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Author Topic: New Bitcoin client takes a long time and some other questions.  (Read 1118 times)
99Percent
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July 04, 2011, 03:01:34 PM
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A couple of newbie questions

I am installing the bitcoin client on a slow computer with a USB key to use as a backup wallet. But its downloading the block chain is already taking more than a day. At this rate it will take more than 2 days to finish. I have read elsewhere that the whole block chain is not really needed to receive and send bitcoins so I even though I don't mind waiting I am wondering if the new client will be implemented where the whole blockchain is not downloaded or am I am missing an obvious option? What about clients who are installing on small flash drive, or in the future when the blockchain grows much larger?

Another question: I also read that the fundamental strength of the bitcoin currency relies on all the power of cpu and gpu processing participating in the network, but I notice that the bitcoin client has mining turned off by default. Does that mean that a currently fresh bitcoin client is not participating in contributing computing power and if so, wouldn't it be better if it did, albeit in a minimal fashion with the option to turn off? I have seen websites that even try to use your browser javascript engine to do a few hashes as a way to recover some of their costs, I am therefore sure its possible to do very minimal processing on the standard client.

And finally, I see that when the system reaches 4 years of existence (sometime in 2113 I presume) the bitcoins rewarded for every block is going to suddenly half from 50 to 25. Wouldn't that create a sudden crisis or a potentially catastrophic shuffle in currency trading and mining?
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deepceleron
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July 04, 2011, 04:58:15 PM
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You can "seed" a new bitcoin installation by downloading and copying the first 120,000 blocks from here: http://sourceforge.net/projects/bitcoin/files/Bitcoin/blockchain/ Right now we are on block 134,741.

You are contributing to the strength of the encryption of the blockchain (the transaction record of all payments) when you mine. The more difficult it is to find the desired hash of a transaction block by mining, the harder it is for a malevolent actor to create a false block. The bitcoin client still participates in a p2p network that communicates information about transactions to other clients (that's where you are slowly downloading those blocks from).

The reduced mining reward won't affect things any more than the constantly increasing difficulty of mining (difficulty has doubled in a month). It is assumed that as the bitcoin network grows, increasing transaction fees that miners earn will slowly replace the 50BTC block hashing rewards.

99Percent
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July 04, 2011, 05:41:40 PM
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Thanks for your answers, deepceleron (funny nick, maybe I'll use deepZ80 lol)

It took a lot less time to download and process the first 100k blocks than it is taking for the last 34k and I can tell that it takes longer and longer as the block count increases. I assume that there is some processing going on at the client, maybe checking the each block's authenticity, the latest blocks being much heavier than the early ones. I am concerned about future clients as the blockchain grows, which may even grow at an exponential rate.

I understand very well that the strength of the encryption of the blockchain is supported by all the mining that is being done. I also understand that mining is not a all or nothing endeavor so a client can "throttle" its mining rate according to how much cpu/gpu resources you give it. Wouldn't it be better for bitcoin if new clients mined something or at least leave the option open to the user, than absolutely nothing at all by default?

Ok, I understand now about the increasing transaction fees. Obviously as blocks get bigger, it is more costs more cpu power to confirm transactions, so more transactions fees will come about. By the time the sudden halfing of the 50 btc reward comes, the sum of transaction fees will be significantly larger than 50 BTC. Is there a way to find out how much transaction fees are being added per block?
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July 04, 2011, 06:11:59 PM
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I think you just have a lousy connection to other clients, it's just downloading now, that's all.

Miners are doing too good a job of hashing as it is, the bitcoin network has five times the computing power of the world's largest supercomputer. Big waste of electricity. It's enough of a contribution to keep your bitcoin client open, so the next person who needs all the blocks can get them faster.

There aren't going to be more blocks coming in every minute as bitcoin grows, bitcoin is designed to adjust so there is a new transaction block about every ten minutes. They may get bigger, but that's why fees are based on the size of their transfer in KB.

You can use http://blockexplorer.com/ to view the actual blocks. The first transaction in a block is the miner reward, 50BTC + the transaction fees paid for the transactions in that block. They vary depending on the size of the transactions in the block.

Less reward for mining would make bitcoins that much harder to 'mint', meaning they should be more valuable.

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