What is OpenSim?

OpenSimulator is an open source, multi-platform, multi-user 3D application server that can be used to create and simulate immersive virtual spaces, environments, and worlds.  Similar to the web servers that power the World Wide Web, OpenSim is a new kind of 3D internet server that combines the richness of the “flat” web with advanced simulation technology to create a seamless digital version of the real world – a world where you can create anything you can imagine, teach a class in an environment you design, or even fly to work instead of driving.  You can meet with distant colleagues and students “face-to-face” through digital avatars, collaborate on a project as if you were in the same location, or develop a model or project plan together in real time.

How do users connect to OpenSim?

Users connect to the virtual environment with a software client over the internet (similar to a web browser) to enter the virtual space and interact with the 3D environment with a keyboard and mouse or other similar input devices.  The user is represented by a digital avatar that can walk, run, or fly through the environment and interact with objects there much as we do in the physical world.

What are the minimum requirements to run the Opensim viewer?

The software client used to connect to OpenSim requires a broadband internet connection, fairly modern computer with adequate processing power, and a video card capable of rendering the graphics and scenes of the virtual environment.  Typically, a computer purchased after 2005 with a standard video game graphics card and DSL or Cable broadband connection will be able to connect and use an OpenSim environment.  Older computers or users on dial-up internet connections are generally unable to use OpenSim.

How realistic are the virtual environments in OpenSim?

OpenSim includes a built-in physics module and other Artificial Intelligence (AI) modules that allow the simulations and environments created to be as realistic and life-like or as abstract as desired.  Digital assets are created and modeled using either the tools built into the software client, or using industry standard modeling and graphic design programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Maya, etc.

What are the technical specifications of OpenSim?

OpenSimulator is written in C#, running both on Windows over the .NET Framework and on Unix-like machines over the Mono framework. The source code is released under a BSD License.  For more information on the technical details, see http://opensimulator.org.  Features include:

  • Supports online, multi-user 3D environments as small as one simulator or as large as thousands of simulators.
  • 3D virtual spaces can be of variable size within one single instance.
  • Supports multiple clients and protocols – access the same world at the same time via multiple protocols.
  • Real-time Physics Simulation, with multiple engine options including ODE.
  • Supports clients that create 3D content in real time.
  • Virtual objects can be scripted using a number of different languages, including LSL/OSSL, C# and VB.NET
  • Provides unlimited ability to customize virtual world applications through the use of scene plugin modules.

What are the limitations of OpenSim?

It should be noted that OpenSim is considered an emerging technology, i.e. the platform is in an ongoing state of change and evolution, so clients should understand the variable nature of the service and be prepared for minor or substantive changes to the interface, viewer software, or other components of the OpenSim service.