The Summer of SegWit?

Tuesday 23 August 2016

It’s coming, honest. Soon (™).

After a few months of delays, SegWit really will be coming to a bitcoin release near you. Soon.

The next update to Bitcoin Core - 0.13.0 - will pave the way for the eventual release of code including the Segregated Witness patch, which could not only solve the malleability bug but allow for significantly higher transaction volumes.

‘Could’ because there is, of course, no guarantee that SegWit will be activated and therefore used as part of the bitcoin protocol. The threshold of 95% is high, arguably too high, since there will always be a proportion of dissenters, quite apart from those who forget to update their software. SegWit was announced back in December 2015 and has been tested thoroughly, but the developers want to include the community more in that process. Presumably, this is not just a means to ensure the security of such a significant addition to the protocol. It will also engage the community and make them more likely to use the updated version of Bitcoin Core themselves - raising the odds of SegWit reaching its activation threshold in terms of hashrate.

Quart

SegWit: Quart in a pint pot

The issue of block size and how to increase transaction volumes has been the subject of a protracted and bitter battle, with stakeholders - miners, users, wallet companies and other businesses, large holders and prominent advocates - pulling in different directions. Consensus is critical, and the example of Ethereum and Ethereum Classic shows what can happen when even a relatively small minority do not agree with a decision.

In a separate issue, a post on the prominent bitcoin.org site - which also distributes the Bitcoin Core software - warned that the upcoming release may be compromised by malicious parties. ‘Bitcoin.org has reason to suspect that the binaries for the upcoming Bitcoin Core release will likely be targeted by state sponsored attackers. As a website, Bitcoin.org does not have the technical resources to guarantee that we can defend ourselves from attackers of this calibre. We ask the Bitcoin community, and in particular the Chinese Bitcoin community to be extra vigilant when downloading binaries from our website.’

TL;DR: it’s not over yet.


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