Participating in the Bitcoin network can be as simple or as complicated as you want to be; the simpler your involvement, the more you’re offloading tasks to third parties. If you’re not taking self-custody of your Bitcoin in a wallet where you hold the private keys, then you’re likely using a custodial service or an exchange, and you’re instructing them to hold, transfer or receive Bitcoin on your behalf.
Similarly, if you’re not running your own node, even if you do hold the keys to your wallet, you’re broadcasting and verifying your transaction data via a third party. Instead of trusting another person’s infrastructure, you could run your own node and interact directly with the chain. Running your own node becomes more important if you run more complex Bitcoin transactions like Lightning or committing CoinJoins.
If you are interested in running a Bitcoin node, there are a few things you need to do.
First, you must download and install the Bitcoin software on your computer. Once the software is installed, you need to sync the blockchain. This process can take some time, as you need to download the entire history of Bitcoin transactions.
Once the blockchain is synced, you can start verifying transactions and blocks. You can also use your node to connect to other Bitcoin nodes and relay transactions.
Running a Bitcoin node is not for everyone, but it shouldn’t be hard to do so that more people do take on the responsibility. Running a node requires a dedicated device and a fair amount of technical knowledge and resources. However, running a node is a great way to go if you want to support the Bitcoin network and protect your privacy.
What is Nix/NixOS?
Eelco Dolstra and Armijn Hemel created NixOS, which was initially released in 2003. It is community developed and maintained under the stewardship of the NixOS Foundation. It is a Linux distribution based on the Nix package manager and build system.
It supports reproducible and declarative system-wide configuration management and atomic upgrades and rollbacks, although it can additionally support imperative package and user management.
In NixOS, all distribution components — including the kernel, installed packages and system configuration files — are built by Nix from pure functions called Nix expressions.
Nix can store multiple versions of each package, allowing users to switch between them by eschewing the shared mutable state of the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard (FHS) that other Linux distributions are based upon. Administrators can easily revert their system to a previous state if something goes wrong.
What is Nix Bitcoin?
Running your node is meant to be as easy as possible; it should be possible to run on an old laptop or a low-end device, but in reality, many people don’t have the funds to dedicate a device and run their node on a laptop or computer they use for daily activity. The issue with this is that as you use all kinds of software, you expose your device to a host of vulnerabilities, which could lead to your wallet or node becoming compromised.
It’s always recommended that you keep your Bitcoin activities separate from your standard internet use, and with Nix Bitcoin, you can do that by setting up a virtual machine on the same device. Alternatively, you can upgrade your dedicated node or home server to Nix Bitcoin for an added layer of security.
Nix Bitcoin is a collection of Nix packages and NixOS modules for easily installing full-featured Bitcoin nodes with an emphasis on security. Nix is a package manager that aims to bring reproducible builds to all packages it helps distribute. This means that you can be sure that the Bitcoin node you install will be exactly the same as the one that anyone else installs, regardless of the hardware or operating system you use.
Nix Bitcoin is designed to be easy to use, even for beginners. The installation process is as simple as running a few commands. Once you have installed Nix Bitcoin, you can run a Bitcoin node in minutes.
Nix Bitcoin is also designed to be secure. The Nix package manager ensures that all of the dependencies of the Bitcoin node are installed correctly and that there are no security vulnerabilities. Additionally, Nix Bitcoin includes several security features, such as firewall rules and port knocking.
Nix Bitcoin is a great option if you are looking for a secure and easy way to install a Bitcoin node. It is a powerful tool that can help you protect your privacy and security and run on various machines or dedicated devices.
The hardware requirements for Nix Bitcoin are:
- RAM: 2GB. ECC memory is better. Additionally, it’s recommended to use DDR4 memory with targeted row refresh (TRR) enabled.
- Disk space: 500 GB (400GB for Bitcoin blockchain + some room) for an unpruned instance of Bitcoin Core.
- This can be significantly lowered by enabling pruning. Note: Pruning is not supported by electrs and fulcrum.
Nix Bitcoin has been tested on low-end hardware, including:
- Raspberry Pi 4
- PC Engines apu2c4
- Gigabyte GB-BACE-3150
- Gigabyte GB-BACE-3160
Benefits of using Nix Bitcoin:
- Reproducible builds: You can be sure that the Bitcoin node you install will be exactly the same as the one that anyone else installs, regardless of the hardware or operating system you are using.
- Easy to use: The installation process is as simple as running a few commands.
- Secure: Nix Bitcoin is designed to be secure and includes some security features.
Drawbacks of using Nix Bitcoin:
- While Nix is a 20-year-old project, Nix Bitcoin is a new project still under development.
- It may not be suitable for everyone, as it requires some knowledge of Nix.
- Guides and tutorials are limited, so if you’re not technical and trying to follow on, you’ll end up pulling out your hair.
Nix your node
If you’re unhappy with the security issues surrounding the current node-in-a-box software or plug-and-play systems and want something more robust, Nix might be an option. Alternatively, those looking to run a Bitcoin node with more complex operations, such as routing nodes, might find Nix Bitcoin more attractive.
Nix Bitcoin is a powerful tool that can help you to protect your privacy and security when running a node, despite being a little complicated. It is designed to be secure, and support for new modules is constantly in the works, so you can eventually migrate much of what you do on your current node over to Nix Bitcoin.
Do your own research.
If you want to learn more about Nix 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, check out their official resources below or review other articles and videos tackling the topic.