Ghost EOY Recap
In this article we are taking a look back over the past year’s historic developments, notable community updates, some of the challenges the team faced and how we overcame them, and the overall progress to date.
First and foremost, arguable the most critical development that hit production this year was the full re-work of RingCT. For those that are unaware of what this is, RingCT is Ghost’s main privacy protocol responsible for anonymizing and decoying all transactions and data associated with a Anon transaction. This, in concert with Stealth Addresses and Bulletproofs is what makes Ghost a privacy coin.
Identified in late Q1 of 2021, our cryptographers observed an issue relating to anon outputs / inputs. It was deemed a critical bug and the Ghost blockchain underwent an emergency hardfork to turn off RingCT. With the quick decision and planning from the team as a whole, we were successfully able to prevent any exploits from spawning off this bug.
With this bug identified and RingCT temporarily turned off, resolving the bug took top priority and all other deliverables were set aside. We spent the next several months researching how the RingCT and Bulletproofs protocols interoperate and touched with a special attention to the consensus layer. There’s no shame in saying this was proving to be a cryptographic nightmare.
Be that as it may, in early Q4 of 2021, we were close to resolving this bug and hitting production with the solution in place. We were now at a point where in testnet, we were able to better identify functional tests and determine what parts of the original RingCT code were causing the issues. Speaking more on the actual code, more functional tests and asserts were written to perfect the protocol when testing in the actual environment.
After more rounds of testing and some stress testing, our dedicated team of developers and cryptographers successfully resolved the underlying issue within the protocol as well as making the very nature of RingCT more efficient for the blockchain. It should be noted that the team made a decision to no longer include Blind transactions. These transactions hid the sender/receiver's address, but not the input/output amount. For a privacy based blockchain we went with the “all or nothing ideology.” It didn’t make sense to have three versions of transaction types propagating throughout the network. With that being said, on March 9th, 2022 the Ghost blockchain underwent a scheduled hardfork that re-introduced RingCT and nevertheless, anonymous transactions.
With the most difficult time in Ghost’s history being behind us and resolved, we were able to shift focus on producing deliverables laid out in our roadmap and experiment with new protocols. In the background of the RingCT resolution, we were developing a new self-hosted cold staking protocol. Formerly, users who wanted to elect this route of staking used Ghostman. This wasn’t the most user friendly protocol and it often took a while to set up. Due to the complications observed with ghostman, it was time for a new era of coldstaking to make way. Introduced in early April, GhostVault made its big debut.
GhostVault is a tool for setting up and managing a coldstaking node. The automated setup makes getting your node going easy and with minimal user involvement. Once setup, automated systems process payments for anon mode, check for and apply updates to ghostd, as well as itself. GhostVault also has various tools for monitoring the health of the staking node. It also makes it easy to make any changes to the reward address at any time and will launch ghostd on reboot, and start staking automatically without the need for intervention.
Read more about GhostVault here.
With a focus on expanding the ecosystem we took a good look at our community and questioned how we can increase Ghost’s outreach and its usability. On June 1st, we answered this question with the release of GhostPayBot. This is a fully encrypted Telegram based wallet with all of the same features as the Desktop wallet.
With GhostPay, users in Telegram can easily send each other $GHOST with a simple command or “make it rain” on everyone who’s currently active in the chat. The GhostPayBot can be added to any chat on Telegram by simply inviting it to the room. With the introduction of this bot, marketing saw a massive increase in activity as it created an incentive for users to help promote the blockchain. One of the coolest features of this bot, is the anonrain. You can anonymously rain coins on all active members in the chat!
-Ghost Turns 2 Years Old
On June 22nd, we observed our blockchain’s 2nd year in operations! This ‘birthday’ represents over two years of fighting for the right to privacy. Moreover, we decided to have some fun with the celebrations and host a baking competition! Over 5,600 $GHOST was given out to the best baked cakes! Below are some of our community’s baked creations!
We had a lot of fun with this baking competition in honor of our birthday. Special thanks to everyone who spent time creating these delicious looking cakes, cookies, and brownies!
-Ghost’s First Emission Reduction
As time goes on, the blockchain never stops. At block height 525600, we officially observed our first scheduled block reward reduction. This reduction reduced the block emission rate by 5% and will continue to do so every 262,800 blocks for the next 45 years! The block reward went from 12 $GHOST to 11.400 $GHOST. The new emission distribution per block is displayed below:
· Miner Reward: 3.876
· Ghost Veteran Rewards: 5.700
· Ghost Development Fund: 1.824
-Improvements to Ghost Desktop
With the upcoming release of AGVR immanent and the enhancements made to GhostVault, we took a look at the Ghost Desktop wallet and made enhancements there as well. Most notably of these improvements, was the option to “zap anon.” Instead of transferring to your public balance and zapping from there and de-anonymizing yourself in the process, you’re now able to just zap all of your Anon holdings into the cold-staking script.
The community talked, and we listened. In addition to the above, there was discussion within the community to have the option to reuse “last address” upon zapping. Now when you go to zap your coins into the cold-staking script, you will have the option to re-use the last address or use a new change address like before.
Wrapped together with PR #130 was a fix for a validation error that would occur on send amount. For example, in the input box if a user put .1 instead of 0.1 the wallet would generate an error message saying invalid amount. We noticed at times there would be a hang on the loading screen which would result in the wallet never actually booting up. Originally this was solved by having to rename the blocks folder found in the users system files. This is no longer an issue with the hotfix that was implemented in these improvements.
-Automated Ghost Veteran Rewards (AGVR)
Arguably the most exciting roadmap deliverable to hit production went live on September 19th, AGVR! This is a very special protocol for many reasons, mainly, AGVR further decentralizes the blockchain by eliminating the need for a third party to process Ghost Veteran Rewards (GVR). Additionally, this protocol is compliant with cold-staking pools as the GVR reward gets paid directly to the miner and not the pool, among other things. Furthermore, GhostVault is also compatible with the AGVR protocol as well.
Because AGVR works at the consensus layer, extensive research had to be undertaken in order to ensure all environments of the blockchain would be satisfied. This includes understanding how AGVR would react with anon input/outputs and the interoperability of our cold-staking scripts. Specifically speaking, one of the many challenges to developing AGVR was verifying the user’s holdings when a cold-staking pool is used.
Upon receipt of staking rewards via staking pool, the users address would change resulting in a checksum fail. In addition to this, the user’s address initially changes as a result of zapping coins into the cold-staking script itself. Same checksum fail would follow as a result. Diving deeper into the codebase’s environment, it was obvious there needed to be a way for the cold-staking script to tell the AGVR protocol of a change address upon reward, and also account for the reward multiplier. Meaning the protocol needs to keep track of the GVR eligible address and check for balance changes as the address receives staking rewards.
The solution was developing a ColdRewardTracker along with some additional functional tests making it possible for Veterans to cold stake and receive their GVR directly instead of the protocol paying out to the cold staking script itself. Without this, users would have to constantly rebroadcast a Veteran transaction each time a staking reward is received.
Furthermore, with any new protocol that gets implemented, it has to be compatible with all of the privacy protocols currently in place, i.e., RingCT, Stealth Addresses, Bulletproofs, Dandelion++. This is especially true if the protocol being developed operates at the consensus layer and is responsible for tracking balances. With that being said, obviously the AGVR protocol would be unable to track changes among address when anon spends are broadcasted due to the very nature of RingCT & Stealth Addresses. This presented a validation issue with the number of tracked transactions when anon input/outputs are present. A functional test was written to ensure AGVR would operate properly even when faced with 32 ring signatures. After a last round of testing our cryptographers concluded all environments and parameters were satisfied and no bugs were present with AGVR.
The protocol went live with an initial activation via hardfork, at block height 591621 and with full activation at block height 613223. With full activation in place, Ghost Veteran Rewards are now 100% decentralized.
Read more about the AGVR protocol here.
-Last manual GVR payment
With the AGVR protocol successfully implemented the last manual Ghost Veteran Rewards (GVR) payment was processed on November 1st, at block height 614065. This responsibility now lays in the hands of the blockchain.
On October 18th, Ghost Electrum hit production with it being our first official mobile wallet! Ghost Electrum is a lightweight wallet, meaning that it doesn’t run a full node. Android users can download the mobile wallet from the Google Play store and the APKs have been made available to download into a de-googled device. Users can also download the lightweight wallet onto their desktops, available for macOS, Windows, and Linux.
This wallet will help pave the way for Ghost to be implemented with hardware wallets like Trezor and Ledger. Because Ghost-Electrum is not a full node, sync times are as low as 2 minutes. This is achieved through servers indexing the block headers. Speaking of servers, there are zero downtimes because Ghost Electrum servers are decentralized and robust. Your wallet is never down. Another advantage of using Ghost Electrum is the near instant transaction time since block headers are indexed, unlike a full Ghost node. As mentioned above, this lightweight wallet now makes it possible for Ghost to be used on hardware wallets. In the meantime, users are still able to utilize Ghost-Electrum as a cold wallet. Your private keys are encrypted and never leave your device. If your device goes offline, you still have access to your funds via recovery seed. It should be noted that the seed phrases on Ghost Electrum are different from that of the Ghost Desktop wallet or the Ghost Core wallet (QT).
Moreover on security, Ghost Electrum features 256-bit addresses just like the Desktop and QT wallet. This is not common in other lightweight wallets as 256-bit encryption can become complex due to the cryptography. These addresses use the most secure encryption currently available. Not even Bitcoin uses 256-bit addresses.
With the easy accessibility of holding your coins on a mobile device, this further expands our ecosystem and will only increase the global outreach of our community and blockchain.
Read more about Ghost Electrum here.
With the launch of Ghost Electrum, implementing Ghost onto popular hardware wallets as described earlier will make this all the more possible. In the past we have researched the different requirements each hardware wallet has. We have developed the foundation for this and continue to make progress on the main development. There has been a few test runs in the past with Ledger, but it was nothing compared to what will be actually supported via official firmware. The older version supported just the basic usability functions of the blockchain with staking unavailable.
When this deliverable hits production, users will be able to cold-stake just like on the other wallets, and of course, use this as cold storage. In the previous section it was mentioned that Ghost Electrum supports 256-bit addresses (p2pkh-256). This will remain true when Ghost is supported on the various hardware wallets available.
-$GHOST Listed on ExchangeAssets
Right before Halloween, $GHOST was listed on ExchangeAssets, a Ukrainian based hybrid system offering PoS Pools, bux, interest and more! ExchangeAssets does not KYC, so users can enjoy the freedom of privacy while trading on the platform!
Currently, there are four different trading pairs for $GHOST! BTC, LTC, USDT, and S11, the exchange’s native token. Withdrawal fees are 0.01 with Deposit times of 10 confirmations. Trading for $GHOST on this exchange went live on October 25th.
-Ghost Pumpkin Carving Contest
When you think of Halloween you either have an image of a Pumpkin or a Ghost in your head. Naturally, we hosted an event for our community to celebrate this holiday. We held a pumpkin carving contest where users submitted their best carved “Ghost” pumpkin. Just like with the baking competition, we had some seriously talented carvers participate! Here are some of their creations:
Close to 3,000 $GHOST was claimed by our talented winners! Thank you to all that participated and made Halloween a little spookier with these great pumpkins!
-Website hosting upgraded to Interplanetary File System
Our website, ghostbyjohnmcafee.com received a hosting upgrade to IPFS. For those not familiar with IPFS, its a distributed file storage protocol that allows computers all over the world to store and serve files as part of a giant peer-to-peer network. This allows are website to run faster and safer since the IPFS protocol is decentralized. One of the biggest advantages of this upgrade, is that our website is now censorship resistant, meaning it can still be accessed should the website get taken down.
-Partnerships, Marketing, & Media
Our Community Relations and Media Personnel team were kept busy this year seeking out new opportunities and strategic partnerships for the Ghost ecosystem. Some of these included repairing old partnerships that spoiled in our early days due to lost contact and others are new partners that will increase the accessibility of Ghost, and among other things. Over the past year we have had a few official news articles written about Ghost. We continue to expect an increase in the number of articles through our Media Personnel’s efforts. Given the current political climate, this is an extremely difficult task. They are working day in and day out connecting with journalists and writers from every avenue.
As many of you already know and also tuned in to listen, Ghost co-hosted a Twitter Space with one of our partner exchanges, StakeCube and Joey B from BlindKnowledge serving as Moderator. We discussed the current crypto outlook with a few selected topics such as the global economy, privacy, and backgrounds of each project. Currently over thousand listeners have tuned in to hear what we had to say. The broadcast aired on November 3rd, at 3PM UTC with a recording available here.
In addition to the Twitter Space, one of our core team members, Tizymandias, was invited onto the podcast “Verify Crypto” to talk about Ghost. The episode discusses a more thorough dissection of the Ghost blockchain and the various protocols throughout our ecosystem. You can listen to this episode now on Spotify and other platforms. Many thanks to everyone who tuned in to listen to both the Twitter Space and the podcast! We had a lot of fun collaborating on these discussions and look forward to doing more of these!
With the initial release of GhostPay, we’ve since then listened to some of the feedback and requests from the community. You talked, we listened. We added a built-in QR code generator for faster transacting, and a new Sleep Mode which activates after a two week period of no interaction. While in Sleep Mode you can still receive rain and tips, as well as any transactions to your address. To put it simply, you will not receive transaction notifications. To wake up from sleep mode, use the command /awaken. After that your wallet is back to normal.
In addition to the above, we’ve updated the wallet to immediately display the cold-staking balance after zapping. Furthermore the deposit command was updated which includes two buttons to choose from when selecting which address you want to view. Once you click the button, you will be presented with a QR code of the address as well as a link for that address. Lastly, we fixed a bug where sometimes the bot would not respond, given certain commands.
-Gentoo Linux compatibility
Previously for those building on a Gentoo based distro, compiling Ghost-core or Ghost-Electrum from source was a time consuming headache. Due to the difficulty of installation through this method, compilation could become too complicated and would result in giving up. With the Gentoo Ghost Overlay, users can now easily compile from source in just a few steps.
This new ebuild automates the process allowing for a cleaner install via native package manager and clean removal of unneeded files upon removal of packages. Gentoo’s package manager builds dynamic binaries instead of static, allowing Ghost to run on musl-based systems. It should be noted that this is a community maintained repository. Users can access the Gentoo Ghost Overlay here.
In the past, we had a small community ran merchandise store for a little while. Unfortunately, with people leaving and lost contacts the shop was closed. That being said, we are very excited to be building a new shop using our main website, to bring the community some fun new merchandise! The products will be drop shipped, so customers can enjoy at least some level of anonymity still while shopping. This is a great way for the community to express themselves in every day life while also spreading the word of Ghost. With the year now over, we are close to launching the store and will have an announcement soon.
2022 was an insane year for Ghost. There’s no question we kept busy, kept building, kept delivering on promises and keeping Ghost ahead of the competition setting its own tone in an industry complex in nature.
These protocols we worked tirelessly on, putting several things like sleep, food, and even family second, are just the works of true dedication from a talented team of individuals. In due part, this amazing year wouldn’t have been possible without a great community cheering us on. As we look forward to this new year, we embrace the new set of possibilities and challenges we’ll face along the way.
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