What is OpenSim?

OpenSim: the basics

The term OpenSim is short for OpenSimulator, free (no cost whatsoever) and open-source (you may  alter the code willy nilly) software that runs on Mac, Linux, and Windows computers.

With OpenSim you can create your very own virtual 3D environment, more commonly known as a grid, which you interact with by using a little cartoon person called an avatar. What is an avatar?  An avatar is your representation of yourself as you walk around inside a virtual world. (For other explanations of virtual world terms, check out this fabulous Hypergrid Newbie glossary written by virtualchristine.)

To create an avatar and interact with  a virtual environment  you need a viewer program.  These are also free and open source. There are several, but the two most commonly used viewers are Firestorm and Singularity.

OpenSim grids and hosting

Although anyone can download OpenSim software here and run it on their own computer, most people  choose to open a free account on one of the hundreds of  existing OpenSim grids. After all, not everyone can rewrite software code! Some of these grids are running on people’s home computers. Some are running on bigger computers run by hosting companies.

Each grid has its own rules and personality. Many grids offer small free parcels and housing.  Many of us choose to rent a region from a grid and let the grid owners deal with things like software updates, internet service providers, and security.

Creating in OpenSim

Whether you are renting a piece of land on an existing grid or you have taken the plunge and set up your own, OpenSim software comes with the tools to create a variety of shapes which you can put together to create almost any object you can think of. People have used OpenSim software to create everything from chairs to castles, party hats to planes, beer mugs to smoke-belching dragons. You can even make your own clothing using free templates and programs like the Gimp and Photoshop.

Exploring OpenSim grids: the hypergrid

While creating in a virtual environment is a blast on its own, what happens when you want to show off your creations?  Or what about folks who simply want to  go shopping, take in an art gallery, see a play, go dancing or just make new friends?  No problem! There are hundreds of existing grids, with thousands of regions to visit, again, all for free!  They are connected by a teleportation system called the hypergrid, and offer a dazzling, multicultural array of sightseeing, social venues, free content, events, programs,  lessons, created by their respective communities.

The residents of the hypergrid are proud of their wildly eclectic home, and there are many groups offering regular, free, tours to new and veteran residents. Ours is called Metaverse Tours.

Next steps

Now that you know what OpenSim is, you are invited to join us. How? First, you have to get an account on an OpenSim grid.

virtual christine
Serene Jewell
Mar 2, 2015