The Bitcoin fork: A good problem to have: Page 2 of 3

February 15, 2016 //By Jérôme Rousselot
The Bitcoin fork: A good problem to have
Bitcoin use is growing so fast that some people have started worrying about the limits of the current version of the digital currency. While several solutions have been proposed to help Bitcoin handle more transactions, difficulty in coming to a consensus on the best approach threatens to divide the Bitcoin network in two.
any media attention, and rightly so. They solve some minor bugs, improve security and reliability and introduce new features. The companies running this software get their new versions from a self-formed group of developers, called Bitcoin Core . It is in everyone's best interest to reach a consensus about what should get into Bitcoin's next version.

Recently, we have seen difficulties in reaching this consensus, especially regarding scaling. Business interests drive technology changes, and the next changes may push the technology in different directions. In particular, three solutions have been proposed to help Bitcoin handle more transactions.

Segregated witness is a clever modification of the Bitcoin protocol that increases transaction limit almost by accident. Its original goal was to improve security, by eliminating something called transaction malleability. It does so by reorganizing how transaction data is stored in the blockchain, making transactions appear smaller.

There is broad agreement among Bitcoin businesses and developers that segregated witness improves the quality of the Bitcoin software, at minimal cost to all. Thus segregated witness will be adopted sometime in 2016, and will probably double the maximum transaction rate to 14 per second. Segregated witness is a complex technical development and it is difficult to estimate precisely by how much it will increase the transaction rate.

However, many Bitcoin businesses want more clarity into Bitcoin's future, and have been disappointed by the way Bitcoin Core, the group of developers behind the Bitcoin software, has been handling this process. They simply want the network to double the block size, a one line change, that guarantees to double the maximum transaction rate. That is why they came up with Bitcoin Classic, a slightly different version of the Bitcoin software. Some are now afraid that there will be a split in the Bitoin network, breaking it into two.

A Bitcoin fork is difficult to visualize.

Well, if Bitcoin Classic were to replace Bitcoin Core, by design, it


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