Forking is Easy, Maintaining Bitcoin Unlimited is Hard: Andreas Antonopoulos

Bitcoin and security expert Andreas Antonopoulos noted that the execution of a hard fork solution like Bitcoin Unlimited isn’t necessarily the difficult stage of development. The challenging task is maintaining and running the software without coming across major security threats and internal bugs.

Over the past few weeks, an increasing number of miners in China have begun to show their support toward Bitcoin Unlimited. Most notably, Bitmain’s Jihan Wu, who operates the largest mining pool in terms of hashrate, switched to Bitcoin Unlimited and led various controversial discussions over the Bitcoin Core development team’s Segregated Witness and the impact of off-chain transactions on miner profitability.

Chandler Guo, another key figure in the Chinese mining scene, announced his support for Bitcoin Unlimited and told the community that he will personally try to convince other miners within the region including BW and XBTC to join the Bitcoin Unlimited family.

The move of miners in China toward Bitcoin Unlimited and their opposition to Core’s cautious approach toward bitcoin development is separating the industry and community into two.

Probability of hard fork and what comes next

Generally, the vast majority of members of the Bitcoin community believe that the probability of Bitcoin Unlimited being forked by miners is relatively low, despite the support coming from China and the region’s mining pools.

However, Antonopoulos emphasized that the execution of the hard fork is the easy step in the development phase. The more challenging task technically and economically is running the software without causing a negative impact to users, businesses and miners.

So far, Bitcoin Unlimited hasn’t shown and demonstrated the ability to run its software with a level of caution and sophistication Bitcoin requires. Two bugs have already been publicly discovered and the latest bug was fixed in an undisclosed update, which means that the software was altered by a closed group of developers.

The idea that a closed group of developers is running the Bitcoin software is dangerous in theory as Bitcoin Core operates an open community of developers that maintain the Bitcoin protocol. The difference in efficiency is evident as Core has shown its ability to prevent issues from affecting the network while Bitcoin Unlimited developers failed to do so.

Various experts and developers including BitGo engineer Jameson Lopp stated that developers within the Bitcoin industry will never run an unstable software as they are wholly responsible for the stability of the infrastructure and systems they run.

Therefore, if Bitcoin Unlimited is forked and causes multiple-hour down time for miners, developers like Lopp will be made responsible for the damage to users and businesses.

The abovementioned reason is essentially why Bitcoin exchanges including Bitstamp, Bitfinex and BTCC are considering the Bitcoin Unlimited token as an altcoin or an alt-asset, and not as Bitcoin. For Bitcoin Unlimited to prove the legitimacy of their code and software, the developers need to enable peer review and develop the software with an open community.