Two long-anticipated upgrades appear to have officially activated on the ethereum blockchain, the world’s second-largest by market value, without incident.
At 19:57 (UTC), the sixth and seventh system-wide upgrades to the software, dubbed Constantinople and St. Petersburg, respectively, rolled out on the main network at block number 7,280,000. As seen on blockchain monitoring website Fork Monitor, there is so far no evidence of a chain split that would suggest a portion of ethereum users are still running an older ethereum software.
Past hard forks of the ethereum blockchain have encountered such setbacks, most notably in 2016 with ethereum classic, a group that continued running an older software instance when a controversial upgrade was introduced.
As background, before any system-wide upgrade, or hard fork, miners and node operators are required to install new client software that automatically updates at the exact same block number. This prevents two concurrent and incompatible versions of the same blockchain from splitting the wider network.
“With the blockchain, everyone has to upgrade in order for everyone to be able to use [the new] features,” explained Taylor Monahan – CEO of blockchain wallet tool MyCrypto.
“About two weeks before the fork, everyone upgrades the software but none of the new features are enabled,” said Monahan to CoinDesk. “Then, on that block number, everyone at the exact same time starts using the new features. So, that’s how we prevent differing states from existing simultaneously. It’s [also] called a consensus issue or a consensus bug.”
These are important markers in the development of the blockchain landscape, as getting the bugs out of the technology can help to increase comfort levels and encourage wider adoption. Bugs such as some of the ones that we have seen in the blockchain space recently are real black eyes and can damage the acceptance of blockchain. When users see founders die and everyone is locked out of their funds, funds stolen and any of the other security issues that we have seen recently, this scares people away from the space. Only the true hard core supporters will remain. You need that loyal base but you need more than that.