Introduced Wednesday, a new proposal called Signet offers a fresh alternative to bitcoin’s test network.
The software plays a crucial role for developers, serving as a place where they can test their apps, to make sure they work reasonably well on the network by putting only test money on the line. Further, protocol developers can use it to test the viability and safety of big changes to bitcoin, such as Segregated Witness, one of the best-known and largest-scale bitcoin changes.
But bitcoin’s current testnet, which has been around in its current form for years, has its share of problems. In a new Bitcoin Improvement Proposal (BIP) posted to the bitcoin developer email list, Bitcoin Core contributor Karl-Johan Alm goes as far as to call it “notoriously unreliable.”
He hopes to change that with a new type of testnet for bitcoin that gets around the old testnet’s problems.
Alm told CoinDesk:
“Signet is like bitcoin, but it is completely centralized and controlled by one or several people. These people have to sign a block for it to actually be valid.”
Many of the problems with the testnet have to do with mining blocks, which is more erratic on the testnet than on the real bitcoin network. A few of the problems, Alm argues in the BIP, are: “Huge block reorgs, long gaps in between blocks being mined or sudden bursts of blocks in rapid succession mean that realistic testing of software, especially involving multiple independent parties running software over an extended period of time, becomes infeasible in practice.”
“Reorgs” are when one block is replaced with another block.
To a degree,