• http://http:/www.robmeyrs.org/ Rob Myers

    This is extremely cool. I wonder what their plan for the server code is?

    They acknowledge that some of the support libraries are non-free. I assume that this is the reason for the exception they’ve added to the GPL to allow their code to link to non-GPL-compatible licenses. Hopefully the community can help them replace these.

    It would be interesting to know how influential the libsecondlife/CopyBot effort has been in encouraging this release. Whether the pressure from that unrelated project has worked as the free Java implementations seem to have to put pressure on Sun, or whether that just annoyed people. :-)

  • three blind mice

    Developers can now access the source code to the Second Life end-user software in order to make modifications, enhancements and to add new features…

    because hiring programmers and paying salaries and benefits is a such drag on innovation. even a chinese expects to be paid something. it’s so much less expensive to ask “the community” to bear the burden of development for us. it’s the best. outsourcing. evar.

    “We were the first virtual world to enable content creators to own the rights to the Intellectual Property they create…

    and as quickly as you can say “GPL” they strip those rights away.

    and the moral of the story: better have a first life that includes a paying job if you want to play second life.

  • http://www.robmyers.org/ Rob Myers

    because hiring programmers and paying salaries and benefits is a such drag on innovation.

    Where have Linden Labs said they are firing anyone?

    The community want improvements in the client that Linden Labs have been unable to deliver. If this is the best way of getting those improvements it is a benefit to Linden, the community, and the overworked programmers on the current team.

    “We were the first virtual world to enable content creators to own the rights to the Intellectual Property they create…
    and as quickly as you can say “GPL” they strip those rights away.

    They can “give you your rights” all they like. Until you have the freedom to use the data from SL in a way that won’t disappear when they turn off the servers those rights are hollow. GPL-ing the client is a step towards those rights meaning something. (I’d add that the GPL strips no rights: it is built on copyright and the entire point of it is to protect rights.)

    As with Wizards of the Coast and with Apple, making the basis of a product Free guarantees that your investment in it will not entirely disappear if the company goes bust. This will help to improve confidence in the company and prevent it from going bust.

    and the moral of the story: better have a first life that includes a paying job if you want to play second life.

    People supplement their real-life incomes with revenue from their activities on Second Life. They will make more money if more people use Second Life. More people will use Second Life if the client improves. Linden cannot improve the client quickly enough. The community may be able to. This will benefit the community and Linden in a feedback loop. This brings a market externality (Linden’s development of the client) into the market (the activities of Linden’s community of paying customers).

    I’d take payment in Linden Dollars to hack on the client and I’m sure other SL users would as well. Making money in a free market just takes a little imagination and the ability to look ahead. You have to speculate to accumulate, in IP as in cash.

    Linden can copy Apple and IBM (or MySQL and Sleepycat) and combine Freedom and profitability. Or they can close safe in the knowledge that they have only lost money, not IP. If I was a shareholder I know which option I’d rather they took.

    So: this is good for Linden, good for the economy of Second Life and Real Life, and good for the community (sorry, consumers) of SL. It is good because of the effects it will have both creatively and financially as can be seen from studying similar moves by other companies.

  • Skye

    They are committed to open sourcing the server as well; obviously there are a lot more technical hurdles before they do that, releasing the client is the first step and the easiest to start with. I’m sure they will learn a great deal from this step and apply it to the future.

    This is an extremely exciting development, because it is the first step in making SL a metaverse PLATFORM instead of a closed system. Eventually it will be distributed like the web, not tied to any particular company or colo farm, with well-defined open APIs to connect clients and servers.

  • http://www.robmyers.org/ Rob Myers

    Well until they free the servers code is a bit of a “Java trap”. :-)

    Technollama is concerned about the exception that Linden have added to the GPL:

    This is a pretty big modification, and I wonder what will the people at the FSF think about it. My view is that this makes the software incompatible with other GPL software, but I would like to see what other people think. I wonder as well why they didn’t use another open source licence, or draft their own version. I think that even the LGPL might have achieved similar results.

    http://technollama.blogspot.com/2007/01/is-second-life-open-source.html