Starting on July 9 1) or some time after, you'll be seeing avatars unrezzed, and they'll be seeing you unrezzed, if you are on Phoenix. This will take place on a small number of regions at first, but eventually it will occur on the entire grid. Jump down to what to do about it if you like or read about it in more detail in “The Longer Version” here.
So have you ever experienced a bake fail? You know, where your avatar looks grey or cloudy, possibly just to other people (or possibly just to you)? It can also be when you look fine to yourself but others see you wearing yesterday's clothing or a bizarre mix of outfits… or sometimes naked.
For the past year or so, Linden Lab has been working on a new system for sending avatar appearance info from resident to resident. The plan is that if all goes well, this new system will reduce the frequency of bake fail and make avatars rez faster to one another. The completion of this plan, known as Server-Side Appearance or sometimes “Project Sunshine,” is almost here!
The downside of the plan is that it has both a “server-side” component – the part Linden Lab puts into operation through a server update during those rolling restart days we all love – and a “viewer side” component – which means it won't work on viewers that haven't been updated to work with it. A number of viewers, including Firestorm, have recently been updated so that whenever Linden Lab decides to roll out the server-side component our users will be ready.
However, Phoenix has not received such an update, and it's not going to.
This should not be surprising. After all, Phoenix has not been updated since 2011, and it has not been officially supported since 2012. Nonetheless, it has worked fairly well for many people, and we realize that change can be annoying, frustrating, and hard, so it's also not surprising that a lot of users have continued to prefer it as their main or sole viewer.
Unfortunately, the days of it working fairly well are going to come to an end on July 9 or some time after 2). This is the target date for Linden Lab to begin doing that server-side rollout for Server-Side Appearance. They'll start with a few regions at first and then, if nothing goes kaboom, release the server version across the grid. If you are still on Phoenix when they do so, then here is what preliminary tests have suggested you can expect on regions with Server-Side Appearance support:
All of this means that this big, huge fix that Linden Lab is putting in place to reduce the frequency of bake fails will, ironically, put you in a state of permanent and near-unfixable bake fail. Want to fix it? There's only one way:
You will need to be on a viewer that supports Server-Side Appearance. We have a personal preference for Firestorm, but you actually have a range of options. Phoenix just isn't one of them.
“But what if I can't update to one of those fancy-schmancy newfangled contraptions?” we hear you cry – or if not you, then someone else said it, because we definitely heard it come from somewhere. Well, first take a look at the Second Life system requirements to make certain you actually can't. These requirements don't guarantee a flawless, lag-free, sparkly SL experience, but they do indicate that if your computer makes the cut, then there's nothing built into the viewers that should directly conflict with your hardware.
Maybe the problem isn't that you literally can't log into Firestorm but that you just aren't happy with how it runs for you. If you tried logging into Firestorm a year or two ago and have been avoiding it ever since because you had less-than-satisfactory performance relative to Phoenix, then it is worthwhile giving it another try. The viewers are continually evolving, and users have been reporting favorably on our most recent release's performance compared to previous Firestorms. If you still have trouble, then help is available, including from this very wiki. Or if your main reluctance to update to Firestorm has been the unfamiliarity of it all, be sure to come to our free Firestorm classes to hear live explanations of nearly everything in the viewer and view our Phoenix-to-Firestorm migration video on how to enable Phoenix Mode and otherwise start to get more comfortable with Firestorm.
Worst-case scenario: If your hardware actually does conflict with Second Life's system requirements, rest assured that there are no plans at this time to block Phoenix from login. Just set aside any hopes that it will someday work properly with SL again because it won't. By remaining on Phoenix, you're accepting your fate to look like a cloud to everyone but yourself.
Alternatively, consider looking particularly at the text clients and mobile device clients in the Third Party Viewer Directory. Some have been updated so that although you won't see other avatars – or much of anything, really – they will be able to see you normally. There's no getting around the fact that if your hardware does not meet the SL system requirements and you're not prepared to update it, then your Second Life is about to become less enjoyable. But you can still have a Second Life.