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Second Life opens to developers

By   |  January 9, 2007

Linden Lab, creator of 3D virtual world Second Life, is releasing the code of its viewer application to the open source community. Developers can now make modifications and add new features to the online world’s viewing software.

The Second Life viewer is used by subscribers or ‘residents’ to access the virtual world’s grid and control their in-world avatars, interact with each other, create content, buy and sell objects, access multimedia content and navigate around the virtual environment.

The simulator and server code will not be released, but Linden Lab says they will keep an open mind about opening more of Second Life. Further moves will be decided based on the success of open sourcing the viewer.

“Open sourcing is the most important decision we’ve made in seven years of Second Life development. While it is clearly a bold step for us to proactively decide to open source our code, it is entirely in keeping with the community-creation approach of Second Life,” said Cory Ondrejka, CTO of Linden Lab. “We don’t know exactly which projects will emerge – but this is part of the vibrancy that makes Second Life so compelling.”

“We were the first virtual world to enable content creators to own the rights to the intellectual property they create. That sparked exponential growth in the richness of the Second Life environment. Now we’re placing the viewer’s development into the hands of residents and developers as well. This extends the control residents can have over the Second Life experience and allows a worldwide community to examine, validate and improve the software’s sophistication and capabilities,” said Philip Rosedale, CEO and founder of Linden Lab.

Initial projects may include: bug fixes; improvements to compatibility with less common hardware configurations; support for additional multimedia types; user interface changes; and potentially new look and feel ‘skins’ for the viewer itself.

The source code and additional information will be available from Second Life’s website at

This move towards the open sourcing of an online virtual world follows events last month which saw the Free Software Foundation pledging money to the Free Ryzom campaign in order to purchase the game and release it as open source. The campaign was unsuccessful, with the bid for the massive mulitplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) Ryzom going to Gameforge, which will continue the game on a commercial basis.

Members of the Free Ryzom campaign are looking at either purchasing an existing game engine or building one from scratch. Should they succeed, it will be released to the open source community to make a truly open source virtual world.


One Response to “Second Life opens to developers”

  1. Peter Brown
    January 10th, 2007 @ 12:00 am

    I just wanted to send you a correction regarding your piece on Second Life. You mention that the FSF donated to the Free Ryzom campaign, but we did not. We pledged money towards their bid – which would have been payable as a donation if they had been successful.

    all the best

    peter, fsf

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