Second Life client released as Open Source (server to follow)

One purpose of the Open Life book and this site is to study different Open Source business models. And one category which has significantly increased during the last year is the body of software that was previously closed source and then released as Open Source.

Second Life - one of those online world games - was recently released as Open Source. There is one interesting detail in this release that makes it significant from all the previous ones:

This is a very big step: there's never been a product that was in the dominant position that then open sourced. Open source is usually used by folk who are either trying to gain market share, or projects that are very early stage.

Some people may not want to agree completely with that quote, but in my understanding it is pretty accurate. Second Life was Open Sourced because its owners believes it will be more valuable that way, not because they didn't have much to loose anyway, which certainly was the case with Netscape, the first proprietary product to be freed.

I'm not much of a gamer myself, but we should not underestimate the importance of Second Life to some...

We started looking at what our residents were doing in preparation for some speaking we did at [O'Reilly's] ETech in March. One of the things that we discovered was that a very large percentage of our residents - something on the order of 15% of people who logged in - were using the scripting language. So you start realising that there are tens of thousands of people at least, probably more like hundreds of thousands at this point, who have written code related to Second Life. And so it seems a little bit silly to not enable that creative horsepower to be applied to our code as well. [...] And what's neat is that less than 24 hours after we put the code out we've already accepted a user patch.

The quotes are from this week LWN.net issue. The article is still subscriber only, but using this link you can read it now.

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