Welcome to Issue #3 of the Weekly Broadcast, a weekly newsletter published by the Bitseed team to share important news for Bitcoin full node operators. We’ll be covering the latest in Bitcoin development, full node news, community events, and experimental projects that node operators may find of interest. If you have any news tips or insights you’d like us to share in a future edition of the Weekly Broadcast, send us a message and we’ll credit you if your submission is published. Here’s the latest:
Bitcoin Core 0.11.2 upgrade available for Bitseed owners
As mentioned in last week’s Weekly Broadcast, changes for node operators include:
- BIP65 soft fork to enforce OP_CHECKLOCKTIMEVERIFY (CLTV) opcode. CLTV makes it so that transaction outputs can be “locked up” until some specified point in the future. Example uses provided in BIP65 include recoverable multisig wallets, trustless PayPub schemes, and “Lightning Network”-style payment channels.
- Version 4 blocks. Once a node running this release sees that 951 out of 1001 blocks on the longest local chain are version 4 blocks, the node will no longer accept new version 3 blocks and will only accept version 4 blocks if they comply with the BIP65 rules for CLTV.
- Reject transactions which have a time greater than the GetMedianTimePast(), fixing the “perverse incentive” that miners have to earn more fees by lying about the time of their blocks. This changes begins enforcing the rules introduced in BIP113 on newly received transactions in preparation for acceptance of BIP113 by the network.
- Bug fix: corrupted UTXO database after unclean shutdown on Windows. Some users on Windows report having to reindex the whole blockchain if the Bitcoin Core or the computer itself experiences an unclean shutdown. Unclean shutdowns remain unsafe, but this change fixes a bug which increased the frequency of unclean shutdowns experience by Bitcoin Core users.
Ephemeral Tor Hidden Services Implemented in Bitcoin Core
Ever since Bitcoin Core 0.11.1 was released, UPnP has been disabled by default. This means that all users must manually forward port 8333 to accept incoming connections and convert their nodes to a full relaying node (Bitseed re-enables UPnP before we ship our nodes). Last week, a pull request was merged which automatically converts Bitcoin Core into an ephemeral Tor hidden service when Tor is available so that it can connect to other hidden service Bitcoin nodes and relay their blocks and transactions. To use this feature, users must first run Tor before starting Bitcoin Core. The node will then automatically connect to Tor after Bitcoin Core is run. This feature not only helps the network by adding more .onion full nodes to the network, but also helps protect the user’s privacy since all blocks and transactions are being relayed over Tor.
Lightning Network Whitepaper Update Released
Version 0.5.9.1 of the Lightning Network whitepaper has been released. For those who are unfamiliar, the Lightning Network is a proposed method of conducting off-chain bitcoin transactions using time-locked payment channel smart contracts (BINGO!). This would increase the scalability of using bitcoin for payments by reducing the number of transactions that must be confirmed by the Bitcoin network and added to the blockchain, with the main benefit being that bitcoin does not need to be entrusted with a central third party as with other off-chain payment solutions. In the future, Bitcoin full node operators may be able to offer services as Lightning Network “payment hubs” to provide liquidity and payment paths for people using the network. Read the white paper linked below to learn more about this exciting technology.
Weekly Bitcoin Core development IRC meetings
The Bitcoin Core development team has a weekly meeting on IRC to discuss code-related developments. Reddit user G1lius has been doing a great job keeping the community informed about these discussions by writing up a weekly summary from a layman’s perspective. You can see G1lius’ notes from last week’s Bitcoin dev IRC meeting here:
The full schedule of IRC meetings can be found here:
Decentralized .id namespace is open to the public
In September 2015, blockchain ID registrar Onename announced at Blockstack Summit NYC that they were copying the u/ namespace on Namecoin over to the Bitcoin blockchain using Blockstore. The new “.id” namespace on Bitcoin was in “maintenance mode” during the transition period, allowing only new updates from Onename while they stabilized the software ahead of the public launch. This past Tuesday, November 17 2015, the “namespace_ready” transaction was confirmed on the Bitcoin blockchain, opening the namespace for public registrations. If you’d like to claim your own blockchain ID without going through a third party like Onename, you can do it yourself by installing Blockstore and using it to register blockchain IDs on the Bitcoin blockchain.
That’s it for today’s Weekly Broadcast! Subscribe to the Bitseed mailing list to get notified when we publish next week’s Broadcast, along with other important Bitseed announcements.