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Bitcoin Core
Bitcoin logo.svg
The start screen under Fedora
The start screen under Fedora
Original author(s) Satoshi Nakamoto
Initial release 2009
Stable release 0.16.1 (15 June 2018; 3 months ago (2018-06-15)) [±]
Repository github.com/bitcoin/bitcoin
Written in C++
Operating system Linux, Windows, macOS
Type Cryptocurrency
License MIT License
Website bitcoincore.org

Bitcoin Core is free and open-source software that serves as a bitcoin node (the set of which form the bitcoin network) and provides a bitcoin wallet which fully verifies payments. It is considered to be bitcoin's reference implementation[1] and is the most used implementation by a large margin.[2] Initially, the software was published by Satoshi Nakamoto under the name "Bitcoin", and later renamed to "Bitcoin Core" to distinguish it from the network.[3] For this reason, it is also known as the Satoshi client.[4] As of 2018, Bitcoin Core repositories are maintained by a team of maintainers, with Wladimir J. van der Laan leading the release process.[5]

The MIT Digital Currency Initiative funds some of the development of Bitcoin Core.[6] The project also maintains the cryptography library libsecp256k1.[7]

Features[edit]

Bitcoin Core includes a transaction verification engine and connects to the bitcoin network as a full node.[4] Moreover, a cryptocurrency wallet, which can be used to transfer funds, is included by default.[7] The wallet allows for the sending and receiving of bitcoins. It does not facilitate the buying or selling of bitcoin. It allows users to generate QR codes to receive payment.

The software validates the entire blockchain, which includes all bitcoin transactions ever. This distributed ledger which has reached more than 155 gigabytes in size must be downloaded or synchronised before full participation of the client may occur.[4] Although the complete blockchain is not needed all at once, since it is possible to run in pruning mode. A command line-based daemon with a JSON-RPC interface, bitcoind, is bundled with Bitcoin Core. It also provides access to testnet, a global testing environment that imitates the bitcoin main network using an alternative blockchain where valueless "test bitcoins" are used. Regtest or Regression Test Mode creates a private blockchain which is used as a local testing environment.[8] Finally, bitcoin-cli, a simple program which allows users to send RPC commands to bitcoind, is also included.

Checkpoints which have been hard coded into the client are used only to prevent Denial of Service attacks against nodes which are initially syncing the chain. For this reason the checkpoints included are only as of several years ago.[9][10] A one megabyte block size limit was added in 2010 by Satoshi Nakamoto. This limited the maximum network capacity to about three transactions per second.[11] Since then, network capacity has been improved incrementally both through block size increases and improved wallet behavior. A network alert system was included by Satoshi Nakamoto as a way of informing users of important news regarding bitcoin.[12] In November 2016 it was retired. It had become obsolete as news on bitcoin is now widely disseminated.

Bitcoin Core includes a scripting language inspired by Forth that can define transactions and specify parameters.[13] ScriptPubKey is used to "lock" transactions based on a set of future conditions. scriptSig is used to meet these conditions or "unlock" a transaction. Operations on the data are performed by various OP_Codes. Two stacks are used - main and alt. Looping is forbidden.

Bitcoin Core uses OpenTimestamps to timestamp merge commits.[14]

Development[edit]

The original creator of the bitcoin client has described their approach to the software's authorship as it being written first to prove to themselves that the concept of purely peer-to-peer electronic cash was valid and that a paper with solutions could be written.[15] While the majority of peers on the network may use Bitcoin Core, the developers' influence on bitcoin is limited by the choice of which implementation people voluntarily decide to use.[16] The lead developer is Wladimir J. van der Laan, who took over the role on 8 April 2014.[17] Gavin Andresen was the former lead maintainer for the software client. Andresen left the role of lead developer for bitcoin to work on the strategic development of its technology.[17] He left because he didn't want to get involved with trivial decision-making.[citation needed]

The code was originally stored at Sourceforge before being available on GitHub.[18] Because there is no formal structure, development is based around Bitcoin Improvement Proposals or BIPs, which are similar to Request for Comments. Public mailing lists are used to vet initial expressions of ideas.[19] If enough support is displayed a BIP document is written. This is the standard for sharing ideas and gaining community feedback on improving bitcoin and was initiated by Amir Taaki in 2011.

External video
Visualization of code changes during 2015

Version history[edit]

Bitcoin 0.1 was released on 9 January 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto with only Windows supported.[20] This was followed by some minor bug fixing versions. On 16 December 2009 Bitcoin 0.2 was released. It included a Linux version for the first time and made use of multi-core processors for mining.[20] In version 0.3.2 Nakamoto included checkpoints as a safeguard. After the release of version 0.3.9 Satoshi Nakamoto left the project[20] and shortly after stopped communicating on online forums. By this time development of the software was being undertaken by a wide group of independent developers which is referred to as a community, many of whom had various ideas on how to improve bitcoin.[20]

Between 2011 and 2013 new versions of the software were released at Bitcoin.org.[21] Developers wanted to differentiate themselves as creators of software rather than advocates for bitcoin and so now maintain bitcoincore.org for just the software.

Bitcoin-Qt version 0.5.0 was released on 1 November 2011. It introduced a front end that uses the Qt user interface toolkit.[22] The software previously used Berkeley DB for database management. Developers switched to LevelDB in release 0.8 in order to reduce blockchain synchronization time.[23] The update to this release resulted in a minor blockchain fork on the 11 March 2013. The fork was resolved shortly afterwards.[23] Seeding nodes through IRC was discontinued in version 0.8.2. In this release transaction fees, also known as relay fees, were reduced from 50,000 satoshis to 10,000 satoshis.[24] From version 0.9.0 the software was renamed to Bitcoin Core. Transaction fees were reduced again by a factor of ten as a means to encourage microtransactions.[24] Although Bitcoin Core does not use OpenSSL for the operation of the network, the software did use OpenSSL for remote procedure calls. Version 0.9.1 was released to remove the network's vulnerability to the Heartbleed bug.[25]

Release 0.10 was made public on 16 February 2015.[26] It introduced a consensus library which gave programmers easy access to the rules governing consensus on the network. In version 0.11.2 developers added a new feature which allowed transactions to be made unspendable until a specific time in the future.[27] Bitcoin Core 0.12.1 was released on April 15, 2016 and enabled multiple soft forks to occur concurrently.[28] Around 100 contributors worked on Bitcoin Core 0.13.0 which was released on 23 August 2016. It introduced more than ten significant changes.[29]

In July 2016, the CheckSequenceVerify soft fork activated.[30][better source needed]

In October 2016, Bitcoin Core’s 0.13.1 release featured the "Segwit" soft fork that included a scaling improvement aiming to optimize the bitcoin blocksize.[31] The patch which was originally finalised in April, and 35 developers were engaged to deploy it.[32] This release featured Segregated Witness (SegWit) which aimed to place downward pressure on transaction fees as well as increase the maximum transaction capacity of the network.[33] The 0.13.1 release endured extensive testing and research leading to some delays in its release date.[34][better source needed] SegWit prevents various forms of transaction malleability.[35] SegWit was activated by miners on 24 August 2017, at block 481,824.[36]

Launched in February 2018, version 0.16.0 supports segregated witness as the native address format, also called bech32 addresses, which were originally developed by Peter Wuille and Greg Maxwell.[37]

In September 2018, a Bitcoin Cash developer discovered the vulnerability CVE-2018-17144 in the Bitcoin Core software that allows miners to crash all Bitcoin Core nodes on the network and inflating the Bitcoin currency beyond the 21 million coin limit.[38]

Bitcoin Improvement Proposals[edit]

A Bitcoin Improvement Proposal (BIP) is a design document, typically describing a new feature for Bitcoin with a concise technical specification of the feature and the rationale for it. This is broadly similar to the way in which Internet "Request for Comments" (RFCs) and the Python computer language's "Python Enhancement Proposals" (PEPs) are used.

The process itself is documented in BIP 2, and BIP 123 provides a categorization.[39]

2 BIP process, revised
BIP 2 specifies the BIP process. BIP numbers are awarded liberally. As of February 2017, 152 BIP numbers have been assigned, but only 27 BIP's have reached the active/final stages.
9 Version bits with timeout and delay
BIP specifies a state machine for determining 95% miner consensus of soft forks. There has been one successful BIP 9 soft fork, and one, Segregated Witness, is, as of 2017, open for voting.[40]
16 Pay to script hash
Allows transactions to be sent to a script hash (address starting with 3) instead of a public key hash (addresses starting with 1). To spend bitcoins sent via P2SH, the recipient must provide a script matching the script hash, and data which makes the script evaluate to true. The recipient might need the signatures of several people to spend these bitcoins, or a password might be required, or the requirements could be completely unique.
32 Defines HD wallets
These HD ('Hierarchical Deterministic") wallets can be shared partially or entirely with different systems.[41]
39 Mnemonic code or sentences
For the generation of deterministic wallets.[42]
43 Adds a "Purpose Field" for use HD wallets
To determine the further structure; for example, the scheme described in BIP44 should use the value 44' as the "purpose".[43]
44 Logical hierarchy for deterministic wallets
based on the algorithm described in BIP32 and "purpose" scheme described in BIP43.[43]
65 CHECKLOCKTIMEVERIFY
CLTV allows a transaction output to be unspendable until some specific point of time in the future.[44]
112 CHECKSEQUENCEVERIFY
CSV enables making an address (starting with 3) which can't spend bitcoin received, for a specified amount of time after receiving. One can have a 2-of-3 multisig address, which times out to a backup rule, unless there is 2-of-3 consensus.
141, 143, 144
See SegWit
152 Compact Blocks
Merged on 22 June 2016, Compact Blocks enables faster block propagation,[45] and was used on 97% of nodes in November 2017. For more details, see Greg Maxwell: Advances in Block Propagation.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Antonopoulos, Andreas. "3". Mastering Bitcoin: Programming the Open Blockchain (2nd ed.). O'Reilly Media. ISBN 978-1491954386. Bitcoin Core is the reference implementation of the bitcoin system, meaning that it is the authoritative reference on how each part of the technology should be implemented. Bitcoin Core implements all aspects of bitcoin, including wallets, a transaction and block validation engine, and a full network node in the peer-to-peer bitcoin network. 
  2. ^ "Global Bitcoin nodes distribution". bitnodes.earn.com. Retrieved 9 September 2018. 
  3. ^ Rebranding to Bitcoin Core. Bitcoin Project. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  4. ^ a b c Antonopoulos, Andreas M. (2014). Mastering Bitcoin: Unlocking Digital Cryptocurrencies. O'Reilly Media, Inc. pp. 31–32. ISBN 1491902647. Retrieved 6 November 2016. 
  5. ^ "0.13.0 Binary Safety Warning". Bitcoin Project. 17 August 2016. Retrieved 8 November 2016. 
  6. ^ Brian Forde (5 April 2016). "Welcome to the MIT Media Lab, Gavin, Wlad, and Cory". Coindesk. Retrieved 7 November 2016. 
  7. ^ a b Bitcoin Core: About. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  8. ^ "Bitcoin Developer Examples". Bitcoin Core. Retrieved 14 November 2016. 
  9. ^ "checkpoints.cpp". Repository source code. GitHub, Inc. Retrieved 13 November 2016. 
  10. ^ https://github.com/bitcoin/bitcoin/blob/master/src/chainparams.cpp
  11. ^ Mike Orcutt (19 May 2015). "Leaderless Bitcoin Struggles to Make Its Most Crucial Decision". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 15 November 2016. 
  12. ^ "Alert System Retirement". Bitcoin Project. 1 November 2016. Retrieved 16 November 2016. 
  13. ^ Antonopoulos, Andreas (29 May 2013). "Bitcoin is a money platform with many APIs". Radar. O'Reilly. Retrieved 19 November 2016. 
  14. ^ "Bitcoin Core devtools README - Create and verify timestamps of merge commits". GitHub. Retrieved May 5, 2018. 
  15. ^ "Re: Bitcoin P2P e-cash paper". The Cryptography Mailing List. Satoshi Nakamoto Institute. 9 October 2016. Retrieved 13 November 2016. 
  16. ^ Aaron van Wirdum (7 September 2016). "A Primer on Bitcoin Governance, or Why Developers Aren't in Charge of the Protocol". Bitcoin Magazine. BTC Inc. Retrieved 13 November 2016. 
  17. ^ a b Preukschat, Alex; Josep Busquet (2015). Bitcoin: The Hunt of Satoshi Nakamoto. Europe Comics. p. 87. ISBN 9791032800201. Retrieved 16 November 2016. 
  18. ^ Daniel Cawrey (29 December 2014). "Gregory Maxwell: How I Went From Bitcoin Skeptic to Core Developer". CoinDesk. Retrieved 23 December 2016. 
  19. ^ Bailey Reutzel (14 May 2016). "Bitcoin Core is Seeking to Overhaul How it Upgrades its Code". Coindesk. Retrieved 7 November 2016. 
  20. ^ a b c d "History of Cryptocurrency, Part I: From Bitcoin's Inception to the Crypto-Boom". The CoinTelegraph. 4 November 2015. Retrieved 13 November 2016. 
  21. ^ "About bitcoin.org". Bitcoin Project. Retrieved 14 November 2016. 
  22. ^ "Bitcoin-Qt version 0.5.0 released". Bitcoin Project. 1 November 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2016. 
  23. ^ a b Vitalik Buterin (13 March 2013). "Bitcoin Network Shaken by Blockchain Fork". Bitcoin Magazine. BTC Inc. Retrieved 7 November 2016. 
  24. ^ a b Danny Bradbury (28 February 2014). "Bitcoin Transaction Fees To Be Slashed Tenfold". Coindesk. Retrieved 22 December 2016. 
  25. ^ Venzen Khaosan (8 April 2014). "OpenSSL Heartbleed Security Bug "Massive"". cryptocoin news. Retrieved 16 November 2016. 
  26. ^ Joon Ian Wong (17 February 2015). "Bitcoin Core 0.10 Gives Developers Simplified Access to Network Consensus". Coindesk. Retrieved 7 November 2016. 
  27. ^ "Bitcoin Core version 0.11.2 released". Bitcoin Project. 13 November 2015. Retrieved 14 November 2016. 
  28. ^ Kyle Torpey (15 April 2016). "Bitcoin Core 0.12.1 Released, Major Step Forward for Scalability". Bitcoin Magazine. NASDAQ.com. Retrieved 7 November 2016. 
  29. ^ Aaron van Wirdum (22 August 2016). "What's New in Bitcoin Core 0.13.0?". Bitcoin Magazine. BTC Inc. Retrieved 7 November 2016. 
  30. ^ https://coinjournal.net/checksequenceverify-what-is-it-and-why-is-it-relevant/
  31. ^ Joseph Young (18 October 2016). "Ready, Steady, Fork: Bitcoin Core to Release SegWit in November". Retrieved 7 November 2016. 
  32. ^ Luke Parker (29 October 2016). "Bitcoin scaling solution, Segwit, released". Brave New Coin. Retrieved 7 November 2016. 
  33. ^ "Bitcoin Core 0.13.1". Bitcoin Core. Retrieved 25 October 2016. 
  34. ^ Joseph Young (3 November 2016). "Bitcoin Core is Most Talented Dev Team, Says VC". The Coin Telegraph. Retrieved 7 November 2016. 
  35. ^ "Segregated Witness Benefits". Bitcoin Core. Retrieved 14 November 2016. 
  36. ^ "Segwit Activated: How it Works & What's Next for Bitcoin - Bitcoinist.com". bitcoinist.com. Archived from the original on 10 October 2017. Retrieved 10 October 2017. 
  37. ^ "New Bitcoin Code Will Finally Boast Full SegWit Support". coindesk.com. Retrieved 20 February 2018. 
  38. ^ "CVE-2018-17144 Full Disclosure". Bitcoin Core. Retrieved 2018-09-23. 
  39. ^ https://github.com/bitcoin/bips/blob/master/bip-0123.mediawiki
  40. ^ https://github.com/bitcoin/bips/blob/master/bip-0009/assignments.mediawiki
  41. ^ [1]
  42. ^ [2]
  43. ^ a b [3]
  44. ^ https://github.com/bitcoin/bips/blob/master/bip-0065.mediawiki
  45. ^ https://bitcoincore.org/en/2016/06/07/compact-blocks-faq/

External links[edit]

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