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Michael Gracie

A beginners’ guide to running blockchain full nodes using external storage devices

For those loath to run an established (read: huge) blockchain full node because they don’t want to reserve double digit percentages of their laptop’s soldered (additional read: not upgradeable) solid state storage for the cause, here are simple steps to do so by leveraging external drives. These instructions are for macOS, but Linux and Windows users should be able to derive their own setup from it.

First, let us note the location and size of comprehensive blockchain data stores as presented by both Bitcoin Core and Ethereum Wallet

Bitcoin Core default stores the Bitcoin blockchain under ~/Library/Bitcoin. There you will find several directories and files, including those for your wallet. That which we will want to deploy elsewhere is as follows:

1) ~/Library/Bitcoin/blocks at roughly 170 GB

2) ~/Library/Bitcoin/chainstate at roughly 3 GB

Ethereum is less unwieldly, but nonetheless a lot of data. It can be found under ~/Library/Ethereum; we’ll concentrate on the directories below:

1) ~/Library/Ethereum/geth/chaindata at roughly 80 GB

2) ~/Library/Ethereum/geth/lightchaindata at roughly 0.5 GB

Note that we are going to ignore other items under the main directories, including that representing keys i.e. wallets, wallet.dat in the case of Bitcoin and the /keystore for Ethereum. Why? While setups vary, my particular environment includes a laptop with FileVault2 activated, and a discrete backup drive encrypted AES-256 that receives a weekly clone of the former. Hence I always have two very secure copies of my keys and prefer to keep it that way.

Post-Identification

We are now going to move the big directories noted above to an external storage device. To keep everything organized, first create a “Bitcoin” and/or “Ethereum” directory on the device. Then copy the entire directories from above into those. Next, append “.old” to the original directory location names i.e the directories you copied from.

Now we will create symbolic links aka aliases to point the wallet applications to the new data store. Type the following into terminal …

For Bitcoin

ln -s /Volumes/XYZDRIVE/Bitcoin/blocks ~/Library/Application\ Support/Bitcoin/blocks

ln -s /Volumes/XYZDRIVE/Bitcoin/chainstate ~/Library/Application\ Support/Bitcoin/chainstate

For Ethereum

ln -s /Volumes/XYZDRIVE/Ethereum/chaindata \ ~/Library/Ethereum/geth/chaindata

ln -s /Volumes/XYZDRIVE/Ethereum/lightchaindata \ ~/Library/Ethereum/geth/lightchaindata

(where XYZDRIVE is your drive name)

Note that as the latter locations go for each blockchain, they are small in comparison to the others (not critical to move). Further, with the Ethereum light client data (still in beta), it may be advantageous to not move the lightchaindata directory, in case you are on the road and want to use your wallet in a jiffy.

Finale

Run Bitcoin Core and/or Ethereum Wallet. Assuming your previously stored blockchain(s) is not too far behind with syncing, it should start rolling right away. You can delete the “dot old” directories after you’ve confirmed all is right with the world.

MG signing off (to contribute to the stability of another network, without the storage headaches)

A Practical Guide To Getting Started With Bitcoin

Bitcoin is like cold fusion: It’s had a difficult childhood. Those few in the field are orphans, bastards at best.1

I’ve often wondered if Bitcoin would shed its thick glasses and step out into the real world, but until recently I had neither the time nor inclination to find out. However, I follow the commodities markets quite closely, and recently came across mention of it in an ETF manager’s research report. That prompted me to ask around, and what I heard back intrigued me, in an anti-groupthink sort of way.

Bitcoin will never be good for anything except buying drugs; It’s bullshit technology … smartphone games and hookup apps are where it’s at; Bitcoin can’t be used for marketing so why would I want to mess with it?

Shot down, over and over again. But it was the steadfast, verbatim answer to one question that got me thinking:

YOURS TRULY: Do you have any Bitcoin? Do you know how to get any?

EVERYONE: No. And No.

Maybe nothing had changed, and Bitcoin was still an artifice lurking on basement computers and circulating the “dark web”. However, seeing as nobody I talked to had any Bitcoin, mentioned they’d tried to acquire any Bitcoin, or seemed interested in doing so, I surmised this might just be a case of bad press, combined with the inexplicable desire of the self-professed psuedo-technorati to leverage their free time posting geo-tagged photos of their lunch plates.

Hence, I invested some otherwise scarce time to test my contrarian theory.

What follows is the quasi-organized regurgitation of an endeavor seeking out the simplest, most practical way, if any, for the layman to dip their toes in the Bitcoin waters. Cold water too, so those following wouldn’t get burned. It probably isn’t the path of least resistance – it requires a time commitment – but you will not have to spend a dime of your hard earned, government-issued currency to find a pot of gold gather some spare change.

And of course, learn something new. Like does Bitcoin have legs? Does it have any applicability to the present financial system? Can I acquire Bitcoin without meeting some cartel member in a dark alley?

But first, what is Bitcoin?

If you are technically adept I highly suggest reading the original Bitcoin white paper (PDF), authored by the enigmatic Satoshi Nakamoto, inventor of Bitcoin. For the other 99.99%: the Bank for International Settlements calls Bitcoin a digital currency with an embedded decentralised payment mechanism based on the use of a distributed ledger.

(more…)

Bitcoin for Dummies

I wouldn’t call it the “future of the web” – resistance from entrenched intermediaries will likely remain strong for some time – but the video sure does a good job explaining how blockchains work …

blockchain

Click to get smarter

The ability to record transactions in bilateral physical exchange, with a hermetic audit trail, seems more intriguing than actually purchasing a cup of coffee with BTC.

MG signing off (now less of a dummy, although how much less is debatable)