What Is A Core Lightning Plugin?

Core Lightning Plugins

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In the expansive world of Bitcoin and its off-chain scalability solutions, Core Lightning stands out as a unique implementation of the Lightning Network due to its growing library of plugins. It represents an alternative to other popular implementations, such as eClair and LND with the main distinction lies in its architecture and its approach to expanding functionality.

Whether you’re a seasoned Bitcoin enthusiast or a newcomer to the Lightning Network, Core Lightning offers a unique take on scalable, low-cost Bitcoin transactions. With its plugin system, it presents an enticing opportunity for anyone seeking to customise their Lightning Network experience.

What is core Lightning?

Core Lightning (previously c-lightning) is a lightweight, highly customisable and standard-compliant implementation of the Lightning Network protocol released and maintained by Blockstream. The Core Lightning project implements the lightning protocol as specified in various BOLTs but allows for additional modules to be built on it. 

Core Lightning is broken into subdaemons, with the idea being that it can add more layers of separation between different clients and extra barriers to exploits and provide more freedom to add functionality and interoperability.

What are CLN plugins?

Plugins in Core Lightning allow users to extend the functionality of the protocol without needing to delve into the complexities of the underlying source code. They provide a powerful way for developers to add new features or modify existing ones.

Plugins are standalone processes that interact with Core Lightning via a simple JSON-RPC interface, enabling users to write plugins in any language they’re comfortable with. This opens up a world of possibilities for customisation and function expansion, making Core Lightning not only a powerful tool for managing Bitcoin transactions but also a highly adaptable system that can evolve with the needs of its users.

Opening up to new ideas

Core Lightning not only empowers its users with customisation but also thrives on community involvement. As an open-source project, it invites contributions from anyone and everyone, particularly through the development of plugins.

This inclusive approach transforms Core Lightning from a mere tool into a living, evolving ecosystem. Developers across the globe, regardless of their affiliation or professional background, are welcome to create and contribute plugins.

Whether it’s a feature that enhances user experience, increases efficiency, or introduces a whole new way to interact with the Lightning Network, it’s this diversity of perspectives that can propel Core Lightning forward and increase its market share in the Lightning Network.

Plugins are also the reason Lightning nodes may want to switch from other implementations should they want more functionality or wish to experiment with community source code contributions.

What Core Lightning plugins are available?

reckless is a plugin manager for Core Lightning that you can use to install and uninstall plugins with a single command. Reckless-installed plugins reside in the ‘reckless’ subdirectory of the user’s .lightning folder. By default, plugins are activated on the bitcoin network (and use lightningd’s Bitcoin network config), but regtest may also be used.

Reckless will exit early in the event that:

  • the plugin is not found in any available source repositories
  • dependencies are not sucessfully installed
  • the plugin fails to execute

If you’re looking for plugins to try out, you can check out the list below.

autopilotAn autopilot that suggests channels that should be established
backupA simple and reliable backup plugin
boltz-channel-creationA Core-Lightning plugin for Boltz Channel Creation Swaps
btcli4jA Bitcoin Backend to enable safely the pruning mode, and support also rest APIs.
circularA smart rebalancing plugin for Core Lightning routing nodes
csvexportpaysA plugin that exports all payments to a CSV file
currencyrateA plugin to convert other currencies to BTC using web requests
clearnetA plugin that can be used to enforce clearnet connections when possible
cln-ntfyCore Lightning plugin for sending ntfy alerts.
donationsA simple donations page to accept donations from the web
drainDraining, filling and balancing channels with automatic chunks.
event-websocketExposes notifications over a Websocket
feeadjusterDynamic fees to keep your channels more balanced
go-lnmetrics.reporterCollect and report of the lightning node metrics
graphqlExposes the Core-Lightning API over graphql
invoice-queueListen to lightning invoices from multiple nodes and send to a redis queue for processing
lightning-qtA bitcoin-qt-like GUI for lightningd
listmempoolfundsTrack unconfirmed wallet deposits
monitorhelps you analyze the health of your peers and channels
noiseChat with your fellow node operators
nostrifySend CLN events to Nostr
paythroughPay an invoice through a specific channel, regardless of better routes
persistent-channelsMaintains a number of channels to peers
ponchoTurns CLN into a hosted channels provider
probeRegularly probes the network for stability
prometheusLightning node exporter for the prometheus timeseries server
pruningThis plugin manages pruning of bitcoind such that it can always sync
python-teosThe Eye of Satoshi – Lightning Watchtower
rebalanceKeeps your channels balanced
recklessAn experimental plugin manager (search/install plugins)
requestinvoiceHTTP server to request invoices
sauronA Bitcoin backend relying on Esplora‘s API
sitzprobeA Lightning Network payment rehearsal utility
sparkoRPC over HTTP with fine-grained permissions, SSE and spark-wallet support
summaryPrint a nice summary of the node status
trustedcoinReplace your Bitcoin Core with data from public block explorers
webhookDispatches webhooks based from event notifications
watchtowerWatchtower client for The Eye of Satoshi
zmqPublishes notifications via ZeroMQ to configured endpoints
nloopGeneric Lightning Loop for boltz
List of Core Lightning Plugins

Do your own research.

If you want to learn more about Lightning Plugins, use this article as a jumping-off point and don’t trust what we say as the final say. Take the time to research other sources, and you can start by checking out the resources below.

Are you a Bitcoin and Lightning fan?

Have you been using Lightning to make micro-payments? Stream sats or engage with apps? Which app is your favourite? Do you run a Lightning node? Have you tried all the forms of Lightning payments? Which one do you prefer?

Let us know in the comments down below.

Disclaimer: This article should not be taken as, and is not intended to provide any investment advice. It is for educational and entertainment purposes only. As of the time posting, the writers may or may not have holdings in some of the coins or tokens they cover. Please conduct your own thorough research before investing in any cryptocurrency, as all investments contain risk. All opinions expressed in these articles are my own and are in no way a reflection of the opinions of The Bitcoin Manual

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