The Search For Stability, Ethereum’s Software Update

ethereum stability

The fork in Ethereum’s road to progress (Byzantium) may have been dealt with and executed at that time, but there’s still a long way to go according to its developers. The software is still in transition and is not anywhere near complete. Not by a long shot.

The Ethereum Hard Fork

The hard fork for Ethereum, was not free of challenges and risks, and it was in no way simple. A hard fork is a term specific to blockchain technology. It’s an all-out change that makes transactions (sometimes called blocks) valid or invalid. It’s a sort of massive systems upgrade. The one for Ethereum is being called one of the largest changes done to one of the biggest blockchain software in the world. For the fork to be successful, all computers throughout the world that were running the software needed to install mandatory upgrades. This was encouraged and was to be executed at the same time the world over for people using the Ethereum software.

Something Went Wrong

However, everything didn’t go as planned. Upgrades happened to be released just days before the hard fork happened. As a result, there were quite a sizeable amount of users/nodes/computers using the software left out of the upgrade. Many of them still need to make the upgrade. Only a day or two before publishing this article, less than half of the network was using the upgraded software.

Since there was a limited testing time, there were major problems being faced. Some versions of the software were recalled as critical faults within them could have exposed the blockchain, leaving it vulnerable to attacks. Another potential problem could have been one of incompatibility, i.e. users not being able to interact due to incompatible versions of the software. These problems led to the creation of doubts regarding the usability of the Ethereum network in the minds of its users.

Gavin Wood told people to proceed with caution before applying Ethereum on a large-scale until the upgrade was fully stable. The reason was that there were some software clients that had a consensus bug which “blocks communication between nodes (different users)” leading to splitting of the blockchain into chains that are incompatible. They are running tests to fix the problems as we speak.

Fixing the Problems

Vitalik Buterin, considered the Ethereum founder, said that problems would need to be fixed and would take around a month or two.

Some people may ask why these tests weren’t carried out before. Well, there had been extensive testing procedures followed for Byzantium before its release. In fact, Afri Schoedon, an Ethereum developer, told people on a Reddit forum that several weeks before the hard fork was released, Byzantium code had been available. Not only that, it was passing tests like a pro. It relies understandably on security screening processes, but one that might have not been stressed enough was the Fuzzer.

The Fuzzer takes out implicit problems in codes no matter how small. More of this is being currently used to run safety tests for Byzantium before the release. Let’s see how stable Ethereum will become after the so called Fuzzer is through with it.

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