Radegast – new website and updates

Radegast Rebranded

Radegast, the third-party Second Life / OpenSim client which has proven to be especially popular with those on low-end systems and / or those with visual impairments, now has a new home, and recently underwent a new update. As I’ve missed the last couple of cycles with this client, the following is intended to be a quick overview of its status and a brief look at the updates which have been made since my last review.

New Home

Radegast now has a new web presence, where details of updates are blogged, and which will see things like the wiki and user guide move across to it in due course.

As there is no means to access the “old” Radegast site, this remains available for legacy purposes.

The client itself, as I noted towards the end of 2016, is now being maintained by Cinder Roxley, who would welcome any support that can be offered in helping to maintain and develop Radegast and the website.Those interested in doing so code-wise, can find the source code, build instructions, and examples at https://bitbucket.org/cinderblocks/radegast.

In her first blog post on the site, Cinder also provides a brief summary of things:

So far, any updates have been Windows-based. This has allowed me to roll with the punches and familiarize myself with the codebase without getting mono too much in the mix. The roadmap for other platforms is as follows:

  1. Update LibreMetaverse to be compliant with .NET Core
  2. Update Radegast to be compliant with .NET Core
  3. Begin packaging .deb releases for Linux
  4. Begin packaging installers for MacOS
  5. Bring speech support to Linux and MacOS

Updates

There have been two updates to Radegast since my last review of the client (which essentially laid-out the updates Cinder had made to restore Voice capabilities reliably after Beq Janus provided a workaround for issues being experienced as a result of Radegast no longer being maintained as a result of Latif Khalifa’s sad passing).

The first of these updates, which saw Radegast increment to version 2.21, was released on February 12, 2017, and comprised:

  • RLV updates
  • Second Life Enhanced Skeleton Support (Project Bento)
  • Branding changes
  • Updates to
    • FMODStudio 1.08
    • SLVoice files
  • Swap of base system to LibreMetaverse
  • Many bug fixes.

Version 2.22, release on May 17th, 2017, comprises:

  • Updates to:
    • OpenTK 3.0.0-pre nuget
    • VS2017 .NET 4.5
    • LibreMetaverse 1.4.40
  • New build system
  • Fix Give Inventory menu item for screen readers
  • Many bug fixes

General Notes

An important note to remember with Radegast is that while it has a 3D scene rendering capability, allowing you to see the world around you, it is very experimental, therefore, the degree of success you may get with rendering things might be variable. In testing the client, I found Radegast had a hard time trying to render rigged mesh body parts, making it impossible to visually confirm the Bento support. However you mileage may vary.

Certainly, the fact that the 3D scene renderer is experimental and may hiccup shouldn’t put those who need / prefer Radegast off (I sincerely doubt it ever would). The bottom line is that with or without the rendering capability, Radegast is a superb lightweight client, and both the 2.21 and 2.22 updates are ensuring it keeps abreast of updates to the “full” viewer, and remains a useful tool for those who rely on it.

Links

with thanks to John Brianna for the note on the new Radegest website.

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Radegast set to continue for Second Life and OpenSim

 Radegast client is the leading lightweight client for many users with disabilities
Radegast client is the leading lightweight client for many users with disabilities

Thanks to an article by Beq Janus and news passed to me by Whirly Fizzle, this blog was recently able to cover the issues of Voice installation failures in the Radegast lightweight client, and the work put into rectifying the problems.

In short, it was discovered that Radegast would no longer install the SL Voice package due to the location the installer was pointing to being a) not provided by Linden Lab; b) no longer valid. Shortly after this was discovered, Beq found a temporary workaround to get things going using the Radegast version of the SL Voice package,  and Whirly found a means to manually get Radegast to work with the current SL Voice package from Linden Lab.

In response to a plea from Beq for developers to consider helping to provide a more robust solution, Cinder Roxley stepped in, and in short order had Radegast’s installer updated to work with the current SL Voice package.

Cinder has now confirmed she hopes to continue maintaining working on Radegast.

“It would just be a shame to see Radegast become obsolete considering how useful it is, especially in terms of accessibility.” she told me, after I heard confirmation she’d be continuing the work. “Right now, Voice is updated, and Bento is now in. I still need to do AIS v3 [inventory handling].”

Given that the current website for Radegast can no longer be accessed for updates, Cinder is working on a new site as well, although as she notes, bringing everything together will take time and energy.

“I already have a full plate with work and life and Alchemy,” she said, “So anyone else who wants to help out is more than welcome to.”

There’s no immediate time line for a further Radegast update, but knowing the work is continuing is likely to come as good news to a lot of people – and if other developers are interested in helping out, please contact Cinder in-world.

In the meantime, thanks to Cinder for taking up the challenge.

Radegast now up-to-date with SL Voice

 Radegast client is the leading lightweight client for many users with disabilities
Radegast client is the leading lightweight client for many users with disabilities

Earlier in November 2016, I invited Beq Janus to write about recent issues which have come to light for people trying to use SL Voice with the Radegast client. In short, it was recently noticed that Radegast would no longer install SL Voice on a new or clean (for those who had previously used it) installation. The problem lay with the Voice package being used no longer being available, compounded by the fact that since the sad passing of Radegast’s developer, Latif Khalifa, no-one is actively maintaining the client.

At the end of the article, Beq put out a plea for someone with the necessary coding expertise to consider stepping forward, and – if not take over maintenance of Radegast – at least update the installer to ensure it can use the correct Voice package going forward.

Well, that plea has been answered.

Cinder Roxley, a TPV developer and open-source contributor to Linden Lab, has stepped forward and updated Radegast to work with the current SL Voice, and provider a new installer package.  The links are as follows:

Many thanks to Cinders for responding to the plea and updating Radegast like this.

Radegast: recovering Voice capabilities

Gentle Heron, second from the right encountered a Radegast Voice installation during the recording of a Designing Worlds special. Credit: Beq Janus
Gentle Heron, second from the right encountered a Radegast Voice installation during the recording of a Designing Worlds special. Credit: Beq Janus

Update, November 30th: Cinder Roxley has updated the Radegast installer to work with the most recent SLVoice package. See her comments here and here (following this article). There is also a separate blog post on her work, for easier future linking.

It was recently discovered that the Radegast client was no longer installing the SLVoice extensions with a new / clean installation. On hearing of the problem, Beq Janus and Whirly Fizzle decided to investigate, and thanks to their work, we now two workaround solutions. As they had put the effort into sorting things out, I asked them if either would like to write about the issue and the solution, and Beq, with Whirly’s blessing, agreed to do so.

by Beq Janus

A few days ago when I was invited to reprise my role as a videographer for a special episode of Designing Worlds on the Future of Second Life, which will air in early December. The panel for the discussion included Gentle Heron of Virtual Ability Inc, the group who work to enable access to virtual worlds for those who, through disability or illness are unable to make ready use of regular viewers.

During the show, Gentle urged Linden Lab and us all to look for ways to make Virtual Worlds more accessible, remarking, somewhat fatefully, that many of her communities are limited to a single, troubled viewer, Radegast.

A subject of reviews in this blog, Radegast is a lightweight, extensible client which has been the ideal foundation for the disabled communities to build upon. It boasts an impressive set of speech to text and text to speech integrations and can be integrated with other devices such as braille screen readers. Sadly, Latif Kalifa, Radegast’s creator, passed away earlier this year and despite the code being open source, no-one has yet stepped forward to maintain it at a time when the Lab viewer is moving ahead in leaps and bounds, with the risk that non-maintained viewers and client might lose functionality.

 Radegast client is the leading lightweight client for many users with disabilities
Radegast client is the leading lightweight client for many virtual world users with disabilities

As if to underline this, Gentle fell silent towards the end of the show, as she was dealing with a number of users who were reporting they were unable to use Voice with Radegast as it was failing to install the all important SLVoice extensions. While I am unfamiliar with Radegast, I offered to try looking into it for Gentle.

SLVoice is a pre-built binary package supplied by Vivox and distributed by Linden Lab. During the summer, it had been upgraded to address some security concerns and so it seemed likely to me that Gentle’s problem might be that the older SLVoice package had been deprecated and removed from the download server. Sure enough, a quick check on the package URL resulted in  the dreaded 404 not found error. I sent an email to Oz and Patch Linden asking them to confirm whether older versions of SLVoice had been moved.

The next day Oz confirmed that all old SLVoice packages were still available and nothing had changed. Whirly Fizzle, the powerhouse behind Firestorm QA, leapt into action: she cracked open the installer and discovered the URL actually pointed to a separately hosted Voice package which was no longer available, causing the Voice installation to silently fail during a new or clean Radegast installation as a result. However, Whirly also found a working back-up archive we could perhaps use. Unfortunately, neither Whirly or I are C# coders and cannot update the installation package directly; so how could we get a Radegast installation to work with the back-up Voice package?

I hit on the idea of first installing the backup package that Whirly had discovered, and then running the standard Radegast installer. Success! So, for anyone who is performing a clean / new install of Radegast and needs Voice, I’ve produced a set of instructions – see the link below. There is, however, more.

I mentioned above that Linden Lab had updated the SLVoice packages over the summer to deal with security concerns. Because of this, older versions of SLVoice are to be blocked from connecting to the service, and Radegast would once again be without a Voice option. Knowing this, and never one to leave a job half done, Whirly successfully tested my approach using the most recent SLVoice package available from the Lab, and confirmed it will also work.

This means that providing that there is no internal dependency within Radegast on the legacy Voice package, we now have an upgrade path for Radegast users that will ensure continued voice support after the block on older SLVoice packages comes into force. To help ensure people know what they need to do, Whirly’s instructions can also be found in the link below.

Radegast Voice Installation Instructions.

A Plea to Developers

These instructions are only a workaround. We still need to find a way to have Radegast install the correct Voice extensions automatically, as a part of the client install process. So, if you are a C# (C-Sharp) developer and are willing to spare a few hours looking at this, please take a look at the Radegast codebase and see if there is a way to incorporate the correct binaries into an installer package. Thank you.

With grateful thanks to Whirly Fizzle.