The topic of bitcoin scaling has become more intense these past few months for several reasons. Currently, it’s not certain what will come out the many discussions and attempts to scale bitcoin. However, various bitcoin proponents are taking action to improve the network’s capability, but each solution proposed has seemingly become controversial, depending on which side of the debate people agree upon.
The Push for a User Activated Soft Fork
Bitcoin.com recently reported on a pseudonym called Shaolinfry who posted an idea called a “User Activated Soft Fork (UASF)” on the Bitcoin developers’ mailing list. The concept got quite a bit of feedback at the time with both negative and positive reviews from various community members. On March 12 Shaolinfry decided to push the idea further by submitting a “flag day activation of Segregated Witness (Segwit)” Github BIP proposal.
“It turns out Bitcoin already used flag day activation for P2SH, a soft fork which is remarkably similar to Segwit,” explains Shaolinfry. “The disadvantage of a UASF for segwit is there is an existing deployment. A UASF would require another wide upgrade cycle (from what I can see, around 80% of existing nodes have upgraded from pre-witness, to NODE_WITNESS capability. While absolute node count is meaningless, the upgrade trend from version to version seems significant.”
Shaolinfry says the reason he pushed UASF is because a substantial portion of the bitcoin ecosystem has put considerable time and effort into Segwit. This includes developers, wallets, updating libraries, and various infrastructure changes that cost time and money. Furthermore, Shaolinfry believes the delay of Segwit has stalled important work such as “MAST, Covenants, Schnorr signature schemes and signature aggregation and other script innovations of which, much of the development work is already done.”
Not Everyone Agrees With the UASF Proposal
Since the anonymous pseudonym proposed the UASF scaling idea to the community, a vast majority of Segwit supporters have favored the implementation. However, not everyone has agreed with this type of solution. Bitcoin developer Peter Todd vocalized his opinion last week stating:
It is not clear yet how safe UASF’s actually are, or what’s the best way to deploy them — Note that the UASF proposal was from a pseudonym; it’s not being promoted by any well-known devs quite yet.
On March 4 Bitmain founder Jihan Wu stated he believes there are risks involved with a UASF and it could split the network. “If this proposal is successfully pushed through without the support from the majority of hashrate, a split in Bitcoin blockchain will be inevitable,” said Wu at the time.
BTC.com Mines a Bcoin Block, While Bitmain Founder States He Will Switch the Entire Antpool Hashrate Towards Bitcoin Unlimited
Following Jihan Wu’s statements, the company’s mining organization Antpool began signaling support for Bitcoin Unlimited (BU). Furthermore, on March 10, Wu told the publication Bloomberg that soon Antpool will direct all of its hashrate towards BU.
“We will switch our entire pool to Bitcoin Unlimited,” Wu told Bloomberg. “We can’t tell how the hard fork will play out. We will only know by the time we get there.”
BU support has increased quite a bit over the past few weeks as 30 percent of mining pool support has now signaled for the BU client. Moreover, on March 13 a bitcoin mining subsidiary owned by Bitmain called BTC.com had mined a Bcoin block utilizing the alternative client on the Bitcoin mainnet. Bitcoin.com’s correspondent in China explained that Jihan Wu had commented on the recently mined Bcoin block stating:
Bitcoin is a computer protocol plus a social protocol. It can be implemented with any client. Therefore there’s no difference in the blocks mined. However, the fact that various types of compatible clients can coexist in the network is essential for bitcoin’s decentralization.
The next few months should be interesting to watch as these discussions and possible solutions unfold. Bitcoin.com will be sure to keep our readers informed of the scaling process every step of the way.
What do you think about the different scaling solutions being proposed? Tell us what you think is the best way forward in the comments below.
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