Getting Started in Second Life

This blog post is to assist new users to get started quickly with the creation of a new “avatar” in Second Life, a virtual world in which an avatar represents the user as they experience locations in 3D. To make the initial avatar creation experience helpful and to install a “virtual world viewer” that will also work with the open source “OpenSimulator” (aka “OpenSim”) platform, it is suggested that the “Firestorm” viewer is used.

0. System Requirements

Second Life can be used on Windows, MacOS and Linux. It needs a desktop or laptop machine and is not (yet) suitable for use on a tablet or mobile phone (though simplified access interfaces do exist for such mobile platforms). A decent graphics card makes the experience and frame rate that can be achieved much better, but even low end graphics cards do work and the system will try to set your graphics levels appropriate to your system (in terms of view distance and graphics quality).

1. Create an Avatar

The Firestorm Viewer Second Life join up link makes for a simpler and easier to understand initial avatar creation process. The Second Life join up process delays initial avatar creation until after first login and may not suit everyone. (see this blog post).

Choose an avatar appearance you are happy with for the first login. Don’t worry too much about your initial appearance, the avatar itself and its clothing can be changed inside Second Life after login.

2. Download and Install the Firestorm Viewer

Download the OpenSim (also supports Second Life) version

Firestorm is a properly authorised “third party viewer” and is the most popular viewer used to access Second Life. There are two versions, one that only works for Second Life and another that works for BOTH OpenSim and Second Life. The web site encourages you to use the Second Life only version if you are not accessing OpenSim, but that is only because a commercial physics library (Havok) is included with the Second Life version, and cannot be included in the version that works with the open source OpenSim. This is only relevant if you wish to upload “mesh” content and rigged mesh avatars, in which case the Havok Second Life only version is recommended for Second Life. However, if this arises later for you, the “official” Linden Lab Second Life viewer can also be installed and works fine even installed alongside the Firestorm viewer.

3. Initial Virtual World Login and Avatar Appearance

Now log in to Second Life with your avatar and follow the initial new user start up trail to get used to the controls.

4. Visit a Virtual World Region

When you feel ready you can go to other locations. Look at the map (accessible by one of the viewer buttons, hover over them to get tool tips) and type in a name of a region if you know where you wish to visit from information on the web. Or you can also type the destination region name in the top address bar in the viewer.

SLurls are used to give map locations in a web browser which can be clicked on, or cut and pasted into text chat or the viewer top address bar… e.g. a beach and surfing location via:″>

More ideas for an initial sightseeing trip at:

5. Going Further

There are many facilities in Second Life, but find your feet and make sure you can do basic movement, use the camera separate to movement of the avatar, sit down, text chat to others, add a friend, and try to connect a headset for voice before you go further.

6. Update: April 2022 – Second Life University

Announcing Second Life University – Blog Post 7-Apr-2022 – a project that aims to teach people all about the vast virtual world of Second Life!

Topics Covered in this Video:

Second Life University PlayList:

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