28 June 2007

In the Middle of the Road...

Two major themes on this blog are free software and virtual worlds. So I'm grateful to Danté Jones for pointing out LA Second Life, which sits neatly at the intersection of the two:

This site is here so that people can see what the Linux Australia members are doing in-world as well as a resource for Linux users interested in Second Life.

As well as those handy resources, the site also flags up news about the Second Life activities of Linux Australia's members, among whom we find Gizzy Electricteeth, whom I had the pleasure of meeting virtually a few months back.

One issue that the site has just raised concerns SL's new voice feature:

Is being mute better than a voice without freedom?

Linux users of Second Life seeing voice currently being supported in all but their Viewer, are posed with that question.

Reading through a job logged in March in the SL JIRA issue tracker titled 'Support Voice on Linux', two things become clear;

1) Linden Lab have licensed Vivox to provide propriety code for Voice.
2) If they ever do support the Linux viewer it will be with a closed 'binary blob'.

Judging by their past actions, I'd say that Linden Lab would love to get this code fully open and cross-platform, but are taking a pragmatic route towards that. Here's what Linden's CTO Cory Ondrejka told me six months ago:

Certainly, there is the question of proprietary code. We may be able to do exactly what we did on the client side, where we are distributing binaries. In six months, when this [move to open up the client] is successful, it may make for very interesting conversations with folks. We can say: Hey, look, you are the leader in this sector, you should open source, here's why we did it and it worked. And I think the fact that there aren't any proof-points of that is maybe part of what scares companies from doing that. I think we're going to be a very interesting test case.

As well as encouraging other software houses to open up, I get the impression that Linden would also be interested in dropping in open source replacements for proprietary code. Time for Linux Australia to get hacking, perhaps.

No comments: