Friday, August 27, 2010

Emergence Viewer

Written 27 August, 2010

Emergence Viewer

Yesterday I discovered the new Second Life viewer Emergence.

Emergence is essentially Emerald, with malicious code removed. It's provided by LordGregGreg Back, who bailed from ModularSystems in mid-August because he was concerned about the behavior of some other Emerald developers, who had inserted code in the Emerald viewer that was unreadable by other developers.

Here's what LordGregGreg said in his blog post of the 14th:
Unfortunately, I do not feel confident enough to support it any more, for a number of reasons. I did not realize at the time that emkdu was added, that it could be used to add in code I was not able to see. These things were done behind my back, it was found out by others that code was placed in that broadcasted your viewers title bar and executable path in a obfuscated manner. This was addressed, promised to be fixed, and (luckily) people broke through the now encrypted layer to find out that it was not. Of-course, it has been promised to be fixed a third time, but now with an encryption level too high to be broken. Although replacing or deleting emkdu would resolve this issue, I also have to consider that this was hidden in the code for months without anyone knowing..
Regardless of the intentions of those who placed this code there, It has made one thing inescapably clear. I am not able to double check everything any more. I tried to find a solution to resolve this matter, but it appears that most people do not care about this to the level that I do. I made sure the other emerald devs were aware of what is going on via this. As mentioned there, closed source, hidden designs and single developer licenses have no place in emerald. People can make mistakes, but it is important that others can double check without having to break through encryption. Nothing has changed however. This issue of being able to transparently check up on everyone is only to get worse in my opinion, as all new builds are planned to be done from a central build server, where access is cut off from the other developers. I consider trust issues with any binary of the highest importance, as even small library like this can have access to every file or memory on the computer, the same care must be taken with them as everything else.
With his Emergence viewer, Greg has removed the binaries that were closed to him and replaced them with binaries from Linden Lab or other trusted sources. So it sounds good to me.

Yesterday I downloaded Emergence here and installed and ran it.

One day in, I've set it to my liking and it's running fine. It is in essence Emerald; the only difference I see is songs that are played on the radio have their titles and artist displayed on the chat line as they come up.

Emergence comes with login and logout and teleport screens disabled, so one sees a black page as it loads. It comes with a variety of skins, with a non-standard skin installed. All of these can be changed from Preferences.

LordGregGreg says he doesn't intend to update the viewer, but until Emerald gets its act together, it's a great substitute.


Solo Mornington said...

Why wait for anyone to get their act together? Just use Imprudence. :-)

Miyo Darcy said...

I thought ry out this viewer too. But now I installed the Emerald Beta Build (Emerald_Viewer_1.5.0.2573).

Peoples said its clean now. Dunno. I believe it because Im just happy to be back to Emerald. :D

I did use Imprudance last Week and did miss several Features.

Hope my Beta 2573 Viewer is really clean now. :)

Greetings from Miyo to Chey

Mairenn said...

I cannot get it to run and the wiki page with the issue reported isn't there anymore. Too bad, I hate 2.0, I so wanted a different viewer.

Cheyenne Palisades said...

Solo, because I like Emerald's stability and features.

Mairenn, I just checked, and it seems to be up. I selected Emergence Viewer.exe from the right hand column and it came right up. Here's the direct link to the download.

Mairenn said...

It downloads and installs fine, the app won't run. It sites settings issues...except it won't start up to check the settings. I don't know what settings on my computer would interfere.

Cheyenne Palisades said...

Oh, that's way above my pay grade, Mairenn.