Yes, you read right. Expectations were that it would happen a lot later this year but the year is only 8 days old and Linden Lab released the source code for their client today! It was mentioned a lot of times (and last time I heard it was at the SLDEVU in London whicih was in December last year but even then it sounded as if it would be like August 07) but now it finally appears!
This is a big step for Linden Lab and surely also one for the community. And especially it isn’t really an embrassing license under which it’s released (as Tateru was guessing), probably meaning that it might be some self-constructed OSS like license. In fact it is GPL v2. Of course every license has it’s issues but this one is a well known and well understood license also used by Linux and many other big projects (including Java nowadays).
So what does that mean? We can of course expect some nice interesting enhancements, such as maybe
- a plugin architecture
- better UI and other usability enhancements
- more interactivity between the client and the rest of the system
- exporting and importing content (which will raise discussions)
- a better script editor?
- soon simulator emulators for having a standalone version
and lots of other stuff.
So what is missing?
Actually I am wondering how the organisation of development efforts will be managed. Apparently it won’t work if everybody starts to code something. This whole organisational process is usually one of the more complicated topics of open sourcing a product which has not grown up like that. The other question is also in what state the code is (unfortunately the link is not working right now and I haven’t looked at the code yet). For Mozilla it meant that people spent more or less rewriting everything from scratch, for Second Life the code quality is also supposed to be quite “grown” which means that it might not as clear and modular as you’d like it to be.
We will have to see. I expect lots of discussion and lots of work in front of Linden Lab to make it really work but the fact itself is a historic one.
Update: There is a wiki available with more information including how to participate in developing and/or fixing bugs, optimizing the code and so on. They even plan on offering bounties for features they would like to see implemented such as JPEG performance improvements, avatar mouth animation system for voice audio chat streams plus a text-to-speech-translation system as well as a speech-to-text translation system, both cross platform. I’d rather see an integrated voice chat as first step though 😉
Update 2: a first analysis of the code is made here 🙂