Meet the "Man Behind the Curtain" Seth Nygard at #OSFest2022 by Doc Nolan
It's easy to forget that engineers make our virtual world and OSFest happen. Seth Nygard, also known as MDL in Discord, is one of the key ones. "This is the first year I have been directly involved in OS Fest, with my job being in the shadows. I am the one who keeps the hamsters fed and running on their little wheels to power everything," he explains with a grin.
"This Fest mirrors and embodies the spirit behind our OpenSimulator virtual worlds," he says. "OpenSimulator, as an open-source project, is one not belonging to any one person or commercial entity. It provides a foundation, and on that base, our community builds. This Fest is a celebration of that community."
Seth has decades of real-life experience in the technical aspects that underpin our community. He started back in 1978. "I bought my first computer in 1978," he explains, "and I've been involved in computing and electronics ever since. They have been part of my life for over 40 years." Specifically, he has worked in real-time systems for industrial, automotive, and other critical environments. He has worked as a Senior Hardware Designer, Senior Systems Administrator, Engineering Manager, and Chief Technology Officer at various companies. Though described as "a multi-discipline developer," he says more simply, "I am a Jack of All Trades."
What does Seth see as the purpose and meaning of OSFest? "Well, I hope OSFest can help foster more cooperation between the many grids that make up the “Hypergrid”. I see OSFest as a showcase for what OpenSimulator can do in the hands of the many creators. We have, hopefully, set up a grid to help break down at least some barriers that exist – and since this grid will be temporary, everything is to be shut down and destroyed after it is done. Except for the learning and memories that it creates."
Going a bit technical, he explains the challenges of setting up a grid like OSFest required building on his domain knowledge to deploy the grid on a Linux-based server, using custom Docker images. "Using Docker helped to deploy the kind of grid needed for OSFest while leveraging a lot of the work done over the past couple of years," he explained. "We currently run 28 docker containers, facilitating 21 region simulators, 18 of which are part of the public grid."
Asked how this applies to OSFest, Seth replied, "While not wanting to say anything negative, we need to remember that OpenSimulator is very much a work in progress, and despite its long history, it still has many issues and bugs. Region crashes, especially under heavy load, while not as frequent as they once were, can and still do happen on every grid. We have additional administrative tools in place on the OSFest grid to detect a region crash should it happen, where an auto-restart will immediately take place with the region back online typically within ½ to 2 minutes."
Although many may not be aware, a lot of testing has been going on, with adjustments driven by any findings along the way. "I have done a lot of testing myself, but Shelenn (Ayres) has certainly been doing the same. We also continuously monitor how things are running as everyone now builds and sets up their parcels."
Seth explained how he got involved in virtual worlds: "I got started in Second Life in 2008, first just socializing, but quickly moving to building and scripting." He also mentions his work in mesh, using Blender, and forays into animation. "My move to OpenSimulator, sometime around 2012, was for several reasons, a lot to do with having more freedom to explore what I could do. OpenSimulator allowed me to run my own region simulators." Seth's first grid after SL was OSGrid. "After an extended downtime there that spanned several months, I started Refuge Grid, which I ran from 2014 until 2018, so that a few friends and I could have a place to work from. I first met Shelenn before I built Refuge Grid. I think that was in Metropolis grid though I can't recall for sure. When she was approached to handle OSFest this year, she asked me what I thought. And soon, I ended up working with Shelenn, running much of the technical work."
Advice? "I would tell everyone to take the time to explore what people have done. We have a diverse group of exhibitors and merchants who have tried to present their best work."
Regrets? "Only that I don't get enough time in-world, it seems! I am always busy behind the scenes!"