What is BIP149?

It is evident that Bitcoin Core developers would like nothing more than to activate Segregated Witness on the network. Unfortunately, they are facing a lot of opposition from the mining community. A new plan has been put in place to give SegWit another fighting chance if the “traditional” means of activating this solution fails. BIP149 provides another way to activate the software, assuming the user-activated soft fork doesn’t do so first. Time to take a closer look at what BIP149 has to offer.

BIP149 Is Quite An Interesting Proposal

It has become blatantly obvious activating Segregated Witness through traditional means will be virtually impossible. The support Bitcoin Unlimited has right now will prevent miners from activating SegWit through any traditional means. That does not mean this solution will not be activated at all, though. A user-activated soft fork can achieve the same goal, as BIP148 has been getting a lot of support lately.

This is where BIP149 comes into the picture, a new proposal that was first introduced about two weeks ago. Shaolinfry, one of the people who came up with this proposal, feels this is a good alternative way of activating SegWit in a way that may be agreeable to all parties. More specifically, BIP149 is a new deployment of Segregated Witness altogether, which can become of major importance once the normal deployment date “expires” on November 15th.

However, BIP149 is not capable of running on the main Bitcoin network right now. This is done on purpose, mind you, as it is incompatible with the current SegWit deployment on the network. Avoiding complications is of the utmost importance, that much is evident. Moreover, the current SegWit deployment still has a mathematical chance of activating on the network, albeit no one will be holding their breath to see this happen by any means.

What this new BIP does is attempt to activate SegWit by using BIP8. The activation threshold for BIP149 is July of 2018. It carries a lot of the same features, as miners can trigger the activation by reaching 95% consensus on their own. Should this procedure fail for some reason, it will depend on how many nodes support BIP149. If there is enough economic support, the nodes can begin enforcing this activation on their own.

More specifically, the first Bitcoin mining difficulty retarget after July 4th 2018 will allow the BIP8 state machine to switch its status to “locked in” for the next two weeks. After the next retarget, the activation of this proposal will occur as planned. This is quite an interesting approach to ensure this scaling solution can be activated, even though there will always be people who oppose such an idea. Do keep in mind this will all become irrelevant if SegWit activates normally or if the UASF is activated somehow.

It is important to note BIP148 and BIP149 are very different, though. BIP148 is not your traditional user-activated soft fork by any means, and it can be used in two different ways. BIP149, on the other hand, has no guarantee for a chain split. It is one concern less to take into account, which can only be a good thing. There are also different incentives, as miners would waste money on enforcing a chain split, whereas BIP148 will ensure the split happens – according to Shaolinfry. A solution with a guaranteed activation at the end is quite intriguing, and we will see whether or not BIP149 will gain traction.

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