Surprisingly there is still a significant number of users on old versions of Firestorm that do not support the current avatar rendering code. This means there are still people in Second Life seeing gray avatars and even some not seeing mesh because they have not updated to a modern version. We have stated many times this year that we would begin applying blocks that will prevent these old versions from accessing Second Life. While we know blocking these versions will be a source of drama and disappointment to some, the reasons we are taking these measures are listed below. Also, before folks start screaming, “You don’t care about us!” please realize it is only because we care that we are developing Firestorm for you, and it is because we care that we are enforcing blocks. It is important for everyone to be on current releases that support the virtual world platform, its features and its capabilities.
Why block old versions?
Firstly, we are under pressure by Linden Lab to do this, and we can either do it ourselves or adopt LL’s update system which allows them to do it instead. Either we update you or LL does, but either way, folks, updating is quite inevitable. The LL viewer enforces updates, as do most all software applications with a fair grace period. Our grace period will be three versions behind.
Secondly, updating is necessary in order to keep everyone enjoying the same shared experience. Second Life is not immersive if we see things drastically differently from one another. This is going to sound harsh, but in some respects if you are using versions that can only render avatars gray and/or versions without mesh, you might as well be—and perhaps should be—using a text based viewer.
Thirdly, it is hard for us to support. Even though we don’t officially support these old versions, it does not stop people from asking for support, to which we then have to respond by nagging them to update.
Starting the week of Nov 18th we will begin initiating blocks to old Firestorm versions listed below. We will cross these versions out on this blog post as the block for each is executed and will begin with the oldest versions prior to 4.4.0. The period between each version block may range from a day to a few days. From that point going forward we will only allow three full releases to work at any given time (beta versions not included).
Versions being blocked
188.8.131.5279 release – 166 users (Blocked Nov 18, 2013)
184.108.40.20636 release – 881 users (Blocked Nov 19, 2013)
220.127.116.1180 hotfix release – 571 users (Blocked Nov 20, 2013)
18.104.22.16882 maintenance release – 606 users (Blocked Nov 20, 2013)
22.214.171.124000 Beta – 4585 users (Blocked Nov 21, 2013)
126.96.36.199744 – 3334 users (Blocked Nov 22, 2013)
188.8.131.52803 – 60 users (Blocked Nov 22, 2013)
184.108.40.206837 – 14,120 users (Blocked Nov 23, 2013)
220.127.116.11155 – 40,451 users (Blocked Nov 24, 2013)
Those who cannot update
We recognize there are some users who cannot update to a current version due to their computer systems not being modern enough. For you there are still a few options… In some cases, people who believe they cannot run later versions of Firestorm are actually experiencing a fixable issue with which support can help; see the support page on this blog or view the troubleshooting guide on our wiki. If the problem does lie with your system, then we would suggest you try another viewer or perhaps switch to a text-based client until you can upgrade your system. There is a list of self-certified viewer alternatives HERE. Contrary to popular belief, it only takes a computer around a US$300 value or so to run Firestorm. We have many users still on Win XP with very poor hardware. Firestorm does not require a “gamers” computer. Just something from the last five to six years will usually do. A decent video card will go a long way and often is all that is needed to dramatically improve performance for you.
Finally, if you are one of the folks being affected by the block, you have my sincere sympathy; however, this is a step that must be taken moving forward into 2014 as it is our responsibility to keep users sharing the same experience. This action should not come as a surprise to you, as we have been stating this would happen for a very long time. At some point we have to draw the line.
The Phoenix Firestorm Project, Inc
Firestorm Public Beta 18.104.22.168838 (for all supported Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems)
We had hoped to be able to have all the latest Linden Lab bug fixes and service improvements in our next release, but it looks like it’ll be another month or two before that code is ready from LL. But we also wanted to get a release out before 2014 with the latest (released) code from LL and the latest Firestorm development work. This includes new features like Content Import/Export and Collada Export, plus new features from LL like Materials, ribbon particles, etc. Click for the complete “Change Log” and “Known Issues“. Unfortunately we only have a small window of time to get a release out before 2014 due to the coming holidays, so we haven’t had time to polish it up to our normal quality standards; thus we are calling this a BETA. This means it should be considered a fully supported release, but expect it to have some quirky bugs here and there. Upgrading to it is recommended but not mandatory. You can grab the Public Beta release from our Downloads page. CLEAN INSTALL RECOMMENDED!
Firestorm Public “Experimental Alpha” (Windows 64bit) 22.214.171.124838
This release, regarded as separate from the Beta announced above, is a 64bit Firestorm Viewer for 64bit Windows operating systems. This build has had very little testing, and we expect it to have bugs we don’t know about and don’t know how to help you with. Thus it is ALPHA and experimental. Also note that not all of our support or developers can run it. Please consider it unsupported and please do not come to support asking questions that have already been answered on THIS PAGE. If you do, they will send you back to that page. This is an experiment and should be considered pioneer territory for those of you who are adventurous-minded! If you are looking for something stable that has been tested and is supported… please use the normal download mentioned above.
Viewers for 64bit Windows have been requested for years, but it’s never been done until just recently. We do not know if it will have tangible notable benefits or not, so we throw it out to you in hopes of receiving in return your thoughts, feelings and findings! If you are adventurous, please feel free to try it; after you’ve been using it for about a week, we’d be interested in your findings. To provide your feedback please email email@example.com; subject should be “x64 feedback”. Click the following link to download the 64bit alpha and read information about it like known issues, whether it will work on your computer, etc. http://wiki.phoenixviewer.com/fs_firestorm-64-bit
Who should use the Alpha: Adventurous people who have 64bit Windows operating systems.
Who should not use it: Folks without 64bit Windows operating systems and/or folks who prefer something stable, tested and supported. If this is you, please refer back to the Beta described at the top.
Have questions about it? Read: http://wiki.phoenixviewer.com/fs_firestorm-64-bit
Where to download it: http://wiki.phoenixviewer.com/fs_firestorm-64-bit
We hope to have Linux 64bit Alpha before too long and possibly even Mac 64bit Alpha, so stay tuned.
Firestorm Q&A video and transcript
This past Saturday we held another Question and Answer meeting with our users. Many questions were asked and answered regarding the x64bit and this Public Beta release. We recommend you watch the video and/or read the transcript from Inara Pey’s Blog here.
Blocking of all versions below 4.4.0
We have given ample notice already and are now giving final notice. There are still a lot of people on old versions of Firestorm out there, versions that not only cannot see avatar textures correctly anymore but in some cases also don’t see mesh. We will be blocking all Firestorm versions below 4.4.0 on the 15th of November. Please update now!
Enjoy the release!
The Phoenix Firestorm Project Team.
Firestorm Question and Answer user meeting Saturday.
In light of the surprise release of the upcoming Firestorm public beta and the Windows 64bit releases, we will be hosting another Question and Answer session this Saturday at 4pm SLT. Region space will be limited. Presenters will be speaking primarily in voice, with questions from the audience in text. The meeting will be recorded on video and transcribed into text for those who can’t make it.
If you have questions you would like to get covered but you won’t be able to join us, please leave your questions in the comments to this blog post. We’ll do our best to address them during the Q&A, and you’ll be able to view our responses in the video or transcript later. We may or may not be able to answer every question, but this will help us to know what you’re interested in hearing about.
What: Your questions, our answers. Firestorm Q&A!
When: Saturday Oct 26th @ 4PM SLT
Why: Because we care.
Who: The Firestorm folks and you!
Firestorm Halloween Party with Mankind Tracer Sunday!
We’ve begun to get a reputation for throwing great parties, and this one will certainly be no different, with one of SL’s most famous music artists opening for us! The one and only Mankind Tracer / Seth Regan will be getting the party started at our 4th annual Halloween party with an hour-long live performance! You don’t want to miss this one, and you absolutely should be in costume! Region space will be limited, but the party will continue on until there is no one left!
What: Best Halloween Party EVER! Bring a costume!
When: Sunday Oct 27th @ 1PM SLT.
Why: Because we love parties!
Who: Seth Regan Music, aka Mankind Tracer! http://www.sethregan.com