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Author Topic: Blockchain All Forked Up  (Read 5089 times)

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Blockchain All Forked Up
« on: March 12, 2013, 03:04:56 AM »
Blockchain All Forked Up



Bitcoin developers have called for an emergency halt to Bitcoin transactions as well as immediate action to be taken by active miners. This sounds very dramatic but what caused it, how do we fix it and what does it all mean?

The fork was caused by the introduction of a bug into the 0.8 version of Bitcoin that was not present in 0.7. In this revision, the developers changed the underlying software that was handling the transaction database. The new software would allow certain kinds of data changing and storage that the previous version wouldn’t, effectively making the new version accept blocks that the old version rejected. This means that everyone using 0.8 has a different version of history than those using 0.7 and since miners are split as evenly as the rest of us, the block chain has effectively forked.

Now this isn’t actually as dramatic as it sounds. If person A sent person B some coins, both the 0.7 and 0.8 versions of the block chain will both contain that transaction, but they might be in different numbered blocks which can create just enough difference that a clever arbitreur could maybe, possibly in just the right circumstances create a double-spend. Since 0.7′s rejection of the invalid block is considered the “correct” behavior, efforts are underway to shift a majority of mining power back to the 0.7 chain, an effort made easier by the ubiquity of pooled mining.

Still, this represents a sizeable blow to Bitcoin’s public opinion. While Bitcoin’s surrounding infrastructure has had a checkered past we’ve always been able to point to the spotless record of Bitcoin itself. To those of us who have the technical capacity to understand what’s going on, this particular bug isn’t really a big deal, a minor hiccup at best, but in the court of public opinion I think this is going to look pretty damning. What do you think?



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