|The IT Magazine Information Week is running an article on Linden Lab's decision to use open-source software to power its growing persistent world, Second Life. A good read if you're interested in the kind of infrastructure required to run an MMO.
It takes a lot of horsepower to create the 3-D virtual world known as Second Life, where users can build digital avatars to their likenesses, participate in a virtual economy that lets them purchase real estate and construct buildings, and fly through pixelated blue skies over a 100-square-kilometer computer-generated campus. In the past, the sticker shock of buying and managing the 1,400 CPUs and associated software needed to power this rapidly expanding massive multiplayer online game would have been enough to curb the enthusiasm of even the best-funded startup.
So it's not surprising that creator Linden Lab has turned to open-source software to power the IT engine that keeps Second Life alive. The sheer amount of processing power--the number of CPUs grows as much as 10% monthly--made Linux the obvious choice to run Linden Lab's servers. The company also chose to store the avatars that its nearly 60,000 users have created in a file system front-ended by the open-source Apache Web server, while the open-source Squid Web proxy cache keeps the data conveniently nearby. Metadata about the avatars is stored in an open-source MySQL database.