Marek "Slush" Palatinus, the lead architect of popular Bitcoin hardware wallet manufacturer Trezor and the CEO of the firm’s parent company Satoshi Labs, stated that he is not against the execution of a hard fork and the concept of big blocks. However, he is against the Bitcoin Unlimited software.
On May 12, Slush wrote:
“Bitcoin Unlimited proposed consensus mechanism for blocksize, but then they found it doesn't work and propose flag day for hard fork. To clarify, I'm not against hard forks and bigger blocks, but Bitcoin Unlimited is comedy show.”
In other words, Slush is not fundamentally against the execution of hard forks. In some instances, hard forks present some benefits and advantages over soft forks.
However, the key in executing a viable and practical hard fork is the development of a non-contentious solution.
As Zooko Wilcox, the CEO of Zerocoin Electric Coin Company, the company behind anonymous cryptocurrency Zcash, noted in a blog post entitled “A Future Friendly Fork,” hard forks can be safely executed if it maintains the persistent branch of the Blockchain and prevents schism of the community.
Bitcoin Unlimited, in contrast, does the exact opposite. If executed, it leads to a new branch of the existing Bitcoin Blockchain and splits the already divided community in two - Bitcoin Core and Bitcoin Unlimited supporters.
Pros and contras
Economically and conceptually, the vision of long-term scaling with the purpose of welcoming more users into the Bitcoin network is the viable approach to Bitcoin development. While some claim that a smaller block size and the existence of a fee market are beneficial for miners, a larger user base with lower fees is always more profitable than a smaller user base of high fees.
In that sense, Bitcoin Unlimited has the right vision to ultimately decrease fees and expand Bitcoin block size to handle more users and transactions.
However, the Bitcoin Unlimited software experienced multiple bug exploitations and the abrupt shutdown of nodes in the past few months.
On April 24, Cointelegraph reported that Bitcoin Unlimited suffered the biggest node crash on record, as 65 percent of Bitcoin Unlimited nodes crashed overnight.
Such instances of node crash and bug exploitations led to harsh criticisms from leading Bitcoin experts and developers including BitGo Engineer Jameson Lopp, who said:
“As more Bitcoin Unlimited vulnerabilities are exposed, the rift between the "sides" of the block size debate will widen. SegWit supporters will become increasingly frustrated that miners are running unreliable software in production.”
Previously, in his personal blog, Ethereum Co-Founder Vitalik Buterin also laid out the definition of a safe and viable hard fork. Buterin emphasized that a hard fork is similar to a soft fork in the sense that they both make major changes to the protocol and since hard forks and soft forks have their own advantages and merits, it boils down to which of the two mechanisms are less contentious at the time.