Lightning in the core network of Bitcoin: boom and growing pains

The last few weeks among the supporters of the decision Lightning Network (LN) has seen a great revival. LN development and testing in the core network is in full swing and many are looking forward to start this new feature off-grid scaling.

On the other hand, some people remain quite skeptical, citing a few of the errors, the warnings from the developers and disputes over the expenses necessary for the establishment and closure of channels used.

Channels are multiplying

Solution Lightning Network (LN) is a scaling technology of the blockchain, aimed at addressing the problems of network congestion and the high cost of transaction fees Bitcoin. The idea is to ensure that transactions and micropayments by using a bidirectional peer to peer network of payment channels without their reflection in the blockchain, thereby radically decrease the fee and the network load.

In the past six months have held a permanent testing of the network LN with test BTC, and at the end of January was the transition to experiments in the core network with the use of actual payments involving real bitcoins. Currently, there are 956 of channels in the core network LN, which support 429 nodes with different names. According to the latest information, network, channels Lightning now uses a little less than 4 BTC (about 30 thousand dollars).

Map channels in real time, you can see here.

The cost of opening and closing channels Lightning

Users often talk about relatively low fees for transaction processing in the core network using the Protocol LN. But most of them miss the initial expense of opening and closing of the channels themselves. Taking into account the average Commission size and simple transaction, you can calculate that the cost of opening channels taking into account the existing commissions (according will be approximately 0.25 BTC, or about $ 1,800. To close the channels, it will take about the same amount. Thus, the opening and closing of all channels LN will take about 0.5 BTC ($3600).

Of course, these calculations are approximate and depend on changes in the size of the commissions. On the other hand, the efficiency of channels is determined not so much by the cost of opening and closing, as the amount of bitcoins transferred to the channels without recording on the blockchain. Lightning Network was initially profitable for large operators such as exchanges and wallets. For irregular transactions between individual users Lightning does not give significant advantages, while adding technical complexity.

The Strike interface API and a beta version of the wallet Zap

There are also other developments based on the decision of the Lightning Network, for example, the interface API Acinq Strike startup. The start-up of the interface occurred shortly after the company Stripe has ceased to provide services for the sale of API and stated that it will no longer work with bitcoin. Application interface from Acinq offers a similar approach. At the moment Strike only works in test network, but the startup plans to integrate it into the main network.

Another, launched last product based on LN – beta wallet Zap Jack Mallers (Jack Mallers), offering a number of new features. Nevertheless, the product is also designed to test the network. Mellers explains that «Zap will not publish releases to the core network until then, until will not be ready by the developers and a big part of the Lightning community Network». Although, «if you implement a standalone configuration, the Zap can be used in the core network,» he adds.

Risks of using Lightning in the core network

Finally, in late January, appeared a few error messages LN. Detected the error LN developer Rusty Russell (Rusty Russell) wrote: «so, who first lost their money in the core network Lightning Network?». The question Russell answered another user also faced with an error when sending the transaction. «My host was the same thing,» he said.

In addition, given the General tension around the use of Lightning Protocol in the core network, some developers warn people against crossing into the real network.

Technical Director of the company Lightning Labs Olaoluwa Osuntokun (Olaoluwa Osuntokun) recommends against the use of LN in the core network. Co-founder Elizabeth stark (Elizabeth Stark) also warns about the risk of Lightning connect in a working blockchain. Overall, given the hype around the use of a new Protocol, it should be noted that before he will be able to function in the existing network, still need to do a lot of tests and fix a lot of mistakes.

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