Ethereum’s Constantinople Upgrade Delayed Until 2019, Called the “Most Reasonable” Decision

News and Analysis

Ethereum’s planned hard fork of the protocol, dubbed Constantinople, will be postponed until the end of January 2019 earliest, developers confirmed in a meeting Friday.

Constantinople was first trialed on Ethereum public testnet Ropsten on October 13, and had been slated to be activated on the main blockchain by the end of October/November 2018. However, when the Ropsten hard fork occurred, it immediately became apparent that things weren’t going according to the plan.

For one, the hard fork stalled at block 4,299,999 for two hours, indicating that Constantinople on Ropsten wasn’t properly activated by miners. Even after testnet block processing resumed after an extended break, zero transactions were shown in the post-hard fork blocks, Ethereum World News reported.

Eventually, Afri Schoedon, a developer at Parity, took to Twitter to give the crypto community a concise update on the situation, simply explaining that a consensus issue had unfortunately occurred, catalyzing a three-way fork between Geth, Parity, and another popular Ethereum-based client.

Six days after the failed fork, on Friday, Schoedon explained what occurred in-depth at an Ethereum Core developers live-streamed meeting.

The developer first pointed out that due to the fact that the fork was far ahead of schedule, many Ethereum community members, including nearly every testnet miner, weren’t prepared to support Constantinople’s activation on Ropsten, leading to a desynchronization of chains.

Even after block 4,300,000 was mined, which was when Constantinople hit Ropsten, Schoedon explained that a user was “using the wrong config” and was following the Byzantium protocol, which is what the Ethereum mainnet is built on today.

In a post-mortem of the Ropsten hard fork, Afri Schoedon touched on a few more points, writing:

  • Recently added hashpower caused reduced block times and caused this hardfork to happen much earlier than expected on a Saturday which is, by all means, the worst time for a hardfork
  • Hardfork happened only 6 days after Geth release and 1 day after Parity Ethereum release, users had not enough time to upgrade.
  • There is no fork monitor available, only which does not reveal details about the different chains

Keeping the handful of issues in mind, the 17 attendees of the call formally decided that it would be advantageous for the entire Ethereum ecosystem to delay Constantinople’s mainnet release. Although some developers were split on when the delayed fork should occur, all attendees agreed that the arrival of Constantinople on the primary Ethereum blockchain would cause more problems than the upgrade would fix.

Schoeden, who took a strong stance for the delay, noted:

“I keep getting the feeling that we’re trying to rush this and I would second that we should breathe and see what happens… I’m not comfortable talking about the hard fork date until we have the tests for Constantinople ready.”

Writing on Twitter, the Parity developer also stated that “delaying Constantinople to 2019 is the most reasonable thing we had agreed on this week.”

Despite the delay, the developers explained that the changes proposed in the original Constantinople upgrade are still slated to hit the mainnet, no matter when the hard fork occurs. Notable changes include a 33% reduction in Ether block rewards and a potential change to the consensus mechanism of Ethereum to rid the network of ASICs.

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