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
126.96.36.19979 release – 166 users (Blocked Nov 18, 2013)
188.8.131.5236 release – 881 users (Blocked Nov 19, 2013)
184.108.40.20680 hotfix release – 571 users (Blocked Nov 20, 2013)
220.127.116.1182 maintenance release – 606 users (Blocked Nov 20, 2013)
18.104.22.168000 Beta – 4585 users (Blocked Nov 21, 2013)
22.214.171.124744 – 3334 users (Blocked Nov 22, 2013)
126.96.36.199803 – 60 users (Blocked Nov 22, 2013)
188.8.131.52837 – 14,120 users (Blocked Nov 23, 2013)
184.108.40.206155 – 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