Coder proposes an alternative to “notoriously unreliable” Bitcoin Testnet
Presented on Wednesday, a new proposal called Signet offers a new alternative to the bitcoin test network.
Software plays a crucial role for developers, as it serves as a place where they can test their applications, to make sure they work reasonably well on the network by putting only test money on the line. In addition, protocol developers can use it to test the viability and security of large changes to bitcoin, such as Segregated Witness, one of the best-known and largest scale bitcoin changes.
But the current bitcoin test network, which has existed in its current form for years, has its share of problems. In a new Bitcoin Enhancement Proposal (BIP) published on the bitcoin developer’s email list, Karl-Johan Alm, a Bitcoin Core contributor, reaches the point of calling it “notoriously unreliable”.
Expect to change that with a new type of bitcoin testnet that solves the problems of the old testnet.
Alm told CoinDesk:
“Signet is like bitcoin, but it is completely centralized and controlled by one or several people. These people have to sign a block to really be valid. “
Many of the problems with the testnet have to do with the mining blocks, which are more erratic in the testnet than in the real bitcoin network. Some of the problems, says Alm in the BIP, are: “Huge rearrangements of blocks, long gaps between blocks that are extracted or sudden explosions of blocks in rapid succession means that realistic software tests, especially involving multiple independent parties that run software in an extended period of time, becomes unworkable in practice “.
The “Reorgs” are when a block is replaced by another block.
To some extent, this happens naturally in Bitcoin because it is a distributed network with nodes scattered all over the world, so the nodes take a little time to reach an agreement on the history of blocks and transactions. If two blocks are transmitted at approximately the same time from different parts of the network, one block may seem valid for some of the network and another block valid for the rest of the network. Then, the network needs some time to reconcile these conflicting blocks.
The problem is that this event occurs much more frequently, and on a larger scale, in the test network.
“The goal is not to be perfectly reliable, but to have a predictable amount of unreliability. You want a test network to behave like a mainnet (that is, there are not thousands of block reorganizations) at the same time that it makes it easier to trigger expected but rare events such as a reorganization of 6 blocks “, this is explained from the BEEP.
As a centralized testnet alternative, Signet would help alleviate this type of problem.
“Signet helps prevent these problems because the signer is fixed. Making blocks can be quite cheap because you do not compete with anyone, and there is no security problem with a low hash rate, since nobody else has private keys. “Given that the network is highly coordinated, reorganizations will basically never occur, except if the operators of the network want them to do so,” Alm told CoinDesk.
Although there is already a live Signet test, your next goal is to get support for the change merged into Bitcoin Core, so that people can use it as the current testnet. In the proposal, Alm was also linked to a draft implementation of Signet code that other developers can test.
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