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Bitcoin Optech Newsletter #182
This week’s newsletter describes an idea to add accounts to Bitcoin for paying transaction fees and includes our regular sections with the summary of a Bitcoin Core PR Review Club meeting and descriptions of notable changes to popular Bitcoin infrastructure projects.
● Fee accounts: Jeremy Rubin posted to the Bitcoin-Dev mailing list the rough idea for a soft fork that could make it easier to add fees to presigned transactions, such as those used in LN and other contract protocols. The idea is an outgrowth of his transaction sponsorship idea described in Newsletter #116.
The basic idea for fee accounts is that users could create transactions that deposited bitcoins into an account tracked by upgraded full nodes that understood the new consensus rules. When the user subsequently wanted to add fees to a transaction, they would sign a short message containing the amount they wanted to pay plus the txid of that transaction. Upgraded full nodes would allow any block containing both the transaction and the signed message to pay the miner of that block the signed fee amount.
Rubin suggests that this would eliminate many problems with CPFP and RBF fee bumping related to contract protocols where two or more users shared ownership of a UTXO, or other cases where the use of presigned transactions meant the current network feerates couldn’t have been known when the transaction was signed in the past.
Bitcoin Core PR Review Club
In this monthly section, we summarize a recent Bitcoin Core PR Review Club meeting, highlighting some of the important questions and answers. Click on a question below to see a summary of the answer from the meeting.
Erlay support signaling is a PR by Gleb Naumenko to add transaction reconciliation negotiation to p2p code. It is part of a series of PRs to add support for Erlay to Bitcoin Core. The review club meeting discussed the reconciliation handshake protocol and weighed the advantages and disadvantages of splitting large projects into smaller chunks.
What are the benefits of splitting PRs into smaller parts? Are there any drawbacks to this approach?
Splitting a large PR into smaller chunks helps encourage more focused and thorough review on a PR before merge without forcing reviewers to consider huge change sets at a time, and it reduces the chance of running into review obstacles due to Github scalability issues. Non-controversial and mechanical code changes can be merged more quickly, and contentious bits can be discussed over more time. However, unless reviewers conceptually agree with the full change set, they are trusting that the author is taking them in the right direction. Also, since the merge is not atomic, the author needs to ensure that the intermediate states aren’t unsafe or doing something nonsensical, such as announcing support for Erlay before nodes are actually able to do reconciliation. ➚
When are nodes supposed to announce reconciliation support?
Nodes should only send
sendreconto a peer if transaction relay on this connection is on: the node is not in blocksonly mode, this isn’t a block-relay-only connection, and the peer didn’t send
fRelay=false. The peer must also support witness transaction identifier (wtxid) relay, because sketches for transaction reconciliation are based on the transaction wtxids. ➚
What is the overall handshake and ‘registration for reconciliation’ protocol flow?
versionmessages are sent, but before
verackmessages are sent, peers each send a
sendreconmessage containing information such as their locally-generated salt. There is no enforced order; either peer may send it first. If a node sends and receives a valid
sendreconmessage, it should initialize the reconciliation state for that peer. ➚
Why doesn’t Erlay include a p2p protocol version bump?
A new protocol version is not necessary for things to work; nodes using Erlay would not be incompatible with the existing protocol. Older nodes that don’t understand Erlay messages such as
sendreconwould simply ignore them and still be able to function normally. ➚
What is the reason for generating local per-connection salts? How is it generated?
A connection’s reconciliation salt is the combination of both peers’ locally-generated salts and is used to create shortids for each transaction. The salted hash function used for shortids is designed to efficiently create compact ids, but is not guaranteed to be secure against collisions if an attacker can control what the salt is. When both sides contribute to the salt, no third-party can control what the salt is. Locally, a new salt is generated for each connection so that the node cannot be fingerprinted this way. ➚
Notable code and documentation changes
Notable changes this week in Bitcoin Core, C-Lightning, Eclair, LND, Rust-Lightning, libsecp256k1, Hardware Wallet Interface (HWI), Rust Bitcoin, BTCPay Server, BDK, Bitcoin Improvement Proposals (BIPs), and Lightning BOLTs.
● Bitcoin Core #23882 contains an update of the documentation in
validation.cppregarding the operation of testnet3.
In the original version of Bitcoin, it was possible for transactions to have identical content and thus colliding txids. The duplication issue could especially occur with coinbase transactions for which the composition of input and outputs was partially the same for every coinbase transaction and otherwise determined entirely by the creator of a block template. The mainnet blockchain contains two duplicate coinbase transactions, at height 91,842 and 91,880. They are identical to previous coinbase transactions and overwrote existing coinbase outputs before they were spent, reducing total available supply by 100 BTC. These incidents prompted the introduction of BIP30 which forbade duplicate transactions. Enforcement of BIP30 was implemented by checking for each transaction whether any UTXOs existed for the respective txid already. The duplication issue was effectively prevented by the subsequent introduction of BIP34 which required the block’s height as the first item in a coinbase transaction’s scriptSig. Since the height is unique, the content of coinbases could no longer be identical at different heights, which also prevents the issue in descendant transactions inductively. Thus it removed the need to perform extra checks for duplicates.
It was later shown that BIP34 was flawed in that there already existed some coinbase transactions before BIP34’s introduction that matched the height pattern for future block heights. The first block height at which a miner would be able to produce a BIP30-violating collision is at 1,983,702, which we expect after the year 2040 on mainnet. However, testnet3 has meanwhile exceeded the height of 1,983,702. Bitcoin Core thus reverted to performing the checks for duplicate unspent transactions on every testnet transaction.
● Eclair #2117 adds support for processing onion message replies in preparation for supporting the offers protocol.
● LND #5964 adds a
leaseoutputRPC that tells the wallet not to spend the indicated UTXO for a specified period of time. This is similar to RPCs offered by other wallet software, such as Bitcoin Core’s
● BOLTs #912 adds a new optional field to BOLT11 invoices for metadata provided by the receiver. If the field is used in an invoice, the spending node may need to include the metadata in the payment message it routes through the network to the receiver. The receiver can then use the metadata as part of processing the payment, such as the originally proposed use of this information for enabling stateless invoices.
● BOLTs #950 introduces backward compatible warning messages to BOLT1 and reduces requirements to send fatal errors, avoiding unnecessary channel closure. This is the first step toward more standardized and enriched errors. More discussion can be found at BOLTs #834 and in Carla Kirk-Cohen’s post to the Lightning-dev mailing list (see Newsletter #136).