Substratum Dev Team Show & Tell — 5-July-19 (i35)

Show & Tell weekly sessions are an excellent insight into the challenges and triumphs facing the Substratum development team. For those following these Show & Tell discussions, the format of the progress breakdown has just gotten slightly more tense and exciting, because the team is down to the last handful of critical items (cards) to move to the first Release Candidate (RC1) of the SubstratumNode

As always, B.J. Allmon heads the meeting by outlining the Substratum Node Version 1 Strategic Goals:

  • Priority 1. Make the Internet Free (as in freedom) and Fair. — “As a SubstratumNode user I can allocate my spare computing resources so that the Internet can be a free and fair place for the entire world.”
  • Priority 2. Earn Cryptocurrency. Change the world. — “As a SubstratumNode user I earn $SUB as content is routed through my node so that I am incentivized to make the Internet free and fair.”

BJ gave a bit more clarity here about how the Node vision is being developed in real usages:

In Priority 2, ‘content’ is a big word — it could mean a lot of things. It could be routing services, exit services or even blockchain services eventually. This could be where people don’t have access to a GETH miner or a blockchain service URL (like Infura), they can get the block information from users on the Substratum network.

Many of the Tactical Focus Items listed have been done for a while. Most of these have been done for the purpose of RC1 and the others that are Work-In-Progress will be built-out further after RC1 to provide more in-depth features.

GUI updates have notably been challenging and involve a lot of work.

The ‘Show and Tell’ segment

Still plugging way, and we are looking at the data differently from here on out, with the remaining cards. — B.J. Allmon

The team review the completed work for the week, including Telling the story of each card, or Showing the completed feature.

Setup DNS Utility to require rustfmt

This was actually completed for all the sub-projects within the repository, as well as the DNS Utility. Basically just reduces noise in the teamPersonal Repos.

There is a known bug in the DNS Utility that needs to be fixed for Windows, so this will assist in cleaning that up (tech debt)

Prevent fraudulent consuming wallet usage — Steve Swing

When your node builds a route, it will take the network public keys of the route nodes, and provide the proof of having the private key for the consuming wallet being used to pay for the services — this produces a signature. This lets all the nodes on the route know that the requesting node has:

  1. Provided a wallet for payment
  2. Can sign transactions for that wallet

This will prevent node users consuming on the network without a valid wallet to pay for services.

This does create an incompatible version with users who have downloaded the v0.4.8 binaries, since this updated code is not in that downloaded version.

Another main function of this completed card, is that the smart contract of the token is also called into the signature, so testnet won’t be compatible with mainnet.

Implement clippy linting for dns_utility:

This was a tech debt item

Clippy provides scans of the code, and provide hints that you are running certain code functions.

SHOW — Wallet Password Unlock for the GUI — Steve Swing:

BJ put the SubNode GUI on the screen.

To understand the wallet functionality a bit more, its best to clarify how wallets and wallet passphrases are derived (not just specific to Node wallet generation)

Passphrases and passwords are two separate things.

The mnemonic passphrase is the additional word you include with the BIP39 mnemonic words, that creates a more secure wallet. (usually it’s a 13th word or 25th word when generating new wallet seed words)

The words are used to generate a seed value.

The seed value can be combined with a wallet derivation path (n/44’/60’/0/0 etc) and this produces a key pair (wallet public address and private key)

To keep that seed secure, a password can also be collected to encrypt it.

The mnemonic seed value is stored encrypted in the database, but the password is used to decrypt it and provide the wallet info (mnemonic seed) to the Node itself.

Essentially all of this is in place so Node can pay bills for routing!

The GUI on screen showed the prompt that the user sees to provide the Password to unlock the wallet being used for consuming.

BJ explained that the format of tracking progress has changed.

From this point on, velocity averages will not help predict the final time frame to complete the RC1. BJ said he will tweet updates as the remaining cards for RC1 are completed.

2 cards are in flight and are really close — they unlock two cards in the To-Do bucket. One of the four remaining is also dependent on another being completed first.

Therefore RC1 completion cannot be predicted based on how fast the team previously were completing cards, since they are down to the final few and they are codependent on each-other.

Thankfully the work on the routing for RC1 has already been completed.

Dan Wiebe explained more on how the cards became more technical resulting in several of the final ones remaining:

We assumed that every time you started Node, you wanted to use the same earning and consuming wallets and could store and reference them in the database. However, it was discovered that changing the consuming wallet can cause issues with tables stored in the database.

So with this challenge in mind, the work relating to the consuming wallet was split into several cards.

BJ clarified there is still the ability to have several nodes running that are sharing the same earning wallet, but there is some complexity to work around, as the accountant module will be tracking all the transactions relating to the same earning wallet across many nodes.

It’s definitely something that needs to be thoroughly tested in the testnets.

Team Capacity Utilization overall initiative looks great!

This week the team had 2 cards that were critical RC1 cards, and two others that were tech debt that relate to Version 1, but not necessarily RC1 — that was played to keep several of the development team busy working on constructive items while others play out the RC1 cards.

For those who want more technical insight, I tried to capture some of the Guest Open Space chatter. If you don’t want to ‘geek out’, you can stop reading here!

Guest Questions/Comments during meeting (paraphrased!)

Aussie_Crypto — Question from the community was do you have plans to have testers try to attack Node on a clandestine and monetisation level

BJ & Steve — Yes definitely. What’s challenging is that many of the High-Level Security Execs we deal with are not experienced in hacking in this area.

Andreas — Offering a bug bounty would be a great way for this — community could be incentivized for this.

Brian — Since the latest commit has breaking changes, the community isn’t able to continue testing. So do we anticipate a v0.4.9 version so the community can test a pre-cut binary so the testing velocity can be continued?

BJ — its a good question — we will have to see how we sit mid-week

Steve — it would be good to see another minor release, as the next few cards will have compatibility changes

Disclaimer: I am not an official Substratum team member — I am a community moderator. This write-up is interpretation of the Show & Tell meeting and data released from the team. None of this is to be taken or construed as investment-related or as financial advice.