2020 Simulator User Group week #4 summary

Souls of Dreams, November 2019 – blog post

Simulator Deployments

  • There were no deployments to the main SLS channel on Tuesday, January 21st, although there are reports some regions were restarted.
  • An RC deployment is planned for Wednesday, January 22nd, but no details were available at the time of writing.

Simulator Issues

  • Some region holders are still reporting script runtime issues. There may be some work in the RC deployment to help with these issues, but again, this wasn’t clear at the SUG meeting, due to the lack of release notes.
  • There is some work to help manage scripted attachments and vehicles during region crossings, but no specifics given.
  • There have been reports of object_rez() events randomly failing. It’s not clear how widespread the issue is, but it is a known issue with the Lab, but a reliable reproduction of the problem has yet to be reported / found.

SL Viewer

There have been no viewer updates to marks the start of the week, leaving the official pipelines as follows:

  • Current Release version 6.3.5.533275, formerly the Wassail RC viewer, dated December 4, promoted December 12. – No change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
  • Project viewers:
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, December 9, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.532999, November 22, 2019.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.3.2.530836, September 17, 2019. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16, 2019.

2020 Simulator User Group week #3 summary

The Four Seasons, November 2019 – blog post

Simulator Deployments

There are no server deployments planned for week #3 due to the next batch of updates being ready for deployment.

Simulator Issues

  • There are still reports of recent simulator updates causing issues for certain types of breedables. The Lab is aware of these problems, and while fixes are in the works, they may not be in the next set of simulator updates.
  • LL has continued a post-mortem into the region restart issues from week #2, with Simon Linden noting they have hopefully learned enough such that future restarts such run a lot better (and hopefully more smoothly!).
  • “A couple of hosts” that were not handling teleports as expected at the end of week #2, which should have been corrected.
  • Additional data that the Lab has been gathering on simulator performance does show that long-running simulators incur increased host resource utilisation, but for reasons yet to be identified.
    • Scripted avatar loads might in part be responsible, depending on what their scripts are doing, but LL would prefer to gather further data rather than speculate on possible causes.
    • However, there are regions where issues have been recorded, but which do not have large avatars loads.
    • LL have tried multiple approaches to making similar slow-downs occur on the beta grid (Aditi), but the problem doesn’t appear to occur “on demand”, making possible causes harder to identify.

SL Viewer

The Xanté Maintenance RC viewer updated to version 6.3.6.533748 on Monday, January 13th.

The remainder of the current official viewer pipelines remain unchanged for the end of week #2:

  • Current Release version 6.3.5.533275, formerly the Wassail RC viewer, dated December 4, promoted December 12 – No change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
  • Project viewers:
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, December 9th, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.532999, November 22nd , 2019.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.3.2.530836, September 17th, 2019. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16th, 2019.

In Brief

  • Rider Linden is looking at region crossings, and hopes to have some code that should help improve things when it is ready for deployment. However, he notes that the improvements will be “nowhere near what I would ultimately like.

2020 Simulator User Group week #2 summary

Last Dove, November 2019 – blog post

Simulator Deployments

At the time of writing. the server deployment thread appears at odds with reality:

  • The thread refers to the SLS Main channel being on simulator release 533895. However:
    • Following restarts, it appears that simulators on the Main channel (and some on RC channels) have remained on 2019-12-04T20:29:26.533447, which according to previous deployment threads, was the last formal deployment to the Main channel.
    • According to the release note page, 533895 was deployed on December 19th, but has channel names are now obfuscated, it is not clear which RC received the update.
  • The thread refer to restarts on the RC channels on Wednesday, January 8th, some RC servers should be restarted, but again without any deployment – although the 533895 version number is given for some when it should perhaps be 53447.

Simulator Issues

Restart Issues

The Tuesday, January 7th restarts were repeated a number of times, for reasons Simon Linden explained:

So we haven’t had any server updates since mid-December. Today we restarted a bunch because that can help performance, and in the middle of that we uncovered a bug that’s been lurking there for months, so it got a bit exciting.

Mazidox Linden added that – as of the time of writing this update – further restarts could not be ruled out.

The bug itself was related to at least one directory required by the Mono compiler not being created correctly, preventing scripts from being saved. It is apparently a bug that has been around for some time, but only surfaced as a result of changes to the way simulator restarts are run. Ironically, the changes were intended to make simulator restarts faster and smoother

Holiday Issues

Numerous region holders reported significant performance issues over the holiday period. According to Grumpity Linden, part of the issue was a failure with an automated tool, itself something of a workaround for dealing with simulator performance issues:

Hi all! I was really hoping my first post of the new year would be more jolly, but here we are.  Happy New Year, though! 

For a couple of years now, we’ve had automated tools, aptly named “Grid Poking Bot” (GPB for short) responsible for doing region restarts, and this has been working quite well – most of the time. Very unfortunately, there was a problem with the GPB over the holidays, and due to a combination of events, it took us much too long to notice – and we finally caught it in part thanks to this very forum thread and a certain vigilant “Spray Can”.  We’re now actively pursuing the least disruptive ways to address this problem as quickly as possible.  We’ll have a more detailed post-mortem blog in a couple of days as well.  

We’re very sorry about souring your holidays.  

It’s possible there is more than one issue causing problems, and investigations are still in progress, including the distribution of poorly-performing regions (e.g. are they on their own on the grid, do they have neighbours) as well as looking at distribution by server.

SL Viewer

There have been no viewer updates to mark the start of the week, leaving the current pipelines as follows:

  • Current Release version 6.3.5.533275, formerly the Wassail RC viewer, dated December 4th, promoted December 12th – No change.
  • Release channel cohorts (please see my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
    • Xanté Maintenance RC viewer, version 6.3.6.533748, December 19th.
    • Love Me Render RC viewer, version 6.3.5.533347, December 5th.
    • EEP RC viewer, version 6.4.0.532771, November 20th.
  • Project viewers:
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, December 9th.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.532999, November 22nd.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.3.2.530836, September 17th. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16th.

Destination Guide

Not strictly part of the engineering team’s remit, but it has been reported the Destination Guide is giving errors when trying to submit new destinations. This has been seen by the Web Team, and is apparently being looked at.

Looking at Second Life updates in 2019 and ahead to 2020

Each year through this blog I attempt to track news about, and changes to, Second Life, as driven by by Linden Lab. On the technical side, this is do through my weekly SL project summaries, whilst news and general updates are drawn from sources such as Lab comments on the official forums and official blog posts or as a result of attending public meetings and Q&A sessions, etc.

As a lot can happen during the course of the year, so in this article I’ve tried to summarise the more notable updates to occur during the course of 2019.

Land

Mainland Auctions

In March 2019, Linden Lab introduced Mainland user-to-user land auctions. The auction system leveraged Second Life Place Pages as the medium for presenting land for auction and for placing bids, together with a “cover page” listing available parcels up for auction available at https://places.secondlife.com/auctions. At the time of the launch, Linden Lab provided a Land Auctions Walkthrough.

Unfortunately, these auctions had to be suspended in October / November 2019 due to unspecified “abuse” by users. The system is to be revised, but there is currently no indication of when the auctions will be re-enabled.

Premium Homes

The first styles of the new Premium Homes were unveiled at the annual Home and Garden Expo in March 2019 in a single “preview” region that provided both the four types of Traditional homes and four types of Houseboat that would be the first  of the Premium Homes themes that would be issued.

The Homes themselves launched on April 15th, 2019, with the opening of the new Bellisseria continent and a mass release of both Houseboats and Traditional homes.  As with the original Linden Homes, they are available through Premium member’s Land Homes page, accessed through their secondlife.com dashboard.

The new Linden Homes are available to Premium members through the existing Linden Homes registration page

The first mass release of houses and houseboats had been snatched up within 48 hours of the release, with the houseboats proving particularly popular – so much so, that the Lab immediately started planning a 709-parcel add-on to Bellisseria specifically to meet the demand. In the meantime, one of the points noted about the new region was its lack of airstrips and this was addressed with the opening of the continent’s first airstrip in late April 2019.

The new bolt-on for the houseboats opened on May 15th, 2019 – and were all gone within 27 minutes of the release. Then in June 2019, Patch Linden announced that releases would shift to a smaller-scale rolling basis with regions of new houses generally being made available on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Also in June, the Lab previewed the next major theme for Linden Homes, the Trailers and Campers, which were introduced in September. In December 2019, the Lab previewed and then released the Victorian theme of Premium Homes.

Fees and Account Changes

Fee Changes

2019 saw the introduction of significant fee changes for Second Life.

From June 2rd, 2019 Private region tiers changed as follows:

  • Full regions were reduced from L$249 a month to US $229.
  • Homestead private regions were reduced from US $195 to US $179.
The changes to Premium fees, announced in June 2019. Source: Linden Lab

These changes were exclusive of VAT, where applicable, and did not apply to Skilled Gaming region; however, Education / Non-profit (EDU/NP) discounted Full islands were be re-priced to maintain their 50% discount off the regularly priced Full island fees.

From June 24th, 2019, Premium fees were increased for the first time in their history:

  • The monthly fee increased from US $9.50 to US $11.99 (an annual increase of 26.21% from US $114 pa to US $143.88 pa)
  • The quarterly subscription increased from US $22.50 to US $32.97 (an annual increase of 46.53% a year from US $90 pa to US $131.88 pa). This fee was to be discontinued to users upgrading to Premium after July 24th, 2019, but a later decision saw it continued on a “temporary” basis that means it is still currently available.
  • The annual fee increased from US $72 to US $99 (an annual increase of 37.5%).
  • In addition, both existing quarterly and monthly subscriptions would again be subject to VAT.

Note: included with the announcement were proposed changes to Basic account users available off-line IMs and total group allowance. However, after receiving wide-ranging feedback (such as this letter from myself), the decision was made to not implement the group changes.

To help sweeten the Premium fees increase, between June 3rd through June 24th, Premium users were offered the chance to “lock-in” their Premium fee for an additional period commensurate to their subscription period from the end of their existing period. In addition, existing annual Premium subscription members were offered the chance to renew their subscription for an additional year from their next renewal date at the Winter Premium discounted rate (10% off).

There was also the 5% increase in Marketplace commission fees which caused some consternation. While the reason for the increase is understandable when put in the proper perspective, it could have been framed a little better.

Account Changes

In July Linden Lab announced that as from August 1st., their subsidiary company, Tilia Inc., would be taking over all responsibility for managing SL user’s USD denominated accounts. In short, this meant that anyone with a US dollar balance on their account would have to agree to the Tilia Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, and in order to process USD amounts out of Second Life, might have to supply personal information to Tilia. See:

Technical Updates

Teleport Disconnects

The early part of 2019 was marked by users experiencing a significant number of teleport disconnects. These proved problematic for the Lab as well,with assorted causes from EEP deployments to server OS updates being suggested as a possible cause. A series of user-involved stress tests on the best (Aditi) grid to help with investigations, allowing adjustments to be made on the simulator side. These helped point towards a race condition, with LL implementing changes and updated monitoring to counter the issue.

Script Processing Changes

Over the course of the year,  number of script-related issues have surfaced:

As a result, LL has worked to improve script handling – such as adjusting how idle scripts are handled to reduce the overhead with place on CPU cycles – and these changes and adjustments have helped to eliminate some, but not all, of the problems encountered through the year.

Marketplace

Release Notes

In May 2019, the Lab introduced new web-based release notes for the official viewer, together with a index page for said release notes. There were some initial teething problems with the system for those who track official viewer releases (sometimes a viewer update would appear on the index page, sometimes on the new Alternate Viewers page, sometimes on both that took a while to smooth out.

Server release notes made a similar move to web pages in September. After this, LL stopped breaking down simulator updates by release channel (e.g. BlueSteel, Magnum and LeTigre), listing all releases as “Second Life Server”, regardless of the actual channel used for a release.

iOS Client

In January, evidence surfaced that Linden Lab are working on a Second Life iOS. After enquiring with the Lab, I received confirmation the app was being actively worked on. As the year progressed, more details were revealed about the app, including: the app should work on both the iPhone and iPad, and will initially be more of a communicator / companion app than a fully-rounded client; it will provide a log-in option, and chat options (e.g. chat, group chat), but will not present users with an in-world location, or rez and avatar in-world. Over time it will be enhanced – but additional capabilities are still TBD. See my mid-year update for more.

Cloud Transition

Work – most of it transparent to users – has continued on the migration of Second Life to the cloud. Most of this work has been on the back-end services, notably the web services. Currently, no public-facing simulators have been transitioned to AWS provisioning. All of this work has been achieved without any significant disruption to services or – more particularly – without users actually being aware the services had been moved, and the Lab reports that the migrated services have been able to achieve almost 100% up time.

Continue reading “Looking at Second Life updates in 2019 and ahead to 2020”

2019 Simulator User Group week #51 summary

:oxygen:, October 2019 – blog post

No major news again this week; the meeting was given over to live music and way too much gesturbating to follow conversations.

Simulator Deployments

Please refer to the server deployment thread for news and updates:

  • There was no deployment on Tuesday, December 17th, leaving the SLS Main channel and a portion of the RC channel servers on simulator version 2019-12-04T20:29:26.533447, originally deployed on Thursday, December 5th, and comprising:
    • A build of release 2019-11-15T21:13:13.532828 using new build technology.
    • Addresses some cases of scripts erroneously stopping.
    • Fixes a crash.
  • On Wednesday, December 18th, some RC servers should be updated with server release 2019-12-06T21:03:45.533558, comprising internal fixes. This is a re-deployment of the release originally made on December 9th, 2019, containing “a difference under the hood”.

No Change Window

These deployments are the last scheduled for 2020. Due to the end of year No Change Window (December 20th through to January 2nd, 2020, the next simulator updates will not likely be deployed before Tuesday, January 7th, 2020.

SL Viewer

There have been no viewer updates to mark the start of the week, leaving the current pipelines as follows:

  • Current Release version 6.3.5.533275, formerly the Wassail RC viewer, dated December 4th, promoted December 1th2 – NEW.
  • Release channel cohorts (please see my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
  • Project viewers:
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, December 9th.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.532999, November 22nd.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.3.2.530836, September 17th. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16th.

 

2019 Simulator User Group week #50 summary

The Boho Refuge, October 2019 – blog post

No major news again this week.

Simulator Deployments

Please refer to the server deployment thread for news and updates:

  • On Tuesday, December 10th, the SLS Main channel was updated to simulator version 2019-12-04T20:29:26.533447, originally deployed on Thursday, December 5th, and comprising:
    • A build of release 2019-11-15T21:13:13.532828 using new build technology.
    • Addresses some cases of scripts erroneously stopping.
    • Fixes a crash.
  • On Wednesday, December 11th, there should be an RC deployment to the BlueSteel RC. Simulator version 2019-12-06T21:03:45.533558 comprises internal fixes.

Deployment Notes

  • The Tuesday deployment started a little later than usual.
  • Further, as some of the processes managing deployments are being modified to increase stability, some deployments may run longer than usual. Once this work has finished, it is hoped deployments will be faster and more stable.

SL Viewer

At the end of week #49, the following viewers were updated:

  • On December 4th, the Maintenance RC viewer updated to version 6.3.5.533275.
  • On December 5th, the Love Me Render RC viewer updated to version 6.3.5.533347.

On Monday, December 9th the Copy / Paste project viewer updated to version 6.3.5.533365. The rest of the official viewer pipelines are as follows:

  • Current Release version 6.3.4.532299, formerly the Ordered Shutdown RC viewer, dated November 4th, – No change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
  • Project viewers:
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.532999, November 22nd.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.3.2.530836, September 17th. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16th.