Ethereum has forked for the fifth time and while Byzantium update had some bugs and delays, it was implemented with success and no significant community arguments.
Vitalik Buterin celebrated with a few developers, the success of the fork and posted this on twitter.
Hard fork celebration! pic.twitter.com/mL1ZyJOYeA
— Vitalik Buterin (@VitalikButerin) October 16, 2017
Byzantium is part of a package of improvements to the protocol that has been in development since 2015.
“Metropolis is a planned Ethereum development phase that includes two hard forks: Byzantium and Constantinople. Byzantium is occurring at block number 4.37mil. Constantinople does not currently have a release date, but is expected in 2018,” a blog post from late last week confirms.
After the fork, the price of ETH remained mainly stable, but it may seem that it will drop bellow 300$ in the following days.
Metropolis intended to provide greater flexibility to smart contract developers. According to Hudson Jameson of the Ethereum Foundation, smart contracts will eventually be able to automatically pay their own fees, thus eliminating the need for users to externally fund smart contracts themselves.
Instability and risks still remain.
Aside from the faulty nodes that have yet to upgrade, there’s also a chance of security bugs in the current Byzantium software.
The most severe and frequent of these is the consensus bug (as mentioned above), which occurs when nodes cannot transmit and the blockchain splits into opposite chains creating a secondary “coin” based on Ethereum code.
Developers are now said to be running tests to try and locate these risks, hoping to catch any before they active.
According to Wood, if the network does contain this bug, it will take time to show itself.
“I don’t think anyone believed the network was going to self-combust on block 4,370,000,” Wood said.
Rather, if there is a problem, it will come to light over the following days.
And if this does happen, Wood is confident the developer team will release debugged software variations quickly, to avoid any excessive damage to the platform.
Regarding the faulty software that is already out there, lead security developer for Ethereum – Martin Holst Swende said:
This isn’t a cause for concern.
If consensus splits happen as a result of running the old software, he assured:
“They’ll simply be dropped off the chain, [then] look into it and update their client.”
Of course, Ethereum is no longer monitoring these nodes, so if a bug does show up, it won’t be visible on any of the blockchain explorers. Further, should the bug be exploited on the older software, we’re unlikely to hear about it, beyond the “noise on Reddit,” according to Holst Swende.
New security check for Ethereum called the “Fuzzer”, a future saver tool Anti-Forks.
Ethereum relies on a number of security screening processes, but the one that probably didn’t get sufficient airtime prior to release is what’s known as a “Fuzzer” – an automated testing process that can draw out the most subtle of code weaknesses.
This is a new security check for Ethereum, and as core developer Peter Szilagyi explained,
“It takes time to polish and effort to really make it part of the workflows. Rest assured that the Fuzzer will be a much more organic part of the next fork preparation.”
The Fuzzer is now running to ensure the safety of Byzantium, and, so far, no bugs have been discovered since the hard fork. And while the whole experience has led some developers to vouch for more careful updating in the future, the Ethereum team doesn’t seem keen on dialling back its more aggressive approach to blockchain upgrades.