Using OpenSim as a Second Life terraforming sandbox

December 3, 2007

I have recently developed a procedure for using OpenSim as a Second Life terraforming sandbox. This procedure can also be used to create terrains for OpenSim itself, but I find it far more useful as a scratch pad of sorts for designing terrains for Second Life sims. All of the applications used are free.

First, install a copy of Terragen ( and launch the application.

Click on “Size” and set the “metres point spacing” to 1. The rest of the settings should automatically come up as 257 x 257.

Next in the “Landscape” window click on “View/Sculpt..” to open the “Landscape View/Sculpt” window.

Not very interesting so far, but if you click on the “Basic Sculpting Tool” and drag the tool over the black abyss while holding down your left mouse button, land will miraculously appear (right mouse button lowers land). Here is a little sandbar I created in a couple of minutes of mousing around.

In the “Landscape” window “Save” your newly created terrain as a Terragen file.


Now install and launch Bailiwick ( It will be used to convert your Terragen terrain file into a format OpenSim and Second Life can read.

Under “File” click on “Import” and “Terragen Terrain” to upload the Terragen file you just created. It will look something like this:

Now simply “Save” the file as a “Sim raw” file.


I will assume that you have installed and configured OpenSim ( on your Windows computers and have successfully configured and started it. (a subject for another blog entry perhaps!)

Start your sim and at the “Region #:” prompt type “terrain load RAW [path to the terrain file saved with Bailiwick]”. You should see the following scene when you start your Second Life viewer pointed at your OpenSim island:

You can now fly around the terrain you created and get a good feel for it. This is much more immersive than the viewing tool supplied with Terragen.


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