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Ethereum Developers Delay Berlin Hard Fork to Stem Client Centralization Concerns

So many users are dependent on Ethereum client Geth that a bug could temporarily freeze the network – something blockchains aren’t supposed to do, ever. In light of this, Ethereum Core developers decided Friday to postpone work on the Berlin hard fork until at least August in an effort to give other clients a chance to increase their share of the network.

Geth makes up only one of 11 client specifications, but 79% of Ethereum nodes run on it, according to Ether Nodes. That percentage is also up 5% since December. Developers worry that a serious bug could break Ethereum – particularly as rolling updates to Eth 1.x continue before the network transitions to a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus algorithm under Eth 2.0.

“Geth is the majority of the network,” Geth team leader Péter Szilágyi said in last Friday’s All Core Developers group call. “It’s super important that we are correct because we cannot afford to not be correct.”

Ethereum languages

Having a diversity of clients is good for the network. It allows different projects to join Ethereum’s developer community – from the tiniest startup to JPMorgan. Ethereum had eight languages in various levels of completeness one year after its 2015 launch. The Ethereum Foundation currently lists clients in five languages including Go, Solidity, Java, JavaScript and Python. 

Yet, like the human tongue, every programming language has its nuances and therefore implementation drawbacks. When Ethereum developers conduct updates those nuances can turn into nasty bugs.

“The main reason [to postpone Berlin] would be to reduce dependency on Geth and allow it to fail without bringing down the whole network,” said independent developer Alexey Akhunov in a private chat. “Currently the burden is too high since Geth correctness is so critical, and they end up doing most of the work on ensuring everything works correctly.”

This has been accelerated by the deprecation of the Parity Ether...

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