Today is certainly a day of big disappointment for the Ethereum community. Constantinople, the long awaited update, has been delayed to block 7,280,000, which is set to hit on February 27.
Constantinople was set to launch this week but a core developer phone call which included the superstart Vitalik Buterin and other relevant names such as Peter Szilagy, Lane Rettig, Hudson Jameson, Martin Holste Swende, Alexey Akhunov, Danny Ryan and Afri Schoedon has made things change.
As you may have heard, the new protocol was set to have five improvement proposals (EIPs) that would make the speed of the network more stable and fast. However, the audit firm ChainSecurity has discovered that one of these codes was vulnerable when they were about to launch it.
The EIP 1283 was the one that was compromised. The update was canceled this month and now will happen in February, Then, the update will be made in two parts. The first one will implement the five original EIPs and soon after this one will be completely removed. This will happen practically at the same time to prevent issues.
EIP 1283 will then be left out to the next hard fork when it can be worked out better to prevent any new kind of bug.
This strategy, Coindesk affirmed using inside sources, was set by Szilagyi during the call. The idea is to ensure that the test and private networks that have implemented Constantinople already can fix it easily without having to roll back blocks, which could cause a major headache.
The bad EIP would be used to reduce data storage costs, but unfortunately it will have to wait because of the exploit, which was first found out this week. Szilagyi has reportedly affirmed that the team will set up two hard forks, the current one and another one to remove the bad EIP completely so people who upgraded can downgrade.
Matthias Egli, COO of ChainSecurity, has told Coindesk that the issue was most likely not seen by the core devs because the issue is more related to smart contracts and not necessarily to the code Ethereum Virtual Machine, so it was easier to miss. However, the company was focused exactly on smart contracts, so this is why they found out the issue in time.
Despite all the issues, Constantinople had to be activated soon because of the difficulty bomb that was already scheduled to happen and would make block times increasingly longer as soon as it was activated. One of the updates from Contantinople was set to fix that and would delay it.
The difficulty bomb was meant to be used to encourage the adoption of the long awaited proof of stake protocol, which was promised years ago by Vitalik Buterin. However, some people criticized the idea as it would be insufficient to just use the difficulty bomb in order to make the change happen soon.
The next Ethereum hard fork was completed in August 31 and had 5 EIPs. Hard forks are wide upgrades which change the system and if not all people accept them, the network is forked. This is how Ethereum Classic and Bitcoin Cash came into existence. However, Constantinople was not a controversial update and almost everybody agreed on the hard fork update.
While the change was not meant to be too noticeable for end users, it would change a lot of the life of the developers as they would have several quality of life updates, but now they will have to wait another month for this.