Yesterday, the latest release candidate build of the Snowglobe viewer was released with relatively little fanfare. But for Second Life residents who use Linux as their operating system of choice, yesterday marked the arrival of a feature long desired: the ability to stream an open source audio format(Ogg Vorbis) within the virtual world.
The crapiness of FMOD and the awesomeness of LLMedia
Ever since the Second Life viewer had the ability to stream music, it did so through an audio library known as FMOD. FMOD was great for streaming MP3 music, but wound up crashing the viewer when attempting to stream Ogg Vorbis. Yet according to FMOD's product description page, Ogg Vorbis is supposedly supported. This situation prompted a JIRA bug to be filed, where it never got fixed at all, despite Tofu's insistence that OpenAL fixed it. For over two years, nothing. Then hope came with the coming of the LLMedia API: a media-rendering plugin system for the viewer. Initially, LLMedia was built for Windows and Mac viewers, but as of yesterday it finally hit Linux, and it works pretty damn well.
Testing it out
Testing it out is pretty easy if you own a plot of land in-world(alternatively you could try it with your own local OpenSim installation): just grab the RC, set the audio stream in-world as you would normally do, but be aware that parcel audio settings now have their own tab in the "About Land" window. Then just hit the play button on your viewer HUD.
There is a spot of bad news, though. While Ogg Vorbis streams wonderfully without any extra plugins, Theora video does not(perhaps a Theora plugin may come out soon). Plus, rendering web pages on prims uses qtwebkit now instead of Mozilla, so depending on your Linux distribution you may need to install qtwebkit via package manager.
All in all, this is a greatly welcome development for Linux-using residents. Bravo, Linden Lab!
Update: Oh, I forgot to mention that Snowglobe also has built-in text chat translation(no more language HUDs!) and Open Grid Protocol login support.