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Oracle cuts off GPL'd Project Wonderland

From: Alexander Terekhov
Subject: Oracle cuts off GPL'd Project Wonderland
Date: Thu, 04 Feb 2010 19:35:55 +0100


If Project Wonderland fades away, the likely beneficiary is OpenSim,
which is already seeing significant traction with the education
community. But OpenSim developers say that they’re sad to see Wonderland
lose support.

“I believe that there needs to be a healthy number of projects in the
virtual worlds market,” said Melanie Thielker, an OpenSim core developer
and CEO of OpenSim hosting company 3D Hosting. “In that sense, it is sad
to see that one of them has lost it’s support.”

All the virtual world platforms will suffer as a result of the loss of
Project Wonderland, said Justin Clark-Casey, a core developer with the
open source OpenSim platform, a competing platform to Wonderland.

“In the long term, competition is one force that encourages people to
improve OpenSim,” he said. “A less well-funded Wonderland may well
reduce this effect.”

Clark-Casey said he doubted that many Wonderland developers would switch
to OpenSim.

“You get very attached to a project once you’ve lavished so much work
upon it,” he said. “I think that the same is true for users who have
invested their time in the platform, except maybe for those who were
only just getting familiar with it.”

Project Wonderland offered some improvements over OpenSim, including
full support of mesh objects, PDF files, and shared applications. In
addition, Project Wonderland came with a Web-based client that could run
on any computer with Java installed — no separate download required.
Although these features would be useful for enterprise users, the
technology has not seen much traction in the enterprise space, beyond a
couple of pilot projects.

In addition, Wonderland hasn’t been seen as a popular platform for
public grids. By comparison, OpenSim is currently used as a platform for
about three dozen public grids — including OSGrid, ReactionGrid,
ScienceSim and many others — and hundreds of smaller private grids.

Part of the reason could have been licensing restrictions.

“Wonderland was under the fairly restrictive GPL license, which is
fairly anti-commercial,” said Adam Frisby, an OpenSim core developer and
a founder of OpenSim development firm DeepThink Pty Ltd. “Had Wonderland
has a more ‘consumer’ focus for entertainment value, then that might not
have mattered so much.”

The license makes it difficult to corporate users to customize the
platform or integrate it with proprietary components, he said.

“This was one of the reasons OpenSim was unable to consider using the
Wonderland client,” he added.

Wonderland does have a “great deal of traction” within its community, he
said. “But having no paid developers does tend to put a cramp on a
project. Even OpenSim has several core developers who are paid to work
on OpenSim either full or part time.”

These include teams from IBM and Intel, he said.

In fact, IBM originally short-listed Project Wonderland when it was
considering its virtual world platform, said Peter Finn, IBM senior
architect, in a blog post today.

IBM has long been a supporter of the Java programming language, which
Wonderland is based on, Finn said. In addition, the platform was very
developed technologically.

“I was very impressed by the progress the Wonderland team was making,”
he said. “They had developed avatars, spatial voice, basic physics,
application sharing and collaboration tools.”

IBM decided to back the OpenSim platform — despite its use of
Microsoft’s C# programming language — because of its community of
developers, Finn said.

“I look forward to seeing the Wonderland community joining the
OpenSimulator project,” he said. “If IBMers can learn C# so can the team
from Wonderland.”

“The community of people working in open source virtual worlds is too
small to be scattered,” said Crista Lopes, OpenSim core developer and a
professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine, in a
comment on the Project Wonderland annoncement. “Consider joining forces,


(GNG is a derecursive recursive derecursion which pwns GNU since it can 
be infinitely looped as GNGNGNGNG...NGNGNG... and can be said backwards 
too, whereas GNU cannot.)

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