A new mechanism to speed up the syncing of nodes that were disconnected from the Lightning network was announced by Blockstream. The company specialized in infrastructure for Bitcoin unveiled LNsync, a service assisted by a web server that allows to recover, in a short time, the topology of the network while the node was offline.
Through a statement, the company indicated that it is an option that simplifies the routing of payments for developers of Lightning applications. Blockstream illustrated the usefulness of LNsync as the “Google Maps” for the Lightning network, a second layer solution on top of Bitcoin for immediate transactions.
“LNsync collects the changes that have occurred in the network since the last time your node was connected and makes that information available to your node in a compact format, which currently allows a significantly accelerated synchronization process”, explained the company . Technically the new Blockstream protocol is known as web server assisted Gossip (metadata) synchronization.
The Lightning network already has a protocol for exchanging metadata on other nodes and channels on the network. This protocol is known as Gossip, however, according to Blockstream, it is not enough because it may take a couple of seconds to several minutes to catch up with the latest data.
The company clarified that LNsync is not a replacement for Gossip, rather it enhances its role because it provides an additional method to retrieve information from the network topology. The web server only provides updates for nodes and channels that have changed during a specific interval.
“Once your node has completed its synchronization through LNsync, the Gossip protocol takes over again, keeping your node up-to-date while it is online. The route calculation is always done on your device. No payment information is leaked to LNsync servers, “Blockstream said.
LNsync was developed by Blockstream as a contribution to speed up the synchronization of temporarily disconnected nodes. Composition by CriptoNoticias.
LNsync now up and running on the Lightning network
One of the problems that LNsync would solve are the failures that Lightning wallet users experience that, when they try to pay, the operation can sometimes show errors. This occurs because the wallet or application used requires a good enough view of network topology in order to direct a payment to its destination, Blockstream explained.
When talking about the topology of a computer network, reference is made to the way its geometry is arranged. It is a physical or logical map that is used to exchange data between its nodes and connection lines. Some types of topology are: tree, star, mixed, mesh, ring or connected.
On Twitter, some operators have already tested the protocol, such is the case of the user @notgrubles, who, at the beginning of February, shared his experience on its operation. The user highlighted the following:
It’s pretty good. Just fire up Lightningd with the historian plugin and in seconds you have a recent snapshot of about 27MB of Lightning gossip data that would otherwise take minutes to download and sync, especially on a slow hard drive.
The Lightning network is one of the most ambitious projects out there on Bitcoin. CriptoNoticias reported in January that the network closed 2020 with more than 15,000 public nodes with a capacity to process more than 1,000 bitcoins in all its channels.