Bitcoin Optech Newsletter #219
This week’s newsletter describes a proposal to allow LN nodes to advertise capacity-dependent feerates and announces a software fork of Bitcoin Core focused on testing major protocol changes on signet. Also included are our regular sections with summaries of popular questions and answers from the Bitcoin Stack Exchange, announcements of new releases and release candidates, and descriptions of notable changes to popular Bitcoin infrastructure software.
● LN fee ratecards: Lisa Neigut posted to the Lightning-Dev mailing list a proposal for fee ratecards that would allow a node to advertise four tiered rates for forwarding fees. For example, a forwarded payment that leaves a channel with less than 25% of its outbound capacity available to forward subsequent payments would need to pay proportionally more than a payment which leaves 75% of its outbound capacity available.
Developer ZmnSCPxj described a simple way to use ratecards, “you can model a rate card as four separate channels between the same two nodes, with different costs each. If the path at the lowest cost fails, you just try another route that may have more hops but lower effective cost, or else try the same channel at a higher cost.”
The proposal also allows for negative fees. For example, a channel could subsidize payments forwarded through it when it had more than 75% outbound capacity by adding 1 satoshi to every 1,000 satoshis in payment value. Negative fees could be used by merchants to incentivize others to restore inbound capacity to channels frequently used for receiving payments.
Neigut notes that some nodes are already adjusting their fees based on channel capacity, and that fee ratecards would provide a more efficient way for node operators to communicate their intentions to the network than frequently advertising new feerates via the LN gossip network.
● Bitcoin implementation designed for testing soft forks on signet: Anthony Towns posted to the Bitcoin-Dev mailing list a description of a fork of Bitcoin Core he’s working on that will only operate on the default signet and which will enforce rules for soft fork proposals with high-quality specifications and implementations. This should make it simpler for users to experiment with the proposed change, including directly comparing one change to another similar change (e.g. comparing OP_CHECKTEMPLATEVERIFY to SIGHASH_ANYPREVOUT). Towns also plans to include proposed major changes to transaction relay policy (such as package relay).
Towns is seeking constructive criticism of the idea for this new testing implementation, called Bitcoin Inquisition, as well as reviews of the pull requests adding the initial set of soft forks to it.
Selected Q&A from Bitcoin Stack Exchange
Bitcoin Stack Exchange is one of the first places Optech contributors look for answers to their questions—or when we have a few spare moments to help curious or confused users. In this monthly feature, we highlight some of the top-voted questions and answers posted since our last update.
● Is it possible to determine whether an HD wallet was used to create a given transaction? Pieter Wuille points out that while identifying UTXOs created using an HD wallet is not possible, other onchain data can be used to fingerprint wallet software including types of inputs used, types of outputs created, order of inputs and outputs in the transaction, coin selection algorithm, and use of timelocks.
● Why is there a 5-day gap between the genesis block and block 1? Murch notes that the gap in the timeline could be explained by the genesis block having a higher difficulty target than required, Satoshi setting the block’s timestamp in the past, or the original Bitcoin software waiting for a peer before starting to mine.
● Is it possible to set RBF as always-on in bitcoind? Michael Folkson and Murch explain the
walletrbfconfiguration option and list a series of related changes involving defaulting to RBF in the GUI, defaulting to RBF in RPCs, and using
mempoolfullrbfto allow replacements without signaling.
● Why would I need to ban peer nodes on the Bitcoin network? In contrast to discouraging a peer, user RedGrittyBrick explains that a node operator could choose to manually ban a peer using the
setbanRPC if the peer is misbehaving, a suspected malicious or surveillance node, or part of a cloud provider’s network, among other reasons.
Releases and release candidates
New releases and release candidates for popular Bitcoin infrastructure projects. Please consider upgrading to new releases or helping to test release candidates.
● Core Lightning 0.12.1 is a maintenance release containing several bug fixes.
● Bitcoin Core 24.0 RC1 is the first release candidate for the next version of the network’s most widely used full node implementation.
Notable code and documentation changes
Notable changes this week in Bitcoin Core, Core Lightning, Eclair, LDK, LND, libsecp256k1, Hardware Wallet Interface (HWI), Rust Bitcoin, BTCPay Server, BDK, Bitcoin Improvement Proposals (BIPs), and Lightning BOLTs.
● Bitcoin Core #26116 allows the
importmultiRPC to import a watch-only item even if the wallet’s private keys are encrypted. This matches the behavior of the old
● Core Lightning #5594 makes several changes, including adding and updating several APIs, to allow the
autocleanplugin to delete old invoices, payments, and forwarded payments.
● Core Lightning #5315 allows the user to choose the channel reserve for a particular channel. The reserve is the amount a node will normally not accept from a channel peer as part of a payment or forward. If the peer later attempts to cheat, the honest node can spend the reserve. Core Lightning defaults to a channel reserve of 1% of the channel balance, penalizing by that amount any peers that attempt to cheat.
This merged PR allows the user to reduce the reserve for a specific channel, including reducing it to zero. Although this can be dangerous—the lower the reserve, the less penalty there is for cheating—it can be useful for certain situations. Most notably, setting the reserve to zero can allow the remote peer to spend all of their funds, emptying their channel.
● Rust Bitcoin #1258 adds a method for comparing two locktimes to determine whether one satisfies the other. As described in the code comments, “A lock time can only be satisfied by n blocks being mined or n seconds passing. If you have two lock times (same unit) then the larger lock time being satisfied implies (in a mathematical sense) the smaller one being satisfied. This function is useful if you wish to check a lock time against various other locks e.g., filtering out locks which cannot be satisfied. Can also be used to remove the smaller value of two
OP_CHECKLOCKTIMEVERIFYoperations within one branch of the script.”