Bitcoin’s core value proposition is decentralisation, where no one has superior power over the network, and anyone can connect directly to it with a very low barrier to entry. To use bitcoin, all you need is software, you could run a simple set up with a bitcoin wallet and node all running on an old laptop, and you would do fine.
Of course, you can add to your bitcoin security with hardware wallets or physical steel seed storage, but the essential part of bitcoin is the wallet software and the node software, of which there are several offerings. The goal is not to encourage as many people as possible to run a node and have them interact with the chain directly and validate transactions.
If you’re not using your own node, you’re piggybacking off someone else’s connection to the bitcoin blockchain; you’re trusting their software implementation and the data their node relays to your wallet.
Why run a bitcoin node?
By running a bitcoin node, you become an essential participant in the network. Not only are you contributing to the decentralisation of the currency, but you’re also helping to strengthen the network’s resiliency.
Reliable, resilient and restrictive.
When more users run nodes, the network becomes more decentralised and less vulnerable to attacks or control by any single entity. This makes it harder for bad actors to manipulate the system, ensuring that bitcoin remains secure and reliable for everyone.
Smooth block propagation.
Running a node also helps to propagate new transactions and blocks across the network, ensuring that information is distributed quickly and efficiently. This is particularly important during times of high transaction volume or network congestion, as it helps to prevent delays or backlogs. By helping to keep the network running smoothly, you make it easier for other users to rely on bitcoin for their transactions and financial activities.
Market feedback on node improvements.
Additionally, running a node enables you to contribute to the development and evolution of the bitcoin network. By participating in discussions and testing new features and upgrades, you can help shape the future of the cryptocurrency and ensure that it continues to meet the evolving needs of its users. This helps to ensure that the network remains relevant, useful, and valuable over the long term.
The network has to adapt as it grows in size.
Speaking of feedback from the market, that’s precisely where UtreeXO’s come into the picture. In the early days of bitcoin, running a node was a trivial task; you could run it in the background on your old laptop while doing other things, the data footprint was small, and data added with new blocks didn’t require many resources.
As the bitcoin network grows, it outgrows certain hardware and certain sizes of hard drive space, and this means fewer users will opt to run a node. In recent years, there have been great strides in custom bitcoin hardware and the push for running home servers that double as bitcoin nodes, but asking users to upgrade their hardware and systems is a tough sell, especially in the more remote parts of the world.
For those who are restricted by their access to hardware, pruned nodes would be the first option, and UtreeXO’s as of recently. The goal of UtreeXO is to make running a full node easier, faster, and smaller.
By giving users more options, they can choose the implementation that suits them and their hardware without compromising and using third-party nodes and maintain their connection to the bitcoin network.
Full Nodes, Pruned Nodes, and UtreeXO’s nodes all play different roles in the Bitcoin network, but they all contribute to the same goal: a more secure and decentralised financial system.
A quick recap on nodes.
There are different types of nodes in the bitcoin network, each serving a unique purpose.
Full monty node.
Full nodes store a complete copy of the blockchain and validate transactions, contributing to the network’s security and decentralisation.
Prudish pruned node.
Pruned nodes, on the other hand, store only a subset of the blockchain, allowing for more efficient storage but with less contribution to network resilience. A pruned node still runs the same software as a full node; the only difference is that you do not archive all of bitcoin’s history, which isn’t required to run a node. You can choose to prune your as you see fit, with most users who do prune opting to trim only to ensure their storage space does not run out.
Far-reaching UtreeXO node.
UtreeXO nodes are a new type of node that uses cryptography to keep track of the blockchain’s state without storing the entire history. UtreeXO is a hash-based accumulator that consolidates the UTXO set into a Merkle Tree, allowing users to maintain only their desired UTXO set and very little other data.
Regardless of the type of node you run, you are still making a valuable contribution to the strength and resiliency of the Bitcoin network. With more nodes participating in the network, it becomes harder for any one entity to manipulate or control the system.
So whether you run a full node, pruned node, or UtreeXO node, you are helping to create a more secure and decentralised financial system for everyone.
What is floresta?
Floresta is one of the first implementations of the UtreeXO nodes in the wild; it’s a user-friendly and resource-efficient implementation of an Electrum Server that allows even novice users to run the software.
Since Floresta runs on the Electrum protocol, any compatible wallets can connect to this server implementation and use it as a way to connect to the bitcoin network. Still, it has some nuances you should be aware of before you switch over.
When you first connect your wallet to the server, your Bitcoin balance will show up as zero, even if you have bitcoin stored in that wallet. This is because Floresta doesn’t keep an address index like ElectrumX or Electrs.
You must provide your wallet’s X-Pub to the server to create an index for your UTXOs. If you’re using Electrum, click on the “Wallet” menu and then “Information” to find your X-Pub (Master Public Key).
We’re going mobile with a node in a pocket.
Your UtreeXO node doesn’t have to be your primary node; it can be a secondary implementation you can use as a mobile node. If you are okay with the tradeoffs of assumeUTXO, you can have an assumeUtreexo full node running on your smartphone.
This is where the real innovative application comes into play as this was not possible before, and considering how many smartphones are out there, you now open up bitcoin nodes to billions of devices worldwide. Considering that some people only have a smartphone and not desktops or laptops, allowing them to run a node is a big step towards decentralisation.
It is important to note that while UtreeXO nodes can be run on a smartphone and take up very little space on the device, it will require a lot more bandwidth, which could eat into your data plan.
Take it easy, tiger.
If Floresta sounds like something you would like to test out, please set up a new set of keys before you get started and only play around with small amounts of bitcoin.
Floresta is a WIP (Work In Progress) 🚧 implementation for a wallet and node powered by UtreeXO, and vulnerabilities could exist. The software is continuously being developed, and there is still a long way to go in terms of improving its code quality, testing procedures, and anti-DoS measures.
Your node, your rules.
The need for a decentralised currency like bitcoin becomes more apparent as the world becomes increasingly digital and interconnected. If bitcoin continues to expand and become the most valuable network on the planet, do you want to always rely on 3rd party connectors, or do you want to connect to the network yourself?
Running a bitcoin node is one way to support the march towards a decentralised future. By taking control of your bitcoin experience and improving your privacy, you are also contributing to the strength and resiliency of the bitcoin network, and you are helping to shape the future of currency.
So, why wait?
If you can allocate resources to run a full node, pruned node or UtreeXO node, they all count in building a robust network.
As Satoshi Nakamoto, the anonymous creator of Bitcoin, once said,
With Bitcoin, trust is no longer required.
Do your own research.
If you want to learn more about UtreeXO on bitcoin, 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.
How do you use your node?
Are you already set up with your bitcoin full node or pruned node? Are you thinking about moving to a UtreeXO setup? What implementation are you using? Let us know in the comments below.