Astrin Few’s open letter and Felix von Leitner’s view on the source code of the client

Here's an interesting read from 8th March that shows much of the current problems of SL at the moment. Astrin Few is a musician in SL and giving live performances, being the 4th year in the game; it's printed in the Second Life Herald.

To cite the main statements of the open letter:

It's been a long time since Linden Lab put anything really useful into SL that works (and that's allowing that the addition of the FMOD stream player in version 1.2 "works"). For quite some time now, there has been more and more that is broken and degrades the experience.

I still love performing live shows in Second Life. But that's about me and my listeners. I'm lucky if my stream works for them when they listen with the embedded stream player. I'm lucky if my event actually made it into the Events listing. I'm lucky if the sim doesn't crash. I'm lucky if my listeners can chat without too much lag, and I'm even lucky if my guitar rezzes and they can see me holding my electric guitar, and not my acoustic.

[...]

It's quite simple. I'm OK with the fact that Linden Lab has done virtually nothing to support live music in SL. But I'm fed up with the performance of the Second Life platform. And downloading and viewing the viewer source code gave me no further confidence in Linden Lab's ability to write code that really works. As an owner of, and senior developer at, an Internet application company, I have some expertise in this. I'll wait for Google or someone else to create a new 3-D virtual community that is functional and not overcome by buggy, extraneous features. But I hope a miracle occurs and Second Life becomes adequately functional again. Soon.

BTW, the statement about the code tells just what another programmer, Felix von Leitner (his page on Advogato), mentioned in his own blog about it when the code was opened up in January this year. Von Leitner is a very well known contributor to the Opensource scene and has earned much respect in that field, so you can expect him to have profound experience in the field of programming.

The first fact he finds silly in his blog entry about it is that there are over 748 instructions of "Flawfinder ignore". Flawfinder is an automated tool to find exploits in the soure code. Then he rants about the usage of the system() function, which he views as another big error, amongst some other things.

His main statement translated to English is roughly this:

Hacking Second Life is like hacking like the Special Olympics. I could not sleep at all after doing that. If you're using it: be sure that you're probably going to participiate unintended at Grid Computing soon.

Translation: the whole client of Second Life consists of a messy piece of junk code, the big nonos of programming, which can be easily exploited (as easy as stealing a lolli pop from a child), are all over in it everywhere and better expect it to get exploited by trojans soon. The consequence would be: fix the code and fix it fast and: install a source code repository, even if it is read only.

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