There is very disturbing news from well-known developer Gwyneth Llewelyn about the attempt to legitimize the distribution of a dubious 3rd party client called “Neil Life” which appears to be full of illegal features that allow people to steal everything except scripts in SecondLife, . Here's the link to her blog:.http://gwynethllewelyn.net/2009/08/07/spammers-are-disseminating-a-...
Personally, I find the viewers Linden Labs offers to be less and less functional. The last release was giving me about 6 fps before it crashed and I was in an empty SIM with an ARC of less than 200. Tweaking got it up to about 10, but when I tried engaging in a SIM with activity, I lasted about 10 minutes before the dreaded stack-dump error.
So how does the User determine what coders are reputable? I've been using the Kirsten viewer because Suzanna Soyinka (the developer of CCS) and some of the machimima makers here, recommend it.
I'm testing the Meerkat viewer now, because I like the idea of being able to use the same client for multiple virtual environments. Meerkat seems to be legitimate, they are associated with the Open Metaverse Foundation and appear to be working with Linden Labs on development ...plus I haven't found anything that indicates that viewer has exploits, but I'm not a coder so I'm basing my assessment on a lack of complaints.
Cavaet Emptor appears to be Linden Labs practical position on third-party viewers. Their official download page points to the official viewer, release candidates and Snowglobe ...see http://secondlife.com/support/downloads.php
, and the WIKI page that points to third-party downloads ...see http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Alternate_viewers
... has a honking big disclaimer "Third-party, hybrid, and homebrew viewers are not associated with LindenLab, are governed by their own respective licenses. LindenLab is not responsible for any desired or undesired results in association with those viewers."
There is a JIRA requesting Linden Lab implement a plug-in authentication model to prevent phishing abuses. See: http://jira.secondlife.com/browse/VWR-14778
Also found a second, related JIRA ...see http://jira.secondlife.com/browse/SVC-4636
...which proposes an authentication or licensing scheme for third-party viewers.
I encourage Guild Members to review these JIRAs and vote for them. Please, don't be deterred by the posters who advise nothing can be done about the problem. Small groups of thoughtful committed people can [and do] change the world every day.