In brief

  • Bitcoin Core 0.20.1 was released on Saturday.
  • The largest change affects how users that send invalid blocks are treated.
  • It’s a much smaller update than June’s significant 0.20 version release.

The newest version of Bitcoin Core—the open-source software built from Satoshi Nakamoto’s original Bitcoin client—released on Saturday, bringing along a modest number of changes and enhancements.

Bitcoin Core 0.20.1 is a much smaller update than the previous 0.20 edition released in early June—as the version number suggests—with only a handful of notable changes and a rather slim change log compared to the immense list seen the last time around.

According to the release notes, the biggest changes pertain to “misbehaving peers,” or users that send invalid blocks. With Bitcoin Core 0.20.1, these users are not banned but they are labeled as “discouraged nodes” in log output, meaning the network is less likely to interact with them. Incoming connections from discouraged nodes are still permitted, however, but they’re more likely to be banned. 


How much this black mark stops “discouraged nodes” from playing a role in the network depends on how busy the Bitcoin blockchain is, but the discouragement doesn’t persist if the node is restarted.

Saturday’s 0.20.1 version also fixes a notifications bug that has been in effect since the release of Bitcoin Core 0.19: “‘-walletnotify’ notifications are now sent for wallet transactions that are removed from the mempool because they conflict with a new block.” 

While the previous version of Bitcoin Core had 119 contributors listed, this update’s release notes credit just 13 direct contributors—a drop commensurate with the drastically lower number of entries in the change log.

Far bigger was June’s 0.20 release, which instituted significant changes to Bitcoin Core’s infrastructure, most notably the removal of the OpenSSL software library. Although originally implemented by Nakamoto, it had “long been a source of bugs, emergency releases and performance issues,” according to BitMEX Research.

Anyone can submit code for potential inclusion in Bitcoin Core, but some of its most fervent contributors have received grants to continue their full-time work on the software. In June, two such grants were announced, with BitMEX granting $100,000 to developer Gleb Naumenko and BitMEX and OKCoin collectively granting $150,000 to Xapo’s Amiti Uttarwar.


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