Introducing Witnet-Rust 1.2, a Huge Milestone for the Witnet Protocol

The Witnet developers want to celebrate the network turning 6 months old with our biggest upgrade to date. Find out about the whys, hows and whens here!

Six months have passed since the Witnet mainnet went live on October 14 2020. In this time, the network has seen an astonishing growth, with near to 1 million nodes competing for producing blocks and solving data requests.

The number of new features, integrations and ecosystem efforts in the pipeline is huge, and while everyone wants to get them all implemented during 2021, there’s no reason to wait for next year to start making things happen. That’s why the Witnet development community is today announcing Witnet-Rust 1.2.

What’s new on 1.2

Witnet 1.2 introduces a number of improvements and critical bug fixes that weren’t able to make it to the witnet-rust master branch by the 1.0 and 1.1 launch dates.

Namely, 1.2 introduces and activates three different Witnet Improvement Proposals:

  • WIP-0009, which improves the balance between the eligibility for mining blocks of existing identities vs. new identities, so that some 5% of the blocks can be mined by newcomers.
  • WIP-0011, which improves the consistency and availability of the superblock voting protocol, by setting a minimum voting committee size of 50 identities, and improving the randomness of the committees, so that the network can recover more easily after episodes of disruption such as the one described in WIP-0010.
  • WIP-0012, which is a follow-up to WIP-0009 and sets a minimum to the mining difficulty to preserve decentralization of mining rewards in the case that the count of active nodes suddenly shrinks.

As usual, these protocol improvements were the result of the cooperation of multiple developers, miners and stakeholders in the ecosystem, and gathered positive feedback from the community all through the weeks that it took from initial discussion to final implementation.

This is a clear example of the decentralized ethos that characterizes Witnet: different parties with varying — and sometimes conflicting — interests working together for the advancement of the ecosystem as a whole.

A handful of bug fixes have also been bundled in this release, including some critical bugs in the RADON engine — a key part of the software in charge of interpreting and executing the data requests.

A Planned Hard Fork Will Take Place on April 28, 2021

Some of the changes that come with 1.2 are consensus-critical changes. That is, a majority of mining nodes in the network need to adopt those breaking changes for them to be effectively enforced.

This procedure is quite standard in other decentralized networks like Bitcoin or Ethereum: any substantial change to the code that validates transactions and blocks causes a “hard fork”, i.e. nodes that don’t apply the new rules will end up in a different version of the network.

But hard forks don’t necessarily need to cause any drama. Through community coordination, hard forks have been successfully executed in both Bitcoin and Ethereum. As long as there’s majority support for the upgrade, and miners are given enough time to upgrade, the risks for the network are minimal.

Given the vast number of nodes we’ve seen the network thus far, the miners will have more than a whole week to upgrade their nodes before the hard-fork takes place on April 28, 2021 at 9am UTC.

How Do I Upgrade My Node?

Once the 1.2 release is live on GitHub and Docker in the coming days, the upgrade procedure will be the same as during the Testnet phase, as well as for migrating from Testnet to Mainnet. You will simply have to follow these steps that we published back them.

Should I Upgrade Or Should I Not?

As a Witnet miner, there are 3 things you can do:

  • Upgrade now: you will get all the improvements and bug fixes immediately, but the consensus-critical rules will only be applied from April 28.
  • Wait until just before April 28: you will miss all the improvements and bug fixes for now, but you will find yourself in the 1.2 network as long as you upgrade your nodes by April 28.
  • Totally miss the upgrade: on April 28, you will probably find yourself in a forked network (unless a majority of the miners decide not to upgrade).

At the end of the day, Witnet is a decentralized network, and as such, the developers can’t force the community to adopt a new upgrade. Any community member is free to choose whether they upgrade or not, and in doing so — or refusing to — they manifest their support or rejection for the proposed consensus rules.

Sheikah Has Also Upgraded ✨

The Sheikah Witnet Wallet just received a major update, with version 1.9.3 fixing and improving many small parts, and adding support for:

  • Languages: the Sheikah UI can now be translated into different languages, and a program for incentivizing crowdsourced translations will be announced soon. The first supported language is Spanish — ¡Hola amigos de Witnet!
  • MacOS notarization: Sheikah releases for MacOS are now signed with an Apple developer key and notarized by Apple, so you can finally say goodbye to the annoying security warnings that were shown before.

Any Doubts? Show Up In the Special Community Discussion!

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Adán Sánchez de Pedro

Adán Sánchez de Pedro

@Witnet_io board member, CTO at @StamperyCo, founder of @LoquiIM. Microelectronics aficionado. I write code, give talks, make music, brew beer and laugh a lot.