SL/OpenSim Newbie Glossary

Hey  there! Welcome to virtualchristines Second Life/OpenSim Newbie Glossary!” What the heck is she blathering about now ?” you very reasonably ask. Well, I did quite a bit of reading this summer on Second Life/OpenSim creation and scripting, and at a certain point I realized I needed to to try and keep better track of  the different terms I was coming across.  Then it occurred to me, why not make my list a part of my blog! I hope we all  find this glossary helpful,  and please remember, it  is a work in progress. By the by, OpenSim and Second Life tend to share the same vocabulary, but if a term applies to only one, I will tell you. And thanks to Maria Korolov,  editor in chief of Hypergrid Business, for the additional info on OpenSim!


ABANDONED LAND- Land in Second Life that the owner has simply walked away from, often leaving everything behind. Maria says “Abandoned land can certainly exist in OpenSim. Many OpenSim grids are run on the Second Life model — they’re closed (no hypergrid), and the grid owners rent land to residents. If residents walk away from the land, grid owners can close it down, or leave it up. Leaving it up inflates the grid statistics — but is also a drain on the servers.”

ADITI-Hindu Mother Goddess, name of the Second Life Beta , or Preview Grid. Usually open to the public. See my Beta Grid  Post!

ADULT- While in SL the word usually implies commercial sexual content, on the largely non commercial hypergrid it can just mean people want you to be over 18 in real life if you are going to come on thier region for a broad spectrum of reasons; from the occasional feminist erotic poetry reading, to just not wanting to babysit other people’s children.

AFK- away from keyboard.

AGEPLAY- having a prepubescent avatar. A tricky business, as any sexual contact involving a child avatar, even having them in the same room as a bed with an adult poseball, can get you locked up for child pornography in most countries. Because of this, child avatars are sometimes banned from public areas on the hypergrid, and many individual region owners do not allow them. There was a huge controversy when the OS Grid banned child avatars completely, one senior member calling people who used them “sick”. That he was talking to the owner of a Harry Potter themed region at the time, illustrated a very valid point: the presence of child avatars is predominantly valid. Children are an essential part of the human condition, and very few realities can be portrayed without them. Some people, such as the famous creator Arcadia Asylum, even choose child avatars as a statement that they do NOT engage in virtual sex.


AGNI- The Hindu God of fire, and the name of the Second Life Main Grid. See my Beta Grid post.

ALPHA- a software industry term for the initial phase of development. Second Life´s Alpha began in March 2002. The first residents were Stellar Sunshine and Paul Zeeman. There was no monetary system, no land ownership, and  was on an entirely different grid from the one used now.

ANTIALIASING- a setting for your graphics that gives you a much sharper picture. See my post.

AURORA SIM- the next evolution of the OpenSimulator project . It says it is “community based” but I can´t work out if it is open source or even free. Here , you work it out.

AUTORETURN- how a landlord can automatically  sends things back to a visitors  inventory, to keep her prim count  down, and her land uncluttered. It doesn’t mean you are in trouble or anything. It´s sort of good, if you lose something, normally, somebody´s autoreturn will send it back to you.  Maria says auto return exists on OpenSim.

AVATAR-  the hindu concept of the earthly embodiment of a diety, became your personal manifestation within Second Life/ OpenSim Worlds.


BETA – a software industry term for a second, pre release stage of development that usually involves testing by users. In standard corporate structures they tend to have”closed beta” where beta testers( that’s really what they’re called) are hired or invited to troubleshoot the product. In the OpenSource world, beta testing is a freaking global rave.   In Second Life, the year 2003 is often referred to as the Beta phase, as well as the November 2002 period of closed testing. SL  Beta introduced a crude economic system system. The SOFTWARE RELEASE LIFE CYCLE is a big deal in any online environment, and it is worth having a tiny understanding of what the hell the tech heads are talking about.

BETA CONTRIBUTORS- a monument in region Plum, erected by Ryan Linden to the 1500 residents who tested of SL Beta.


BLENDER- free open source software for 3D creation. The learning curve is said to be a bit steep, but the buzz says that Blender is one of the best tools around. The website BLENDER.ORG has the download and LOTS of tutorials, there is tons more info and tutorials scattered all over the web. You can now use Blender for Mesh models.

BOT- short for “robot” and often used to describe anything automated, in virtual worlds bots are automated avatars, most often used  as a greeter. If you come into a sim and see someone just standing there, or sitting behind a desk, walk up to them, they willprobably initiate a conversation, telling you how to activate them, for example by typing welcome bot// and then whatever you want to ask.  They can be very cool; I recently met a bot who answered philosphical questions! If  this piques your interest, here is more BOT info.

BRB- bathroom break, be right back


CAMERA- term used to describe your point of view in relation to your avatar. By default your camera is about three feet  behind and a bit above your avatars head.

CLIENT-the part of Second Life software that is in YOUR computer. You use it to see OpenSim too.

COPYBOT- Big time naughty; a piece of software that was originally intended to create backups in Second Life, the open source version is used to copy content from Second Life without the owners consent, usully for transfer to an OpenSim world. More info here.

COSPLAY-  costume play, a Japanese trend/subculture where young people dress up as their favorite manga characters for role play, socializing, and events, such as Comikons etc. There are Tokyo cafes and nightclubs that cater to Cosplayers, and although the role play isn´t necessarily sexual, gender bending is common.Outside Japan, Western Sci Fi and Fantasy fans who dress as their favorite characters are also considered Cosplayers, and it has become a popular pastime  in SL.


DOWNLOAD- Loading software from a larger , main computer to a smaller one, usually via the internet. You can download viewers, the OpenSim software itself if you know what you are doing, and many websites offer  free downloads for OpenSim that include everything from furnished regions, to flowers and clothes. Run a search on Downloads, OpenSim , and see what happens.


ESTATE-  a term that refers to one or more Private Regions owned by an individual or group. The regions in the Estate normally have the same ban lists, sun settings, and estate manager. They will also share rules and guidelines as defined by the owners. Maria says OpenSim Grids can have estates, some even have landbarons, just like SL.

EVENT- in Linden Scripting Language, or LSL, an event, sometimes referred to as a trigger, is when something happens. LSL is an event driven programming language, and all scripts revolve around some kind of trigger or event from outside or within the script that kicks its program into action.


FREE METAVERSE- a term often applied to the OpenSim platform, which is non profit and has no central authority running things. see metaverse.

FULL PERM-is a permission. It means you can copy,( you can rez endless copies, and there is always a copy in your inventory, ) modify( take it apart, change textures, light it up etc.) and transfer (gift idea!)  an object.  In many SL shops there are more expensive, FULL PERM versions of various objects. One more thing; permissions can take on a life of thier own in the free metaverse, for example; the grid owner tweaks something in the code and BANG everything goes full perm. When in doubt, ASK before you take something big and shiny in OpenSim!!!!!

FURRIES-a virtual subculture that used animal shaped avatars and human clothing to create characters usually that walk upright and use human speech, while retaining some animal traits. In real life there is “Furry Fandom”, a sci fi fantasy fan base that appreciates mammalian anthromorphic characters. They have conventions, publish magazines and comics, the whole sci fi nerd thing. ( I´m a lifelong Trekkie, so I can say nerd)



GOVENOR LINDEN- is an NPC(Non Playing Character, a term from the role playing game Dungeons and Dragons, that refers to characters that are controlled by the game creator, or dungeon master) Linden, that is used by many different Lindens, often to hold land or ownership of builds. Only SL.

GRID- the collection of servers, or software hosting computers ( in SL that means Linden Lab computers, in OpenSim it can mean private server companies, university computers, or some dude´s  laptop) which, when networked together,  make the virtual world. In addition to the Second Life Main Grid, there are several grids for internal and external testing. Some are open to the public. See Preview Grids. there is no intergrid travel on SL grids. No one seems to be sure if the number of Grids running on the OpenSim platform are in the hundreds or thousands.

GRIEFER- Griefing is a broad term used in most online multi player environments, covering everything from theft, spamming,and physical harassment, to acting out of character in a defined role play setting. It means jerk.


HETEROCERA ATOLL-SL´s second mainland continent , discovered by Magellan Linden, land of aboriginal moth worshippers; created pre teleportation and locomotion crazy . An engaging, friendly place. See my Heterocera post!

HAVOK- developed by a company outside Linden Lab, HAVOK is the software that runs all of Second Life  physics engines. The current version running the Main Grid is, I think #6,  the newer version is  doing a test run  on the Beta Grid.

HOMESTEAD- a small piece of land  usually intended to give one the feel for land ownership. A homestead is about a quarter of a parcel, which is a quarter of a region, which is a part of an estate.

HUD- is a Heads Up Display, an attachment worn by your avatar, whose display visible only to you. They can have any number of functions, some tell you if there are other avatars around, many inworld games have HUDS that tell you your score etc.

HYPERGATES- hypergrid teleportation portals that come in all shapes and sizes, from the big Stargate look alikes to, smaller stone arc blam gates, to Hyperica gates pretty blue bowls,  some offer you a menu, some interface with your world map, some you walk into until you teleport. People are coming up with new ones all the time, so as a rule, on OpenSim, one shouldn´t walk through any sort of arch or doorway that shimmers slightly inside without landmarking first.

HYPERGRD- the amped up teleportation system that can  connect grids/worlds on the OpenSim platform. If you are unclear as to the difference between a grid and a region, please see this glossary and my posts.



INDRA- the Hindu lord of heaven, and the internal code name for ALL the SL software; from the Linden lab server, to your computers viewer

INFOHUBS-owned by Linden Lab, built and run by landowning SL members Infohubs , also known as Welcome Areas, are places for all residents old and new to congregate and socialize. There is usually information kiosks, useful  landmarks, maybe some adversising. Be sure the Infohub box is checked on your world map, it is at the top of the page in the Legend section. Then infohubs will show on your map as a tiny blue circle with an “i” in the center. If you have questions about something in a region, the local infohub is a good place to go. It´s coolest feature is that an Infohub one of the only place a non landowning SL resident can set as a  home location.( although some rentals allow it.) So pick one out you like! SL WIKI: INFOHUB has a list and more info!


JEOGEOT- the Korean word for “that over there, far away from you” is the name of Second Life´s third mainland continent. The  name was Linden Labs attempt to lure a computer savvy Korean consumer base to SL; but,  as global phenomenon Facebook and Twitter later discovered, Korea is a tough room. All three closed opening night. See my Jeogeot post.

JUMP-  a hypergrid teleport is often referred to as a jump


KITELY- the largest commercial grid ever to join the hypergrid Kitely now compromises half of the hypergrid landmass. They also pioneered  a non exportability option, and founded the Kitely market, kind of an for virtuality. See my Kitely posts for more details.


LINDEN- the inworld surname given only to Linden Lab employees, characters and NPC avatars. If you don´t work for Linden Labs, you can´t call yourself Linden.

LINDEN LAB- a privately held San Francisco based company founded by Philip Rosendale in 1999, maker of Second Life, the leading virtual 3D world.

LOD- Level of Detail; a characteristic where objects lose detail from a distance.

LSL-Linden Scripting Language. Used in OpenSim too!


MEGA PRIM- created by infamous SL hacker PLASTIC  DUCK aka GENE  REPLACEMENT, who hacked his SL viewer, and managed to create prims over the 10 meter Linden Lab limit. Linden Lab plugged the chink in the viewer´s armor, but the Mega Prims(or Huge Prims) were already finding thier way to every corner of Second Life.Thousands and thousands of them. They are not illegal to own, they are a common building freebie, lots of fun to fool around with, although some sandboxes and landlords don´t allow them. SL WIKI MEGA PRIM will give you more details. Maria says  there are Mega primsin OpenSim, because you can make objects as big as you want there. Well, 265x265x265. Pretty big.

MESH- “The capability to bring polygonal  models created with external applications(such as Blender) into Second Life.  Mesh creations are potentially more visually engaging and more efficient, as the  method of calculating an effective  Mesh prim count measures the relative impact the object will have on performance of the region.” I don´t totally understand that either, but it seems to me it means our virtual ride  is about to get ALOT smoother.

MAINLAND-  SL term: the largest non- island linked simulators, also referred to as continents, or mainland continents. Mainland regions  have a unique identity code that is owned by Governor Linden. The term ” mainland” is used only for cultural familiarity like Africa or Asia in the real world, and will bring up exactly NOTHING on an inworld search.

MANUEL JUMP- an OpenSim term that refers to a hypergrid teleport that is accomplished by pasting or typing a hypergrid address into the world map search engine.

METAVERSE- a term coined in Neil Stephenson´s 1992 Sci Fi  novel SNOWCRASH, where human avatars interact with each other and software agents in a computer generated worl,that had evolved from the internet. “Meta” means beyond and “verse” refers to the word universe.  Today the word ” is commonly used to describe our collectively shared online space, created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical reality and  physically persistent  virtual space, including the sum of all virtual worlds, augmented reality, and the internet.” How cool is that?

MICRO AVATARS – I have personally never seen one, but these ankle high avatars are the latest thing. They have micro clothes houses vehicles etc. They tend to be furry little animals or fairies.


NAUTILUS- SL´s fourth mainland continent, an archipelago consisting largely beach communities,marinas and airports; home of Nautilus City, a large southerly  island based on Plato´s Atlantis. See my Nautilus post.

NEKO- Japanese for cat, Neko is a popular form of Cosplay in the real and virtual worlds. Although their shape remains essentially human, Neko Cosplayers have fur patterned skin, cat ears , tails, you get the idea.


OBJECT- a prim, or linked collection of prims.

OPEN GRID PROJECT- here is the OPEN GRID WIKI, if your interested, but in a nutshell, this project is about SL residents being able to teleport between different virtual environments. Several “Gridnauts” have already been successfully teleported to Open Sim, but Linden Lab’s interest seems to have waned. There is no more talk of SL joining the free mataverse.

OMC- Open Metaverse Currency, a virtual currency used by about 30 Grids(according to Maria), bought and sold on the Virvox exchange, it can be exchanged into most real world currencies, and linden dollars. OMC is hypergrid enabled, so you can shop anywhere you can travel with the same avatar!

OPEN SOURCE-open sourcing something, is essentially removing the copyright from it, allowing anyone to alter whatever it is at will. Anything , from medicines to literature can be open sourced, but it´s most well known application is probably in computer software. The OpenSim project is a direct result of Linden Labs Open Sourcing it´s viewer. The term “Open Source”  was coined in 1998 when the OPEN SOURCE INITIATIVE was founded. The OSI movement has strong roots in the free software and hacker community, and I often get the impression, that a companies decision to go open source is really just bowing to the inevitable. Instead of spending a fortune in what is probably a doomed attempt protecting your copyrighted  material, why not just let everyone have a go at it, at no cost to them or you, and build off the results?

OPENSIM- the OpenSimulator project is a software platform that hosts hundreds of  individually owned and operated Grids.  OpenSim is an  OPEN SOURCE project,  meaning that it is more of a cooperative, with anyone contributing to and messing with the codes. Although the creation of the project  stems directly from Linden Labs making it´s Grid viewer open source, Linden Lab and OpenSim are completely separate. OpenSim is non profit;. there is a board of trustees and no CEO. The software is free for anyone to download. A great many educational institutions and disgruntled SL residents have packed up and gone to Open Sim as Linden Lab continues to jack up fees and reduce resident participation in decision making. There is an experimental program to allow residents to teleport between the Open Sim and Second Life grids. See Open  Grid Project.

OSCAR LINDEN- Moderator of the weekly Server BETA QA meeting. It is open to the public, and held on whatever region is up and running  in th ever wacky Beta test grid. For the date, time and location of the next meeting go to SL WIKI SERVER BETA USER GROUP

OS GRID- the biggest public Grid on the OpenSim platform, with about 11, 900 regions


PARCEL- an area on grid that is about one quarter of a region. Parcels may be divided up into several homesteads.

PHYSICS ENGINE- the part of the computer network that is the grid that regulates the physical virtual world- you know, stuff like gravity.

PLASTIC DUCK- one of the most famous and notorious Second Life residents, creator of the Mega Prim, hacker, “Griefer Lord” and allegedly the first  grid crasher. Was publically thrown out of Second Life for the latter. He returned  as the “reformed” GENE REPLACEMENT, his now legendary horned Plastic Duck avatar is a popular freebie and symbol among SL´s rebel without a clue element.

PREVIEW GRID- officially named “Aditi” after the Hindu mother Goddess, sometimes called the “Beta ” grid, the Preview Grid is completely separate from the Second Life Main Grid. It is used by Linden Labs for testing, and  is open to the public. For more information see SL Wiki- Preview Grid.

PRIM-short for “primitive”, prims are the building blocks of virtual environments. Everything you see in SL and OpenSim is made up of prims. You can create them with the BUILD function in your browser. The prim default form is a box with a plywood texture,but if you click the little wand button on your build menu you will be offered several shapes to chose from. You can twist, cut and turn them inside out with your build program.  The official Linden Lab line is that prims consume SIGNIFIGANT computer resources. A region can hold about 15,000 at any given time; landlords pay Linden Labs for their prim allowance,so if you rent, and go over your allowance,  beware; your landlords will absolutely react. If you are just visiting and try to rez anything in an area with a no rezz symbol in the address bar on you browser, you will get a reaction too. Prims are the building blocks of OpenSim as well, but in a non profit environment, prim allowances tend to be a whole lot more relaxed. I pay slightly more for an entire region on an OpenSim grid, than I would for a  tiny 200 prim sky box in Second Life, and I have a prim allowance in the thousands. And thousands.


QUATERNION- a mid 19th century mathematical concept that is now Linden Scripting Language math speak for” rotation”. Here is the SL WIKI: QUATERNION. Go ahead. Knock yourself out.


REZ or REZZ-  to create an object or make it appear. The term is originally from the sci fi  film Tron.

REGION- an area on a grid that is usually made up of several smaller parcels. Several regions are usually referred to as an estate. Regions are also sometimes refered to as sims.

RL-real life.


SANSARA- the first continent created in Second Life. See my Sansara post.

SANDBOX- an area  where you can mess with your builds, or unpack your new freebies; be sure to check the symbol list next to the address or look for posted signs. Most sandboxes have rules, such as no scripting, nudity or  combat. Many also tell you how long you have before auto return kicks in. Remember, be nice and take your stuff with you when you leave!!!

SCRIPT-“A script is an asset, much like a notecard or any other inventory item. When it is placed in a prim, one of the building blocks of all simulated physical objects,it can control the prims behavior, appearance and relationship with other prims it is linked with, allowing it to move; change shape;color;or texture; or interact with the world.”- Dr. Karen Zita Haigh,(resident name Karita Zabaleta), co author of  the official guide to second life scripting; SCRIPTING YOUR WORLD, who has a Ph.D in computer science and builds robot brains.

SERVER- where stuff is on the internet. Whether you have an item on ebay , a Facebook page, an online email account or a region in Second Life, you have to log in to use these things. Why? Because your account is in Ebays, Facebooks, Yahoo mail or Linden Labs  really massive computer, or server. With OpenSim software, YOUR dinky little laptop can be the server for a grid that is connected, via the hypergrid, to hundreds of other grids. Some people set up extra personal computers in their basements or garages if they want big grids with lots of stuff in them; a huge task and tricky task.  In search of a smoother ride and less aggravation, some grids hire professional servers to house their stuff. Obviously in OpenSim, server quality is a big subject, here is the link to the very understandable and infinitly more well written WIKIPEDIA ON COMPUTING SERVERS

SIM- short for simulator, which can refer to hardware; the physical server machine at Linden Lab or whoever the hell the sever is hosting an OpenSim Grid, simulating one or more regions.  This machine is also called a Sim node, or Sim host. Sim may also refer to software; sim processes running on the sever machine that simulates regions. Accurately, but  in common usage, Sim is often another word for region. The last word from Linden Lab is ” Most accurately, a region is simulated by a sim process running on a sim node.” Whatever.


TORLEY LINDEN- an SL resident like you and me whom Linden Lab appointed the “Resident Enlightenment Manager”. Torley,( who likes to gender bend), blogs, answers questions in the  forums, assists with bug testing, and inworld is distinctly  one of the more accessible, cutting edge, and high profile Lindens. Personally, I always think of him as the  teflon Linden, for no matter how screamingly, eye poppingly furious folks get at Linden Lab, no one ever has a bad thing to say about Torley. See my Linden post.


UNITY-Another grid hosting software that many feel is more flexible, and has better graphics. It doesn´t seem to have a hypergrid community the way OpenSim does, but it does seem to be free.

UUID- an abbreviation for Universally Unique Identifier. It is a  128 bit(16 byte)value which is generated in such a way as to make collisions very unlikely. In LSL they are in the key  variable type. Every object and avatar in a virtual environment has a UUID. They can be divided into four groups 1.Assets, which are handles for anything that can be inventory. 2. Instance UUIDs are assigned to all the prims, including the root prim, every time an object is rezzed. 3.Avatars and groups receive one time Account UUIDs that are  public.4. Parcels and regions have Land UUIDs. SL and OpenSim.


(The)VOID- Any part of  Second Life/ OpenSim that does not have a simulator. It looks like ocean , but cannot be entered. It is literally, what lies beyond the “edge of the world”.

VOID SIMS- also known as Empty Sims, Open Spaces or Ocean Sims, are no build, protected areas, usually ocean, that exist to separate normal sims, yet allow travel. Landowners like to purchase them to isloate their property Unlike Voids, they are a functional part of the SL Grid, but simply have such a low prim count that four of them can run on one simulator.


WELCOME AREA-most OpenSim grids have a common area for visitors and new residents. There are often landmarks, freebies, basic instructions for people completely new to OpenSim, also grid owners or older residents will drop by to answer questions. In my  OpenSim home grid, Craft, the Friendly World, at Hydra Station, there is nearly always a real person available  to help you out.

WINDLIGHT: the name of SL´s atmospheric rendering system. Your browser uses it on OpenSim too. It enhances skies, lighting,  and other such atmospheric environmental graphics. You can jazz up your environment for photos , movies, or just plain fun with hundreds of free additional Windlight settings to your client software! Go to SL WINDLIGHT WIKI for more details.

WORLD- in OpenSim the words world and grid are used interchangably.

WRIGHT, MICHAEL- OpenSim core developer, aka Darren Guard, often referred to as the founder of the OpenSim Project.




ZINDRA- the Second Life Adult Continent. Never been there, as I only have a mature rating. Located  northwest of the mainland continents. Way out west.

3 Responses to SL/OpenSim Newbie Glossary

  1. Christine —

    Some answers to your OpenSim questions:

    Abandoned land can certainly exist in OpenSim. Many OpenSim grids are run on the Second Life model — they’re closed (no hypergrid), and the grid owners rent land to residents. If residents walk away from the land, grid owners can close it down, or leave it up. Leaving it up inflates the grid statistics — but is also a drain on the servers.

    Yes, there are megaprims in OpenSim. They’re enabled by default. You can make objects as big as you want. Well, up to 256x256x256. So… pretty big.

    Yes, you can have estates and autoreturn in OpenSim. Some large commercial grids even have landbarons — just like in Second Life.

    The OMC currency from Virwox is fully convertible to the US dollar and the Euro, and the Linden dollar, and is currently used on over 30 grids. It is hypergrid-enabled — once you register your avatar, you can shop anywhere OMC is accepted with that avatar.

    There are around a hundred public OpenSim grids that I’m tracking. The number of private, school, company, personal and standalone grids could be in the thousands, judging by how many times the mini-grid software has been downloaded. There are a few dozen hosting companies running grids — one of them says it has “hundreds” or private grid clients. So — who knows!

  2. Hey, i always heard BRB was “be right back” not throom break 😉

  3. virtualchristine says:

    Really! I very definitely heard bathroom break! Live and learn! Anyway, for me it is pretty much always a mad dash to the loo!” Nooooooooooo!” And my fifteen year old shouts” Did you make it this time?!” See you out there Marisa

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