Developers will get the opportunity to create their own hosted versions of Second Life after its maker Linden Lab announced plans to take the 3D virtual world open-source.

The San Francisco company last night released a version of the software used to access the environment that can be modified by its users under a GNU Public Licence. This means the many SL denizens who have already tinkered with the client through scripts can now help keep SL popular if its population spikes from recent media adulation wane this year.

But chief technology officer Cory Ondrejka also announced Linden would release open-source versions of the server software which houses the immersive world’s underlying grid.

That opens the possibility for companies and individuals to operate their own private Second Lives for intranets, communities, commerce or other activities. No availability date has yet been announced.

Ondrejka told CNET there was a “lost list” of revenue opportunities Linden Labs could leverage in making both aspects of the software available in such a way, though some observers say it is easier to start an open-source project from scratch than it is to open up commercial software.