Kokua: Admin changes and the 6.2.4 release

The Kokua team released Kokua 6.2.4 on Friday, August 16th, 2019, and with it come some changes to general administration of the viewer’s website and management tools.

In terms of the latter, and for ease on management going forward, a number of changes are in the works including:

  • The use of the Atlassian Confluence platform to provide:
    • A blog capability.
    • Release notes support.
    • A master download pages.
    • RSS feeds.
  • The use of Atlassian Jira (as used by Linden Lab and the likes of Firestorm) for bug reporting and tracking.

The switch-over is still a work-in-progress, so the existing blog, wiki and bug tracker remain in operation for the time being, however, relevant links for the new environment are given as:

While the switch-over is in progress, users are advised against linking to individual sub-pages within these sections, as pages may change as things are bedded-in. For this purposes of this blog, the new Kokua home page is referenced in the sidebar links (right, under Maintained Viewers) and within my Current Viewers Release Page and the weekly release summaries drawn from that.

Kokua 6.2.4

Kokua 6.2.4 brings the viewer to parity with the most recently Linden Lab viewer release (version 6.2.4.529638, formerly the Love Me Render RC viewer dated August 5th, promoted August 12th). In addition, it updates the RLV version to Marine Kelley’s RLV 2.9.26.2.

As has been customary with Kokua releases of late, the viewer is provided in three versions for each of the supported operating systems (Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, all 64-bit):

  • Non-RLV – version 6.2.4.45881.
  • “Standard” RLV (can be enabled and disabled via a viewer restart) – version 6.2.4.45882.
  • “Full Time” RLV (RLV is active all the time) – also version 6.2.4.45882.

In addition to these updates, Kokua 6.2.4 includes a number of third-party additions, most notably from Firestorm, as noted in the sections below, and with due credit to the originators of the code updates.

Settings Backup

Sometimes when installing a new version of a viewer, there can be a recommendation to perform a “clean install” – removing all cached and settings files. This can make any viewer installation labour-intensive, as settings all need to be restored after the installation is complete.

The Settings Backup (Preferences > Backup) eases some of the pain by allowing users to back-up many of their global and account settings to a local hard drive. Once done, the back-up can then be restored to an updated version of Kokua (e.g. if a clean install has been required, or if some settings have become corrupted). Settings can also be backed-up at any time as changes are made.

The Kokua Settings Back-up option, courtesy of Firestorm

Settings can be backed-up to any location on a local drive, and users can select those settings they wish to back-up by unchecking / checking the available options. It is also possible to save settings on a per account basis. So if you have several accounts, each with different settings, you can back-up each of them separately – just make sure each back-up has a unique location.

Restoring previously backed-up files requires the viewer is restarted after the restore – and again, this is conveniently taken care of by the viewer allowing you to quickly log-out following a successful restore – although you’ll have to manually re-start the viewer once you’ve been logged out.

Sounds Output Device Selection

Preferences >Sound and Media includes a new drop-down allowing users to select their preferred output device for playing in-world sounds.

Sound output device selection, courtesy of Firestorm

When using it, note that:

  • Selecting Default will always select the first output device in the list.
  • If Default is selected but the previous device is no longer available, the viewer will automatically switch to the next available “default” device as defined by your operating system.
  • Manually selecting an output device from the drop-down  prevents the viewer from automatically switching to another device if the selected device is no longer available. Instead, the field will show “Unavailable Device” until such time as the nominated device is again available, or the drop-down is changed to Default or an alternate is manually selected.

Updated Debug Floater

Finally from Firestorm, Kokua 6.2.4 includes an improved debug settings floater with search and sanity checking of key values.

The improved Debug floater, courtesy of Firestorm

Other Updates of Note

Finally there are a number of fixes/improvements on the Kokua code base itself, notably fixing the pie menus so that the Hover Height command appears (i.e. was there but a mistake in the file concerned prevented it being shown). For details, please refer to the Kokua 6.2.4 release notes.

Feedback

Kokua 6.2.4 continues to maintain parity with the official viewer whilst also importing some additional updates from Firestorm that Kokua users will doubtless find useful and which are likely to help enhance Kokua as the go-to viewer for those who have used Firestorm , but who are looking for an alternative that offers reasonable familiarity.

Additional Links

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Kokua update, MetaChat issues and Firestorm version block

A quick round-up of news relating to a handful of viewers and clients.

Kokua

Kokua 64 bit (Windows, Mac and Linux) updated both the RLV (5.1.7.43693) and non-RLV (5.1.6.43692) flavours of the viewer on Sunday, August 11th. I’ve not had time to drive the update – and my not be able to, due to other commitments. However, the core of the update brings the viewer to parity with the SL viewer 5.1.7 code base, and offers some updates from the Kokua team, described in the release notes as follows:

In addition the options for configuring the chat range rings and colours move from the Kokua General preferences tab to Kokua Chat which as well as being more logical also frees up space needed in the RLV version for a new option on the General tab.

The RLV version gains an option on the Kokua General tab which allows @standtp to be disabled. This has been added because @standtp tends to operate in various counter-intuitive ways despite operating as intended.

Here’s one scenario that illustrates the problem:-

  • @standtp is applied to the avatar.
  • The avatar hitches to (sits on) a cart.
  • The avatar pulls the cart from location A to location B.
  • The avatar is unhitched from the cart (stands up).
  • At that point @standtp teleports them back to location A.

Links

MetaChat

MetaChat the iOS client  is having problems courtesy of Apple. The app was removed from the iStore on August 9th, as part of a purge by Apple on “gambling apps”.

Enquiries have been lodged with Apple on when / if the app will be allowed to re-list, but thus far, no response has been given.

In the meantime, versions already downloaded  / downloaded and installed will still work, this move by Apple only affects the client’s listing on the iStore.

iOS / MetChat users can read more on the MetaChat blog, where updates will also be posted.

Firestorm Version Block

A reminder to Firestorm users, Firestorm 5.0.1.52150 (released December, 2016) will be blocked from Tuesday, August 14th, in keeping with the Firestorm team’s policy of only allowing the current, and the two version immediately prior to it.

This means that if you are still used Firestorm 5.0.1, you need to update to a more recent version: 5.0.7, 5.011 or the current 5.1.7 release.

To find out more about why Firestorm versions are blocked, please read this blog post from the Firestorm team.

Kokua presents Alex Ivy based 64-bit Linux Viewer

Viewer support has been a subject of frustration among SL users who prefer to use Linux (around 1%-1.5% of the total SL user base) over the lack of official support for the operating system.

As I reported at the time, in 2015 and due to a lack of Linux expertise, Linden Lab pulled back from active Linux viewer development in favour of seeking support from the open-source community in order to maintain a Linux version of the viewer (see here for more). More recently, the Lab has been looking to provide a means to build a Linux flavour of the viewer, based on their Alex Ivy 64-bit code base and libraries, but not distribute or build all the various dependencies required for the viewer, instead leaving this to TPVs to do as part of providing their own support for Linux users (see here for more), although this is taking time to happen.

In the meantime, on May 6th, 2018, the Kokua team released the first third-party viewer for Linux based on Lab Lab’s 64-bit Alex Ivy code base, although built using Kokua’s own Linux libraries.

Kokua release 5.1.3.43237 (RLV) and Kokua release 5.1.3.43238 (no RLV) are  are supplied in Windows, Mac and Linux flavours. In addition, and as is to be expected, both are built using the latest LL release code base (SL 5.1.3) while the RLV version is at parity with RLV release 2.9.23.0.

The viewer is currently available for download on the Kokua website for those who wish to try it – just scroll down to the RLV 64 bit (active development) or the NORLV 64 bit (active development) sections of the download page for the version you’d prefer to use.

If you are a Linux user and opt to download the viewer, please do take the time to report any issues you find with it via the Kokua Issue Tracker at Sourceforge,  as refinement and enhancement of the Linux flavour of the viewer is dependent on the Linux community, perhaps more so than the Mac and Windows flavours (which each have the advantage of larger user bases and more chances of issues being more widely identified and reported).

It should be noted that the Linux flavours of the viewers does come with a warning:

Some areas of the Linux release are still being worked on, however we believe that enough is working and well enough to share this with a wider audience to help us squash any remaining gremlins.

– The Kokua May 6th 5.1.3 release notes

However, the news that there is now an up-to-date 64-bit Linux viewer available for download which is based on the Lab’s current code-base should hopefully come as good news for Linux users.

Additional Links

Kokua: new faces, the future and release 5.1.3.43129/43130

In March I reported that Chorazin Allen, had joined the Kokua viewer development team. He volunteered after Nicky Perian’s decision to step back from day-to-day management of the project, announced in October 2017 to allow him to enjoy more of his retirement, failed to elicit hoped-for volunteers to take over the general management of the project.

Chorazin, although he modestly describes his C++ coding skills as “rusty” (causing him to initially hold back from volunteering sooner), has considerable experience in project management, software development and build experience coupled with many years of experience of in-world LSL scripting and working with RLV/RLVa.

Since joining Kokua, he has been getting familiar with the rest of the Kokua team, and together they have been working on updates to the Second Life viewer to bring it up to parity with the current Linden Lab code base, including full integration with the Alex Ivy 64-bit code. I’ve been tracking these updates – made through the projects Sourceforge pages, rather than being “official” releases, for the past few weeks via my Current Viewer Releases page and my weekly viewer release summaries.

Kokua: The Future

On April 15th, this work reached a point where the team were ready to resume making formal Kokua releases, and to publish a blog post outlining the viewer’s future development. I strongly urge all Kokua users to read this post in full, and am only bullet-pointing the key elements here:

  • Until such time as an OpenSim developer can join the project, Kokua will only be actively maintained for use with Second Life.
  • Kokua for Second Life will be developed as a 64-bit bit viewer only, offering both RLV and non-RLV variants.
    • The Windows and Mac versions will be actively maintained, based on Linden Lab’s  Alex Ivy 64-bit code base.
    • Effort will also be put towards a 64-bit Linux flavour of the viewer based on the Lab’s Alex Ivy code. However, this will doubtless be dependent on the Lab’s broader attempts to work with the Linux community to develop a 64-bit Linux viewer.
  • In keeping with a request from Linden Lab, the major version numbers for Kokua releases will reflect the Lab code base release they are based on. So, for example Kokua 5.1.3.xxxxx indicates it is based on the Lab’s 5.1.3 code base.
  • Legacy 32-bit versions of Kokua will remain available via the download page, but will not be actively maintained.
  • The Kokua group within Second Life is the preferred medium for user-to-user support and will also be used for group notices about new versions or other significant developments. All other channels of outward  communication (IRC, Twitter, etc), have been discontinued.
  • The Kokua wiki will continue to be used for viewer release notes (as seen in the viewer when a new version is launched) and for the summary of current versions and download sites.
  • The preferred method of inward  communication to the team is via a ticket raised in Sourceforge against the Kokua Project.

Kokua 5.1.3.43129/43130

The formal release the release of Kokua’s Alex Ivy based 64-bit viewer for Windows and Mac, offers the viewer in both RLV (5.1.3.129) and non-RLV (5.1.3.43130) variants on both platforms. It brings with it a full parity with the Second Life viewer up to and including (at the time of writing) the current official release viewer, 5.1.3.51364, formerly the Media Update RC viewer. The RLV version of the viewer also gains parity with RLV 2.9.23.0.

Performance Feedback Capabilities

The core element of the updates made by the Kokua team comprise new performance and information feedback capabilities, including the ability to report on changes in the number of scripts in a region, changes in the server channel with changes of region.

All of the new settings can be found in two new Preferences tabs: Preferences > Kokua > Performance 1 and Preferences > Kokua  > Performance 2:

  • Performance 1 deals with notifications on entering a new region and agent (avatar) and script notifications, which must be enabled on a group basis – agent and / or script notifications, and then individual options within group set as required.
  • Performance 2 provides notifications on Frame Timing and Basic Performance.

In addition, it should be noted that:

  • Performance 2 also includes a check box to display the information from these features either as a notification in the top right of the viewer window and in chat history, or have them only displayed in chat history.
  • All of the options have default values which are intended to be representative of fairly average performance. If you aren’t familiar with what they do, it is probably preferable that you don’t randomly enabling them, as you could end up  swamped in notifications and feedback.
  • It is important to not that any changes made relate what is reported by the viewer and when – changing these values does not change actual simulator performance.
The new Preferences > Kukua Performance 1 tab, allowing users to set notifications for region, agent (avatar) and script notifications.

Some of these options mirror similar capabilities found in other TPVs – such as reporting a change in the server channel when moving between regions; others may be of more benefit to region holders and their estate managers than they are for general consumption. The idea with them is not to simply turn everything on, but to select those options which might be of specific interest.

For example, while knowing how many avatars (agents) are in a region might be of use to some users when hopping about Second Life, information on how the physics  simulation is performing or on overall timing information within a region, together with the active object count and script count is only likely to be of interest to those managing a region. Similarly, enabling the Physics time section of the frame monitoring options in the Performance 2 tab could help creators monitor vehicle performance during testing (e.g. on region crossings.

The new Preferences > Kokua > Performance 2 tab, providing Frame Timing and Basic Performance notifications

For a more rounded examination on how these options might be used, please refer to the Kokua release notes, which provide a range of examples of now the tabs might be used. It should also be notes that general “real-time” monitoring of the options provided can also be done via the Statistics (CTRL-SHIFT-1) and Scene Load Statistics (CTRl-SHIFT-2) floaters. Finally, those particularly interested in learning more about the viewer’s statistics reporting abilities and on tuning viewer performance should refer to the Viewer Statistics wiki page, and the Viewer Performance Knowledge Base article respectively.

Feedback

While the lack of OpenSim maintenance for Kokua – at least until such time as an OpenSim developer volunteers to work with the team, as noted – will probably be lamented in some quarters, the “return” of mainstream release announcements of Kokua, together with information how the viewer’s development will proceed into the foreseeable future is to be welcomed.

That Kokua is only being maintained on Windows 64-bit might cause frustration for some. However, given that systems capable of running 64-bit Windows (e.g. supplied with more that 4Gb of RAM) are far more prevalent on the marketplace; ergo, the decision to focus the team’s limited resources on providing support for the one flavour of Windows  makes sense.

It’s hard to judge how well the two new Performance tabs will be utilised. Aso noted, for the likes of those engaged in region management, or scripting, they could potentially be very useful. For others, the tabs might rarely see the light of day. But that’s what TPVs are about – providing choice for users.

I’ve not had an opportunity to run Kokus 5.1.3 hard, having only spent part of a morning bouncing around SL with it. However, in that time I found it to be (as usual) robust and providing frame rates and general experience with the official viewer and – on a frame rate basis – somewhat above that managed by Firestorm on the basis of very rough-and-ready “like for like” testing across some of my preferred regions where things like agent numbers., etc tend to remain constant.

Additional Links

Kokua viewer – news and future updates

Update, March 10th: Two new versions of Kokua are available for 64-bit Windows (RLV – version 5.1.3.42936 – and non-RLV – version 5.1.3.42935).  These build on recent updates to Kokua using the Lab’s 5.1.3 code base, and feature internal code refactors. They can be downloaded from Kokua’s Sourceforge repository.

In October 2017, Nicky Perian announced he would be stepping back from a direct, hands-on leadership role in maintaining Kokua to enjoy a well-deserved retirement. He put out a call for members of the Kokua community to step forward and help maintain Kokua, although he has maintained a role working on the Mac and Linux versions of the viewer.

On Friday, March 9th, Chorazin Allen – perhaps best known as the creator of Chorazin Creations, a range of RLV-enabled cages and cells for the BDSM community, and the Chain of Command range of scripted plug-ins for the Real Restraints range of products by Marine Kelley-  issued a Kokua group notice indicating he would be joining the team, taking directly responsibility for:

  • The Windows builds of Kokua
  • RLV updates
  • Release management and general administration.

In a separate group notice, Chorazin also notes:

You can check on the latest Win64 versions of Kokua by visiting Sourceforge here:

https://sourceforge.net/projects/kokua.team-purple.p/files/Kokua-SL/Windows64Bit/

You may also set up notifications from Sourceforge when new versions are added.

RLV users should update to 42932 to get a fix for the garbage collector failing to remove restrictions from vanished objects.

Chorazin notes that – understandably –  it will take a little time for the re-organisation within the Kokua team to be completed, and Kokua users are asked to keep an eye on group notices – which will become more frequent as a new version is readied for release – and on the  Sourceforge repositories for updates to forthcoming versions.

In the meantime, news that Kokua is to be moving forward will likely be welcomed by the Kokua community, and kudos to Chorazin for taking up the request to help manage the viewer and carry it forward. I’ll continue to cover updates as they are released.

Kokua and Black Dragon go 64-bit in Second Life

As the Lab’s 64-bit Alex Ivy viewer progresses through release candidate stage and the point where the code is regarded as a stable enough for TPVs to start picking up, viewer developers having been doing just that.

First out of the v5-stage gates at the start of September was Nicky Perian with 64-bit versions of Kokua for Windows and Mac. Towards the middle of the month, NiranV Dean issued a 64-bit version of Black Dragon for Windows.

It should be noted that in neither case are the provided 64-bit viewers the final, polished article. Nicky has clearly labelled his versions as test releases, which Niran is referring to his as an alpha series of releases.

I’ve not driven either viewer to any great extent, so the following is more informational than anything else. Please refer to the links at the end of this article for all download links to the viewers.

Kokua 64-bit

The Kokua 64-bit builds come in both RLV and non-RLV versions. Each is functionally identical to the other, with the exception of … RLV inclusion.  For convenience, I downloaded the 64-bit Windows version with RLV. all of the versions are based on the Lab’s Alex Ivy code base.

The Windows viewer builds include the SL Launcher .EXE, designed to ensure the correct version of the viewer (32-bit or 64-bit) is installed on your PC when updating the viewer. However, at this point, neither actually utilises it directly: the installation short-cut for the viewer points directly to the viewer .EXE. As the Launcher is also intended to start / terminate the viewer’s crash logging, and given – if I recall correctly – Kokua utilises the Lab’s viewer update process, I assume use of the Launcher may / will be folded-into the Kokua’s 64-bit Windows flavours in the future.

Beyond this, the viewer is functionally identical to the last full release of Kokua (5.0.6.41208), with additional updates from the more recent LL viewer releases since that date. This means the 64-bit viewer now includes the Asset HTTP updates from the Lab and the current release version (5.0.7.328060). I understand the 32-bit versions of the viewer have also been merged with these updates, but have not been formally released.

Nicky does note that there are some issues with the Mac 64-bit version of the viewer, some of which prompted an update following an initial release of the test viewers. Some of these have been logged via JIRA with the Lab (such as BUG-41395). For those downloading and trying the viewer, he particularly requests that feedback be given on notifications and taking / processing snapshots, which have caused noticeable issues in merging the code (obviously, feedback on other aspects of the viewer and problems encountered is also welcome).

Black Dragon 64-bit

Black Dragon currently has the SL Launcher removed. This generates a warning on starting the viewer, advising users to run things from the Launcher and to update short-cuts accordingly. However, it doesn’t interfere with the viewer’s operations.

The 2.9.0 64-bit version incorporates Niran’s more recent updates up to his 32-bit 2.8.2 release. For those with hardware which can handle it, Black dragon continues to offer a graphics experience several points above other viewers. For some people, this is somewhat mitigated by the viewer’s menu system presentation, which can take a little getting used to but really isn’t that hard to steer around. The large number of graphics options exposed / added can be a little frightening to those not into graphics tweaking – but again, there’s no real need to play around with any you’re not familiar with when adjusting settings.

In addition to the 64-bit iteration, the viewer includes further refinements to SL shadows, including an attempt to deal with a particular annoyance for photographers: disconnected shadows. That is, shadows which just fall short of actually visually connecting with the object casting them, and which at time no amount of jiggling with settings such as shadow quality and/or shadow bias can fix. A further change is that HTTP pipelining has been disabled within the viewer.

Rough-and-Ready Performance Notes

The benefits in using 64-bit versions of the viewer – for those who can – are much better memory utilisation and potentially a reduced crash rate and, potentially, a boost in overall viewer performance. In terms of the latter, and while direct comparisons are always subjective (and dependent upon some factors outside of your control, such as the complexity of any other avatars in your field of view / in the region, etc), I carried out some very rough-and-ready tests using ~Neive~ as my testing-point, and with the viewers all set-up according to my review system specifications.

Baseline test location: ~Neive~ 199, 155, 27, facing west, with three (or in the case of the Black dragon 32-bit version test, four) avatars within draw distance. All measurements were taken after setting the preferences in each viewer, and clearing object and texture caches before doing a fresh load to ensure each viewer had the scene locally cached. I then launched each viewer in turn, let the scene load from cache, measured, shut-down and launched the next & repeated.

Viewer
FPS Static FPS panning left / right
Firestorm 64-bit 5.0.7.529121 25 22-28
SL Alex Ivy 5.1.0.508209 38 33-38
Kokua 32-bit 5.0.6.41208 23 20-23
Kokua Alex Ivy 5.1.0.42217 37 34-37
Black Dragon 32-bit 2.8.22 36 33-38
Black Dragon 64-bit 2.9.0 Alpha2 45 33-46

Notes:

  1. Firestorm 64 is currently not using the Lab’s 64-bit code base, and so might be considered an indirect comparison, rather than a like-for-like code base comparison.
  2. Black Dragon has many additional exposed / tweaked graphics options, and a number of defaults somewhat different to the default viewer. In measuring, I attempted to tweak the viewer back more towards the default viewer.

Also note that the static fps numbers are a median based on fluctuations in numbers; the panning figures represent the average high/low fps values when panning. All measurements taken via the Stats floater (CTRL-SHFT-1) to ensure consistency of displayed floaters in the viewer.

As indicated towards the top of this article, I’ve not really played that much with either viewer, so cannot comment in-depth on overall performance  / stability, etc.

Links and Downloads