Bitcoin was released to the public as an open source project that allows anyone in the world to not only transact in a decentralized manner, but also help modify the code. Many open source projects like Linux have started with the source code followed by a myriad of alternative implementations. However, for some reason, in the Bitcoin space alternative clients using the source code in a different manner and even writing the code in another programming language, has been controversial.
‘A Resilient and Tough System Must Be Able to Serve a Global Audience’
Currently, there is a very vocal discussion happening within the Bitcoin community concerning the protocol’s scalability. Since Bitcoin’s inception, there have been thousands of conversations on how to better scale Bitcoin. There have been lots of talks concerning a few alternative implementations introduced, such as XT, Classic, and Unlimited over the past couple of years.
More recently, many have been focused on the two clients; Core with Segregated Witness, and Unlimited with its block size cap removal. These subjects have caused a significant divide between many members of the community, because oftentimes change scares people.
Alternative Bitcoin protocol creations have always produced a contentious air within the cryptocurrency community. Whether it be Libbitcoin, Btcd, bitcoinj, Unlimited, Classic, or XT, the many different reference implementations have been ferociously debated. Whether or not these changes are arguable, alternative clients exist and continue to be developed. It’s hard for some to swallow. This will not only continue to increase but also always be the case with open source software.
Many believe it is important for alternative clients to flourish for Bitcoin to become a more robust open source model of decentralization, otherwise developers, miners, or outside interests may centralize the network. Furthermore, people are using these variations by testing whether or not they improve Bitcoin’s capabilities and evolution. The Libbitcoin Manifesto details why diversity is key to the protocol’s advancement:
Linux is the most secure operating system because of its diversity. There is no single exploit that is universal across all versions of Linux. Bitcoin must evolve in the same way to become a resilient and tough system able to serve a global audience.
Who Needs Permission in an Open Source Environment?
Recently, Bitcoin.com reported on Bitcoin Unlimited gaining 17% of signaled support from mining pools. The topic has flared debate in the community because it shows that change is taking place within the network. One of the most beautiful aspects of Bitcoin is that anyone can contribute and make changes. Even though there is only a small group of people with access to making changes to the one client, it doesn’t mean alternative changes won’t happen elsewhere and subsequent adoption will not happen. Just as Bitcoin came into the world without asking permission the network, participants and developers don’t need permission either.
“You’re missing the point of Bitcoin if you feel left out,” explains Bitcoin developer Gavin Andresen. “You can be as involved as you want to be, just go make something happen. Find something you think needs doing, recruit some people to help if you need help, and do it. Are you waiting for an invitation or permission from somebody?”
The fact is because Bitcoin is open to anyone in more ways than one, there will always be changes and those who want to make things happen without permission, even in the code development realm. It will always be up to users, miners, wallet providers, and exchanges to choose what will be adopted. Nothing will ever remain static within the Bitcoin network just as mining changed from CPU to ASICs and the same will go for changes to the code. Change in the Bitcoin space is inevitable and it will likely always cause some to be uncomfortable.
Good-Natured Cooperation Will be Needed As Bitcoin Development Will Never be Static
The Bitcoin community should approach these subjects in an amicable fashion rather than with extreme rancor because, like it or not, alternatives and different ideas are here to stay. People need to step back and remember that Satoshi didn’t give the source code to a small group of individuals, but instead he gave the protocol openly to the entire planet. The question is — How can the Bitcoin community of users, miners, and developers be more cooperative when it comes to open source changes? The bottom line is, changes will always remain a significant challenge within the Bitcoin network for the community to overcome.
What do you think about alternative clients, code changes and the difficulty of consensus? Let us know in the comments below.
Images via Shutterstock, the Libbitcoin Manifesto, and Pixabay.
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