Tired of those beautiful, photo-realistic sunsets? That new-fangled Windlight rendering engine slow your compy to a crawl? Want to relive the good old days, back when voice chat was new and strange, and Linden Lab even bothered to pretend to communicate with its customers?
Well now you can!
… Actually, you’ve been able to do so for a long, long time — ever since the Día de Liberación back in summer 2007. One of the benefits of “message liberation” was that you wouldn’t need to download a new SL viewer just because they made some server changes; old viewers would continue to work with new sims.
And in fact, that has held true, even to today. The only thing stopping you from using a 1.18-series (pre-Windlight) viewer is that annoying “You must download the latest version to continue” message, which is easily bypassed with a trick I’ll describe below.
But what of that mandatory security update in early October? Or the security update and protocol switch from UDP to HTTPS less than two weeks before that? Wouldn’t those issues prevent old viewers from connecting?
Apparently not. As of this writing, even 1.19 and 1.18 viewers (but not 1.17 or other older, “unliberated” viewers) can connect to SL with nary a hitch, though they’re probably still susceptible to the security issues mentioned above. As usual, the purportedly required updates are, in fact, not.
So, what is this trick, this secret knowledge needed to bypass the download prompt and log in with older viewers? Change the channel. It’s an old trick, though there was some concern that it wouldn’t work anymore since the change to HTTPS. Fortunately, those concerns have not come to pass, and the SL servers seem perfectly happy to use UDP with older viewers.
Changing the channel is easy. The viewer application takes a parameter, “–channel CHANNEL”, which sets the channel to use. The process for giving that parameter varies between operating systems. The processes are described on the SL wiki, but I’ve included a brief overview below.
- Windows: Create a shortcut to the older SecondLife.exe. Open up the shortcut’s properties (right click > Properties) and edit the shortcut path.
SecondLife.exebut before the closing quotation mark
- Mac: Open up the terminal and run these two commands (adjust the first path if your Second Life app isn’t in Applications):
cd "/Applications/Second Life.app/" echo "--channel Happydays" >> Contents/Resources/arguments.txt
(Mac users, leave a comment if the above solution didn’t work for you. I don’t have a Mac handy to test it!)
- Linux: Run the viewer as:
secondlife --channel Happydays
You should now be able to log in to SL with your retro viewer version. Enjoy, good night, and good luck!
P.S. Don’t have the installer for the old viewer laying around? No worries, they’re still available for download. Mad props to McCabe Maxsted for putting that wiki page together!