Bitcoin Core 0.17.1 released
Bitcoin greeted its fans, holders and miners with some positive Christmas news as its Core software saw the 0.17.1 update released.
The software update has been teased for a while now and the release comes after extensive testing was conducted on multiple operating systems using the Linux kernel, macOS 10.10+, and Windows 7 and newer. Overall, 0.17.1 is a minor update, bringing mostly hot-fixes, bug fixes and slight performance improvements to 0.17.0.
Most notably, changes have been made on the p2p protocol and network nodes, wallets, RPC and other API’s, GUI, build system, tests and QA and of course documentation. Nodes that are running the older version of the software will have to shut down completely before installing the update. You can check out the full release as well as in-depth instructions on how to install it here.
What is the Lightning Network?
A few solutions to alleviate Bitcoin’s scalability issues are currently being developed. Many believe that the most promising of these is the Lightning Network, a second-layer payment protocol that works in tandem with the Bitcoin network to make transactions happen instantaneously and with minimal fees. In other words, it’s a piece of software the makes the Bitcoin network much more efficient, and therefore much more practical for everyday use.
The concept of the Lightning Network was originally proposed in a 2015 whitepaper by developers Thaddeus Dryja and Joseph Poon. Since then, several companies have developed their own version of the Lightning Network.
Although none of these companies has released a version of the Lightning Network that has been implemented on a truly widespread scale, California startup Lightning Labs launched the beta version of its Lightning protocol in March of this year. This has been the most tested and most widely adopted Lightning solution so far; many voices in the crypto community see this version of the Lightning network as the answer to Bitcoin’s scalability woes.
Lightning Network was introduced earlier in 2018 to solve Bitcoin’s scalability problem. It seems to be growing leaps and bound in spite of the crypto’s prolonged bear markets.
Data from monitoring resourceBitcoinVisualsshows that network capacity recovered from a recent dip and added 10 percent in the past thirty days, bringing its totals to a record 500.6 BTC on December 24.
Statistics also show that the total number of active nodes on the Lightning Network has crossed 14,000, with a massive uptick of open channels on the main network, while the monetary value of its capacity has ballooned to more than $2 million.
It works by circumventing the Bitcoin blockchain, which takes ages to process transactions with high transaction fees, making small transactions unfeasible. With Lightning, transactions are processed separately and added to the chain later.The official website explains: “This is similar to how one makes many legal contracts with others, but one does not go to court every time a contract is made.”
Charlie Lee, creator of Litecoin, put it: “Fiat is to gold as Lightning Network is to Bitcoin.”
Cup of Coffee?
In order to use the network, users have to download the ‘SegWit’ upgrade, which re-organises data in such a way that blocks can hold many more transactions. Coinbase and Bitfinex both adopted this in February, and network-wide, around 43 percent of users have it (according totransactionfee.info).
The Lightning Network processed its first payment in January 2018, when a programmer used it to pay his phone bill.
By March 2018 the network had accumulated more than a thousand nodes, which is when it was released in beta on the Bitcoin blockchain. In May, a Swiss company called Vaultoro, which exchanges Bitcoin for actual gold which it holds in a vault, integrated the network.
Stellar Lumens, one of the big ten blockchains, plans to implement it in December. The Stellar team has said that the Lightning Network is its best bet for scaling in the long term.
Matthias Steinig, aGermandeveloper whose focus seems to be on the development of Lightning Network-enabled technologies to serve consumers. He developed a rentable electric bicycle that allows the user to pay for “boosts” (wherein the electric motor kicks in and the cyclist can do less work) for tiny amounts of bitcoin which is only possible because of theLightning Network.