It’s triggered by my discovery of something beautiful that has the potential to change both my own life and the lives of others.
Nascent revolutionary change.
Today I got that feeling again. And it only took me 1 hour of my time and a small USB key.
Setting up Imprudence was a snap. It’s a fantastic 3rd-party viewer that lets you easily connect to both the Second Life grid as well as OpenSim grids. Imprudence has a simple Grid Manager pulldown menu pre-populated with a list of grids you can access at the click of a button, including the Second Life grid and all the major OpenSim ones. You can also add new OpenSim grids as easily as copying and pasting a URL.
First thing I did after I installed Imprudence was to create an account and log in to jokaydiaGRID, an OpenSim grid created by jokay Wolllongong that is focused on education and the arts. She and her team have worked very hard to create a wonderful website with all the information you need to jump in quickly and easily, complete with a simple signup page for creating a new account on jokaydiaGRID.
I explored jokaydiaGRID for a while. Had fun building a simple little chair. Then I realized that, thanks to the features of the Imprudence viewer, I could backup my creation to my own hard drive.
At this point I got a little tickle on the back of my neck. By saving my creation to my own computer, I truly owned it. All the data representing my chair, the 3d geometry and custom textures, was truly mine. And I could do whatever I wanted with it.
But what to do with it?
I thought about logging into Second Life to upload it there. But then I had a more ambitious idea.
I could set up my own OpenSim grid on my own desktop computer and upload it there.
But wait. Why stop at that?
I had heard about some clever folks who figured out how to install and run OpenSim on a USB key. You can also install and run a viewer like Imprudence on a USB key. Which means you could walk up to your friend’s PC, stick your USB key into it, run a few programs on the key, and suddenly be in your own personal virtual world.
Some quick Googling brought me to Ener Hax’s wonderful blog, and a detailed explanation of her own experiences setting up and running OpenSim on a USB key. I also found a blog post by Peter Miller (the creator of the amazing StoryMachine data visualization tool), detailing his own experiences.
Finally I found Roger Stack’s detailed research explaining in simple steps how to get it all set up.
Cracking my knuckles, I stuck my USB key into my computer, opened Roger’s howto and got to work. I installed both OpenSim and Imprudence on my USB key. Then I launched both of them and logged in.
My avatar stood on a broad plain of grass. A flat expanse of 4 regions stretching out in front of me.
I remembered Roger’s tutorial mentioning how you could easily upload entire region backups into OpenSim. All the objects and terrain settings saved in a single file. I followed his link to a freely downloadable “Entertainment Region” and followed his instructions for uploading it into my own OpenSim grid.
And there it was. My avatar stood in whole new region full of custom terraforming and a beautiful building.
Finally, I went to the File>Import Object menu in Imprudence. Found my chair data files on my computer. Uploaded them .
My chair appeared in front of me. My creation. Built in someone else’s grid. Now existing in my own.
I paused, rubbing the back of my tingling neck. Glanced at my computer’s clock. Only 1 hour has passed since I began this entire journey.
I shut down Imprudence and OpenSim.
Pulled my USB key from my computer.
Held it in the palm of my hands.
And began dreaming of new possibilities.
-John “Pathfinder” Lester
Not all USB keys are created equal. Some of them are significantly faster than others, which can significantly affect how fast your installation runs. If you’re looking to buy an inexpensive USB key that has been tested with OpenSim and performs very well, please read this great review piece by Ener Hax.
Tateru Nino has just created and put up a downloadable ZIP file that has everything pre-configured. Nice work, Tateru!
Also, Wagner James Au just wrote a piece about my blog post. In his article I share some of my thoughts on the practical uses of OpenSim and Imprudence on a USB key, particularly for educators.
And if you’re looking for a great 4-region megaregion terrain that works great on your Opensim on a USB key, here’s where to get one and how to set it up.