Feathercoin, the UK based Scrypt currency, has undergone a hard fork on block 204,639 of its block chain. This change addresses drastic swings in the difficulty level caused by mining pools who switch between multiple currencies, and it also implements a fix to the OpenSSL Heartbleed vulernability. The fork involves a mandatory update to version 0.8.6.2 of the Feathercoin desktop wallet, which follows a fix to the Android wallet app.
A hard fork, is where a new block chain branches off from the existing block chain. In this case, the fork has been made to reflect changes in Feathercoin’s protocol which defines how blocks are computed.
Updates to the latest version of the Feathercoin wallet can be downloaded from:
Peter Bushnell, the founder of Feathercoin, exclusively told Coinbuzz:
“0.8.6.1, now 0.8.6.2 is a big release for us. The main reason is change is that multipools are stipping us bare leaving nothing for the miners who want to stick with us full time. Wrapper (Dr Tony Doyle) and Wellenreiter spent several months analysing and then simulating our network and the multipools and then used those simulations to work out the best possible settings. After our hard fork on 204,639 we will retarget every block with an average of 15, 120 and 480 blocks damped by .25. Also our block time increases from 2.5m to 1.m and coin reward drops proportionately to 80 coins a block.”
Furthermore, an announcement on the Feathercoin forum detailed work done by community developers:
“Wrapper and Wellenreiter have made simulations to see the effect of multipools on us and can see how bad their impact on us is.They have also been able to use these simulations to work out the best possible defense against these pools. After months of analysis the best possible solution was chosen and we have spent the last month running this on the testnet in various forms to gather as much data as possible. The testnet showed that the changes performed exactly as the simulations predicted and that the difficulty closely follows the network hashrate. This is a sign of quality in the simulations that were created, we have powerful tools for developing Feathercoin.”
For those who are not aware, every cryptocurrency has a difficulty level that readjusts itself according to how much computing power is present on the currency’s network. In turn, Multipool mining pools target themselves on the most profitable currency at any given time – i.e. the most coins for the least computational effort. Therefore, as these pools switch, a large amount of hashing power is directed at each currency, thus pushing its difficulty level high. This makes things harder for miners who only mine a single currency until the difficulty level is readjusted sometime after the multipool miners move on to another currency.
The core of Feathercoin’s update has been to increase the currency’s responsiveness to these pools. Therefore, Multipools will find it harder to get a return, and Feathercoin miners will see the difficulty level return to normal much faster.
After having made the switch, Feathercoin community member, “Wrapper”, stated on the forum thread (linked above):
“Handling the change-over to one minute transaction blocks took about 130 blocks. Between 13:18am and 13:35am or about 15 mins. 25th/04/2014. By 02:00 the block transaction time had settled to 1 minute for 60 block average. The block times are still settling down as it comes fully in. If any other coins attempt such a change over I would recommend including a period where both cases apply.”