The Open Sourcerous Apprentices

Cyn Linden recently posted a blog article regarding the Lab’s upcoming 3rd party viewer policy. This policy has been expected. After all, just two months ago, they published their Content Management Roadmap, which included a specific section titled Standard Industry Practice for Copying Tools. The publication of that particular article fell on the heels of RightAsRain Rimbaud’s announcement of Rezzable’s new Sim Copying tool, builderbot, which resulted in quite an uproar from the content creator community.

Of course, this is but a rinse and repeat.

Just a little over two years ago, and less than a month after Linden Lab formed the Architecture Working Group, they announced they were releasing their viewer code under GPLW. The response was decidedly mixed. The year before, the Lab’s customer database security (or lack there of) had been breached, resulting in a September 14, 2006 security advisory posted by then, Senior VP of Marketing, Robin Linden. Shortly thereafter, the libopensl copybot issue culminated with shop owners closing stores in protest, resulting in another post from then CTO, Cory Linden—this time clarifying the Lab’s ToS regarding copyright. Notably, he also stated, "We are not in the copyright enforcement business." The recurring content theft via hacked code theme seems to be a repeated thorn in Linden Lab’s side.

But is it really?

Linden Lab holds forth the open source promise like a carrot on the end of a stick in hopes that aspiring developers will not see through their facade—they’re looking for free labor—while at the same time inviting malfeasance, in the form of marauding script kiddies who fancy themselves hackers. This combination makes for a rather curious dynamic and an interesting end game.

Consider, for example, the emerald viewer folk—their developer’s list reads like the who’s who of script kiddie central.

First and foremost, you have the original developer and owner of the Emerald website, Jcool410, who was the developer of vLife. Jcool seems to have since morphed to Fractured Crystal, who claims he has "cleaned up his act" while at the same time accusing Thomas Shikami—a disaffected Emerald dev, who clarified the vLife-Emerald connection in a rather curious jira post—of being an active vLife dev team member.

Then there’s Discrete Dreamscape, who posted copybot code, not once, but twice, to Linden Lab’s public jira, where another team member, LordGregGreg Back, proudly proclaimed he would be adding it to Emerald, while also engaging in a play-pretend fight with Phox. The latter, who, by the way, is also an emerald developer, and who created a video on how to bypass Linden Lab’s IP ban.

Speaking of LordGregGreg Back (LGG). Now here is an interesting character. During the Content Management Roadmap dust up, he was listed as Emerald Public Relations. He’s now listed as Legal. I admittedly find both rather hilarious. Can’t imagine him winning in “moot court” much less a real one. Especially, since he seems to think "moot" is spelled "mute."

But, I digress.

LGG also spent a protracted amount of time engaging in rather embarrassing tongue swiping in the SLHerald’s Cryolife Papers comments section. Shortly thereafter, amazingly, or rather, shockingly, he contacted me, asking me to help him fight this new "evil" 3rd party viewer, NeilLife. LGG’s request was more than curious. Especially considering that I had just finished posting a comment to Linden Lab’s blog, requesting they block the Emerald viewer.

Soon thereafter, spoofed notecards announcing NeilLife were spammed across the grid. Both the spoofed notecards and the object used to spam them bore the name of long time resident and well-respected content creator, Gwyneth Llewelyn—who responded with this blog post. Unless he took an über crash course in Portuguese, the NeilLife dev did not send the notecards either. No big surprise there.

The ensuing drama revealed other rather curious morsels as well, though many of them are, as of this writing, largely unverifiable. There are however other means… such as disaffected devs. In fact, the disaffected are quite often the best source when it comes to information mining. Why? Bc, they’re usually ticked off enough to tell all. Even if they, themselves were involved in malfeasance, they’re often as close to the truth as you will get.

Take for example the case of Kevin MitnickW. Mitnick’s exploits, which largely involved social engineeringW to gain access codes to various corporate computer systems along with phreakingW, became notorious shortly after he was alleged to have hacked DEC’s Nashua New Hampshire facility, spiriting away their VMS operating system source code to a back computer at Lawrence Berkeley Labs. While Tsutomu ShimomuraW has long been credited for capturing Mitnick in a breathtaking super cybersleuth drama, the reality is, Mitnick’s then girlfriend reported him to the police for phreaking activities, which resulted in confiscation of his computers, and his eventual prosecution and conviction. Prior to that, no one knew who this faceless marauder was.

But back to carrots and groupies and script kiddies, oh my! Each serves a purpose. Or rather, each serves Linden Lab’s purpose. Simply put, the Lab needs these script kiddies as much as they need their open source groupies. The former to prove the latter’s contention—the impossibility of fighting content theft. And what better way to prove so than with a very public display of malfeasance at the well-known Linden event—ala Burning Life and the thieves motherlode?

Open sourcerous apprentices, indeed!


  1. CommentsAngela Talamasca   |  Thursday, 29 October 2009 at 07:33

    New blog post: The Open Sourcerous Apprentices

  2. CommentsGwyneth Llewelyn   |  Thursday, 29 October 2009 at 16:48

    […] Worried about 3rd party viewers? Read this: (thanks to @Prokofy for the link) […]

  3. CommentsSplash Kidd   |  Thursday, 29 October 2009 at 16:55

    […] Good read RT @GwynethLlewelyn
    Worried about 3rd party viewers? Read this: (thanks to @Prokofy for the link) […]

  4. CommentsAna Teles   |  Thursday, 29 October 2009 at 18:05

    […] RT @GwynethLlewelyn: Worried about 3rd party viewers? Read this: (thanks to @Prokofy for the link) #SL #SecondLife […]

  5. CommentsuberVU - social comments   |  Thursday, 29 October 2009 at 18:07

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by GwynethLlewelyn: Worried about 3rd party viewers? Read this: (thanks to @Prokofy for the link)…

  6. Commentsthe other (viewers) | .Ana Lutetia.   |  Thursday, 29 October 2009 at 18:37

    […] Virtuality Hacks | The Open Sourcerous Apprentices AKPC_IDS += "8959,";Popularity: 52% [?] […]

  7. CommentsGwyneth Llewelyn   |  Thursday, 29 October 2009 at 19:19

    Excellent article, it really does make one wonder about why we only hear about the Emerald viewer on the LL blogs 🙂

    I’ve started to think a lot about what goes behind Emerald and their coders’ real intent. However, I also appreciate your courage in doing a frontal attack — if you’re right, these guys are pretty much able to turn your SL experience in utter hell by ganging up on you for ‘going public’, pretty much like so many did to, say, Prokofy Neva, just to give a popular example…

    So the big question is really, what are these guys up to? Emerald seems by far the most popular viewer these days. I already suspect what it is doing to consume 10x the bandwidth as any other viewer. So what is all that for? Sure, I guess that any developer well-versed in LL’s code might figure out what’s under the hood, and possibly push Emerald out of business if they find it less than thrustworthy… but will that really stop them? Their group forms and re-forms; alts come in to the ‘core team’ and leave after being banned; teams are shuffled around, individual developers are banned from the team as they go to develop ‘nastier’ versions based on Emerald….


  8. CommentsAngela   |  Thursday, 29 October 2009 at 20:39

    I find the Portuguese commonality between the NeilLife notecard and the motherload theft, along with the logo on the ripped box (designed to bring visions of Emerald), to be rather curious, don’t you? Imo, games are def being played at the expense of content creators. The question remains, why and by whom?

  9. CommentsMabb Dilweg   |  Thursday, 29 October 2009 at 20:52

    Oh come on people. LL can’t organise their way out of a paper bag. Let’s not delude ourselves into thinking they have the ability to orchestrate such a sting. This is High Conspiracy indeed, and I am buggered if I can work out how the Kevin Mitnik reference was relevant at ALL.

  10. Commentslordgreggreg   |  Saturday, 31 October 2009 at 20:37

    I am really amazed at how people can completely twist things.
    Yes, we added backup code to the emerald viewer so people can have better control of their data, whether you like it or not, that is something LL has said is fine many times in the past, as well as in the most recent brown bag.
    No, I did not appreciate phox taking out the permissions check, I understand that it was inevitable, but it is still not the correct thing in my eyes.

    For some reason you just hate to belive that I don't like people who steal. Every single thing I have done against them. 1. par plugins clothing protection. 2. emerald clothing protection. 3. cryolife detection bot 4. permission checks in the jira and in emerald. 5. not supporting neil life and removing it from the sl wiki 6. arguing with phox 7. working with j on a auto detection system for copied items.

    You some how find a way to twist this and make it out like im faking or something. You have absolutely zero facts to go by. Every single one of my actions have always been against this stuff.

    Also, me talking to you about emerald was not curious at all, doesn't it make seince? It is something we both have in common. Sure, you efforts against emerald are pointless, but I do try to put our differences aside and try to find ways to work together, or at least direct your energy to a more appropriate target. Apparently this makes me a shady person if your looking for a way to excite your audience -.-

    Also, i know you didn't say it directly, but you sure tried to allude that I had something to do with publishing a viewer that contained viruses. That is more insulting to me than I think you can ever understand.

    What is the emerald coders real intent? How is that not plainly obvious? We are making a alternate viewer to improve people's second life. I enjoy making people happy. I feel proud being able to spend my free time working on a project that tens of thousands of people appreciate. This is the same deal with the par plugins, my work in the script academy, and a very large portion of why im on second life. If you have this "too good to be true", feeling, I can understand, but do your research! The code is open source! Look at it! compile it yourself. We cant really be much more open than that. I suppose people will always speculate and have rumors of their own, but just try to educate yourself once you get the time.

    tl;dr; If you read this. Do some research and get facts instead of listening to rumors and speculation. If you have any questions , talk to me personally. -LordGregGreg Back

  11. Commentsbalp   |  Monday, 02 November 2009 at 12:01

    […] is tired to see that (Tina) (Angela) attacking emera… […]

  12. CommentsSniffing Emerald code. « My collection of thoughs and whispers from everywhere   |  Tuesday, 03 November 2009 at 08:13

    […] Emerald code. After i read some articles starting from here i start to ask myself… Is Emerald such a great thing for a hidden purpose? Does it have […]

  13. CommentsPura Goodness   |  Wednesday, 04 November 2009 at 08:14

    Emerald coders do not have the same Emerald they dish out, to all there fans, they all have mod veiwers wih different Capabilities, in fact try to go to emerald point, as they bully you there ,they brag about it,

  14. CommentsBalp   |  Thursday, 05 November 2009 at 06:56

    As all developers we of course have different versions testing stuff before it works, would be quite strange if we didn't have different versions testing, I have one now that logs tons of filtering of inventory. Not a fancy new feature but a way to figure out why the inventory for a few users goes into no matching items when someone goes online of offline.

  15. CommentsMythridian   |  Wednesday, 04 November 2009 at 10:33

    True Pura. They have SVN repository, but's protected for reading. A closer look on branches there would reveal or not more things.
    Really, i don't care what clients do they use inworld, as they offer "safe" binaries for most of people.
    Those who compile, i'm sure they have personal 'patches' for those sources, or other free 7zip or rars.

  16. Commentslulz   |  Wednesday, 04 November 2009 at 23:48

    LGG is retarded, Someone can bypass cryolife detection by using a hex editor to rename cryo::ping to something else.

  17. Commentslulz   |  Thursday, 05 November 2009 at 01:25… . Look at that.

  18. Commentslulz   |  Thursday, 05 November 2009 at 01:25

  19. Commentsagent   |  Friday, 06 November 2009 at 12:15

    "emerald developer, and who created a video on how to bypass Linden Lab’s IP ban."

    Err no phox didnt make that video, The person that made that vid was using phox sl viewer as did many many people

    how can anyone take these fud attacks seriously if the writers will not put any effort into fact checking before they

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