SL project updates week 37/1: week #36 region return issues

Mother Road; Inara Pey, September 2017, on FlickrMother Roadblog post

Server Deployments for Week #37

As always, please refer to the server release thread for updates and the latest news.

  • On Tuesday, September 12th, 2017, the Main (SLS) channel was updated with the same server maintenance package,17#, as deployed to the BlueSteel and LeTigre RCs in week #36. It is described as comprising internal fixes.
  • On Wednesday, September 13th, the RC channels should be updated as follows:
    • LeTigre and Magnum should receive a new server maintenance package, 17# containing some internal HTTP fixes, described by Rider Linden as being, “pretty deep in the internals mostly having to do with how the server handles callbacks. [They]  mostly have to do with an issues on the response event. There was a rare case that could cause a crash.”
    • BlueSteel (and the smaller Cake RC) should receive a new server maintenance package, 17#, comprising some internal simulator changes.

Week #36 Region Return Issues

Following the RC deployments on Wednesday, September 6th, a number of regions across the grid experienced widespread object returns, resulting multiple forum threads (see here for an example). While some of the reports pointed a finger at the Magnum RC deployment as the cause, issues were also experienced on regions on other simulator channels as well.

The returns were triggered by objects within the affected regions having their physics shapes changed. This resulted in many objects undergoing an increase in their LI, prompting the returns as they exceed region / parcel allowances (see BUG-134270, and BUG-134271) and also meant that some objects which remained in-world, or which were placed out again by their owners could not longer be navigated by avatars (e.g. doorways appeared to be invisibly blocked, stairways couldn’t be climbed).

Commenting on the issue during the Simulator User Group meeting on Tuesday, September 12th, Oz Linden stated:

The problem is pretty well understood, and we’re working on it… it’s actually been around for a long time, but some bad luck has triggered it a couple of times lately it’s a timing thing, and the window where it can happen is narrow … It can happen on any restart, but only if there are other simultaneous back-end problems; fortunately, those are usually rare – or rather, they had some root causes in common.

We do have a change in progress that we think will prevent that kind of large-scale returns … or at least that particular way of triggering them.

One of the critiques in this situation has been the apparent lack of response to the issue by the Lab – and it is one that could have perhaps benefited from a blog post or a response through one of the forum threads to the effect that the matter had been noted and the underlying cause being looked into. Responding to similar criticism made during the SUG meeting, Oz also said, “Actually, I just came from a meeting in which we were discussing how to respond more quickly to things like that on the forums.” Hopefully, the discussions will result in more positive responses to major issues raised through the forums in future.

Week #36 Outage

Week #36 also saw a further significant outage with Second Life services involving the platform, log-in services and so on. So far, there has been no definitive explanation as to what happened, but hopefully a post-mortem blog post will be forthcoming from April Linden or one of the Ops team in the near future.

SL Viewer

On Monday, September 11th, the Maintenance RC viewer updated to version

The Wolfpack RC updated on Tuesday, September 12th to version  This viewer is functionally identical to the release viewer, but includes additional back-end logging “to help catch some squirrelly issues”.

The rest of the official viewer pipeline remains unchanged from the end of week #36:

  • Current Release version, dated August 9, promoted August 23 – formerly the Maintenance RC
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Alex Ivy 64-bit viewer, version, dated September 5
    • Voice RC viewer, version, dated September 1
  • Project viewers:
  • Obsolete platform viewer version, dated May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Environment Enhancement Project

Rider Linden has recently been pulled away from the Environment Enhancements Project (EEP, aka “Windlight updates”). However, he notes that he is making progress on the viewer side of things. Commenting on his current work with the project, Rider said:

The changes I’m making right now are adding some new classes that can handle the .settings assets. I’m wiring them into the environment on the viewer side. I’m trying to clean up the entire environment manager and the location that the windlight parameters are used/calculated/stored as I go (currently it is spread across about 1/2 a dozen source files for skys alone.).”

He also noted that he has yet to start on the scripted support for EEP, and it is likely that both the new Windlight assets and a project viewer will appear before the new scripting capabilities make their appearance. Quite when the assets and viewer will appear isn’t certain, and Oz Linden noted that there is a certain amount of infrastructure work to be done in connection with EEP.

In Brief

  • There has been some criticism of the server release notes being somewhat vague (e.g. “internal fixes”), the reason given for this is that the Lab prefers to be obscure about some changes rather than offering potential clues on possible griefing vectors / fixes for griefing vectors.
  • The keen-eyed may have noticed that the number of server release packages has changed, from ##.##.##.3##### to ##.##.##.5#####. The “5” signifies the package has been built on the Lab’s new simulator build system, with the increase made to avoid possible collisions between build versions.

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