Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
Bitcoin Fork Monitor (btcforkmonitor.info)
240 points by JoshTriplett 182 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 72 comments

A more visual approach, but different underlying concept here: https://coin.dance/blocks

A thread from last week with more details about why forks may be expected in the next week or so.


This web site looks like a good dashboard! Although, I'm not up on the technical details of everything going on here, so some of it is confusing to me, because there's not as much background as I'd like.

I've spent some time reading around, and here is my guess as to what the site is describing:

Behind the scenes, achow101 (https://github.com/achow101) is running four Bitcoin clients:

* `Bitcoin Core` is running the client from https://bitcoin.org/en/ (https://github.com/bitcoin/bitcoin) (https://bitcoincore.org). This client does not support Segregated Witness, and it does not support larger block sizes (so blocks larger than 1 MB are ignored).

* `UASF (BIP 148)` is running the client from https://bitcoinuasf.org (https://github.com/UASF/bitcoin). This client supports Segregated Witness. This client does not support larger block sizes (so blocks larger than 1 MB are ignored).

* `btc1 (segwit2x)` is running the client from https://segwit2x.github.io (https://github.com/btc1/bitcoin). This client supports Segregated Witness, as well as changing the block size to 2 MB (blocks larger than 2 MB are ignored).

* `Bitcoin ABC (UAHF)` is running the client from https://www.bitcoinabc.org (https://github.com/Bitcoin-ABC/bitcoin-abc). It supports blocks of <8 MB in size (initially defaulting to 2 MB). This client does not support Segregated Witness.

As I understand things, right now there are two events which have hard-coded dates:

* At midnight UTC on August 1, the `UASF (BIP 148)` client will fork, in that it will start ignoring new mined blocks which do not support Segregated Witness.

* At 12:20 UTC on August 1, the `Bitcoin ABC (UAHF)` client might fork. I say might because the fork will be triggered by someone mining a larger-than-1-MB block (the "trigger block") on or after 12:20 UTC. (1 MB is the largest block that the `Bitcoin Core` and `UASF (BIP 148)` clients will recognize). At that point, `Bitcoin ABC (UAHF)` nodes will treat the "trigger block" as valid, and the fork has occurred.

Also, there is another event which may take place, depending on various conditions:

* If—sometime soon (before midnight UTC on August 1), and for a long-enough period—enough people indicate support, then the `btc1 (segwit2x)` node will fork with the `UASF (BIP 148)` node (in that both nodes will start supporting Segregated Witness). Sometime after that fork, the `btc1 (segwit2x)` node will fork off into its own fork, which will have support for 2 MB blocks.

And of course, there is one event which will happen at some point:

* `Bitcoin Core` will release a new version, adding support for Segregated Witness, or for a different block size, or both. `Bitcoin Core` nodes, when they upgrade, will then join one of the forks.

Anyway, I _think_ that's right, but this has gotten really complicated, and I'm trying to skip over the specific details, and the rationale (since, as tempay mentioned, that's been discussed recently).

If I misunderstood something, please let me know!

You are correct, but as it seems almost certain at this point that SegWit2X (btc1) will reach its threshold in time, we can simplify.

SegWit2x rejects non-SegWit blocks. So with the majority it has it can't cause a fork in the chain (until the HF 3 months later), and neither will BIP148.

So with the rather safe assumption SegWit2X reaches its threshold in the next few days, the only expected fork in the chain by August will be Bitcoin Cash (Bitcoin ABC/BU/big blocks) on one chain and Segwit on the other.

the issue could be that they signal bip91, it's going to be activated, but they aren't running the actual code for rejecting the non segwit blocks

So to super-simplify it. Who wins with this assumed scenario, the scale on chain/big blockers or the off chain/blockstream faction?

Segwit2x is a compromise that gives the Blockstream faction what they want (Segwit), but ties it to a small (2x) block size increase. So they both win some and lose some.

However, the twist is that Blockstream gets Segwit first, while the 2x block size increase is 3 months away. During that time I expect Blockstream to be screaming to everyone that will listen to try to stop the block size increase from actually happening. They will likely not be successful but it will sadly continue to be a contentious issue until at least the end of October.

Seriously, "the Blockstream faction"? Jesus. Nearly everyone in the bitcoin ecosystem, myself included, want to get segwit activated for the technical improvements it brings to the table. This has nothing to do with Blockstream.

"Nearly everyone" is a lie. You're probably living in a bubble of /r/bitcoin, which is heavily censored.

Many people want larger blocks, we want on-chain transactions scaled way up. I'm yet to hear a good argument against large blocks. Storage is dirt cheap. Connections between servers are generally at least 1Gbps.

Nearly everyone.


> Connections between servers are generally at least 1Gbps

So much for peer to peer electronic cash, then...

Let me guess, that poll was posted on /r/bitcoin? Is that Luke-jr's website? Ha. Not biased at all /s

That's what happens when you're in a bubble. Your echo-chamber reflects the same ideas back to you.

And don't get me wrong, I'm not against Segwit at all, as long as the blocks are increased. So if someone wants to take their transactions off the chain, go right ahead.

> So much for peer to peer electronic cash, then...

Bitcoin is not peer to peer in the traditional sense, the money goes through the network of servers (nodes). It's called peer-to-peer, because there's no central bank, nor any authority that can stop the money flow.

I can't think of any Bitcoin discussing venue where it hasn't been posted, please feel free to post it to more.

Not "nearly everyone", plenty of people in the technical community who have worked on Bitcoin for a long time have grave reservations about Segwit. Considering that it is active on litecoin and protects basically no value should raise some warning flags.

It isn't that simple yet.

SegWit2X, which is about to activate is a compromise that gives both Segwit (improving off-chain) and a slight increase.

There is however uncertainty among big blockers about the increase as it is three months later, so it could still fail resulting in SegWit only.

The Bitcoin Cash (ABC) fork is addressing this by forking non-SegWit and bigger blocks, though its support is rather uncertain at this point.

So ABC is like a threat of forking if 2x doesn't happen 3 months later?

Is that 2x increase enough to appease the big blockers? As in, does it settle the discussion or this will happen again in 12 months?

You had an error there about Bitcoin Core (github.com/bitcoin/bitcoin). It supports SegWit: https://bitcoinmagazine.com/articles/bitcoin-core-0141-segwi...

> `Bitcoin Core` is running the client from https://bitcoin.org/en/ (https://github.com/bitcoin/bitcoin) (https://bitcoincore.org). This client does not support Segregated Witness, and it does not support larger block sizes (so blocks larger than 1 MB are ignored).

Just to clarify a bit more, this is the original Bitcoin client that Satoshi and Hal Finney created, and which has been the canonical client from the beginning. Bitcoin Core develops this client, and they invented SegWit, so it definitely supports it.

I'm pretty sure the Bitcoin Core client supports Segregated Witness fine. I believe it will follow whatever the longest chain is (as long as its not larger than 1MB).

The layout of this page is strange. My browser window isn't wide enough to display four boxes in a row, so it displays three in one row, and then a fourth in its own row but at full width. At first glance I thought there was something different about the fourth box, but it should be with the other three.

There's only width for two rows of two boxes each on my viewport.

I keep my browser viewport in a portrait aspect ratio for readability and usability. Few websites look good or are easy to read in a maximized browser window.

What marketplaces enable trading of bitcoin forks as soon as they occur?

Looks like GDAX for one is not participating in case of a hard fork: https://blog.gdax.com/uahf-a703b6a13115

Coinbase isn't either, judging by the mail they sent to all their customers, and by https://support.coinbase.com/customer/portal/articles/284421... .

Makes sense. (as far as I know) GDAX = formerly Coinbase Exchange

Formerly would be incorrect. While owned by Coinbase, GDAX is a different project, not a continuation of the original CB exchange.

Bitfinex has BCU https://www.bitfinex.com/posts/195

I'm not sure if it applies though.

Is there a resource out there that explains all of this simply? Is this something like a computer network split brain situation?

the ownership of cryptocurrency is based on a cryptographically signed ledger. Today, everybody agrees who owns which bitcoin because everyone agrees on the rules of transfer.

When you change the rules of transfer in a subset of nodes/users, then all of a sudden there is disagreement about who owns what: there are two ledgers, and you look at the one whose opinion about "ownership" you agree with.

So the "fork" is a fork in ownership or truth: a difference of opinion about who owns what. Nothing more, nothing less.

But it's a complicated economic effect to predict, because it's likely that the losing side (the opinion with the smaller number of nodes supporting it) will wither and die - one major value proposition of bitcoin is that it's universal. But what happens to the people who used that losing fork in the interim? Well, basically none of their transactions were "real" (they didn't take place on the ledger that eventually won), and if you sold something to someone on that ledger, then they have the goods/services, and you have nothing.

So, as long as I hold on to the bitcoins I bought before all this madness started I should be safe? Like when in a few years some fork is the declared winner, I can still just sell my bitcoins on that winner network? (assuming bitcoins will be worth anything after those shenanigans).

Depends how you are holding bitcoins. On another thread, it appeared that Coinbase might be doing something sketchy in the case of certain kinds of forks. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14806636

I'm holding them in a wallet.dat file of the original bitcoin (full node) client that I haven't started in maybe a year or more. More or less a completely offline stash.

So you should be safe. Wait for the fork to happen and end, update the client to the "winner" side of the fork, and you'll be able to do transactions normally. What might happen is the coins might lose some market value in the short term due to the hysteria surrounding the fork.

> update the client to the "winner" side of the fork

But will the bitcoin client (from bitcoin.org) update to the winning rules or will I need to download it from somewhere else depending on who the winner is?

thanks for the clarification. much appreciated!

try this infographic: https://i.imgur.com/RjTkcdQ.png

That's a little misleading because it makes it look like each decision point is a chain split.

This one is better: https://media.coindesk.com/uploads/2017/07/Screen-Shot-2017-...

Different audiences. Most friends & acquaintances asking me for explanations about august 1

⒈ get repeatedly caught up on basic blockchain concepts (i.e. go in circles w/ terminology)

⒉ know absolutely nothing about the politics of the decision-making up to now

⒊ yet have already been exposed to somebody's propaganda and half-internalized the wrongthink

So i'm not sure that a flowchart of just the proposals w/o entities serves much purpose. Its audience is essentially limited to devs who just need to be caught up on current events.

Coin Dance already has this information available, but across two dashboard-style pages⁽¹⁾⁽²⁾ — not quite arranged efficiently enough for an interactive infographic.

Starting from "know your hardforks" and adding the missing bits from the flowchart as tooltip or on-hover information could work.


¹ https://coin.dance/blocks

² https://coin.dance/poli

O'Reilly just published an updated edition of their bestseller on Bitcoin technology, "Mastering Bitcoin," earlier this month.[1]

For a more general/conceptual understanding of blockchain technology and its applications, including non-cryptocurrency applications, "Blockchain Revolution" is a good read.[2]

[1] Mastering Bitcoin http://amzn.to/2uewdK9

[2] Blockchain Revolution http://amzn.to/2vniXSf

I was wondering, why the bitcoin owners themself cant't decide. Because a bitcoin can be seen as a SHARE, as well as money. So someone who has a lot of bitcoins is a bigger shareholder and should have more to say about it. The how etc to show how much coins you have etc is another issue, but i believe this should be the way to go.

There are 3 groups that have influence over Bitcoin:

- miners: they bear the biggest costs and are responsible for the security of the network. Without miners there would be no bitcoin.

- economic nodes: nodes that have real activity going through them that relay transactions and accept or reject blocks that miners provide them. Coinbase's nodes are significantly more valuable than my personal node for my wallet.

- core dev team: their power is soft but integral, no-one wants a chain that can't be updated over time.

Owners of coins currently have little to no influence.

> Without miners there would be no bitcoin.

If all/lots of the miners pulled out, then wouldn't the work factor decrease so that regular people could run it on their desktop machines? That is what happened at the start of bitcoin, right? Are miners that required?

I'm not 100% sure, but I believe there is a catastrophic situation that could leave Bitcoin fully stranded.

Because that difficulty factor changes over many mined blocks, if the ASICs all suddenly stopped mining that chain, there might not be enough hash power to ever find another valid block.

And until so many blocks are found, the difficulty won't change, so the chain will be fully and completely dead (at least on the scale of months)

Can even 1 ASIC card owner mine enough next few blocks?

I seriously doubt it. It might be able to get one at some point, but almost definately not multiple.

For a rough idea of the scales, just look at the current reward for finding a block (12 btc) and it's current value (about $31k USD). Miners are just barely breaking even on ASICs, so a $31k miner should be able to pay for itself over it's lifetime.

So unless you have hundreds of thousands of dollars of miners, you aren't going to realistically find a block, and unless you have millions of dollars of ASICs you aren't going to be able to mine enough to keep a chain from dying on your own.

So I presume that a hard fork would become economically very viable at that point.

But then you've just created a new coin that shares a bit of history with another one.

Yes, and unless you're in the mood of arguing over Theseus's ship paradox, with hundreds of thousands of stakeholders. Essentially this currency would become what Bitcoin is today.

> Are miners that required?

Yes, we need miners. But yes, you're right, the difficulty is adjustable, so ultimately either we need miners[0] or we need miners[i].

If there's any value to be had for a coin and the PoW matches existing hardware, it's likely that miners will show up.

> wouldn't the work factor decrease so that regular people could run it on their desktop machines?

other people would start mining-- botnets, gpu gaming enthusiasts, people with excess FPGA capacity, etc. and then these people would become miners.

The issue is that what keeps bitcoin together is that the computation is used as a proof which transaction is accurate. Smaller number of miners would mean that a party with a very powerful hardware could then decide what's real or not. If someone can get over 50% computation power of bitcoins, that entity would decide what transaction is real or not.

Some alternative crypto currencies use algorithms that supposed to be really hard to do in ASCIC, I suppose those would be more feasible for rel people to use them, but as I understand we are stuck this way with bitcoin.

Without miners wouldn't the problem just be no more new bitcoins, so while the total would never grow we could still trade them?

No not at all. Miners are the ones generating blocks and validating them though the giant distributed work they each do. Without miners there would be no new blocks which means no verified transactions. The only place trades could still happen is on exchanges because they all happen off block and don't rely on the blockchain to track who owns what but it'd be impossible to move more coins onto or out of an exchange so you'd be stuck.

what happens when all possible bitcoins are mined then?

Miners will be paid with transaction fees. Already if you don't include a fee in your transaction you can expect much longer transaction confirmation times or to never receive confirmation because miners already try to pack the most fees into each single block to maximize their payout.

Miners' main function is to secure the blockchain, not to create new coins. The term is a bit of a misnomer. Without miners no transactions could be made, so Bitcoin would become worthless. More rudimentarly miners simply inject expense into the chain, making it too costly to hack. Another (imperfect) way of thinking about it, is that miners pre-hack the chain by doing all the brute force that a hacker otherwise would, making it unhackable.

No, you need miners to transfer bitcoins

This concept is similar to Proof of Stake which was pioneered by Peercoin. [1]

It's been around a long time and bitcoin hasn't been changed to take advantage of it.

Ultimately, the community seems to have a big say in bitcoin and it's not limited to a proportional share. The community includes at least {holders, merchants, miners}. It's in their mutual interest to preserve stability but if one group acts in their exclusive interest to the detriment of the others, it makes sense for the others to consider a fork.

> I was wondering, why the bitcoin owners themself cant't decide. ... should have more to say about it.

Ultimately that sounds a little aristocratic and bitcoin itself seems more egalitarian. Regardless of philosophy, the blockchain is defined to be a consensus of a set of computers running software. Anyone of us could write new software to take the bitcoin blockchain into a new direction with new features. If we could convince some folks to run our new software, we would have our own fork. If the features are compelling enough, we could take the majority of nodes with us. Decentralized and fairly democratic -- you can have your blockchain and we can have ours.

[1] https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Proof_of_Stake

> It's been around a long time and bitcoin hasn't been changed to take advantage of it.

Of course it hasn't, Bitcoin is decentralized and Peercoin requires the developer of the system to continually sign the chain.

Proof of stake sounds lovely, but it doesn't work and attempts to rescue it have at best resulted in things with very different security assumptions and properties from Bitcoin. https://download.wpsoftware.net/bitcoin/pos.pdf

Once there are hardforks, people will be able to 'vote with their wallets', and a consensus will be apparent through exchance rates. Ethereum on the other hand wants to introduce the rather nebulous concept of 'proof of stake', under which something like you say might be feasable.

That's not how bitcoin works right now. To change the network to function like that would almost certainly require a hard fork. That's probably enough to go on if you're genuinely interested in this.

Is it correct to say that if you have BTC pre-fork, then you can spend it twice post-fork? Once on each fork?

Yes, anything in place before the fork will be recognized by both chains. You can then make transactions on either chain, and the other will go on as if nothing has changed, still recognizing the coins in their original address.

Realistically, the total value of these coins may change or it may not. One chain will likely dominate and have most of the value. But the total value may increase, decrease, or (unlikely) stay the same.

Total value could decrease if e.g. people feel that the fork demonstrates a weakness in cryptos. It could increase if the disagreeing parties are both satisfied with their forked chains and both have utility.

Or will the value halve after the split?

You should add SEGSIGNAL/BIP91 https://github.com/segsignal/bitcoin which is at the moment the lead for starting the activation.

Got downvoted for some reason, I guess some people don't understand how crucial this is. BIP91 was signaled mostly with this node software. This node is what matters the most since it will show if miners get reorged.

You mean like:

> bip91: 178/223 (79.82% signalling) (269/336 Threshold)


Signalling and node software are not coupled. The point of this is to see how each node software behaves, there are miners that don't run Segwit2x/BTC1 but rather Segsignal.

Very cool! I'll be using this as a resource

might be very useful in handling valuable documents which can't get lost

Anyone know how much energy is created from the chain splitting?

xbt.eu much better monitor

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact