My friend and fellow blogger webspelunker Ghostraven tells some more tales of exploring his neighbourhood.
Now, I too have a Linden Home - I keep it up, partly out of nostalgia, even though I now have much more space to play with on other sims. And, really, I have found much the same sort of thing he has, with a crowded neighbourhood full of cookie-cutter identical homes, and largely empty of people.
Linden Homes are a bennie advertised as an enticement for people to sign up for Premium accounts; I have to say, though, that it was by no means the largest factor in my decision to start paying money for SL. Going Premium entitles you to own a 512 square meter plot of Mainland; you can go forth and buy a 512 off someone (much easier now it is simpler to buy abandoned land), or you can put in a claim for a Linden Home, picking from a list of predesigned buildings in one of four styles.
The main advantage of a Linden Home, really, is that it is effectively double-prim land - the prefab house does not count against your prim allocation on the parcel, so you have a full 117 prims to play with, which - if you are me - you burn through pretty quickly, buying furniture and playing with builds.
The main disadvantage of a Linden Home - apart from those times when LL do an update without figuring how it will affect people, and suddenly you find out you can't open your own front door* -
is the extremely restrictive covenant. Basically, this was set up to prevent some of the abuses and exploitation that came with the old First Land programme. So, if you have a Linden Home, you can't ruin your neighbour's property by turning it into an eyesore, or running an obnoxious business (or, indeed, any sort of business). You can't eat up sim resources by running a nightclub, or using temp-rezzers, you can't even change the form of the home except for a few cosmetic options.
In fact, you can't do a whole heck of a lot with a Linden Home, and that, really, is the problem.
LL, bless them for trying, did define the four different themes for the Homes, in the hope that they would attract people with particular interests - so, my friend web might be surrounded by fellow Japanophiles, while I could sit in my fantasy-themed home and talk to the hobbits, people in the Tahoe theme areas could go hunting and shooting and fishing together, and the suburbanites of Meadowbrook could do... whatever appeals to people who live in a place like that.
Which is all well and good, except... there's nothing to do.
There is no commercial development allowed in Linden Homes. So, no clubs, no shops, no educational areas**, no nothing. Never mind, we can divert ourselves by looking at all the weird and wonderful builds people come up with! - oh, wait, I was forgetting, you can't modify the Linden Homes, so no interesting builds. (Web and I both suffer especially in that respect, since the Japanese and the fantasy themes have only four types of houses each. So buildings start repeating each other with deadly regularity every couple of dozen meters.)
And, for greater efficiency no doubt, the Linden Homes are packed together just about as densely as the servers will stand. So, no open spaces of any note, nowhere that might serve as a gathering spot - well, that's not strictly true. Each theme - not each region, or even each continent, each theme - has an infohub devoted to it. It's used to show off the builds, and to provide some bits of entertainment (except for Meadowbrook, because I think it would be some sort of crime if anything interesting ever happened in a Meadowbrook-themed area). In some cases, the Linden Moles have clearly had some fun - not just in the infohubs, too, try checking out the bottom of an Elderglen lake sometime - but it's not enough, not nearly enough.
The fact is, there is just not enough reason to be in a Linden Homes region. Not while there is an entire grid out there full of people to meet and things to see. Tour one of the infohubs, and you will see all there is to see about that particular themed region, and very probably you will have met all the people you're likely to see from day to day around your home - which is to say, no one.
With no focus for a community, no scope to exercise creativity, the Linden Homes continents are, at best, retreats - places you can go to unpack boxes and generally not be bothered by other people. And - for me at least - community and creativity are at the heart of the SL experience.
I have fond memories of my little Wizard's Castle in Elderglen - it was my first secure foothold in SL, it was the place I took friends to entertain, it still is a nice little backwater to return to when the hurly-burly of SL gets me frazzled. But, at the end of the day, it is no place actually to lead a full and satisfying SL. And, in that respect at least, the Linden Homes have to be rated as something of a failure.
*The update was an anti-griefing measure preventing scripts on an object owned by someone else from operating on your parcel without your permission - the problem being that your Linden Home is technically owned by someone else and has its root off your parcel, so until that one was fixed, the scripts in the home didn't work.
**The matter of how LL treated its educational customers is a matter for a whole 'nother rant, probably.