The Bitcoin developers have released the next version of the Bitcoin Core software client 0.21.0 with support for “descriptor wallets” and the latest version of Tor.
The developers of the Bitcoin Core client announced the release of a new version. One of the most significant changes in Bitcoin Core 0.21.0 is support for ” descriptor wallets “, which extend the way BTC wallets are protected. While traditional wallets require private keys to move BTC, descriptor wallets use scripts to provide more server-side flexibility. These scripts can include private keys, but they are not limited to them like traditional wallets.
The release notes for the update clarify that the differences between descriptor wallets and the current wallet format are mostly limited to non-user-related items, and that traditional wallets will remain the default option in Bitcoin Core, at least for the near future. Andrew Chow, one of the developers of Bitcoin Core, proposed to completely remove traditional wallets and replace them with descriptor ones by 2023.
Bitcoin Core 0.21.0 adds support for the latest version of the Tor V3 confidential browser protocol, which developers are planning to ditch older versions this summer for security reasons. Bitcoin Core 0.21.0 aims to address compatibility issues for users who want to run nodes on a confidential network.
Updates to improve the privacy and scalability of the Bitcoin network – Taproot and Schnorr signatures – have also been added in Bitcoin Core 0.21.0, but not yet activated. These updates were implemented in the Bitcoin Core code in October. Now that the code is ready for testing, developers can test the update before it starts to activate, which is scheduled for this year.
The developers have been preparing another change for about three and a half years. Bitcoin Core now allows users to manually set transaction fees in Satoshi per byte rather than BTC per kilobyte of transaction “weight”. Until now, Bitcoin Core relied on a system for estimating transaction fees, which were set by specifying the amount in BTC per kilobyte.
The release also introduces a new block filtering system for “light clients”. The new mechanism is safer for light clients because the nodes create block filters for wallets in advance, and the wallet will request block data on a case-by-case basis to get the specific transaction data it needs. As part of the previous process, wallets requested data for a specific block from connected P2P nodes.
Among many other changes, Bitcoin Core now supports a SQLite database, as well as a feature that reduces the number of relay attempts a node takes when it cannot relay a transaction to other nodes.
As a reminder, Bitcoin Core 0.20.1 was released in August last year.