Category Archives: Firestorm

Firestorm 4.7.9.50527: “I see jelly people!”

firestorm-logoMonday, August 8th saw Firestorm release version 4.7.9.50527 of their viewer. Coming a little over four months since the last release, 4.7.9 brings with it a lot of important changes from the Lab – perhaps most visible Avatar Complexity and graphics pre-sets – as well as a large number of nips, tucks, fixes and improvements from the Firestorm team and open source / TPV contributors.

As per my usual MO, what follows is  not an in-depth review of the release, but rather an overview, highlighting some of the more significant / interesting changes, updates and  fixes, which I feel will be of most interest to users.

For full details of all changes, and all due credits to contributors, etc., please refer to the official release notes.

When installing this release, uninstall the existing version and then install the new 4.7.9 release – no need for a clean install.

Available Downloads

Prior to getting stuck into the details, please note that with this release:

  • There is no 32-bit Havok version for OS X, due to incompatibilities with the RLVa update
  • Firestorm have discontinued producing a 32-bit Havok version of the viewer for Linux, due to the relatively low demand for it.

Firestorm is and will continue to be available as a 64-bit non-Havok (“OpenSim”) version for OS X and in both 32-bit and 64-bit non-Havok (“OpenSim”) versions for Linux. These versions can obviously be used with Second Life, and are available for the 4.7.9.50527 release.

This means it is unlikely there will be any Firestorm Havok support for either Max OS X or linux until Linden Lab release the 64-bit versions of the Havok library alongside their own upcoming 64-bit viewers. In the meantime, the Firestorm team offer their apologies for any inconvenience caused, and ask that those on either OS X or Linux who require Havok functionality (e.g. for mesh uploads reliant on Havok physics or for pathfinding purposes) to briefly switch to the LL viewer.

Log-in Credentials Display Update

The first noticeable aspect in this release is the log-in credentials area at the bottom of the splash / log-in screen have been revised, offering a slightly more Viewer 4 style look and bringing all the options together alongside of a single, obvious log-in button.

The revised log-in credentials area of the splash / log-in screen

The revised log-in credentials area of the splash / log-in screen

Note that if you prefer the old login screen layout, you can set the debug setting FSUseLegacyLoginPanel to TRUE.

Another change with this update is that opening Preferences from the log-in screen should no longer cause splash screen layout problems, thus fixing FIRE-17518.

Lab Derived Updates

Firestorm 4.7.9 brings the viewer up to parity with the Lab’s 4.0.6 code base, and so includes the Avatar Complexity (aka “Jelly Dolls”) and graphics presets, as noted above, and includes many maintenance fixes, things like Voice updates and the most recent HTTP updates.

Avatar Complexity – or “Why is everyone I’m looking at an odd colour?”

Avatars can often be the biggest single rendering load on our computers. Hence why the bottom falls out of your viewer performance in a crowded place. Avatar Complexity is a means to offset this impact by allowing you to set a “complexity limit” for avatar rendering. Any avatar (including their attachments) exceeding this limit will be rendered as a solid colour – a “Jelly Doll” – putting a lot less load on your computer. You can adjust the limit according to your needs, and you can also override the setting for individual avatars around you. Do note as well that the setting only applies to other avatars in your view; your own avatar will always be rendered fully.

When first installed, a viewer with Avatar Complexity will set a default limit for you based on your current viewer graphics settings. Hence why you might see a lot of solid colour avatars around you when logging-on for the first time with Firestorm 4.7.9. These default limits are:

  • Low: 35,000
  • Low-Mid: 100,000
  • Mid: 200,000
  • Mid-High: 250,000
  • High: 300,000
  • High-Ultra / Ultra: 350,000

You can adjust you Maximum Complexity setting at any time in Firestorm in one of two ways either via Preferences > Graphics or via your Quick Preferences.

In both cases, moving the Max(imum) Complexity slider to the right increases your threshold, allowing more avatars around you to be fully rendered, while moving it to the left decreases your threshold, increasing the number of avatars liable to be rendered as solid colours.

Avatar Complexity can be set using the Max(imum) Complexity slider in either Preferences > Graphics or Quick Preferences

Avatar Complexity can be set using the Max(imum) Complexity slider in either Preferences > Graphics or Quick Preferences

Note that you can set the Max(imum) Complexity slider to No Limit (all the way to the right). However, this isn’t recommended simply because it leaves your viewer vulnerable to any graphics crashers some inconsiderates still occasionally try to use. It’s far better to simply set your viewer to a high limit (e.g. 350,000) if you don’t want to be bothered by seeing Jelly Dolls

Displaying Avatar Complexity Information

You can display Avatar Complexity information for all avatars (including your own) in Firestorm in one of two ways, depending on your preference (or both can be active at the same time, if you so wish):

  • By going to the Advanced menu (CTRL-ALT-D if not visible) > Performance Tools > Avatar Complexity Information (previously Show Render Weight for Avatars). This displays three items of information over the heads of all avatars Including yours):
    • The render complexity for each avatar
    • A ranking of the avatar’s distance from your camera (1=closest)
    • The attachment surface area for an avatar, expressed in square metres
  • Or by going to Preferences > General and checking Show Avatar Complexity (if not already enabled). This will display the render complexity for each avatar in their name tag, and includes two sub-options, which are pretty self-explanatory:
    • Only [show avatar complexity, when enabled] If Too Complex
    • Show Own Complexity.
The Firestorm options for displaying Avatar Complexity information in the viewer

The Firestorm options for displaying Avatar Complexity information in the viewer

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Firestorm 4.7.7: get ready to update!

firestorm-logoThursday, March 17th saw Firestorm release version 4.7.7.408706 of their viewer. Coming four months after the last release, this update is slightly later than planned, but includes a number of important updates from the Lab as well as a good mix of updates, improvements and fixes directly from the Firestorm team and contributors.

As per my usual MO, what follows is an overview of the release, highlighting some of the more significant / interesting changes, updates and  fixes to be found in the release, and which I feel will be of most interest to users.

For full details of all changes, and all due credits to contributors, etc., please refer to the official release notes.

The Usual Before We Begin Notes

For best results when installing this release:

This update means that Firestorm 4.6.9 will be blocked in approximately 3 weeks time.

Lab Derived Updates

Firestorm 4.7.7 brings the viewer up to parity with the Lab’s 4.0.1 code base, and so includes the TLS 1.2 and CEF changes. These and other Lab derived changes are outlined below.

TLS 1.2 and Viewers

The reason this release might be regarded as becoming a mandatory update for Second Life users is the integration of TLS1.2 into the viewer – and by “viewer”, I mean all current or upcoming viewer releases, LL or TPV.

TLS, the successor to Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), is a cryptographic protocol for communications security intended to provide privacy and data integrity between two communicating computer application (such as the viewer and the Lab’s servers).

TLS 1.2 is currently being implemented by Linden Lab under the umbrella of their work of fiscal compliance, This involved changes to both the viewer and LL’s servers, the upshot of which means that, once TLS 1.2 has been fully implemented, any viewer that does not support TLS 1.2, will not be able to do any interactions with cashier or anything that involves L$. While there is no precise time frame for this work to be completed, indications from the Lab are that it will be sooner rather than later.

Again, this is not an arbitrary decision on the part of either the Firestorm team or Linden Lab; the work is being carried out as a compliance requirement.

Chromium Embedded Framework

Firestorm 4.7.7 includes the Lab’s implementation of Chromium Embedded Framework (CEF) for media management (and more). CEF completely replaces the old llQTwebkit for media management within the viewer, replacing it with current web technologies such as HTML5, CSS3 support and WebGL, which can allow direct manipulation of objects on a browser page displayed in-world with ease.

CEF should also enable things like viewing PDF files in-world, editing PDF documents via Google Docs, etc. See the CEF forum thread for more.

CEF integration into the viewer means that Flash and QuickTime content require third-party support (see this Knowledge Base article on enabling Flash support for CEF viewers, for example). However, because they do rely on plug-in support, there is no guarantee given by Firestorm or Linden Lab that either will work, and are regarded as unsupported.

Other Updates from the Lab

Materials (texture / diffuse, bumpiness / normal and shininess / specular) in the Build floater Texture tab can now be selected via radio buttons, rather than picking from a drop-down list, to make locating and selection them easier (see BUG-10149).

Firestorm replaces the materials drop-down selection menu (seen in version4.7.5, left) with the radio buttons for materials types (right), as also seen in the official viewer

Firestorm replaces the materials drop-down selection menu (seen in version4.7.5, left) with the radio buttons for materials types (right), as also seen in the official viewer

  • A fix for ALM enabled + full bright + shiny objects failing to display texture on Mac (see FIRE-12681)
  • A fix for activating Show Avatar Complexity disabling all llSetText (hovertext) viewer is restarted (see BUG-10488)
  • A fix for show land owner colour overlay is only visible where there is water in deferred rendering (see FIRE-11654)
  • A fix for a black screen if ALM is enabled while in wireframe mode and then wireframe is disabled (see BUG-4543)
  • A fix for rotating an object that is used as grid reference going crazy (see FIRE-2593 and BUG-9419)
  • A fix for “Ban Member” in the group chatters list context menu being greyed out (see FIRE-16160 and BUG-10500)
  • A fix for animated agents at high altitudes randomly showing up at 0,0,0 (see bug FIRE-14439 and BUG-6648)
  • A fix for having to open ‘About Land’ twice to get parcel ban timings to load in the parcel ban list when banned names are not cached (see bug FIRE-17408 and BUG-10831)
  • A fix for a stuck freeze frame state if snapshot floater is closed with freeze frame left enabled and the viewer window is subsequently resized (see FIRE-16739 and BUG-9952)
  • A fix for opening a note card with the same name as one already open failing to work (see  VWR-2981)
  • A fix for replacing current outfit with contents of a non-outfit folder creates a folder link in the Current Outfit Folder (see BUG-11274)
  • A fix for opening an experience compiled script in an object in an adjacent region failing to show the script is compiled with an experience in the script editor (see BUG-8980).

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Firestorm 4.7.1 to be blocked from January 7th

MadPea and Firestorm: working in collaboration to enhance the experience those new to Second life have with the platformFirestorm have announced that as from Thursday, January 7th, Firestorm viewer 4.7.1 is to be blocked from accessing Second Life, and those using 4.7.1 are being encouraged to update to a more recent version (or revert to 4.6.9 for the time being if using Windows XP or Mac OS X 10.6) ahead of the block coming into force.

The move is in keeping with Firestorm’s commitment to Linden Lab to only have 3 versions of their viewer (allowing for specific issues which might otherwise come us, as has been the case for Mac users, who have had to face a series of (apparently) Cocoa related issues impacting their ability to use viewers incorporating these updates) active at any given time.

As noted in the announcement, this means that only Firestorm 4.6.9 will remain available for those still using Windows XP or versions of OS X older than 10.7, and this will be blocked some time after the next release of Firestom, which currently looks to be set for some time in February.

Those needing help in updating their version of Firestorm can find it on the following Firestorm wiki pages: backing up and restoring your settings and Updating Firestorm.

Examining Firestorm’s landing pages for Second Life

MadPea and Firestorm: working in collaboration to enhance the experience those new to Second life have with the platformUpdate #3, January 9th, 2016:  The testimonials on the landing pages have now been updated with genuine comments and images from Second Life users.

Update #2: I’ve further been informed that the testimonials are intended to the express the sentiments of SL users and are based upon feedback. expressed by SL users. Similarly, the images are in fact stock Internet images. A footnote to the effect that “The consumers above are not actual consumers of the advertised product.” has now been added to each of the landing pages.

Update #1: I’ve been informed by various third parties that the testimonials on the landing pages may not in fact be genuine. I’ve therefore revised this post until I hear further on this matter.

On Monday, December 28th, Friestorm announced the arrival of their Gateway landing pages, and asked Firestom users for their assistance in helping to spread the word about Second Life.

The Landing pages are an integral part of the Firestorm Gateway, which itself forms a part of the upcoming trail Gateways Programme I previewed back in September, and which hopefully will be officially announced as up and running by the Lab in the near future.

In all, six landing pages have been produced, each one of which is intended to showcase a specific aspect of using Second Life, and encourage those new to Second Life to sign-up and log in to the platform. To help with this, Firestorm is asking SL users to share those pages they feel their non-SL friends and contacts would find to be of the most interest and thus sign-up.  The six pages have the following topic descriptions:

While one might quibble over the subject titles (role-play and exploring might seem to exhibit a high degree of cross-over, for example), the pages themselves offer a crisp, clean approach to present Second Life, including endorsements from (and photos of) actual SL users.

Each of the pages includes a series of sign-up buttons which carry those interested to the initial phase of sign-up: creating an account – providing a user name, etc.

The sign-up form

The sign-up form using the Lab’s API

It’s probably worth pointing out here, and before the conspiracy theorists reach for their tin-foil hats,  that this sign-up process uses an API supplied by Linden Lab. This means that, just like all third-party TPVs, none of the gateways in the programme – Firestorm or anyone else – is storing or accessing the sign-up information a new user provides. The information is strictly between the user and the Lab. The only part of the sign-up information which can be accessed is the e-mail address: and that only for as long as it takes for an automated welcoming e-mail to be sent.

Providing the fields are correctly filled-out  – error messages will be displayed at the foot of the input fields, although you may have to use the vertical slider to bring them into view thanks to the API – clicking Get Started will move you on to the next page, intended to step the user through downloading, installing and launching the viewer.

The Firestorm instructions page

The Firestorm instructions page

To me, this page presents some issues which perhaps need to be dealt with if it is to be as effective as might be hoped – I’ll come back to this a little later.

One thing established SL users are bound to note is that nowhere is there any opportunity for the new user to select an avatar.

This isn’t an oversight on the part of the Firestorm team – it is a result of having to use the “old” user sign-up API, which doesn’t have any hooks into the Avatar Picker seen on the Lab’s own sign-up pages.  Thus, the first opportunity new users get to picker the gender of their avatar is after they have logged-in – and even then, they only initially get either the male or female default Character Test avatars which (a long while ago) replaced the infamous “Ruth”.

As the gateway has to use the "old" SL registration API, users do not get to select the gender of their avatar until after they log-in (left), and are then defaulted to either the female or male Character Test avatar

As the gateway has to use the “old” SL registration API, users do not get to select the gender of their avatar until after they log-in (left), and are then defaulted to either the female or male Character Test avatar (click to enlarge, if required)

Obviously, this is far from ideal. First impressions count, and many people seeing their avatar for the first time and comparing it to the glossy images on the landing pages could end up feeling a tad bit aggrieved or disappointed and might even simply log off.

This issue has already been raised with the Lab, so hopefully, something can be done about it,  either by providing the updated API with the avatar picker to those involved in the gateway programme, or by the Lab finding the means to present new users coming into SL via these gateways with at least one of the new “Classic” avatars instead of the Character Test versions.

Once they have selected their gender and have seen their avatar appear, the new user will find they’re starting at the start of the Firestorm’s orientation island, where they can start learning to use the viewer, before progressing on to finding out more about Second life in general through the various activities and events operating within the Firestorm gateway regions.

Given that new users are confronted with the Character Test avatars on first logging in (and allowing for the fact this will hopefully be changing), I did find myself wondering if a short lesson couldn’t be provided showing the new user how to access the Avatar Picker and quickly create an alternative look, just to reassure them that avatars in SL really don’t all look like they first see themselves.

The Firestorm Gateway incorporates their viewer orientation island and includes social areas for users

Once new users have progressed through the Firestorm landing / sign-up pages and have installed the viewer and logged-in with it, they’ll be delivered to the orientation island in the Firestorm gateway regions

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