OSgrid Celebrates 15th Birthday This Week


OSgrid starts it’s 15th birthday celebrations starting today through until Sunday 31st July 2022. There will be live music and live DJs to celebrate all things OSgrid. There are special events planned for Saturday 30th July and Sunday 31st July. See below for the event schedule…

OSgrid now is the largest OpenSim grid in terms of active users and land area. The OSgrid has been growing steadily over recent years and I would expect it to grow further in the months/years ahead.

Well done to all of the grid owners, creators, testers, scripters, developers, artrists etc who has kept the OSgrid actively going. 15 years is a long term in terms of the operations side and the OpenSim community has helped keeping things running.

OSG-15B Event Schedule 2022

OSgrid teleport locations (must be user of the OSgrid for access)

Please spread the word about OSG-15B! 🙂

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OpenSim Usage Drops Due To Closure Of The Metropolis Grid


According to the July 2022 OpenSim grids report apparently OpenSim suffered a noticeable drop in the overall usage for active users, registered users and standard regions for the past month. There was a seasonal drop in OpenSim statistics as its the summer holidays which is worth pointing out. Some smaller grids experienced downtimes this month.

OpenSim Stats as of July 2022

  • Registered OpenSim Users: 464, 887
  • Standard Region Equivalents: 112, 581
  • Active Users: 38, 957
  • Stats Collected: 276 grids in total

The main reason was the popular Metropolis grid closed down at the end of June 2022 due to the owners/admins shifting their focus to Yunis and not having the time to take care of it anymore (likely more reasons). The Metropolis grid had more than 1, 600 active users, almost 20, 000 registered users and more than 800 regions.

The decision to shut down the Metropolis grid has sent shockwaves around the entire OpenSim community. It’s such a shame because its been a popular grid on OpenSim and it’s been around since 2008.

Latest OpenSim Stats as of July 2022

  • OSgrid (4, 779 active users), AviTron (2, 861 active users) and DigiWorldz (2, 140 active users) are now the most popular grids by active users.
  • OSgrid (36, 590), Kitely (18, 678) and Wolf Territories Grid (13, 200) have the most regions by land area.

Kitely Market

  • There are now 19, 576 product listings on the Kitely Marketplace which now contains 38, 622 product variations and 33, 477 of which are exportable to other OpenSim grids.
  • Kitely Market has delivered orders to 554 OpenSim grids to date

Future of OpenSim Grids

With the cost of living including inflation going up in the months/years ahead there could be more OpenSim grid closures as unless there is massive money support behind them and further grid investment. It’s been reported that many users have been cutting down on virtual land ownership during the past few months.

Hopefully most OpenSim grids will be able to survive the upcoming economic downtime but time will tell. I hope those that have used the Metropolis grid are moving now to other OpenSim grids.

2022 is not over and there may be some shocks in the down the road.

VWBPE 2022 Conference Opens


VWBPE 2022 Regions (builds are in the sky with teleports)

The 15th annual Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education (VWBPE 2022) conference opens today at 8am SLT where the Gateway for the Kick Off Event will start. Phelan Corrimal will officially declare the beginning of VWBPE 2022 along with the conference planning committees who will be sharing upcoming conference highlights. From 9am SLT there will be a keynote speech by Oksana Levytska at the VWBPE Auditorium who will be talking about the use of virtual technologies and practices in support of ongoing education during world events.

Patch Linden will be live from 11am SLT to 11.50am roughly at the Above the Book interview talking about what’s new at Linden Lab and the impact that education (non-profit organizations) has in Second Life. This event will take place at the VWBPE Auditorium so please arrive early to get a seat.

There will be swag bags around where it has a teleport HUD, conference information and the schedule. Here is the VWBPE 2022 full program schedule and let’s spread the word about this to your friends and on blogs across the metaverse.

  • Check out the program schedule for more events. I have picked out some recommended cool events below that you may be interested in.

Friday 1st April 2022

Saturday 2nd April 2022

VWBPE 2022 Sponsors

Please spread the word about VWBPE 2022.

OpenSim Monthly Usage Goes Up


On 18th March 2022 David Kariuki published this month’s statistics on Hypergrid Business. It seems like the OpenSim monthly usage has gone up while the land area drops on grid outages. During the past month OpenSim gained almost 2, 000 active users which is good news.

The OSgrid is the biggest OpenSim grid at the moment with 35, 553 regions with Kitely in second place with 18, 936 regions which is quite a difference don’t you think. OSgrid has the most active users at the moment with 4, 804 with DigiWorldz in second place with 2, 070 active users.

Since last summer the total OpenSim land area has been steadily been increasing staying around the 100, 000 mark. OSgrid has seen a huge increase in new regions and active users in recent months. OSgrid is doing pretty well over on OpenSim at the moment and it will be interesting to see if this trend continues through the rest of 2022.

Many OpenSim grids actually offer free land and hosting is pretty cheap for those interested. See the breakdown here or grids renting land.

OpenSim is a free, open-source virtual world platform similar to Second Life that allows people with no technical skills to quickly and cheaply create virtual worlds, and to teleport to other virtual worlds. Those with technical skills can run OpenSim worlds on their own servers for free, while commercial hosting starts at less than $5 a region.

The Kitely Marketplace is still doing well with 19, 432 product listings which contains 38, 568 product variations (33, 431 are sold with the export permission). The Kitely Marketplace has delivered orders to 540 OpenSim grids to date which is pretty amazing. The Kitely Marketplace is accessible to private grids, closed grids and the hypergrid-enabled grids. In second place is the Tag Grid Marketplace featuring avatar appearances and accessories etc.

Hypergrid Business normally releases monthly statistics each month in the middle half part. It’s good to still see these reports being released and to see there are monthly OpenSim news/events happening.

VWBPE 2022 Program Released


All sessions of the upcoming VWBPE 2022 conference have been published on the VWBPE Program page. This year marks the 15th annual Virtual Worlds Best Practices In Education conference which opens officially on Thursday 31st March 2022 through until Saturday 2nd April 2022 in Second Life. The theme for 2022 is Phoenix Rising and the conference is free for everyone to attend. All times are SLT!

The Kick Off Event of VWBPE 2022 starts at 8am to 8.50am SLT where Phelan Corrimal (Executive Director) will officially declare the beginning of VWBPE 2022. It’s best to arrive early to make sure you get a seat and to be able to access the VWBPE regions before they become full. On the VWBPE Program page you can add events to your personal calendars by clicking on the selected session. There is a Subscribe button at the bottom of the page to stay updated.

What’s Up at the Lab? – Thursday 31st March 2022

  • Patch Linden
  • 11am to 11.50am SLT
  • Join Phelan and Patch at this Above the Book interview as they explore what’s new at Linden Lab and the impact on educators and non-profit organizations in Second Life.
  • VWBPE Auditorium

Looking at a glance overview there are many interesting sessions and keynotes planned from The Beauty of STEAM education in virtual worlds, Out of this World Parade, Phoenix Egg Exhibit Hunt, Spirit Light Dance Company performances and much more. Virtual Worlds after COVID is a must for those that want to know what’s coming next.

There is a special Above the Book Interview with Maria Korolov (Hypergrid Business editor and publisher) live at 3pm-3.50pm SLT on Friday 1st April 2022 talking about the state of virtual environments.

The closing ceremony will be on Saturday 2nd April from 6pm to 7pm SLT including closing remarks and highlights of the conference held at the VWBPE Auditorium. The 2022 Thinkerer Award Recipient will be named during this ceremony. The dance away night party will be held from 7pm to 8pm SLT. There will be live music and dancing. It’s going to be great fun.

The wait is almost over. Yay! 🙂

Second Life Year In Review 2021: August To December


This is a special blog post looking back at what happened in Second Life between August 2021 to December 2021. The last half of 2021 has been busy at times for big news pretty much and here is what happened below. So much has happened this year including many good memories and some not so good ones.

I hope 2022 will be another great year for Second Life in general terms and that it continues to grow in size. The new management team have recently announced the 2022 roadmap for Second Life which sounds very promising.

August 2021

On 2nd August Linden Lab announced the end of the use of gacha machines within Second Life and they must be discontinued by content creators by midnight SLT on Tuesday 31st August 2021. There was huge discussion about this news on the Second Life forums for some time. The lab put together a useful FAQ on the main blog post soon after.

In early August Linden Lab rolled out the new look join Second Life page with new gender selection options. New users can select the GENDER-VARIANT/NON-BINARY tick box for their starter avatar when they log into Second Life for the first time. The new look join Second Life page has the usual required details to fill out including username, password, email, date of birth, security question/answer and starting avatar gender. 

On 13th August the new Fantasy sub continent got released and a handful of regions were released. The Moles are working on the coastline orbit adding new homes and new areas.

Andrew Kertesz (Mojo Linden) became the new Vice President of Engineering at Linden Lab from late August 2021. Andrew has more than 20 years experience in the games industry and he is an expert in building teams and launching ground-breaking games across genres that push respective platforms.

On 20th August marked three years since the first SSP batch of regions arrived on the grid. Back in August 2018 there was just 80 SSP regions and since then thousands of regions have been added to make up the Bellisseria continent we know today.

Start of the SSP development phrase of the Bellisseria continent in mid August 2018

September 2021

The Firestorm Project reached it’s 11th anniversary in early September 2021. The Firestorm viewer is one of the most popular and most used third party viewers out there today. 

Firestorm Viewer Log On Screen – September 2021

In late September 2021 Linden Lab announced an additional way for Second Life residents to protect their accounts. The Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is available to all residents and it provides an extra level of security.

October 2021

Linden Lab announced new Halloween limited edition last names in early October. The lab was very pleased to see the responses to the limited edition last names.

The Arcade hosted it’s October 2021 mini pop-up round featuring Halloween treats and a new way to play.

BURN2 2021 opened to the public in early October featuring a whole lot of events on the playa. Once again the event was a huge success. More events are planned for 2022.

Linden Lab paused development of the Second Life mobile app for iOS and Android. The team is still actively working on a new direction which will be talked about during 2022.

After reviewing the current state of the SL Mobile Viewer and the helpful feedback from residents, we have decided to pause development on this branch. The team is actively working on a new direction to take from here. We should have some news on that soon.

Avi Arrow in Second Life sadly passed away at her home on Saturday 23rd October 2021 surrounded by her family. Avi Arrow was the administrator of the Ivory Tower in Natoma. Avi primarily managed the property and the Ivory Tower of Prims group. Avi Arrow was my friend in Second Life who has been a resident for over 15 years now. Avi was talented, generous and very clever I think. Avi helped so many people over the years on how to build in Second Life and much more.

Second Life trended on Twitter in late October from the Facebook Meta announcement. Facebook is focused on moving away from social media to the metaverse.

On 31st October marked my 15th Rez Day in Second Life. Read more here about my journey so far. I still think Second Life is the best virtual world out there today and as the lab has said many times Second Life is here to stay for many more years to come.

November 2021

In early November April Linden departed Linden Lab after 8 years. April Linden helped moved Second Life to the cloud (Amazon AWS). Good luck April.

The new Fantasy community centre was open to the public in early November. It’s worth checking out if you have not been so far.

The Drax Files ended after seven years as viewers declined over time. Drax produced many amazing podcasts over the years covering a huge range of Second Life topics.

Linden Lab gives Second Life search a facelift after many years. The lab have not changed the algorithm that the search feature uses in any way. More changes are due to happen in 2022.

December 2021

In early December the 2021 SL Christmas Expo opened to the public featuring over 150 stores spread over 15 Christmas regions. On 6th December the new Linden Home theme was revealed to the public. Modern homes was showcased on the Linden Reveal region in the north east corner.

Linden Lab announced email preference changes which involved receiving group notices in email. Receiving group notifications went live from 15th December and there is a option to opt-in or out.

Linden Lab announced new Winter last names which are still available until 5th January 2022.

  • Snowflake
  • Kringle
  • Yule
  • Fruitcake
  • Ninnymuggins
  • Humbug
  • Hollyberry
  • Jinglepaw

On 8th December 2021 Patch Linden confirmed that the old Linden homes will be phased out and/or repurposed. Patch Linden at the moment does not know the timing on when that will be.

My Second Life 2022 Predictions

  • Linden Lab will allow for more groups
  • Larger 2048 m² parcel sizes
  • There will be at least two new Linden Home themes announced/released
  • Land Prices lowered slightly
  • Announcement about old Linden Home continents closing down or possible upgrade instead
  • Avatar 2.0 to be rolled out
  • More user group hours introduced

2022 Events Ahead

I can’t wait for 2022 to arrive. I will blog about the news and events along the way as I have done in previous years. I have no idea what the new year will bring but I am sure it’s going to be a good one.

2022 is almost here 🙂

The Kitely Market Surpassed 500 Grids Milestone


According to Hypergrid Business latest statistics published recently the Kitely Market has now passed the 500 grid milestone which is very good news indeed. Kitely has now delivered content to a total of 506 OpenSim grids in terms of closed and hypergrid enabled ones.

In recent years exportables and listings have been increasing on the Kitely Market offering a useful way for OpenSim users to buy legal and legitimate content. The latest stats show that there are “currently 18,469 product listings in Kitely Market containing 36,871 product variations, of which 31,736 are exportable”.

Here is a graph showing exportable (green) and non-exportable (red) growth on the Kitely Market since July 2014.

Kitely Market strong growth continues (Hypergrid Business Data)

Kitely now has 19, 101 regions, there is roughly 1, 130 active users that have logged in during the past month and in total there are 123, 936 total residents on the Kitely grid.

OpenSim land area increased this month however active users fell for a second month running. There was a net loss of 452 active users in the last 30 days.

OpenSim land area over the years (Hypergrid Business Data)

The Kitely grid recently announced that they now support the Environmental Enhancement Project (EEP) where you can change the world’s environment in terms of the sky and water. Kitely now runs on the latest stable release of OpenSim 0.9.1.1.

Patch Linden At VWBPE 2021 – Above The Book: What’s up at the Lab?


Patch Linden VP of Product Operations talked with Phelan Corrimal (VWBPE Director; Rockcliffe University Consortium) at VWBPE 2021 this afternoon for almost a hour about what’s new at Linden Lab along with education and non-profit organizations in Second Life. This is the first of three reconnaissance sessions with Linden Lab at VWBPE 2021. Yay! 🙂

I thought it was a interesting and informative interview on things like mega regions, the impact of the pandemic to whats next for the new owners taking Second Life forward. There was no Q&A session at the end or any mention of Ebbe Linden (CEO of Linden Lab). There was no mention of Linden Homes, Premium Plus or the latest on Second Life mobile development.

The attendance for this session was reasonable (average levels) I think. I’m sure its been higher in previous years.

Here is a brief below from what Patch Linden talked about during the session via the live transcript…

The New Owners

  • The team is comprised of Randy Waterfield, Brad Oberwager, and Raj Date which forms the board at the lab
  • The transition from the former owners to the new owners actually went very smoothly
  • Patch Linden primarily works with Brad as he’s the owner.
  • Brad has one mission: to be the best and biggest virual world there can be
  • Brad wants to grow and invest in Second Life and he genuinely loves the product
  • Randy owns an investment firm
  • Brad sits in the middle and balances both / they see Tilia as a business
  • Tilia is what allows Second Life to continue to exist
  • Second Life is the primary focus & there is a separate team that focus on Tilia

Immediate Priorities Over Next 12 Months Or So

  • The lab want to increase the Second Life population as that’s Brad’s goal
  • The team wants to finish up with the AWS work
  • There are some product enhancements that will come out of that
  • User experience is key especially the onboarding experience
  • That’s the 12 month high level road map

Gateways

  • The lab are refactoring the new onboarding process and there is a lot of work going on
  • There are viewer changes that will smooth out the bumps we’ve identified over the years
  • The lab have been doing A/B testing to figure out what path needs to look like
  • New UIs and refreshed looks will benefit everyone

New User Experience Accessibility

  • Grumpity Linden keeps her eyes on improving accessibility along with improving the UI
  • The lab don’t plan on adding text-to-speech immediately

Goals Upcoming

  • The goal for growth is double the resident population over the next 3-5 years
  • The goals are realistic as the lab has seen this over the past year
  • Both educators and businesses have switched from in-person to hybrid solutions

Team Grid Reintroduction / K-12 Educational Groups

  • The lab have educational groups operating in that space particularly through educational partners
  • AWS work will help open more doors
  • Probably at the end of the year the lab there could be geographically aided opportunities. That will open the doors to private grids.

The Pandemic Experience During The Past Year

  • The new user experience needing significant work between people coming back but not for personal reasons
  • It’s more important to smooth the experience in the post-pandemic world and give it some love
  • People’s usage habits have changed over time and they’re different for business and education

Private Labeling / White Labeling

  • The lab have had clients say they’d like the lab to remove half the features of the viewer and some want more
  • Open Chat Range – that came from taking a request from events in general – to increase the density of avatars at one time
  • Teen Grid had its own search which was the same as the main grid and it was all separate

Next 12 months – Educators / Non-Profits

  • Geographic location stuff
  • The user experience improvements will make things easier
  • To leverage AWS

Mega Regions & Cost

  • The lab are not looking to increase cost / should remain the status quo
  • If AWS lets the lab get into new region models then maybe mega regions, maybe light regions not within the next 12 months
  • Middle cost alternative maybe / the option to have more avatar density within regions / the lab are looking into it
  • On demand situations where people can upgrade from homestead to full to allow them to host a big event

The Competition

  • Patch mentioned that he likes competition as it helps foster innovation and it drives you to stay motivated. Patch always keeps an eye out on the competitors and what they’re doing
  • There are alot of features that the lab has where others are catching up to and they have new features that can be interesting to adapt like the economy. Patch is not seeing a direct competitor to Second Life as far as flexibility. Things like max attachments, prims in region etc. The lab already has a direct building tool in-world.

Opportunities To Experiment

  • There is no particular group of folks as the lab all go out to try new platforms and learn about them
  • Those that observe platforms come back and bring feedback
  • As a business you have to see whether something new is worth to keep if its not at the best usability/performance. The lab need to study the performance and bandwidth
  • Sometimes it tilts towards no and we have to withdraw it because it would impact negatively on user experience

Oz Linden Retired

  • Patch said that Oz retired and he was a great colleague. He left a chasm and the lab are glad for him
  • When the lab recruits its posted on the website / internal recruiters

New Ownership Structure

  • Patch knows the ownership is on everyone’s mind and they have a great energy / super enthusiastic / they want to grow Second Life and the educational communities as well
  • Brad always asks Patch how will it benefit the residents and how will it benefit Second Life ?

Stay updated on the latest happenings at VWBPE 2021 here.

New Firestorm Release (6.4.12) Now Available


The Firestorm team released a new version of the popular Firestorm viewer (6.4.12.62831) on Wednesday 9th December. This latest version comes with the full release of EEP – Environment Enhancement Project, camera presets, some redesigned UI panels and functionality within the viewer. Firestorm 6.4.12 brings the viewer with the lab’s 6.4.11 viewer code base.

  • “As per our 3-version rule, we will be blocking version 6.2.4.57588 and our recent EEP Public Beta from accessing the SL grid in 3 weeks’ time”.

It’s been some time since the last release because the Firestorm team have been working hard on adding the changes, fixes and features. Hopefully there will be more regular Firestorm releases during 2021. For me the Firestorm Viewer is still my favourite and the one I use the most.

* Check out the release notes here 

Here are some of the highlights of this new version of the Firestorm Viewer.. .

HIGHLIGHT REEL!

The Firestorm 6.4.12 EEP release brings us to parity with the Linden Lab Viewer 6.4.11 codebase.
The main Linden Lab features included in this release are:

  • EEP! Environmental Enhancement Project, including many EEP bug fixes since the Firestorm 6.4.5 EEP Beta release.
    EEP is a set of environmental enhancements (designed to replace Windlight XML settings) to control the water and sky environments seen in Second Life and provide a wide range of additional/new capabilities for region owners, parcel owners and general users. It represents a fundamental shift in how environment settings are used and applied.
  • Camera Presets—Allow users to create custom camera presets within the viewer to suit particular needs, and then save them. This means, for example, you can now have a camera position for general exploring, another suitable for combat games, another for building, and so on—all of which can easily be accessed and used at any time.
  • Mesh uploader improvements contributed to Linden Lab by Firestorm.
    Cosmetic changes include:
    • Upgrade to preview resolution to 1024Ă—1024
    • Scalable preview
    • Fixed display of colors in preview
    • Adjustment of colors to better correlate to in world (yellow frame of mesh, blue tint physics)
    • Rearranged UI elements to give more space for the preview even when not scaled up.

      Informational changes include:
    • Two new boxes: cost breakdown and physics breakdown. These provide access to information that has always been available to the viewer from the upload costs update message but were not shown to the user.

Firestorm-specific features included in this update

  • The French language translation has been added back.
  • RestrainedLove API updated to RLV v3.3.3 / RLVa v2.3.0.62831.
  • Updated the pose-stand animations to work with bento bones.
  • Attachment points of attachments are now shown in the Appearance window, wearing tab.
  • A new option to allow double-click walk/teleport action to scripted objects: Prefs -> Move & View -> Movement -> Allow double-click action on scripted objects.
  • A new setting, Dynamic Texture Memory, which allows the viewer to use more than 2GB of texture memory.
    Dynamic Texture Memory only works on 64-bit viewers with at least 512MB VRAM and GPUs supporting either atimeminfo or nxmeminfo vendor-specific OpenGL extensions. It will allow using all currently available VRAM, or at least the value specified in minimum viewer texture memory capped at physical VRAM, minus VRAM reserve for allocating textures. That value minus cache reserve is the texture memory available for textures actually rendered. Preferences -> Graphics -> Hardware Settings.

Here are the OpenSim highlights in this release.. 

  • Easy grid entry. You can now paste a grid URI directly into the login box and the grid will be locally added to the user’s grid list.
  • A welcome change to the grid list behavior. For many years it has been enabled by default for the OpenSim build, but if a user were to install both viewers side by side there was a chance that the grid list could become disabled. The viewer now forces the grid list to be available on every startup of the OpenSim build. There is an option to disable this for grids that really need/want to restrict external grid access (though frankly, firewalls are a far better choice).
  • Another change that—while it affects both SL and OpenSim—seems to generate more noise and heat in OpenSim, is object contents caching. This is now “fixed” so that when editing an object with large numbers of items inside, the viewer will not refresh every time you close and reopen the edit. Please note though, this does not change the fact that the object contents fetch protocol is extremely poor; this means that whenever the contents update, you will still have to endure the long wait. There may be some news on that in the future but it requires server changes as well as viewer.
  • Fixed “My Suitcase” sometimes missing from inventory.

What do you think of this latest release ? 

 

Firestorm Update 6.3.9.58205


On Thursday 28th May 2020 the Firestorm team released a brand new release update numbered 6.3.9.58205. This new release comes with plenty of improvements, fixes and a lot for OpenSim users. This version of the Firestorm viewer brings it in line with the Linden Lab 6.3.8 code base. It’s been over 7 months since the last release so there is loads to be excited about this time.

* Added a “Stop Locally” button to the Sound Explorer.
* Added a search button to Nearby Chat and IM session floaters.
* New options added to the Area Search context menu: “Select All,” “Clear Selection,” and “Filter My Objects.”
* Added “Inspect” option for own attachments.
* Enabled multi-selection for all name lists in group profiles.
* Updated the Mac installer image backgrounds for readability and consistency.
* Fixed being unable to post snapshots to Flickr.
* Fixed hi-resolution snapshots appearing broken up in segments
* Lots of behind-the-scenes work to migrate the Firestorm code repositories from Mercurial to Git and to switch crash reporting from Windows systems over to Bugsplat. Expect future releases to be even more stable.
* Improved memory handling on the Linux viewer
* So many crash fixes…
* Improved region crossing behavior.
* New feature to lock and protect an inventory folder to prevent inadvertent drag-and-drop or deletion.
* Translation updates for German, Polish, Japanese & Russian
* Just sooo much more! 

Premium Plus

This new release adds viewer-side support for Premium Plus. There will be some kind of new announcement soon on this on the Second Life Blog. It’s important to note that Linden Lab have not released the Premium Plus feature yet. 

EEP Update

For those interested in the EEP capable version of the Firestorm viewer the answer is soon. I’m thinking later this year depending on progress being made. There is pressure for EEP to be fully incorporated however there are still a number of challengers ahead for the Firestorm team.

OpenSim Update

For those that use OpenSim grids this new release brings it back in line with the Second Life Firestorm release which is very good news to hear. Nine new OpenSim grids have now been added to the grid manager including Virtualife World, DiscoveryGrid, Alife Virtual, Mobius Grid, Zone Nations, Party Destination Grid, TanGLe Grid, The Kaz Grid and OpenSim Community Conference.

This new release improves map search and there are lots of maintenance fixes. All group notices should now send correctly on OpenSim. 

Here are the full release notes including new features and improvements.