role Linden Lab should be taking onboard.

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        2. 1. Are you willing to pay Microsoft to extend support of Windows XP? Or any other individual, for that matter? I think not. So, the examples of two governments is not exactly representative and I’m not sure it applies to the use-case scenario we SL users have.

          2. It’s high time they dropped support for XP. Crash rates for any viewer (official or TPV) are OK to fine on all other operating systems (Windows Vista, 7, 8, Linux, Mac OS X), but abysmal on Windows XP. I don’t blame them at all, in fact I praise them for dropping support for an ancient and insecure operating system.

          3. Again, I praise them for having the chutzpah to tell people “look, this operating system is way outdated, so upgrade to a newer one that’s more secure and more reliable. At work (RL), we made that choice and explicitly say “we do NOT support Internet Explorer and Safari and we do not guarantee our apps will work or appear correctly on them.” While there have been clients who are too lazy or too stupid to use Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox instead, we have made this decision to (i) save development time, as you have to rewrite a web app specifically for IE and Safari because their compliance with current standards is dubious, (ii) save tech support time, as it’s much better to focus on two “platforms” rather than many, (iii) save ourselves from potential drama, as IE has more holes in it, security-wise, than Spongebob Squarepants.

          So, kudos to LL for dropping Windows XP. This operating system is a pile of old tosh, and it’s a major security hole for everyone.

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          1. The example of governments paying was in response to the claim that XP is dead, it’s clearly not dead. Those governments need support for XP because the systems they use are dependent upon it.

            The argument isn’t about them dropping support, it’s about them preventing install on systems that can run Second Life, that doesn’t mean supporting them when they encounter a problem due to using an older OS. A warning should be enough. That’s how things are now for people who can run SL on an older OS.

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            1. XP isd dead. The NHS may still be using it, but do you honestly think that the UK government will keep it for much longer? In 2015, people using XP will be blocked from most websites that force HTTPS because their machines will be considered too vulnerable. The way I see it, the UK government wasted taxpayer money because it (a) decided to rely on Windows, (b) did not opt to make use of its tech-savvy personnel and implement a rolling Linux release (such as Debian) or even go for an all-out professionally supported distro like Red Hat Enterprise Linux, or CentOS, or the CERN’s Scientific Linux. No, they decided that taxpayers should subsidise a certain Mr. Steve Ballmer.

              And even then, although they knew since 2012 that early 2014 would sound the death knell for XP, what did they do? Did they come up with a plan to upgrade to 7? No. Did they say “sod it, we’re going to migrate to Linux”? No. Instead, they put XP on life support.

              If they’re at all responsible about patients’ data, they’ll ditch Windows XP very soon – within the year.

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            2. The UK government has had to waste £5.5 million on support for an operating system that it has had seven years to replace, but opted not to. Ergo, the dependency is of their own making. Had they taken the wiser course of action (given they’ll have to face the expenditure in updating one way or another), then the point would be moot.

              “The argument isn’t about them dropping support, it’s about them preventing install on systems that can run Second Life,”

              Wrong.

              The requirement is for those who are continuing to run XP to ensure they have the most recent relevant Service Pack installed on their system. This is a not unreasonable request, given the additional stability (and security) users will have anyway, and it is more than likely that most of those who still run XP have said Service Packs already installed.

              Really, you’re making a mountain of of a molehill.

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  5. Sorry to disagree, Mona, but my 24/7/365 runs win xp sp3 and hosts 4 regions on Osgrid and even now runs SL as good as my 1st one, with only a intel 5 quad cpu, 580gtx and only 4 mega ram ddr3 (allocated 3 mega to the open sim exec, as some know, the myth of saying that Xp only uses 2 mega of ram is more obsolete then the Os itself).
    I can attest that fact, as today i used it on Sl and was getting same fps on ultra with alm on and shadows, with Ukando (medium of 24 against 50 of my new comp but still more then enough, for a computer that is more then 7 years old (yes, even if i changed along the years, the cpu, Mo, vga and ram).
    the only thing that stayed was , Yes, Win Xp.

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  6. The Linux system requirements should be the same as the Windows. The viewer doesn’t magically use less memory because it’s on Linux.

    Realistically the viewer will use a bare minimum of 1GB, more realistically 2GB .. Which means you need at least 3GB in total (room for the OS and other small applications). If you are running a web browser at the same time, the bare minimum amount of ram is 4GB, preferably 8GB !!

    Adding more memory is the single biggest thing you can do to improve your computers performance and it will benefit everything you do with it, not just Second Life.

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    1. You need a 64 bit version of Windows that supports more than 4GB to take advantage of larger RAM installs but yes, Ram is a superb way of improving performance, it’s a trick that keeps on winning.

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      1. So what’s stopping anyone from using a 64-bit version of Windows? As for Linux, those of us who can’t solve the riddle called multiarch and have to make do with a 32-bit distro, can sidestep things with a PAE kernel that addresses up to 32GB of RAM.

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  7. I’m not going to get into the debate of what Linden Lab® should or should not do, how they run the Grid, or what I think of XP hangers-on. I learned long ago that my always strong and sometimes caustic opinions about everything and everybody (particularly with regard to Second Life®) are of no value or interest to anyone but me, myself, and I.

    I *will* however relate my recent personal experience.

    I was in the “I don’t wanna upgrade” XP 32-bit camp until recently. Over the years we accumulate software, organize our computers, and get comfortable with all of the thousands of organizations and tweaks we have invested time and money in to personalize our computers. The idea of trashing all that and starting over by wiping the primary drive clean and installing a new (unfamiliar) operating system can lead to much anxiety and procrastination.

    In the last year (seems the trouble flared up considerably the day that non-mesh-capable viewers Officialy became unusable), it was increasingly difficult for me to stay logged in to SL. Especially after FireStorm updated to the 4.0 iteration, loading textures became a nightmare, mesh avatars and an overabundance of people wearing lots of mesh clothing, and any camera movement at all would invariable crash my viewer within minutes. Ultimately, I could not stay in SL for more than 10 minutes without crashing.

    As many are aware, for the over seven years I’ve been a Resident, in-world photography has been my hobby and passion. But basically, when all these problems started, I had to give it up for the most part. It simply was not worth going to a highly-textured region and putting up with 10-15 crashes and relogs while I looked around the region, set up shots and lighting, and moved the camera around choosing angles. Also, by the way, I’m an avid user of the Space Navigator and would not ever want to be in SL, or any virtual world, without it. The freedom of camera movement is spectacular and addictive and not being able to freely roam my camera over an entire region (and even into neighboring regions) smoothly and quickly is unacceptable to me. However, this too became increasingly problematic and often crashed my viewer.

    So finally, in desperation (since SL is my primary use of my system) I bit the bullet and spent two intense days preparing backups and otherwise organizing my system for an OS upgrade and then wiped XP off my system and installed a fresh copy of Win-7 64-bit. Then I installed the 64-bit version of Firestormx64(4.6.1.40478) and held my breath and logged in.

    All of my problems disappeared. Things loaded quickly, longer-range draw distances became possible again (I had been tearfully reducing my DD to 64 meters to stave off crashes, now I can leave it at 256 meters, but generally leave it at 128 so the server doesn’t have to pump out all those far-away textures to my viewer and I can do my bit for server lag), and I can roam my camera around with the Navigator again with abandon. I can go to dances and other gatherings with many avatars and not crash, no matter how much I move my camera around (lag yes, crash no).

    Second Life does not run on Windows XP efficiently any more. And even if you can get it to run to your satisfaction, you are not getting the most of the world, which is, after all, a graphic environment to experience to its fullest.

    Do yourselves a favor. Stop procrastinating (and whining) and dump XP.

    Have fun.

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