Bitcoin Core’s Jonas Schnelli: Core Would Need to Increase Block Size If Classic Succeeds
Jonas Schnelli is a contributor to Bitcoin Core whose first pull request was merged into the codebase in April of 2013. He has made 220 commits in total, which puts him in the number six spot of the contributors list, right behind Blockstream Core Tech Engineer Matt Corallo.
Schnelli recently gave a presentation related to the upcoming Bitcoin Core 0.12 release at a Bitcoin meetup in Zurich, Switzerland, and he was asked what Core’s response would be to widespread adoption of Bitcoin Classic, which is a new piece of Bitcoin software that intends to increase the block size limit to 2 MB. Although he was only speaking for himself, Schnelli claimed Bitcoin Core would likely have to increase the block size limit if it seemed like Bitcoin Classic was about to cause a hard fork with their implementation.
Bitcoin Core Won’t Split the Community
They key point Jonas Schnelli made in his response to the question about Bitcoin Classic had to do with an unwillingness by Bitcoin Core to split the Bitcoin community in two. He made it clear this was only his opinion and not necessarily the opinion of other Bitcoin Core contributors.
“I think -- [I’m] not sure. And I’m not speaking for Bitcoin Core here; I’m speaking for myself here. If it [turns out] that Classic takes off -- everybody’s running Classic -- and if there’s a hard fork on the road, I think Core would probably need to follow because I think Core won’t risk splitting the whole community. But that’s my personal opinion; I don’t want to say that for every Bitcoin Core developer.”
Bitcoin Core would also essentially lose control over the development process in a situation where a majority of the nodes and miners on the network are running Bitcoin Classic. While it’s true that anyone can start a new implementation of the Bitcoin protocol at any given point in time, the recent block size limit controversy has illustrated there is a large amount of friction involved with moving to an implementation that would cause a hard fork.
Bitcoin Classic is Not Yet Implemented
Schnelli also made the point that Bitcoin Classic is still mostly theoretical at this point. Although the concept has gained a lot of support from large Bitcoin companies, such as Coinbase and Xapo, the software is not yet ready for download.
“It’s not yet done . . . It looks like Classic have companies behind them who also want to increase the block size. Prominent people like Roger Ver and Bitstamp -- they all seem to agree on Classic. But actually, there’s no code changes. Today they merged two code changes. I think it was something around the ReadMe file. So there’s been nothing implemented yet for Classic -- no hard fork, no code.”
Although it’s true that Bitcoin Classic is unavailable right now, the source code is expected to be released before the end of January. At that point, nodes on the network will be able to switch from Core to Classic and show their support for doubling the block size limit via a hard fork.
Bitcoin Core Cannot Stop Bigger Blocks
One final point Jonas Schnelli made on the topic of Bitcoin Classic and bigger blocks is Bitcoin Core does not have the ability to stop this change. The correct Bitcoin ledger is the one that the majority of users agree to, so it’s not as if Core has some sort of totalitarian power over Bitcoin’s consensus rules.
“I agree if they get the economy behind them then we might need to follow. That’s not a problem. I personally have no problem with following other opinions. I mean, if people think bigger blocks are good, then Bitcoin goes that way. It’s nothing we can stop.”
Although Bitcoin XT’s implementation of BIP 101 was not able to gain widespread consensus in the community, it appears Bitcoin Classic has been able to gain traction with a simple increase of the block size limit to 2 MB. Chinese mining pools, who control a majority of Bitcoin’s network hashrate, are still undecided on Bitcoin Classic, so the community may have to wait until Bitcoin Classic is released to find out whether or not an increase in the block size limit is on the horizon.
About Kyle Torpey
Kyle Torpey is a freelance writer and researcher who has been following Bitcoin since 2011. His work has been featured in VICE Motherboard, Business Insider, New York Post, NASDAQ, The Next Web, American Banker, and other media outlets. You can follow Kyle on Twitter, send him an email, sign up for his daily Bitcoin newsletter, or visit his personal website.