Remember Windows Vista? The new Coke? An upgrade is not always a good thing until it is a good thing. Yet, without making changes and testing, things will never improve.
Bitcoin Core is also going to be upgraded and hopefully things will be better for the cryptocurrency after it comes out. The new version is 0.13.0, and this release brings several new features, but the chief among them is Segregated Witness (Segwit) which is likely to solve some crucial issues which has plagued Bitcoin such as scalability and malleability.
Doing more with less
Segwit is a proposed solution to the slowness of Bitcoin transactions and has been included in the release 0.13.0. Segwit may be a workaround to allow more transactions through without increasing the blocksize, which has been part of a raging debate for a while.
Although Segwit is not supported on the mainnet, testnet use is supported in this release. This ‘new’ solution has been around since December 2015 and the inclusion in testnet will allow it to be extensively tested before it is fully rolled out.
Charles Hoskinson, CEO of Input Output Hong Kong, tells Cointelegraph:
“Segregated Witness has been one of the most peer reviewed and tested concepts in the space. It's a positive step forward in terms of evolving the Bitcoin script, resolves the malleability issue and has positive scalability implications.”
BraveNewCoin recently reported:
“Deploying the SegWit code won't be instant, but there is a pretty strong consensus behind doing so already. At least three different projects have been testing the preliminary SegWit code, and a large number of Bitcoin wallets, libraries, Blockchain explorers, and other Bitcoin services have declared their intention to run the final SegWit code as soon as they are technically able, giving adoption of the upgrade a strong head start.”
A problem of Malleability
Bitcoin malleability refers to an attack which allows someone to change the unique ID present in a Bitcoin transaction before confirmation. A hacker can thus change this ID and it would appear as if the transaction did not take place. One of the advantages of SegWit is that it would help alleviate this issue in Bitcoin.
Bitcoincore.org revealed on their website:
“SegWit prevents third-party and scriptSig malleability by allowing Bitcoin users to move the malleable parts of the transaction into the transaction witness, and segregating that witness so that changes to the witness does not affect calculation of the txid.”
Low Fee transactions might go through
“Child pays for parent” has also been implemented in this release. No, we are not suddenly talking about filial piety but rather the replacement of a mining algorithm with another which now will allow low fee transactions to also be processed if a high fee transaction spends its outputs.
In the past one of the problems that plagued Bitcoin was that low fee transactions were often delayed and sometimes not carried out.
Is Bitcoin 0.13.0 a good thing then?
The Bitcoin.org website has a bright red band with a disclaimer, “Be extra vigilant when downloading binaries from our website for the upcoming 0.13.0 release.” Well, if you want to throw all caution to the wind and download it, you can do so here. After all, any new software is only as good as the people who test it.
Do keep in mind though that Bitcoin.org thinks that these binaries may come under attack from state sponsored hackers.
Bitcoin.org released an alert on their website saying:
“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. In such a situation, not being careful before you download binaries could cause you to lose all your coins. This malicious software might also cause your computer to participate in attacks against the Bitcoin network. We believe Chinese services such as pools and exchanges are most at risk here due to the origin of the attackers.”
Overall though it seems that this new release, particularly SegWit, is interesting and will redefine the future of Bitcoin. Hardfork or not.
As David Duccini of Strength in Numbers Foundation, says:
“There has been some chatter about verifying your binaries or just building from source to prevent malware or state actor backdoors. Otherwise, I concur with Charles on SegWit.”