UPDATE (7 June 3:30 UTC): This article covers a complex grassroots launch of the EOS blockchain. CoinDesk has since learned that EOS Mainnet Launch Group has settled on one chain candidate. "We have been having validation and go/no-go calls every 12 hours that have rallied both groups into a common work plan," EOS Canada's Marc-Antoine Ross told CoinDesk.
The ongoing blockchain launch for the hotly anticipated token project EOS is becoming a bit more complicated.
No, this isn't the product of a hard fork, whereby users weren't able to work out their differences. In the case of EOS, it's blockchain, set to launch over the weekend, still hasn't even been created. Now, amidst an elaborate, global rollout, two competing groups of EOS enthusiasts are testing different versions of the software, each seeking to issue the most widely used version.
That this is possible is largely the result of a company called Block.one, the startup that developed the EOS software after raising more than $4 billion in a token sale. Upon completion of the code, the company opted for an unorthodox choice, effectively turning it over to its global users, who are tasked with launching the chain.
Currently, a snapshot of the ethereum blockchain (where EOS tokens were initially launched) has been taken to prove who owns what coins. That snapshot will then be used to make sure EOS investors get their rightful tokens on the new EOS blockchain.
But even though that's been done, the testing phase before the EOS blockchain launches live is not over. And the work these separate groups are doing on their respective software could have big impacts on how much control each party has once the blockchain is launched.
Each group is made up of organizations aiming to secure the lucrative "job," serving as a validators of blocks or "block producers" – a role in which they will be rewarded with newly-issued EOS tokens.
Because all EOS users will vote on who gets the 21 validator positions, these two chains show every indication of being motivated (at least in part) by the fact that those responsible for the architecture that launches as the "real" EOS mainnet will accrue major accolades – credibility, name recognition and trust – that are needed to secure one of those spots.
Although, nearly all the participants will vehemently deny that has any bearing on their interest in helping launch the blockchain. Instead, they say there's no competition, it's just experimentation.
But it's not difficult to discern that there's serious tension between the two groups.
Steve Floyd of EOS Tribe, an organization that's part of a group called EOS Core, said:
Still, even with this competition, both groups are in unison on the fact that only one EOS blockchain can survive and be presented to the community. Indeed, both groups have pledged to stand down if the other group's software launched first.
Echoing this on May 5, the EOS Mainnet Launch Group (EMLG), effectively a coalition that most of the block producer candidates have publicly expressed buy in to, put out a unified statement, saying, "Two candidate chains currently exist which have been used as the basis for our thorough testing over the last 48 hours. Per the original EMLG statement, only one will be presented to the community as the mainnet called EOS."
The two tribes
That same message was cross-posted by all block producer candidates underscores its broad validity. Yet, behind the scenes, at least until one of the softwares launch, the two groups will give voice to their differences.
One of the groups actually started as an independent EOS security research group, going by the name "Ghostbusters," but then evolved its strategy to start working toward a mainnet blockchain launch. According to Floyd, that was after several block producer candidates asked the Ghostbusters group to do so.
When it launched its test version of the software, Ghostbusters declared itself "EOS Core," seemingly in a nod to Bitcoin Core and the contentious debates that have revolved around the varying implementations for that software.
The EOS Core group has argued that its implementation is security-first, with Floyd contending they need to be "extra vigilant" since a significant number of cryptocurrency stakeholders, like those heavily invested in ethereum, have been skeptical of EOS and "don't want EOS to succeed."
But the other group, going by the name "Bios Boot," doesn't think that's a fair representation since it suggests that Bios Boot is not as interested in security.
Marc-Antoine Ross, CEO of EOS Canada, a block producer candidate that's a part of the Bios Boot group, told CoinDesk:
Ross continued, stating that the EOS Core chain hasn't been validated for some time and it's software is not open source, so people are not able to verify what they're working on.
Plus, according to Ross, one facet the EOS Core group is missing is a fallback method for getting the ERC-20 EOS tokens that users never claimed onto the new EOS blockchain.
"That's a meaningful amount of money for people that were not able to get registered," he said.
Yet EOS Core participant, Floyd countered that, saying the group's words of caution about the transition have been unheeded by some users for months (the full disclosure came out over roughly a three month process).
Still, this seemingly bad blood could prove beneficial for EOS, since multiple architectures may help calibrate the best one, and if two groups compete to stand up the network, they each have a stronger incentive to get it right.
Echoing this during a recent YouTube show, Eric Björk of EOS Sw/Eden, which is a part of EOS Core, said, "We really value diversity."
And according to a spokesperson for EOS Rio, a founding member of both Ghostbusters and EOS Core, "Regardless of the result, chains are being tested and best practices are being discovered. This is being a truly beautiful process and we are very happy about it."
And supposedly that collaboration will continue even after the mainnet has launched.
"Most of the leading block producers, internally we have all pledged not to brag about whoever did what in the launch process," Ross said,
Although, shortly thereafter, Ross seemed to plug Bios Boots, whose implementation was created by EOS Canada, saying, "EOS Canada, as the creator of the only complete and open source solution, we have publicly said we will never say whether it was used or not and whether we did it or not."
And Floyd told CoinDesk EOS Core only entered the spotlight reluctantly because of security concerns, continuing that Bios Boots were the ones that were "very aggressive about getting credit."
Yet, even with all the "he said, she said," at the end of the day, it seems like both parties are interested in getting the mainnet launched as soon as possible.
According to statements from EMLG, the mainnet launch could happen as early as Thursday.
"I think time is of essence right now. We are reaching a point where we have a lot of validation that has been going on, a lot of impatient people are being stalled," Ross said, adding with assurance: "I'm not seeing a split. I'm seeing different testing and validation strategies."
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