As Bitcoin’s protocol rivalry drags on without a clear victor emerging, some see a compromise option as preferable. On Friday, RSK Labs Chief Scientist and security consultant Sergio Lerner proposed a simpler option called “SegWit2Mb” to ease some of the tensions with minimal disruption.
SegWit and a Modest Block Size Increase
Lerner posted his solution to the bitcoin-dev group at the Linux Foundation, calling it a “minimal patch”. It would both activate the long-awaited segregated witness (SegWit) solution while also increasing transaction block sizes to 2MB.
He acknowledged that his proposal is more minimalist than elegant, and leaves other scalability options open in the future. He also said he wouldn’t expect SegWit2Mb to change anyone’s long-term position.
“The sole objective of this proposal is to re-unite the Bitcoin community and avoid a cryptocurrency split,” Lerner wrote. “Segwit2Mb does not aim to be best possible technical solution to solve Bitcoin technical limitations.”
SegWit2Mb takes SegWit as it exists in Bitcoin 0.14+, and also activates a 2MB block size hard fork. However, the fork triggers only if 95% of miners signal they have activated SegWit on their systems.
He set tentative lock-in and hard fork dates for 29th April, 29th August, and 14th December, all this year.
The immediate online response to Lerner’s SegWit2Mb proposal was non-committal — probably not surprising in a polarized community where many have already taken a side.
Lerner said his compromise still allowed people to support different long-term scaling options. However he noted that if SegWit2Mb is deployed, everyone will benefit.
SegWit2mb a Temporary Fix to Rebuilt Trust
In an interview with us, Lerner said unlocking the current deadlock would send a positive signal to the community, showing the strength of being united again.
“The current deadlock is about trust, it’s not about science. So today miners may support Segwit2mb as a temporary fix, but tomorrow they may see the benefits of it (such as the Lightning network) and they may try to stay in-sync with Bitcoin Core next time.”
Lerner said Bitcoin Unlimited’s proposed solutions wouldn’t necessarily mean a huge economic shift for Bitcoin. However its ’emergent consensus’ plan to determine block sizes were certainly more radical than just a technical upgrade.
“In my technical opinion, Emergent Consensus in BU has problems, and it requires off-chain coordination. I don’t sympathize with the idea that miners should decide the block-size, but even if you do, a simple block-size voting system by miners signaling an increase/decrease of the block size in every block would be more transparent to the community than emergent consensus.”
The majority of BU’s development team still has a lot to learn, he said. It needs a lot more people to review and audit changes to the code. “It takes a lot of time to be expert in the Bitcoin source code, much more time than the Bitcoin protocol,” he added.
RSK Labs’ Other Scaling Solution
RSK Labs had earlier proposed its own solution to Bitcoin’s scaling problem. The company claimed its Lumino Transaction Compression Protocol (LTCP), an off-chain payments network, could potentially handle 100 transactions per second.
Similar to Lightning Network, it’s likely LTCP would not impress large-block proponents who wish to see all transactions handled directly on the Bitcoin blockchain.
Likewise, the Segwit2Mb fix may not satisfy those who see on-chain versus off-chain transactions as fundamental. Such a problem, they say, should be settled definitively as soon as possible.
However in systems with millions of dollars worth of value at stake, band-aid solutions and can-kicking tend to be popular. This is definitely true of the world’s fiat-based economies and national debt arrangements. At this point, Bitcoin may also find it’s too big for significant and sudden change.
Lerner said his solution could even help Bitcoin progress in future, adding:
“Reaching consensus today will help the Bitcoin community to reach consensus next time it is divided.”
Would a compromise solution rebuild trust in the Bitcoin community? Or do you support something more permanent? Let us know in the comments.
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