What makes OpenSim so Different and Cool?
Opensim offers FREEDOM! Not only in terms of money. Everything costs money. Servers cost money. Grids cost time, blood, sweat and tears to maintain.
But.. it can be done cost-effectively enough that we can be generous. Give land and our creations freely, either as a hobby or as an inexpensive community effort.
The best thing is freedom to create. To innovate. This web profile you are reading right now, is an example. This was written in PHP.. and it reads notecards and pictures directly from your avatar's inventory to create this beautiful website automatically! You won't see cool shit like that in SL!! :)
OpenSim is 100% Open Source. Which means that we are completely free to run, modify and manage our grids in any way we wish. And to customize the software to do all kinds of neat things! OpenSim includes a scripting language with all the usual LSL scripting functions from SL, PLUS an additional 200+ extra functions that do all kinds of cool stuff not possible in SL!
Rules! Everyplace has rules. But in SL.. I feel like people who own places, pay so dearly for their land, and have so little control.. That is why everywhere you go, you are pummeled by bizarre rules and regulations, the second you arrive. No furries! No blondes named Shirley! Etc. Suffice it to say.. we are mostly not control freaks in OpenSim. We have enough control over things already, and enough to do. We're a lot more laid back, and welcome your company, furry or Shirley's or otherwise. :)
Control over your environment, your stuff, your life. In OpenSim, on my grid at least. Residents have full access to their regions, land, inventory and just life in general. The average resident with free land on my grid actually has more power than a Region/Estate owner in SL, who pays $300/mo. They can restart their own regions, load / save backups. Try out ready-made OAR files .. which are entire regions zipped up into a file. Control everything on their region basically, that only Lindens in SL have the pwer to do.
Freedom of travel! On the Hypergrid, every grid is basically on the same grid! You can travel freely with all your stuff, clothes.. go shopping, bring stuff home, share items with friends. Secondlife on the other hand is a closed grid. Nothing or no one is allowed in or out.
What is OpenSim? How can I get to these places?
OpenSim is a 3D world based on Secondlife technology. It uses the same SL compatible viewers such as Firestorm, Singularity, Alchemy, etc..
You log in, have an avatar, and it behaves much in the same was a you are used to in Secondlife. The major difference is that much of the land, content, everything is free. Although there are commercial grids as well that have more polished content sometimes. For the most part, it is free.
The beauty of OpenSim is the freedom from the sometimes opressive economic system in Secondlife. In Secondlife I have a piddly little 2048m parcel of land, that I can not do much with. On my opensim grid. I currently own and operate 641 Secondlife-sized regions.. Mostly full of interesting things to do and see. Pretty landscapes, shopping. Art projects, community space, etc. I have 160 residents on my grid, and am constantly busy and engaged with people. When I come to Secondlife.. I enjoy the quiet and boredom here. There is not much going on. haha
My whole grid costs me about $120/mo in server bills, which is largely community supported. People donate a few bucks here and there.. and we have this nice little world of our own. So it is a nice little human-sized community and economy. You are never alone. You never go hungry or homeless. We all take care of each other. :)
There are thousands of small grids like mine, all interconnected, with free travel in between, that make up the Hypergrid.. Which as a whole is very much larger and more lively than SL.
My grid is 100% free, and open to sign up, if you want to try it. Our web address is https://hgluv.com HGLuv (HyperGrid - Love :)
There are countless others as well, where you can find a home that suits you. :)
Intellectual Property Concerns
OpenSim is a collection of independent grids. All connected, but with their own communities, rules, standards.
I can not speak for every grid. Buy by and large, we are mostly concerned with intellectual property rights, and the proliferation of "copybot" items circulating around our grids.
HGLuv grid takes a moderate approach on this. Much of the content we have is created on-site by our own residents. We don't like it when people rip off or misuse our stuff. So we are conscious of what we are using. Much of the content in OpenSim has trickled down to us from Secondlife, legally or otherwise. It is almost impossible to tell. But we make a pretty huge effort to determine if something is really blatently copybotted or not. Almost every item that I have researched, was able to contact the original creator. They gave us their blessing to use it. I have not recieved a single official DMCA request, or even a casual one, to remove items. So for the most part, I think we are making a valiant attempt at staying honest. If there are concerns, we address them immediately. We work way to hard to be called thieves and lowlifes. ;)