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Firestorm Gateway and Seanchai Library

In our ongoing effort to improve the new user on boarding experience we are excited to announce that we have formed a partnership with Seanchai Library to include spoken word events at the Firestorm Gateway.

Seanchai Library becomes the next addition to our list of partners who contribute significantly on the gateway like MadPea Games, Crowley Corp Golf and ::MeshIT::. Caledonia Skytower and Crap Mariner will be leading the way by organizing spoken word events starting with Storytellers’ Sandbox. These are for new and existing residents to experience at the small event space on our Social Island region.

Our approach with the Gateway is to provide as many rich experiences as we can in hopes that new residents will discover something which interests them in SL. Then we will help direct them toward places who have a stronger focus on that interest.

You can read more about the partnership in the press release here and Inara Pey has done a wonderful write up which is a good read as well here

If you would like to visit the Firestorm Gateway look up Firestorm Social Island on the map!

Updates to Web Cashier, 4.7.7 Recommended Version

Beginning June 15, Linden Lab is moving to an updated web cashier for reasons of security (called TLS 1.2), which will affect how transactions are processed. As they have posted with respect to third party viewers,

Actively maintained Third Party Viewers should have versions available that have the required support. Older or unmaintained viewers may not, and you will not be able to use them for L$ transactions after the deadline if you do not update.

Firestorm version 4.7.7 is fully up to date and compatible with the changes about to be implemented. If you are already using 4.7.7, you don’t need to do anything. The other two currently usable Firestorm versions (4.7.3 and 4.7.5) are not compatible with TLS 1.2. Linden Lab has not tested what the specific breakages will be on June 15, but at a minimum, users on these versions will not be able to purchase linden dollars through the viewer. LL’s latest info is that they “believe” that users on older versions will also be unable to make inworld shopping purchases or to send and receive money (see today’s Third Party Viewer Development meeting; video link is set to start at the TLS discussion).

Read Linden Lab’s announcement in full here. From there, you will also be able to test your web browser to make sure you are compatible with the new cashier system outside the viewer as well.

We recommend updating to Firestorm 4.7.7 prior to June 15 if you aren’t yet on this version. We will not be blocking 4.7.3 and 4.7.5 at this time, so updating is voluntary, but it is strongly encouraged.

Other Important Changes Coming Up


JellyDolls are a recently implemented update to Linden Lab’s official viewer (V3) that allows the user to view avatars over a specified avatar complexity as a single-toned silhouette rather than as fully rendered. The purpose is to improve performance on that person’s system. If you have been told by a V3 user that you look like a purple, brown, or green mass, there is nothing wrong with your avatar or their viewer; your avatar’s complexity is simply over that person’s threshold. See Linden Lab’s explanation and video for more information. Firestorm will include JellyDolls in its next release (though we don’t know when that will be yet).

Project Bento

For an explanation of what this project is, see Linden Lab’s post here. LL rolled out support for Project Bento to the SL servers this week, which means the infrastructure is there for people to start making Bento avatars and using Bento-compatible viewers. However, the viewer code is not fully in place, and neither Firestorm nor the main V3 release has support for Bento yet. If you see the occasional distorted avatar (there should not be very many at this stage), it might have been created with extra bones Bento allows. Firestorm will support Bento in the future.

Today we have to block version 4.6.9

The time has come again when we have to apply a block to an old version of Firestorm Viewer. This time the block will be more impactful than most because it is the last version to run on Windows XP and Mac 10.6, so I thought I would take the time to explain again why we block.

First, it is quite common for a software firm to force upgrades or encourage their users to update whenever possible. This is because the updates always have fixes to known bugs that their users continue to experience. This applies to us, any time folks on older versions ask us for help with problems that we in fact already fixed ages ago. Users on old versions sometimes warn their friends away from Firestorm because of some problem they’re having, not realizing they’d no longer have that problem if they were up to date.

Second, functionality. Linden Lab are continually updating server side stuff to provide newer, better, faster and more reliable functionality. As they do so they often drop the old functionality, and while they do notify us, and we try to notify you, most of our users remain unaware that changes are happening until suddenly they can no longer function. They then think we’re at fault for the breakage or believe it’s a bug that can get fixed, when in fact the only problem is that they are not up to date.

Third is the shared experience issue, which LL take very seriously, as they should. It is expected in any software environment that user A should experience the world in the same way that user B does; otherwise the effect of immersion is broken, and that is especially bad in a virtual world type of environment. The shared experience is also part of LL’s Third Party Viewer Policy, which we must adhere to.

Fourth, the alternative to Firestorm implementing blocks according to our own system is us implementing blocks according to Linden Lab’s system. We don’t see this as a better option. Linden Lab want us to use their auto-updater code, which works as follows:
LL issues a viewer update. LL Forced updateWhen you go to launch the viewer you see the following. You are then forced to download and install the update before you can move forward. If for some reason that update does not work for you, you’re stuck; there is no going back to an older version. Even if you reinstall the older version you will be hit with that same forced update as soon as you launch it again. We don’t agree with this approach and feel that folks should have some level of grace period and an alternative they can switch back to if the update does not work for them, at least so they can get back inworld and ask for help. So we decline to use LL’s updater in favor of our own system of blocking versions, which will give users an average of nine months’ grace period before they have to update. And in the case of the current blockage? A year, folks… we gave you more than a year.

I personally hate blocking old versions, and many others on our team do as well. I would be much happier to use LL’s updater, and folks can then direct their frustration toward LL instead of me and the Firestorm team. But I would rather absorb the backlash for applying blocks after a considerable grace period than to cause users to be stuck and unable to log in because an update doesn’t work for them.

4.6.9 was released in December 2014, which makes this version well over a year old. If we do not implement our blocks, then we risk LL forcing us to use their updater. It is for all the above reasons that we block old versions of our viewer.

Win XP and Mac OSX 10.6 users cannot use more recent versions of Firestorm because LL updated the infrastructure for compiling the viewer after our 4.6.9 release. The technical explanation would be much more detailed, but put in the simplest terms, the viewer can no longer be compiled to run on Windows XP or Mac OSX 10.6, period. If someone wants to claim they can compile the current Firestorm code to work with XP and Mac 10.6, then we look forward to their code contribution on our JIRA. Folks, don’t hold your breath. Update your operating system.

In the meantime XP users can temporarily switch to (but not receive support in Firestorm groups for) the CtrlAltStudio Viewer—or any other viewer that is not current with Linden Lab’s code—until you can get your operating system up to date. Or until those viewers move ahead to current LL code as well.


Jessica Lyon
Project Manager
The Phoenix Firestorm Project, Inc.