Intro to Sim On A Stick

The several configurations of Simonastick.
The several configurations of Simonastick.

Frustration bears fruit

About a month ago, give or take a few days, my frustration with having inadequate workspace in Second Life (virtual world) came to a head. I like building things but wasn't graced with the finances necessary to rent or lease a work-space. To further add to the frustration, if any of you have frequented the free sandboxes, you'd be unable to not notice they're just a little crowded.

Additionally, I really wanted to learn more than even a sandbox environment can teach. My eldest son wants to create games and I was helping him do some research online on ways to jump-start the process for what he needs to learn, which is a whole different story but yet it was the root of what instigated a fantastic discovery. So I was online roaming the search engines and I came across the other sim worlds out there. One of them caught my attention and I decided to stop and take a look while I was there. I had discovered OpenSim. OpenSim is operated and developed by a huge community endeavor under long-running construction and use by a substantial-sized user population. The bonus is it is open source freeware.

Tour an OpenSim World

A stand-alone option

While I was reading what users had to say about OpenSim, I noticed that there was also a stand-alone design option. A stand-alone is where the sim world is hosted either on a paid independent host or on your own machine for no cost. This can be configured to be accessed by any number of people you specify or configured to remain private - accessed by only yourself. One of the stand-alone platforms is Sim On A Stick or also spelled Simonastick or SoaS.

This stand alone version of Open Sim comes with everything you need to run a Open Sim environment on your own computer. Sim On A Stick (SoaS) is a very popular sim tool. It can run on your desktop out of any of your document or software files, or better yet, as it was designed to do – run on a memory stick out of your USB port. Your new sim will be totally portable!

SoaS is used by schools, corporations, and private individuals. It can be as large as only one region, which standard size is 256x256, 2x2 mega region (four single regions) or as large as 16 regions for a home computer with the ability to expand even larger if you have the hardware that can handle it.

It can do pretty much everything that can be done on Second Life (SL). You can build houses, stores, learning environments, landscapes, vehicles, clothing, miscellaneous items like books or slide-shows, and avatars. There's everything imaginable that can be done with scripting inside of it too. I, personally, have only scraped the tip of a massive iceberg here for you with this description.

Imagine a virtual world entirely on a memory stick plugged into your USB port.
Imagine a virtual world entirely on a memory stick plugged into your USB port.

Simonastick in action

I am currently running a 16 region set up on my little Acer Aspire One laptop here, which is hooked up to a Samsung flat screen monitor (because hours on the computer does funny things to ones eyesight if you spend it all trying to decipher vast detail on a 4.5” x 7.75” screen (particularly when combined with a few cups of strong coffee and enough sugar to stoke an elephant for sound). And that is alongside having other programs up and running, like my chrome internet access, GIMP, and OpenOffice Writer, or 7 zip File Manager for downloading zipped files relatively headache free.

Now what I am describing here is only my personal Windows version experience. This Simonastick thing is reported on the net as being friendly to use by Macs, & Linux et al. But since I don't have any experience with those you'll have to seek alternate accounts of the experience if you have one of those.

Now before I continue with this mumbling about Open Sim and Sim On A Stick, I need to let you in on my caveat emptor. It's a wonderful digital tool and experience to play with, but I've found that the prime instructions for use, set up, and configuration or modification et al, is not precisely greenhorn friendly.

Digital greenhorn or newb, that's me. My script and code knowledge is about as close to nil as one can get without being so dense one doesn't know the difference between open and load. I'm just a lowly end-user. But hey, it IS possible to teach an end-user new trix. So this and my subsequent tales will be my adventures in mental evolution or in other words finding ways to confuse the moving parts of a rock.

To date, I can say it comes with some thrill at learning I found something I can have some fun with, make worthwhile use of, and actually find ways to surpass the tin-bucket moments (tin-bucket moments defined as, place tin-bucket over head and scream then while your head is ringing like a bell review your problem in a fully altered state of mind – look Ma! No drugs required!).

A sneak peek in the Simonastick software

The start up instructions are located here in the file.
The start up instructions are located here in the file.

Simonastick components

Now, as of this writing the current edition of Sim On A Stick (simonastick.com) is 0.7.6. It's downloading comes with the database MySQL along with Apache and PhP (the server stuff you need for hosting visitors and yourself). Also available at the site is the one other thing you have to download, the viewer. In this case they recommend Imprudence and provide a link on the page to the downloading of it.

If you already have the std Second Life viewer, I've come to understand you can use that, but it comes with limitations to its function which is part of the Second Life experience (for example in SL you have to pay to upload a file, not in Open Sim). At this point I have NOT used SL's viewer with my SoaS.

I downloaded Imprudence. And it works great. I also find it faster for me than the SL viewer when I'm logged in to SL. My world rezz's faster and my clothes fully rezz! Lol. That was something I found a little disturbing about my SL experience...half the time my shirts never rezzed, although I was told everyone else saw me complete! So I was to just have faith they did. There are all sorts of churches in life. Some more confidence inspiring than others. No I am not a prude, but I also am not into public displays, real life (RL) or as an Avatar. Let's leave it at that.

So now you know some of the appreciating benefits. I'm writing more on the subject, about the continuing adventures of this greenhorn in virtual space, describing useful information and humorous tales.

Next article in the series: Simonastick: before you download!

6 Years of OpenSimulator

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