Setting up a Simple Open Sim Sandbox on your hard drive

This is an edited repost from last August.

Most people that play Second Life, run into this problem eventually: You want to build stuff, and cant afford a lot of land, so you go to a sand box region, and when you go, its laggy and overcrowded.

Why is it even necessary to build stuff in world anyways? We can make our own textures and animations offline using other programs then import them into SL. Why cant be build objects in a third party program and import them?

There is a solution with OpenSim. You can create a free, lag free personal sandbox island on your own computer and build what you want.

I heard horror stories about setting up an Open Sim server of my own. Unfortunately, instructions to set it up are often overly technical and have the format “if you want to do this, then A, but if you want to do that then B.” A lot of tutorials want you to compile the latest source and set up another database, none of which are really necessary.

All I want to do is set up an Open Sim sandbox on my own hard drive. I’m not looking to connect it to a grid, or invite my friends to connect to it. I just want a free place to play and experiment. How difficult is that?

Its not difficult at all. Here is the process for Windows PC’s in four easy steps:

Note: If you already  have an earlier Open Sim set up, back up your build in an OAR file, and your inventory in an IAR file, so you can reload them later, then completely erase the old files before beginning.

Step 1: Download and unzip the latest Open Sim build. They now have a zip file for PC’s that makes loading Open Sim on your hard drive really easy.  You just need to know where you want to unzip it to.

The download page is here.  The file you want for the PC is

Step 2 : Open the directory you installed the program to, and find “opensim.exe” if you have a 32 bit version of windows, or “opensim.32bitlaunch.exe” if you are running a 64 bit version. Right Click and “create a shortcut” and move it to your desktop. (Vista and 7 users only: Right click on the shortcut you just created and go to Properties, then the “Advanced…” button, and check “Run as Administrator”). This is needed to get all the permissions right. Every time you launch the shortcut you may also be asked to “allow” the program to run. Its a very minor inconvenience.

Step 3: Run Opensim for the first time. The scary part is that it will look like a DOS command prompt which you may not be used to. Don’t worry its easy. It will ask you to fill out a bunch of initial settings. You need to make up a first name, a last name, a password, and a server name. The rest of the settings you can just press enter to use defaults.

Step 4: Right click on your Second Life shortcut, and create another shortcut. Right click on this new shortcut, rename it to whatever you want, maybe something clever like “Local Life”. then in the “Target” section add the following info the the end of whatever is there already:

-loginuri -login firstname lastname password

The last three things should of course be whatever you made up in step 3. Launch shortcut!

OR Step 4: Launch the Hippo Viewer (downloadable here) and put your name and password in, then select “local” on Quick Grid Select and sign in. If you plan to do some building, this is better as the Second Life client does not support building with prims bigger than 10 meters on any side.

The first time on you will probably see a puff of smoke on top of a small round dome shaped island. Going into inventory under Body Parts you can create then wear a new shape and new skin. If you still see a puff of smoke press ctrl+shift+R to rebake your texture.

Note some third party viewers do not work in Open Sim, especially the Emerald Viewer.  This may change in the future, but for now stick with the Second Life client or the Hippo Viewer client.

There you are on your new island. There are no shops to buy stuff and you will have to load all your own textures, build your own stuff, and basically start from scratch. But at least there will be no lag. For help you may want to consult the opensim wiki page.

Free Content

If you feel lonely stuck on this tiny atoll with nothing visible in any direction. I found the following free content you can download and load to your private server.

Here is a decent OAR file you can download (read the thread for details).  If you do not know how to import OAR files to your private server, read this page.  It will create a city in the clouds high above your head along with teleporters on the ground so you can easily reach it.  You can edit to your hearts content.

Here is a decent collection of freebies in an IAR file you can download into your inventory. If you do not know how to import IAR files to your private server, read this page.  This should give you a decent collection of props (including trees, campfires, etc) to make your island less barren.

Moving Content from Second Life to Open Sim Using Hippo Viewer

You say you have too much invested in SL to move over to OS?  There is a simple and free way to move your own prim based content, and full perm content from SL to OS without getting a paid program like Second Inventory. This also works with the Meerkat viewer for Macintosh computers.

1. Go to SL and select the object in world. Right click and select “more” then “more” again, then “Export”. Save item as an XML file on your hard drive.

2. Quit Hippo and go to an Open Sim grid of your choice. Click “File” then “Import” then “Upload Textures + Import”, then select the XML file you saved. Instantly the object appears in front of you.

If you can find some nice full perm prim hair or prim shoes in SL to export, you can look stylish in OpenSim. Demo Video.

Have Fun!

I may eventually write about upgrading the database on your home grid and connecting your build to the OS Grid, but these are more complicated, and I have not even figured them all out myself yet.

For now I have a sandbox to play in and build stuff… FREE!


  • Heyy, i went through all your steps up until the part where you run open sim for the first time, and i got an error message just seconds after the dos box started to run, and it said, “Open Sim has stopped working. A Problem caused the program to stop working correctly. Windows will close the program and notify you if a solution is available” lol, of course, windows has yet to notify me of a solution! anyway, i have that horrible Vista 64 bit, and its a brand new computer, and i have tried so many times, and i finally found your site here that explains how to do it all nicely, probably the best explanation i have been able to find so far, lol, but i still run into a brick wall. 😦 any idea why this happened with the dos box stopped working like this after a few seconds? also, when i went into the latest download and looked into the opensim.ini.example, it appears they may have already inserted and taken out the semicolons you have suggested to insert and take out, yayyy! but if you can help me with my problem here, i will say yayyyy even louder thanks to you! 🙂 cheers!

  • Heyy, again, i found that since i have vista 64 bit, i had to execute the file in the program called ‘OpenSim.32Bitlaunch’, the one that says application, instead of the ‘OpenSim.exe’, that finally worked! Yayyy

  • Can i import my inventory from the online SL into the offline OpenSim SL…? IF so, then how?

    Also, I don’t seem to have anything in my Body Parts folder. Am I missing something? (I am very new to SL, much less this stuff)

    Is there an easy way to flatten out that dome of land into something useble, say, a perfectly smooth, flat surface at sea level…? I tried to flatten it down and wound up standing at the bottom of the ocean amid giant spikes of land that stretched far into the skies…there mush me something a little easier….thanks

    BTW your instructions above are excellent, I was able to do what you said on the first try!

  • Hey, can this be done with the Emerald Viewer as well? I tried doing it using the same instructions as above, but got an error when I tried to run it.

  • Hi, disregard my last, I finally noticed that I missed typing the first hyphen. I’m up and running in Emerald/Opensim.

  • I followed the steps. What are we supposed to put where it says the name of the region followed by a # ?

  • I just wanted to say thanks for the instructions!
    And Cindy – When you see the region followed by a #, try entering login enable. I had to do that in order to successfully login using the Phoenix Viewer. (or you can use the hippo viewer as suggested above). Prior to entering login enable, I kept getting error messages when trying to access the local grid.

  • Reblogged this on Welcome to Mia Jonita, SLE, and Depts, and commented:
    my fav. reference of the OS community.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.