Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Moving to OpenSimulator 0.7.1

The recent release of OpenSimulator 0.7.1 has been widely welcomed by the enthusiastic OpenSim fans and many have asked us what our plans are for upgrading. There has been some speculation about why we have not yet upgraded, and I'd like to explain what's involved in upgrading our systems, and why we are usually a little behind the bleeding edge!

I say bleeding edge speaking from experience -when we first started hosting OpenSimulator back in 2008, and our official ReactionGrid opensim grid launched at the end of that year. For the first few months we stuck to the subversion trunk of core code, upgrading every few weeks to the latest and greatest. Mostly, we were fine to follow this track, but occasionally we got bitten and had to roll back to a previous release - such is the bleeding edge! As time passed, it became clear that we could not continue this pattern if we were to grow, so we re-evaluated our strategy.

We now knew the platform well and were starting to host grids for customers, and we had a duty to them to ensure that we were able to offer a known good configuration within acceptable tolerances. Once the project moved on to 0.6 we moved to following official releases with minor tweaks for our own purposes. As we grew, each upgrade would take longer to roll out, since it was no longer just our own grid, but also those of our clients.

Our most recent upgrade was to 0.6.9 last year, and the full rollout to our customers took several months. For the most part this release has proven to be a significant improvement over previous releases, though it does have a few issues that continue to frustrate us to this day. We have been looking forward to 0.7.1 for some time now. 0.7 was tagged very soon after 0.6.9 was released, and I was aware that some of the core developers had planned some major work that was not going to happen after this point, and would likely be included in 0.7.1. As such, I recommended that we hold off 0.7.0 and waited for the next release, including improved HyperGrid security that our customers really have been asking for.

We are now in the process of upgrading our core systems and applications to work with 0.7.1. Our servers use the MSSQL database platform for OpenSim, so I'm adding additional support to those modules to be compatible with 0.7.1 and will contribute this code back to the community once completed, as I have done in the past. We'll also be upgrading our groups server, our core admin applications for user registration and administration, as well as many other systems. Testing different configurations; with & without HyperGrid, FreeSwitch voice, megaregion, single regions (one console), multiple regions per console, multiple region servers per server, with groups, no groups, etc. It's a significant undertaking, and we are committed to doing this to the best of our abilities for the benefit of our customers.

We want this release to be a success, and will be doing all we can to ensure any upgrade we produce for our customers has been tested as much as possible before we offer it to them. We will not accept any release of OpenSim that is less stable than our current builds. The goals are clear - improved stability, more features, increased compatibility with newer clients, and increased security wherever possible. We still believe that the OpenSimulator platform is a great tool for working in 3D and are very grateful to our clients for understanding the work that goes into preparing for each upgrade.

As for a specific timeline (I know you're all jumping up and down asking for a date!) I simply cannot say for certain at this stage, but so far code is going well. I'm hoping very much to have a release ready before July, and as soon before then as possible, but this all depends on how testing goes. I'll be working with the team on all aspects of the upgrade, and we will keep you all updated as soon as a release is imminent!

Chris Hart, CTO ReactionGrid Inc.

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