Digital Resources for Buddhist Studies

OpenSim Running at DDBC

Posted by billmagee on 2009/10/11

Bill Magee and Simon Wiles of the Library and Information Center at Dharma Drum Buddhist College have established an OpenSim virtual campus behind the DDBC firewall.
OpenSim is a BSD Licensed Open Source virtual world capable of supporting standalone or grid-structured servers. We are currently using the Diva distribution of OS. Our sim is running on an Ubuntu 9.04 platform with 4 mb RAM. Installation of the software under Ubuntu requires Mono 2.4 and MySQL. OpenSims can be viewed with the Second Life viewer, but Open Source clients such as Hippo and Meerkat offer advanced cross-sim functionality.
DDBC has had an educational presence in the virtual world of Second Life since 2007. However, OpenSim has numerous advantages over the Second Life platform. Site administrators have complete control over all aspects of the sim. There are no corporate-imposed limitations on build size or number of prims allowed in-world. Entire regions can be backed up in XML format to the local hard drive for archival purposes or public distribution. Because it runs locally, it is private and free of mature content. Upgrades are handled seamlessly by the Diva distro. Since the software is cross-platform, an instance of OpenSim can be installed on almost any machine with two or more gigabites of RAM (Bill’s laptop runs a clone of the DDBC sim). Most importantly, it is Open Source and completely free.
Since current releases of OpenSim are still experimental, there are disadvantages as well. For instance, OS users must rely on forums and chat rooms (and on Simon) to resolve perplexing installation and LSL scripting problems. Certain SL communications protocols and LSL scripting functions are still unavailable. Despite these issues, OpenSim is quite usable now, as DDBC students have shown, and looks to become fully functional in future releases.
Our DDBC sim currently hosts Bill’s OpenSim Tibetan Classroom. The Cube of Tibetan Consonants and the Tibetan Numbers and Grammar Puzzle are up and running. The Tibetan Debate Simulator and the Wall of WylieWriters will be available soon. Bill is also constructing a full-scale walk-in model of DDM’s Great Buddha Hall. Daily OAR archives are freely available to anyone. If you have an OpenSim running and would like to have your own copy of the OpenSim Tibetan Classroom, please write to Bill at billmagee@ddbc.edu.tw.
Future plans include opening our sim to outside users, connecting our OpenSim to the OSGrid archipelago, expanding its size beyond its current four regions, and hosting classes, conferences, and visiting dignitaries at our mountainous virtual campus.
Download the <a href=”http://github.com/diva/diva-distribution/downloads”>Diva distribution.</a>
Read about the <a href=”http://www.osgrid.org/elgg/”>OSGrid Open Metaverse.</a>

Bill Magee, assistant professor of Tibetan Studies, and Simon Wiles of the Library and Information Center at Dharma Drum Buddhist College, have established an OpenSim virtual campus behind the DDBC firewall.

OpenSim is a BSD Licensed Open Source virtual-world software capable of supporting standalone or grid-structured servers. We are currently using the Diva distribution of OS [Note: we are now running OpenSim-0.6.7 release. See my blog about installing this release on your own computer at http://billmagee.wordpress.com.%5D. Our sim is running on an Ubuntu 9.04 platform with 4 mb RAM. Installation of the software under Ubuntu requires Mono 2.4 and MySQL. OpenSims can be viewed with the Second Life viewer, but Open Source clients such as Hippo and Meerkat offer advanced cross-sim functionality.

DDBC has had an educational presence in the virtual world of Second Life since 2007. However, OpenSim has numerous advantages over the Second Life platform. Site administrators have complete control over all aspects of the sim. There are no corporate-imposed limitations on build size or number of prims allowed in-world. Entire regions can be backed up in XML format to the local hard drive for archival purposes or public distribution. Because it runs locally, it is private and free of mature content. Upgrades are handled seamlessly by the Diva distro. Since the software is cross-platform, an instance of OpenSim can be installed on almost any machine with two or more gigabites of RAM (Bill’s laptop runs a clone of the DDBC sim). Most importantly, it is Open Source and completely free.

Since current releases of OpenSim are still experimental, there are disadvantages as well. For instance, OS users must rely on forums and chat rooms (and on Simon) to resolve perplexing installation and LSL scripting problems. Certain SL communications protocols and LSL scripting functions are still unavailable. Despite these issues, OpenSim is quite usable now, as DDBC students have shown, and looks to become fully functional in future releases.

Our DDBC sim currently hosts Bill’s Tibetan OpenSim Classroom. The Cube of Tibetan Consonants and the Tibetan Numbers and Grammar Puzzle are up and running. The Tibetan Debate Simulator and the Wall of WylieWriters will be available soon. Bill is also constructing a full-scale walk-in model of DDM’s Great Buddha Hall. Daily OAR archives are freely available to anyone. If you have an OpenSim running and would like to have your own copy of the OpenSim Tibetan Classroom, please write to Bill at billmagee@ddbc.edu.tw.

The Tibetan OpenSim Classroom at DDBC

The Tibetan OpenSim Classroom at DDBC

Future plans include opening our sim to outside users, connecting our OpenSim to the OSGrid archipelago, expanding its size beyond its current four regions, and hosting classes, conferences, and visiting dignitaries at our mountainous virtual campus.

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