Even though the official patch notes for Bitcoin version 0.10 have been released nearly a week ago, not everyone is up to date on what is being changed exactly. The new Bitcoin Core release is a major update and a lot of things are being changed and improved, including network synchronization, transaction fees, signing security and many other things. Let’s do a quick recap of what we think are some of the most important changes.
Changes To Bitcoin Transaction Fees
One of the changes most users will notice is the change in Bitcoin transaction fees. Bitcoin Core v0.10.0 will automatically estimate the high/low transaction fees required to confirm a transaction quickly. Default settings will ensure quick confirmations, but it is worth the time to check out the “txconfirmtarget” setting in your Bitcoin client’s debug console.
In past Bitcoin Core releases, one of the major complains was the fact that 6 confirmations could take anywhere from 10 minute sup to several hours. This caused annoying delays, especially where digital currency exchanges are concerned. With the new Bitcoin Core release, these kind of issues should be removed completely.
Faster Network Synchronization
It is due time to see the new Bitcoin Core release use “header-first synchronization”, which will speed up the network syncing significantly. The total size of all block headers for the complete Bitcoin blockchain (as of December 2014) is just 27 megabytes in size. This is a lot smaller compared to the actual blockchain, which is several gigabytes.
Do keep in mind that once the block headers are all verified, the client will still start downloading the entire blockchain. However, as the entire blockchain is determined after verifying the block headers, the actual blocks will be downloaded in parallel from all peers. A full blockchain synchronization and download can be achieved in little over 3 hours wit recent hardware and a decent network connection.
Watch-only Wallet Support
Watch-only mode is a feature we regularly encounter in alternate Bitcoin clients. However, the Bitcoin Core developers have (finally) decided to add this functionality to Bitcoin Core as well, which will be welcomed with open arms by many users. This feature allows wallets to track transactions to and from known wallet addresses, even without the private keys.
Not only will the watch-only feature help in tracking payments without entering the private keys online on a potentially vulnerable system, but it can also help in the manual construction of multisig transactions where you are one of the signers. While users could use the “getrawtransaction” command for similar results, watch-only mode scales & integrates better, and it is compatible with future blockchain pruning.
Improved Signing Security
Signatures have been made constant time deterministic, which will greatly benefit the security of signing against unusual attacks. You may have heard about the recent changes to OpenSSL, in which some potential issues were found by the Bitcoin Core developers. As a result of these issues, the developers have switched from OpenSSL to libsecp256k1.
Note from the author : Libsecp256k1 is a cryptographic library optimized for the curve Bitcoin uses which was created by Bitcoin Core developer Pieter Wuille.
For a full list of Bitcoin Core 0.10.0 changes, check the following URL :