The core developers behind bitcoin and litecoin are offering a reward of 10 BTC, plus 200.2 LTC to anyone who can solve the bug currently plaguing wallets on Mac-based systems.
The issue is linked to the database on wallet software known as the LevelDB key store. This database is used to store information related to the block chain, a ledger for virtual currencies and a standard component of natively installed Bitcoin-Qt wallets.
Hosted wallets, which are generally web-based or mobile-based and work on multiple platforms, are more user-friendly and do not suffer from this issue.
Bitcoin and litecoin developer Warren Togami recently told ZDNet:
“Bounties of this type are rarely offered. In this case, it is happening due to the sense that the issue is critical enough to slow down adoption of bitcoin.”
With the valuation of bitcoin ever-rising, a bitcoin and litecoin bounty will raise the stakes, according to Ankur Nandwani, a developer who has built an open bitcoin microtransaction platform called BitMonet.
“It is interesting that with the rapid rise in [bitcoin and litecoin] price, the bounty is now worth $15k. I think the combination of this bug and the volatility in bitcoin price can have negative impact on bitcoin adoption,” he said.
In detail, LevelDB is a key/value system developed by Google. It is not a relational database; rather, it has been designed as a string-keys-to-string-values database. The problem at hand is the periodic corruption of this database on Mac OS X.
It seems corruption occurs after the Bitcoin-Qt client is shut down and restarted. Reports indicate that corruption occurs in the Mac OS X 10.8.x and 10.9 versions, commonly known as ‘Mountain Lion’ and ‘Mavericks’.
In the grand scheme of things, this is not a problem that could thwart the growing rise of these separate, but seemingly intertwined, virtual currencies. However, this could prove to be an issue for many individual users. Nandwani commented:
“While the database is being rebuilt, the user is blocked from even making a transaction. So, you could think of this being a denial-of-service attack.”
A cog in the the machine of these distributed monetary systems could pose a threat that should not be dismissed.
Namecoin, a competitor to bitcoin and litecoin, had a substantial security flaw that allowed people to perform a hostile takeover of its .bit domains.
There is a proposed solution to the problem, with test builds available. The problem appears to have to do with a particular process that runs, and if data is synced to disk before the operation, it addresses the issue.
The complete details of the Mac OS X bitcoin and litecoin wallet bounty are posted at the Bitcoin Talk forum.
Development image via Shutterstock