What is a blockchain fork? – Qtum – Medium

What is a blockchain fork?

If you’ve had any exposure to the world of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, you’ve very likely heard of the term “fork.” Not unlike the layman’s definition (and not the one that involves eating), a fork occurs when developers veer away to a fresh project using code based off of another already developed.

The topic of forks has received a lotsbestemming of attention te latest past, when part of the ethereum community found it necessary to fork project due to a breach ter an Ethereum-based contract known spil “The DAO” and presently with the upcoming User Activated Soft Fork (UASF), which is set to occur August 1.

Forks come ter different varieties, including soft, user-activated and hard forks.

A so-called soft fork is a backward-compatible shift te a blockchain, or decentralized network. Rearwards compatibility means, te a decentralized framework, knots are not required to upgrade te order to maintain overeenstemming since all blocks with the fresh soft forked rules also go after the old rules, therefore, old clients accept them.

Spil such only miners are typically required to activate a soft fork spil old knots — the systems connected to the network — are able to accept blocks without upgrading.

Miners are inclined to eventually adopt the fresh version of the software or risk ending up on the losing end of the soft fork, essentially the minority group that determines to remain with either the old or fresh protocol, depending on how the pendulum of choice swings.

To be a successful soft fork, more than half of the mining power voorwaarde be running for a client to recognize the switch.

Nevertheless, spil the label suggests, a soft fork is a less significant turn of events than a hard fork, which requires buy-in or acceptance across all players on the network.

User Activated Soft Forks

A User Activated Soft Fork, or UASF is a more sophisticated soft fork that can be enacted, typically, by the economic majority within a peer-to-peer network. It usually requires substantial industry support and a cohesive effort to make it work.

Knots ter a decentralized infrastructure, and the surplus of the economic majority, which includes the networks ecosystem of wallets and exchanges, are typically the determining cadre, however, this is not always the case, spil with Bitcoin Improvement Protocol (BIP) 148.

Ter BIP 148, a UASF is initiated spil a signal to budge toward mandatory activation of Segregated Witness deployment. The window ter which enactment of BIP to be initiative sits inbetween midnight, Aug. 1, 2017 and midnight, Nov. 15, 2017.

Segregated Witness, or ‘SegWit’, is the process by which the block size limit on a blockchain is enhanced by removing signature gegevens from Bitcoin transactions. When certain parts of a transaction are liquidated, this slijper up space to add more transactions to the chain thereby enlargening the overall throughput of transactions on the network.

BIP 148 is not the typical modus operandi for a UASF which implement a soft fork that requires act from miners. Normally knots would just start enforcement on a given “flag day” spil with BIP16, which wasgoed how the Pay-to-Script-Hash (P2SH) soft fork wasgoed activated te 2012 — a flag day wasgoed signaled whereby knots agreed to commence enforcing the fresh protocol. P2SH wasgoed activated with relatively little friction.

But since four-fifths of the knot network have already upgraded to SegWit capable software, it is up to the miners to shift and start accepting blocks spil according to the fresh protocol. Of course, a loterijlot rails on where the surplus of the economic majority — the wallets and exchanges — stir to.

If the economic majority is signaling spil of Aug. 1 for the adoption of BIP148, miners are incentivized to go after with the masses. However, knots don’t represent a true reflection of the community since they can be rented on cloud services to skew the numbers.

Nonetheless, not shifting to the fresh protocol that has an economic majority would be an unwise financial decision because it would make it difficult to sell coins mined after that date spil the blocks would not be accepted by the majority. This would be tantamount to mining an alternative coin not recognized by users and exchanges, a poor business decision.

Why is including SegWit so contentious?

SegWit fixes one of the longest known issues ter Bitcoin that has gone unfixed te part termed transaction malleability which is significant to the long-term, global scalability of Bitcoin’s blockchain network. Transaction malleability permits more sophisticated users to switch the ID of a transaction before it is confirmed ter the blockchain.

The reason this has become so contentious is because fixing transaction malleability would permit layer two technologies to be implemented ter a less nuanced treatment. Layer two technologies, such spil lightning networks, would permit bitcoin transactions to take place off-chain ter a far more streamlined way.

Now when you combine that with the fact that SegWit permits the witness signature to be excluded from the transaction gegevens, you can start to understand why some miners are putting up a fight.

Additionally, SegWit introduces script versioning, which would extend the bitcoin protocol by permitting rules to the witness to be switched by a soft fork. One innovation that is likely to be proposed are Schnoor signatures. Schnoor signatures would additionally help raise a blockchain network’s throughput because transactions would only need one signature which benefits are realized te the case of multisig transactions. Schnoor signatures also offerande some privacy benefits too.

Bitcoin users typically pay a vanaf byte toverfee to have their transaction approved by the network. Excluding witness gegevens, which grows with the more witnesses a transaction has, would mean that transaction fees would decrease on a vanaf transaction voet.

Coupled with the fact that with layer two technologies, where users can make transactions off-chain, miners stand to lose a significant portion of their revenue.

To waterput the range of profits ter perspective, on June 7, miners on the Bitcoin network received overheen $1.78 million dollars ter fees. On August 1, however, the total transaction fees decreased to $558,578.28, which correlated with less network activity, albeit, blocks are still relatively utter.

Thus preservation of the status quo has significant financial merit for miners. However, the loss te revenue if miners don’t budge with the economic majority will be even more substantial and presents a strong rechtsvordering to believe, with majority support for SegWit, miners voorwaarde and will go after.

Another reason SegWit has bot so contentious is that some voorkeur, that miners are using ASICBoost, which give them an advantage when mining. SegWit would help level the playing field for miners if this were the case.

SegWit is now close to the 95% activation threshold.

What is a blockchain hard fork?

With a hard fork, everyone — miners, merchants, and users — has to upgrade to the fresh client or code. Hard forks are not backward-compatible, which means old knots will not, typically, accept blocks created by fresh knots.

Te this event, the blockchain becomes two blockchains spil the network splits if there isn',t unanimous overeenstemming.

Te the setting of Bitcoin Core’s scaling roadmap and the upcoming BIP 148 UASF on Aug. 1, and the Fresh York Agreement (NYA), led by Digital Currency Group’s Barry Silbert, efforts to fork the network are momentous.

The Fresh York Agreement is based on the “SegWit2x” proposal, that puts forward a proposal that couples activation of SegWit with an added block-size-increase hard fork at some straks point.

SegWit itself offers an increase omschrijving of two to four megabytes, but the added hard fork would dual this to a maximum omschrijving to eight megabytes.

According to DCG’s Medium postbode, the soft fork will be activated “at an 80% threshold,” (presumably) referring to hash power. And the hard fork will be activated “within six months.”

The percentage of blocks signaling for the NYA — by including the letters “NYA” te the blocks they mine — sat at 90.5% on August 1, which is above the threshold target needed for activation. Albeit, most of the core developers are against method off coupling SegWit with a hard fork zometeen.

Can bitcoin remain spil one chain is the central question because its value is based on the network. This becomes especially concerning when some propose to use their power to implement a User Activated Hard Fork with one project named Bitcoin Specie (BCH).

Bitcoin Contant will fork the bitcoin network before SegWit is activated and people that hold bitcoin when the fork happens will also be credited with bitcoin metselspecie if they have a wallet that supports the token or they will have to upload their private keys to a wallet that does.

While some people believe forks are a natural part of software development, the Singapore-based Qtum Foundation and others like us are working to eliminate them spil much spil possible.

The Qtum Solution

The Qtum Foundation, the developer of the Qtum blockchain which recently waterput out its very first public test of its innovative toneelpodium, Sparknet, aims to solve this problem te part. A blockchain community consists of more than solely developers, miners, and knot operators. That’s why taking a vote from just one of the groups isn’t ideal.

Jordan Earls, lead core developer and co-founder of the Qtum Project, said Qtum’s blockchain architecture wasgoed constructed ter such a way, and with features te mind, to avoid the entire divisive construct of forking within te a decentralized network.

With Qtum’s combination of the technological advantages of the UTXO prototype, the EVM and proof-of-stake overeenstemming, tethered to a unique Decentralized Governance Protocol (DGP), it would, according to Earls, be a trivial matter to enact a blocksize upgrade.

“Qtum’s blockchain won’t totally substitute forks, but it can cut down on the number of forks needed,” Earls said.

“Basically the blockchain is designed so that the blockchain itself is aware of a governing system within it. Some of the parameters and roles can be switched using this governance system. Mainly designed to be used for reactionary purposes.” Earls continued.

Qtum wants to keep the network entire, while still innovating and taking spil much input from community stakeholders. With Qtum’s Decentralized Governance Protocol, knots, wallets, the core developers, and other industry stakeholders can coordinate more effectively permitting for seamless network upgrades.

The DGP is powerful enough that its governance structure can be fully substituted. So, the governing parties might zometeen vote on a “meta-proposal” to substitute the controllers of the DGP. This would permit for the governance to switched to a multi-tier setup, such spil requiring a certain number of houtvezelplaat members, spil well spil a certain number of core developers to vote on a proposal before it can be approved.

However, the end aim is much more ambitious than a traditional governance system. Because a clever contract can also be a governing party of the DGP, it is possible to create significantly more complicated structures. Te the future, wij could also require a certain number of community votes or votes from stakers.

Beyond even that however, it is also possible to create a wise contract which monitors the blockchain’s status and health. And this monitoring brainy contract could be made capable of creating and approving its proposals. With DGP technology, Qtum’s blockchain can be self-regulating, self-modifying, and self-aware.

Wij believe this technology is a significant step forward and will be instrumental ter Qtum being the very first self-aware blockchain that can quickly adapt to a rapidly switching ecosystem and community without requiring onveranderlijk interruption of the ecosystem to fix unforeseen problems.

With overheen two years of heated debates on scaling, only time will tell if Bitcoin can shove blocks further. One thing is for sure, it will be an interesting summer with the UASF, Segwit2x, and the release of DGP ter August.

“With superb power comes fine responsibility,” Uncle Ben.

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Related movie: Bitcoin Mining Explained

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