[Bitcoin-development] Why are we bleeding nodes?

Justus Ranvier justusranvier at gmail.com
Mon Apr 7 15:45:55 UTC 2014


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On 04/07/2014 11:34 AM, Mike Hearn wrote:
> At the start of February we had 10,000 bitcoin nodes. Now we have 8,500 and
> still falling:
> 
>    http://getaddr.bitnodes.io/dashboard/chart/?days=60
> 
> I know all the reasons why people *might* stop running a node (uses too
> much disk space, bandwidth, lost interest etc). But does anyone have any
> idea how we might get more insight into what's really going on? It'd be
> convenient if the subVer contained the operating system, as then we could
> tell if the bleed was mostly from desktops/laptops (Windows/Mac), which
> would be expected, or from virtual servers (Linux), which would be more
> concerning.

It doesn't do much good to only focus on the immediate symptoms at the
exclusion of big picture trends. There are three things happening now
that have nothing to do with operating systems.

1. The resource requirements of a full node are moving beyond the
capabilities of casual users. This isn't inherently a problem - after
all most people don't grow their own food, tailor their own clothes, or
keep blacksmith tools handy in to forge their own horseshoes either.

2. The growth of small and medium-sized native Bitcoin businesses is
lagging #1. Native here means their revenue and expenses are both
denominated in BTC. Most business adoption we've seen so far doesn't
actually handle bitcoins themselves. They use Bitcoin as a payment
method whose processing they outsource.

Contributing to this is the fact that Bitcoin Core, although it has made
great progress in the 0.9 release, can't be accurately described as
"enterprise ready".

3. The P2P protocol used by the network is broken from an incentive
perspective. Resource usage wouldn't be a problem as long as the users
which consume resources pay for them and the users who provide resources
are compensated, and they communicate via an efficient price discovery
mechanism. Right now there is no obvious way to incorporate price
discovery for bandwidth usage or storage space without a completely new
P2P protocol, and the effectiveness with which progress has been blocked
towards price discovery of transaction fees (the area where it is most
obviously necessary) means that I'm not optimistic that this subject
will ever be effectively addressed by Bitcoin Core.

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