When CoinCadence announced that P2Pool.org was being sold there was quite a bit of trepidation in the mining world. The change in ownership of this domain is quite a big deal for the large and growing portion of the mining world that uses P2Pool. I was able to interview Ian Treibick, founder of CoinCadence, and he was able to put my mind at ease with his response. CoinCadence’s purchase and dedication to P2Pool is a huge step forward for the Bitcoin mining world. The need for P2Pool has been highlighted by the threat of 51% attack from pools such as Ghash.io. I look forward to P2Pool finally being developed in a user-friendly manner and moving forward to catch up to other pool software.
Acquiring P2Pool.org is a big step in visibility, and you have announced the Open Source Dashboard improvements you are making due to be rolling out this winter. How important was getting the P2Pool.org domain name?
We have always planned to open up the dashboard to the public, and the acquisition of p2pool.org is really just icing on the cake for us. The current p2pool.org is a privately owned site that has been focused on providing a public node for people to mine on, and they charge a 2% fee, and offer no information about setting up your own p2pool node. While having publicly accessible nodes is important for p2pool, we felt a domain as prominent as p2pool.org should contain both a public node, and an explanation of the benefits or running your own node. When we re-launch p2pool.org (before September 1st) it will contain information about starting your own node, a 0% fee public node for people who are unable for whatever reason to set up their own, it can serve as a backup node for other node operators, and eventually will be a central distribution point for our Dashboard.
P2Pool software has been struggling behind other pool software in terms of development. Do you have plans in place to help improve the P2Pool code beyond your new Dashboard?
We do. The contribution to the Bitcoin community by Forrest V., p2pools original developer, is substantial, and we are enormously appreciative of his work. Forrest is a student, and as such has limited time to contribute to the project. Active development of p2pool has basically been stalled for over a year. With the acquisition of p2pool.org, and the upcoming release of our dashboard we hope to re-ignight the flame of decentralized mining and get p2pools development back on track.
With Ghash’s 51% happening over and over and now Discus Fish on the same rise how important do you see it be to able to move people over to P2Pool?
We believe that the trust less nature of Bitcoin transaction processing is paramount to it’s continued adoption. Without trust, less transaction processing Bitcoin fails. Centralized pools, while solving the problem of variance for miners, create all the problems of centralization; a single point of failure, the ability to block transactions from being processed, the ability to orphan multiple blocks of the chain for selfish purposes, undetectable skimming by pool operators, lack of transparency, etc. P2Pool, even if it had 100% of the network hash power, has none of these problems. It does however have some obstacles to overcome.
What are some improvements that you feel the P2Pool code needs to make it better and more attractive to miners?
There are three major big picture challenges p2pool needs to overcome for mass adoption by miners, if the p2pool community can come together and make these three things happen I believe p2pool will become the largest pool on the planet while presenting no threat to the trust less nature of Bitcoin.
1. Hardware compatibility
2. Consistent branding with a familiar and data-rich dashboard
3. Variance for smaller miners
1. Hardware compatibility: We need hardware manufacturers to ensure their latest and greatest plays well with p2pool. I’ll use Bitmaintech as an example. The Antminer S1 works great on p2pool, however when they released the Antminer S2 we were all disappointed to learn that it would loose 10-20% of its effective hash rate when mining on p2pool. When Bitmain announced the S3, the p2pool community rallied and let Bitmain know just how important it is to be compatible with p2pool. Bitmain heard us, and the S3 works great with p2pool.
Just by skimming the first page of the S3 support thread you can see how the p2pool community rallied and Bitmain responded:
I believe as long as the mining community keeps the pressure on the manufacturers to be p2pool compatible they will listen to their customers and deliver products that work with p2pool.
2. Consistent branding with a familiar and data-rich dashboard:
As an open source project p2pool is not a “brand” in the traditional sense. Anyone can make changes to how data is presented, and even how their node operates behind the scenes. Many miners make customizations to the pool front end that can make it difficult for a visitor to understand exactly what they are looking at.
I believe it is important to have consistency across nodes.
Also, p2pool is in a unique position to be the most-transparent pool in existence. Centralized pools only disclose data they choose to share with miners, with p2pool all the data is there and available for anyone to scrutinize, it just needs to be collected and presented in a way that is valuable for the community.
When you navigate to a p2pool node it should be immediately familiar and intuitive, you should know exactly where to look for the statistic you are interested in and be able to find it quickly.
Additionally, for a new dashboard to have mass adoption within the p2pool community, it needs to provide significant improvements over other available options.
The Coin Cadence dashboard solves all these problems. We have had tremendously enthusiastic support from the community for our work so far, and I believe that when we open source the dashboard we will achieve mass adoption quickly.
Its worth noting that the Coin Cadence dashboard does not alter the p2pool source at all, it is built upon existing APIs in p2pool and bitcoind, and will not require a fork in the p2pool share chain for adoption.
Here is some community feedback we have received since the announcement:
When we roll out the open source dashboard, I believe this problem will be solved.
3. Variance for smaller miners:
There is an inherent paradox in the basic principals of how p2pool operates: as the p2pool global hash rate grows Bitcoin block variance decreases, while p2pool share variance increases.
Miners have to run enough hash power to ensure they have at least one share in the p2pool share chain when the pool finds a block so that they get a portion of the reward.
As the pool continues to grow smaller miners are forced out because the time to find a share becomes so great that a run of bad luck could mean not receiving a payout per block found, or in extreme cases per difficulty increment.
As of this writing, I would suggest 150 GH/s as a minimum to mine on p2pool.
This is not an easy problem to solve. Many in the community have put forth potential solutions, but none that have been realized.
Solving this problem will take some serious innovation and action, while I’d love to be able to say Coin Cadence will solve it, the fact is that I don’t know.
What I can say is that we are willing to dedicate resources to the solution, and many others in the community are as well.
It is something I actively think about daily, and I’m confident that as a community p2poolers will solve it.
Do you have any statements about pool centralization and how important you feel it is to stay decentralized?
Satoshi stated in the white paper “We have proposed a system for electronic transactions without relying on trust.”
If we allow over 50% of the network to be controlled by any single entity Bitcoin is no longer a trust-less system. That entity becomes a 3rd party required to complete the transaction. If this ever occurs, it is my opinion that Bitcoin will collapse.
I don’t want to see Bitcoin collapse, and I want to see it change the world and make it a better place, and I am not alone. How important do I feel it is to stay decentralized? It is the single most important thing.
How did the negotiations come about for P2Pool.org and were they smooth or were there bumps in the road?
It began with me reaching out to the owner in early July, he has offered a public p2pool node with a 2% fee for quite some time, and he has enjoyed a nice revenue stream from the site.
However, the site offers very little info on p2pool itself and has not been directly affiliated with the project or its ongoing development. I explained to him my vision for the domain, my hopes for the continued growth of p2pool, and my budgetary constraints.
While the process took some time, we agreed on a price and conducted the transaction in Bitcoin with no 3rd party involvement. After we each had verified our identity, I agreed to send 50% up front, and 50% after the domain had been transferred to my control.
Here is an excerpt from part of our email conversation after I sent the down payment, and he transferred the domain:
Me: Thanks xxx, You know, after I sent that first payment I started to question my judgement, nice to work with an honest person in an anonymous market.
Seller: You’re welcome Ian, I understand your doubts. There are a lot of shady, untrustworthy, people in this market. It’s nice to be an accomplice to restoring faith in humanity, if only the rest of the world got pleasure from doing the same.
There are plenty of scammers out there, and sometimes it is hard to see the forest through the trees, but completing this transaction with no escrow and no trusted 3rd party to mediate has only strengthened my belief in the benefits Bitcoin can provide to the world, and re-affirmed my desire to help grow the worlds first decentralized trust less means of exchange.
It is exciting to see more visibility coming to P2Pool yet we need to continue to educate the public on it. Do you have a way you like to explain P2Pool to new miners?
I wrote this back in May, and while I would change some of my statements if I were to edit it today, the overall message is still what I would put out there:
OgNasty of Nasty Mining and Nasty Pool is a huge supporter of P2Pool. How important is it for more P2Pools in your opinion like CoinCadence and NastyPool that are higher profile to keep getting the word out and what things can be done to help P2Pool growth.
OgNasty is a great supporter for our community, in my opinion overcoming some of the misinformation out there about p2pool and continuing to spread the word and get more miners involved is paramount. But it’s not just the miners; we need the knowledge of the importance of decentralized mining to grow in parallel with Bitcoin’s adoption. In addition to spreading the word, we need to take the three challenges p2pool faces (1. Hardware compatibility 2. Consistent branding 3. Variance for smaller miners) head on and continue to work as a community to solve them.
Do you have anything you would like to add that I may not have touched on?
While I now own the p2pool.org domain I don’t see it as “mine,” it belongs to the community, I am simply a caretaker. It is my hope that with continued support from the p2pool community we can turn p2pool.org into the information hub for all those who want to learn about and grow the only trust-less and decentralized mining pool in existence.
Thanks to Ian! I look forward to the future of P2Pool more than ever now.