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Author Topic: Desktop clients - Quick comparison chart  (Read 7350 times)
flatfly
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May 26, 2012, 03:40:34 PM
 #1

I've made this chart for my own usage, but thought it might help new users navigate through the existing options for Bitcoin clients.   Note that I purposefully chose to focus on desktop-based (non web-based), open-source clients only.

If others find the chart helpful, I can update it regularly, as new versions get released. Also feel free to suggest any other criteria that would be interesting to compare in a table format. And thanks for letting me know of any mistakes.


Disclaimer: Although I have tried all the clients listed, I'm almost exclusively an Electrum user - and I make stand-alone Windows builds for it.  

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May 26, 2012, 03:47:17 PM
 #2

I think an additional row needs to be for Clients that require another program to run to function, i.e. how Armory for example requires the actual bitcoin-qt to be open and loaded to access the blockchain.

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May 26, 2012, 04:33:33 PM
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I think an additional row needs to be for Clients that require another program to run to function, i.e. how Armory for example requires the actual bitcoin-qt to be open and loaded to access the blockchain.

Yup, if there is a dependency, then that would be useful on the chart.

For instance, Electrum's dependency is on the Electrum servers so connectivity becomes the dependency.

Nice chart, by the way.

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May 26, 2012, 04:42:30 PM
 #4

1.  it would be nice to allow ppl to vote which client they use.

2.  define "portable"

3.  Armory IS encrypted while running.

4.  Armory IS deterministic.

5.  Armory CAN import/export private keys.

6.  need category for paper one time backups.

7.  need category for "offline tx's"

8.  need category for "watching only wallets".
flatfly
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May 26, 2012, 04:53:00 PM
 #5

Thanks for the feedback. I will first fix the incorrect information (in a few minutes), then I will start adding stuff.

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May 26, 2012, 05:12:08 PM
 #6

The Satoshi client also has the wallet encrypted while running. Import/export of private keys is possible, but not via the user interface.

aka sipa, core dev team

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May 26, 2012, 05:20:54 PM
 #7

The Satoshi client also has the wallet encrypted while running.

Sorry, I must have missed this change. Has this been fixed recently?

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May 26, 2012, 05:41:39 PM
 #8

Wallet encryption was added in 0.4.0 (though it was flawed, initially; it sometimes left traces of the unencrypted keys on disk for a while).

If you have an encrypted wallet, the encrypted keys are loaded into memory, and only decrypted when necessary (after asking for a passphrase). When using the RPC interface, you can ask to keep the passphrase cached for a while, but even then, the actual keys are not decrypted until needed.

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May 26, 2012, 06:07:56 PM
 #9

OS compatibility and minimum supported OS version

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May 26, 2012, 06:22:55 PM
 #10

Hi flatfly,

That is a very handy chart for people to use when looking at the different bitcoin clients.

By 'Portable' do you mean 'Can it run from a USB drive?'
If so, you can run MultiBit off a USB drive for all of Mac/ Linux/ Windows as described here:

http://multibit.org/help_runFromUSBDrive.html

Cheers,

Jim

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May 26, 2012, 06:23:38 PM
 #11

Hi flatfly,

That is a very handy chart for people to use when looking at the different bitcoin clients.

By 'Portable' do you mean 'Can it run from a USB drive?'
If so, you can run MultiBit off a USB drive for all of Mac/ Linux/ Windows as described here:

http://multibit.org/help_runFromUSBDrive.html

Cheers,

Jim

yeah, that is cool.
flatfly
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May 26, 2012, 06:51:41 PM
 #12

Hi flatfly,

That is a very handy chart for people to use when looking at the different bitcoin clients.

By 'Portable' do you mean 'Can it run from a USB drive?'
If so, you can run MultiBit off a USB drive for all of Mac/ Linux/ Windows as described here:

http://multibit.org/help_runFromUSBDrive.html

Cheers,

Jim

Thanks Jim, I've updated the chart accordingly. Smiley

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flatfly
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May 26, 2012, 07:18:50 PM
 #13

Wallet encryption was added in 0.4.0 (though it was flawed, initially; it sometimes left traces of the unencrypted keys on disk for a while).

If you have an encrypted wallet, the encrypted keys are loaded into memory, and only decrypted when necessary (after asking for a passphrase). When using the RPC interface, you can ask to keep the passphrase cached for a while, but even then, the actual keys are not decrypted until needed.

Thanks for the info, I have updated the chart.

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May 26, 2012, 07:28:36 PM
 #14

your table has to make some sort of distinction btwn "server based" and "locally held clients".

i don't know Electrum as well as i should but i believe that the generation and encryption of deterministic wallets and the holding of private keys is on the client side.  that is good.  my only concern, which might be an invalid one, is that once private local keys are decrypted a malicious server could somehow upload the keys.  someone correct me if i'm wrong.

i admittedly use and like Armory b/c of the offline tx signing which in my opinion is superior.  again, correct me if i'm wrong.

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May 26, 2012, 07:46:52 PM
 #15

Isn't the satoshi client portable? I mean, if you put the client and the blockchain on the usb drive it should work without problems. You have to put in the parameters to tell it to use the blockchain on the usb drive but except that it should work...
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May 27, 2012, 08:19:44 AM
 #16

Isn't the satoshi client portable? I mean, if you put the client and the blockchain on the usb drive it should work without problems. You have to put in the parameters to tell it to use the blockchain on the usb drive but except that it should work...

Hi, thanks, I will test this when I get a chance. I'm mostly worried about whether the performance is bearable, and initial setup duration (downloading the blockchain to a USB drive...)

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flatfly
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May 27, 2012, 08:27:53 AM
 #17

your table has to make some sort of distinction btwn "server based" and "locally held clients".

i don't know Electrum as well as i should but i believe that the generation and encryption of deterministic wallets and the holding of private keys is on the client side.  that is good.  my only concern, which might be an invalid one, is that once private local keys are decrypted a malicious server could somehow upload the keys.  someone correct me if i'm wrong.

i admittedly use and like Armory b/c of the offline tx signing which in my opinion is superior.  again, correct me if i'm wrong.



I've put in a mention that Electrum relies on remote servers (which are open source as well).

About the risk of a malicious server: the Stratum protocol doesn't allow for any executable code or scripts, so
"uploading the keys" is impossible IMHO. The worst thing a malicious server could do, in theory, is lie about your balance.
However, note that I'm not an expert in the Electrum technicalities, better ask ThomasV for an authoritative answer.

Also Electrum DOES support offline transactions already, but only through the command-line at this time. Armory's GUI-based support for them is clearly more intuitive IMHO.

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May 27, 2012, 09:05:07 AM
 #18

your table has to make some sort of distinction btwn "server based" and "locally held clients".

i don't know Electrum as well as i should but i believe that the generation and encryption of deterministic wallets and the holding of private keys is on the client side.  that is good.  my only concern, which might be an invalid one, is that once private local keys are decrypted a malicious server could somehow upload the keys.  someone correct me if i'm wrong.

i admittedly use and like Armory b/c of the offline tx signing which in my opinion is superior.  again, correct me if i'm wrong.



I've put in a mention that Electrum relies on remote servers (which are open source as well).

About the risk of a malicious server: the Stratum protocol doesn't allow for any executable code or scripts, so
"uploading the keys" is impossible IMHO. The worst thing a malicious server could do, in theory, is lie about your balance.
However, note that I'm not an expert in the Electrum technicalities, better ask ThomasV for an authoritative answer.

Also Electrum DOES support offline transactions already, but only through the command-line at this time. Armory's GUI-based support for them is clearly more intuitive IMHO.

you are right.

There is no way a malicious Electrum server could steal your keys or passwords. The only malicious thing it can do is lie about your balance/history. There are 5 active servers at the moment, and they are identified by their domain name. As a user, you decide from which server you get that information, and you can also compare the answers of several servers if you have a doubt.

Electrum does have offline signing and watching-only wallets. However, these functions require to use the command line.

The command line options of Electrum are fairly comprehensive; they allow you to handle several wallets, and they give you full control on the transaction (choosing the change address, sending from an address)

Electrum: the convenience of a web wallet, without the risks
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May 27, 2012, 01:54:27 PM
 #19

Electrum does have ... watching-only wallets.


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May 27, 2012, 03:05:24 PM
 #20

Nice chart!

I will link to it from http://lovebitcoins.org/getStarted.html

my table is really meant to get people started quickly with mobile wallets. But the desktop wallets are important too.

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