15 Jan 2021 · 2 min read

Bitcoin Core 0.21.0 Brings Taproot Closer and Adds Tor, Fee, Signet Changes

Bitcoin Core Project announced that Bitcoin Core 0.21.0 has been released, bringing a variety of fixes and upgrades to the Bitcoin (BTC) protocol, including a step towards the much-anticipated Taproot upgrade, fee changes, a new type of testing ground, new type of wallet support, and more.

Source: Adobe/REDPIXEL

The latest Bitcoin Core is now ready for download. Per the release notes, it comes with "new features, various bug fixes and performance improvements, as well as updated translations." And it really is a long list of changes to peer to peer (P2P) and network, setting, tools, utilities, wallet, and other aspects - which, among other things, are meant to improve privacy, transacting, and the use of the network overall.

Among the most significant changes are those related to Taproot, Bitcoin's largest alteration since 2017 designed to increase its privacy, which will be bundled with Schnorr, a soft fork that improves privacy, scalability, and speed, and encodes multiple keys into one. This particular release implements the proposed Taproot consensus rules (BIP341), said the notes, without activation on mainnet. Meanwhile, experimenting with Taproot can already be done, given that the upgrade rules are already active on Bitcoin's signet, which is a sandbox network available for developers to complete any needed tests before an updates/upgrades are moved to the mainnet.

With major crypto exchange Binance's pool giving their support for Taproot in late December, total hashrate in support of Taproot climbed to 91.05%.

And speaking of the signet (BIP 0325), it's a new test network for Bitcoin which adds an additional signature requirement to block validation, similar to but considered more reliable than testnet. These are "centrally-controlled test networks, allowing them to be more predictable test environments than the older testnet," said the notes. It is this latest Bitcoin Core release that added support for signets in addition to the existing mainnet, testnet, and regtest networks.

Furthermore, additional privacy is meant to be accomplished with the added support of privacy browser Tor's latest, V3, address format. This is particularly relevant as V2 will be disabled by October 2021.

Another major change is that the support for a custom fee rate has been added. Instead of having to use a fee estimator during transactions, users are now able to set the fees manually - and in BTC's smallest unites 'satoshi,' instead of just BTC.

Other changes include ways to prevent an attacker from using node restarts to trigger a complete change in peers, mempool tracking whether transactions submitted via the wallet or RPCs ( Remote Procedure Calls) have been successfully broadcast, reducing the size of the set of transactions that peers have announced from 100,000 to 5,000 per peer, removing automatic wallet creation on startup, adding support for descriptor wallets (still experimental), which uses scripts instead of keys to execute functions, etc.

The release notes provide a number of additional relevant upgrades and changes, as well as bug fixes, in addition to details on the latest version's compatibility, and an explanation on how to complete the update.
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