Monero Just Hard Forked — and It Resulted in Four New Projects

One hard fork later, there are four new Monero projects.

Monero hard forked to version 12 of its protocol yesterday. But not everyone is on board. Following the by Bitmain’s mining pool AntPool, and of course because Bitmain has much to gain from a continuation of Monero with the CryptoNight hash algorithm, some suspect that this ASIC hardware manufacturer has a hand in this project, too. However, when asked by Bitcoin Magazine, a Bitmain representative suggested this was not the case.

Bitcoin Magazine was unable to get in contact with PZ or anyone else from the Monero-Classic project by time of publication.

Monero 0 (XMZ)

Speaking with Bitcoin Magazine, a pseudonymous spokesperson for Monero 0 identified the group as one of “concerned users” and “proof-of-work maximalists,” some of whom operate hobby operations for mining.

On the project website, Monero 0 writes:

“We’ve decided that the Monero Project’s strategy to continuously hard fork is no longer a stable or a sane strategy. We believe that Satoshi’s Proof of Work is the only mechanism for decentralized consensus. The so-called ‘network upgrades’ that are centrally mandated by the Monero Project are a Trojan Horse designed to compromise the effectiveness of Proof of Work in the Monero network. Monero 0 is not a fork; it is the original Monero.”

The Monero 0 spokesperson further said that Monero is “an NVDA project”, that “‘proof of fork’ is not a consensus method,” and that “Bitmain is trying to destroy Monero” — but did not have time to explain more.

Monero Original (XMO)

Not much is known about Monero Original or the people behind it.

The project has a GitHub, and it sent press releases to several outlets. This press release did not contain much information, but it did include a statement from the “lead developer of Monero Original team”:

“Monero has always been about freedom of choice, about diversity and about the strong community behind it. We are providing the Monero fans [with] a possibility to support the iconic coin and stay on the original chain. Monero Original team stands for diversity, which is a logical marker of evolution. We are excited to see our favourite coin mature, and we are even more excited to help [in] keeping this diversity,” says the lead developer of Monero Original team.

At least one cryptocurrency exchange — HitBTC indicated it would make XMO balances available to all XMR holders at the time of the hard fork. This does not necessarily mean that HitBTC will also offer XMO trading, but it does make it more likely they will.

Bitcoin Magazine reached out to the Monero Original project but did not receive any response by the time of publication.

The Complications

So far, it appears that both the new Monero blockchain and the pre-hard fork blockchain are running — though both are supported by less hash power than they were before the hard fork. This means that blocks are being found more slowly, in particular on the Monero blockchain, but this situation should stabilize within days.

Assuming that at least one of the four new projects succeeds in keeping the pre-hard fork Monero blockchain running (and assuming the new Monero blockchain keeps running too), this could lead to some complications.

For one, the Monero hard fork did not implement replay protection. This could mean that users who spend XMR on the new Monero blockchain could unintentionally spend the equivalent coins on the pre-hard fork blockchain, and vice versa.

Thanks to other changes on the new Monero protocol, this risk appears limited for users of the pre-hard fork blockchain, however. The default transactions they make will be considered invalid on the new Monero protocol. But users of the new Monero blockchain do not have that same luck. If they want to keep their pre-hard fork coins, they should move these before they move their XMR, and do so with the default ring-size of five (or six).

Over time, replay attacks should become less likely, even if for users that didn’t move their coins. This is because on Monero mixing coins is a requirement, and the odds that users will mix their coins with coins that are only valid on one chain will increase. Doing so will make the whole transaction invalid on one of both chains.

A bigger problem is that moving coins on both blockchains reveals which coins are controlled by the same user. This is at odds with Monero’s central value proposition of privacy and fungibility. Therefore, anyone who uses Monero for privacy reasons is best advised to completely choose one chain and ignore the other completely. (It’s presumably best to ignore the chain that carries the least value.)

Even users that do not use both chains may suffer from somewhat decreased privacy. If they mix their coins with users who revealed which coins they own, it can reduce the anonymity set of other users as well. This added risk is probably compensated for on the new Monero protocol by the increased ring-size for transactions, however.

Whether the pre-hard fork version of Monero (in the form of the four different projects) will gain and retain any market value of course remains to be seen.

Monero lead developer Riccardo Spagni did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.

Thanks to Monero community contributor Justin Ehrenhofer for clarifying some of the technical details.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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