One weekend in March 2008, another long-time mentor asked me about what I knew about Open Servers. I told her what I knew: "that's the open-source version of a SL Simulator, isn't it?" I had exhausted my considerable knowledge right there.
I immediately began an exhaustive search on the subject, but alas, could only come up with Press Releases from Linden Lab about them turning over Server Code to Open Source in May 2008. It turns out, I was looking for the wrong name. 'OpenSim' was the correct name for the readily-available, open source project separate from Linden Lab. I went to their wiki website, downloaded the binaries, unzipped to my PC, and fired it up.
As I find the time to document my steps (because the next several hours weren't so easy), I will do so. In the meanwhile, take a look at some of the screen caps.
All images below are 1280 x 800 pixels, but have been "shrunk" to better fit the page. To view the full image, click the image on the screen and click it once more on the next screen.
Does this look vaguely like someone we know? I was able to create a new skin, upload tatoos for it, create a new shape, and fashion myself a "Girl Next Door" hair. Unfortunately, among many of the most-wanted things, OpenSim in my configuration doesn't support rezzing attachments yet. Also, check out the Menu Bar (where it says, FILE EDIT VIEW WORLD, etc.) The bar is green because I've invoked GOD MODE. One of the GOD MODE tool windows is visible on this screen.
OpenSim has a command to create more accounts. Creating more users with a last name of "User" creates more Ruths. But a funny thing happens when you create an account that ends in "Linden..." Also, take a look at more God-Mode screens.
Here I am and there I am. In the end, I was able to connect 3 clients, but I'm sure it'll handle more - since this server is on a wireless connection, I didn't want to push it. I'm able to create objects in-world, and upload textures for them as you see.
The land is flat and barren, only because I made it that way. By default, we start out in a craggy, underwater sim. For a while, I terraformed little islands so I had a place to stand on, but I kept sliding off. I am learning that the Physics engine plays a large part in how an avatar stands on land (if not EVERYTHING!) Changing the physics engine allowed me to stand better, but I still look funny when I sit (more later).