The majority of the notes in this update are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, July 15th. The video of that meeting is embedded at the end of this update, and references to it are indicated through the use of time stamps in the paragraphs below (note that there were some extended pauses in the meeting where there was no discussion, hence some of the time gaps evident between time stamps, where given). My thanks as always to North for recording and providing it.
Server Deployment – Recap
There was no deployment to the Main (SLS) channel on Tuesday, July 12th.
Wednesday July 13th saw a new server maintenance package deployed to all three RC channels comprising “minor internal changes”. One of these sees worn scripts capped at a count of 2500. Attempts to add attachments which take an avatar over this limit should result in the attachments failing to wear.
There is unlikely to be an RC deployment in week 29 (week commencing Monday, July 18th), although the current RC update should be deployed to the Main (SLS) channel.
[01:04] The Bento project viewer updated to version 188.8.131.527597 on Thursday, July 14th. This viewer incorporates the changes to the head bones and sliders from the test viewer, and also includes an update for some inconsistencies in avatar height as viewed by self versus others. This is most likely the last iteration of this viewer, prior to it moving to release candidate status.
[00:34] The VLC Media Plugin viewer, version 184.108.40.2066258 at the time of writing, should be promoted to release candidate status “shortly”, pending the fix of a rendering bug. This viewer had also had fixes for some of the media sound issues which were being experienced.
[02:03] The Visual Outfits Browser viewer, version 220.127.116.116422 dated July 1st at the time of writing, is also awaiting a final bug fix prior to being promoted to RC status.
[02:44 and 18:33] A project version for the 64-bit versions of the official viewer should be appearing “pretty soon”. When these do arrive, the Lab plan to offer Windows in both 32-bit and 64-bit flavours going forward, and Mac as 64-bit only, pretty much as TPVs support 64-bit already do. IF there is a Linux build, then this will also be 64-bit only. The 64-bit versions will also include 64-bit updates to the Havoc sub-libraries as well.
[10:15] As a part of the discussion on SL Voice (see below), Oz re-interated that the Lab will not be directly supporting Linux, but remains willing to accept contributions from TPVs which do support that platform in order to keep the official Linux viewer up-to-date. This is essentially because the effort involved in maintaining a Linux flavour of the viewer when compared to the very small number of Linux users who actually make use of the Lab’s own viewer (overall, Linux users are thought to account for around 1% of the total active user base, many of whom use TPVs).
Voice on Linux
[03:50] Vivox has, for some time, focused updates for the SL Voice package on Windows and Mac, and have ignored Linux. Unfortunately, a recent update from Vivox changed how random handle values in the protocol between the SL Voice package and the viewer are generated, a change which effectively stopped Voice working on Linux (see BUG-20174).
Unfortunately, Vivox have no plans to update their support for Linux, so this is unlikely to be fixed. Some TPVs have therefore been reverting the SL Voice package for their Linux offerings to an early version. Commenting on this, Oz requested that they do not do this for other flavours of their viewers, and noted that even with Linux is not ideal, as the fix actually helps prevent “people subverting the security of your system in really unpleasant ways.” Rather, the suggested approach is for users to run the Windows viewer or the Windows SL Voice package on Linux using Wine.
Voice Support Updates
[07:12 and 13:05] The Lab is engaged in a programme with Vivox to update much of the Voice support. This will involve a new version of SL Voice “pretty soon”. This initial update should be backward compatible on Mac and Windows, allowing TPVs to adopt it, and will include a new codec which should improve the quality of voice for those using the update.
However, further down the road, this programme will include further improvements to Voice security and prevent it being abused, fixing a number of long-standing vulnerabilities. This programme will involve changes to SL Voice package, the viewer, the simulator and the Vivox servers, and due to their nature, they will not be backwards compatible, and viewers not incorporating them – including Linux flavours – will not be able to use Voice(again, running the Windows viewer / Windows SL Voice package under Wine is the suggested route forward for Linux users).
Because of this, the changes will be phased in over a period of time, starting with the viewer changes, and the announcement at the TPV meeting is essentially to put TPVs on notice of what will be happening over the next couple of quarters. Once the viewer / SL Voice package updates have been adopted by TPVs, the necessary changes to the simulator software and to Vivox’s own servers will be introduced.
Voice Connection Issues
[23:19] BUG-20075 notes an uptick in voice connection failures. These have been noted by the Lab as well, and they are thought to be in part the result of a number of attacks directed at Vivox, which the company has been responding to. The hope is that new monitoring tools within the latest version of SL Voice may help identity further problem areas.