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.

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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

Kokua viewer: looking to the future

On Tuesday, July 25th, I received an e-mail from Nicky Perian, lead developer for the Kokua viewer. Sent to the Kokua Dev mailing list, the notice was also later posted to the Kokua website.

In short, Nicky will, in October – and for very good reason – be stepping back from a direct, hands-on leadership role in maintaining Kokua, and he is hoping that those in the community who are able to support viewer development will step forward to fill the void and take responsibility for helping to ensure the viewer continues into the future.

The notice – which I’m sure Nicky will have no problems in seeing reproduced here reads in full:

Hello all,

This coming October I will turn 75 years old. I intend to have minimal (consulting only) involvement with Kokua after that. Hopefully, someone will take over the project or it will fade away.

Between now and then I intend to cut some routine building and updating. The first cut will be the RLV build of Kokua OpenSim followed by RLV build of Kokua Second Life then NoRLV build of Kokua OpenSim.

That will leave The NoRLV build of Kokua Second Life version.

I want to thank all who have contributed to Kokua including other third-party viewer project developers and those that work for Linden Lab.

I will try to complete the Alex Ivy integration. Kokua Project Alex Ivy Windows versions can be
built and tested now.

Test down loads can be found at
https://sourceforge.net/projects/kokua.team-purple.p/files/Kokua-Projects/
The source code for Second Life resides at:
https://bitbucket.org/kokua/kokua-sl-64
The source code Open Sim which is at start state with the last commit 5 months ago resides at:
https://bitbucket.org/kokua/kokua-os-64

Nicky has worked tirelessly to develop and maintain Kokua, and other, the viewer has been one of the first v5 style viewers to update with features and code from Linden Lab, as well as maintaining strong support and parity with Marine Kelley’s RLV. While Kokua hasn’t been my primary viewer, I have always found it to be stable, reliable and straightforward to test as updates have been released. As such, I’d like to thank Nicky for all of his work in keeping the viewer and the project going.

Should anyone fancy taking on the work with Kokua, individually or as a team, as well as following the links to the repositories as Nicky has provided, do please contact him and discuss opportunities and intentions with him so that if more than one person does step forward, you can all be put in proper contact with one another.

I’ll of course continue to cover the updates Nicky is planning, and will cover any future updates and releases of the viewer and the project hopefully rolls into the future.

Kokua forks Second Life and OpenSim support

kokua-logoKokua, the viewer 4-style Second Life and OpenSim viewer has forked development between the two platforms.

The announcement came on Monday, September 26th, with lead developer Nicky Perian announcing the initial release of KokuaOS-4.1.0.38653 in a blog post thus:

Gavin Hird (macOS) is the lead developer for KokuaOS. This viewer is for OpenSim grids and is branched off at Kokua version 4.0.2. The default grid is set to 3rd Rock Grid as their support for Kokua and Imprudence extends back a number of years with the Hoagie sim contribution.

The reason for the split appears to be the increasing complexities in having a unified viewer code set supporting both OpenSim and Second Life, with Nicky noting:

While the ability to log on to Second Life is present, Jelly Doll support is not, and we expect more wandering away from Second Life as new features such as Bento Joints, and server infrastructure removal take place.

However, this shouldn’t be taken to mean that the OpenSim viewer will not be implementing changes made to the SL viewer; simply that only those changes which make sense to adopt will be carried forward into the OpenSim variant.

So, for example, KokuaOS-4.1.0.38653 includes the code from the Lab’s recently released Visual Outfits Browser, allowing OpenSim users to browse through their outfits using the thumbnail image feature, and the Windows version also includes the switch to using a media plug-in based on LibVLC to replace QuickTime.

Core updates with the OS-4.1.0.38653 release comprise:

  • Kukua OS-4.1.0.38653 includes the Visual Outfits Browsers from Second Life, but not Avatar Complexity
    Kukua OS-4.1.0.38653 includes the Visual Outfits Browsers from Second Life, but not Avatar Complexity

    There is no auto update capability. New updates must be manually installed and downloaded

  • Recent SL updates included comprise:
  • Excluded SL updates comprise:
    • Avatar Complexity (aka Jelly Dolls) and Graphics Presets
  • Media content on Linux uses Gstreamer, but can be switched to VLC by editing skins/mime_types_linux.xml- You can upload and play back sounds of up to 60 seconds
  • The Mac OSX version now use a gamma of 2.2 which improves tonal range of the scene.
  • Microphone and volume can be tested without an active session
  • Additional functionality in support of the OpenSim Export function
  • Almost complete localisation of the viewer to German.

Full details of all changes and known issues can be found in the OS-4.1.0.38653 release notes, and the download is available via the Kokua downloads wiki.

Following this, on October 1st, Nicky announced the release of the Second Life version of Kokua, version 4.1.1.39717. This update see the removal of all code which facilitated the switch between logging-in to Second Life or to OpenSim grids, and brings this viewer to parity with the Second Life 4.1.1 code base and with RLV-2.9.20.1.

Core updates in this release comprise:

  • Most menu items with OpenSim specific functionality has been deactivated.
  • Support for:
Kokua version 4.1.1.39717 for Second Life does include Avatar Complexity and Graphics Presets
Kokua version 4.1.1.39717 for Second Life does include Avatar Complexity and Graphics Presets
  • Mac OSX Updates:
    • Use of a gamma of 2.2 which improves tonal range of the scene. System gamma of 1.8 has not been used by Apple since Mac OSX 10.6
    • Support for OSX 10.12, with a minimum requirement of OSX 10.9
    • OSX send and receive buffer size has been increased for better network performance
  • Advanced and Develop menus updated with new functionality and more relevant HUDs
  • Improvements to:
    • Voice floaters and functionality
    • Media playback functionality, including in the chat / IM floater
    • Mesh uploads
    • The world map and mini map
  • The built-in AO now shows which animation is playing
  • Own voice dot and speaker indicator no longer shown over avatar’s head (via  Firestorm)
  • Almost complete localisation of the viewer to German.

Again, please read the release notes for all changes, updates and known issues with this release. The download is available via the Kokua downloads wiki.

The two versions can be run side-by-side, providing different installation locations are used (offered by default by the Windows installer) and chat logs.

Links