The Second Life Viewer source code has been released under the GNU General Public License, the most well known and widely used Free_software License. Read the press release. I haven’t had a really close look at the code, at a glance it looks like you would have to install some non-free software to build the client or disable the sound. Its tempting to build it but I think I’ll wait a while, someones likely to build an Ubuntu package though I’m not sure they’ll be able to distribute it.
You can download Second Life binaries free of charge and play it online for Mac OSX and windows, the Linux client is still alpha. I’ve used 2 previous versions of the Linux client and they seemed fine so if the thought of compiling source code isnt your thing then download that version.
Second Life (abbreviated SL) is an online virtual world provided by Linden Lab which came to international attention in late 2006 and early 2007. Through a client program, subscription-based users interact with other users through avatars, providing an advanced social network service.
While SL is referred to as a game, it, in general, does not have points, scores, winners or losers, levels, an end-strategy, or most of the other characteristics of games. Users, who are often called “Residents” amongst themselves, explore, meet other users, participate in individual and group activities or “events”, buy items, virtual property and services from one another. Long-term users learn new skills and mature socially, climbing a virtual hierarchy.
In Second Life, some people earn a living, some big companies have their own islands and hold global conferences, you can wander around and run into well known celebrities and Harvard Law School offers portions of its course in the virtual world. Read the Second_Life article on Wikipedia for more information and statistics.
There’s been a lot of discussion about the use of virtual environments in education some of them use dungeons and dragons escapist fantasy MMORPG’s, Second Life is better than that, rather then assembling your gang of undead necromancers and troll warriors to go slay the elf godess for her +50 charisma breastplate and hoard it from your guild members, you do cool stuff like create things and add value to the world.
For people that follow Planet TALO you will have seen that Jokay has been actively exploring the use of Second Life in education for quite some time now so make sure you visit her blog and check out her research. She’s developed some really interesting activities and built up an area for training.