Lightning-in-a-box

Casa recently announced the Casa Node, a plug-and-play full node for Bitcoin and Lightning in an elegant design. The first batch (delivery october) sold out in just one hour, and the second batch (delivery november) by the end of the first day of sales. So if you order now, you’ll have to wait until december to get delivery.

The Casa Lightning node has a Raspberry Pi 3B+ and a 1TB Seagate HDD inside. It comes with a hard drive adapter cable, a 3 foot Ethernet cable and an AC power adapter. It can be yours for $300 (+ shipping costs).

This preconfigured node offers a number of great features and a nice GUI to control and maintain the box.

  • Use autopilot or manual channels
  • Receive Lightning Payments (requires 24/7 online)
  • Private names for any channel
  • A blockchain “validate from scratch” feature
  • Node nicknames

More info here:
https://medium.com/casa/features-of-the-casa-node-884f702e2164

Power your Woocommerce shop with Lightning

If you run a Woocommerce shop, there’s a number of commercial Bitcoin services that allow you to accept on-chain bitcoin payments. But none of them offer a Lightning option at this moment. There are however two projects that make it possible to accept Lightning payments in your store. And it’s not difficult to set them up.

BTCPay Server

BTCPay Server is a free and open source project by Nicolas Dorier, fully compatible with the commercial BitPay version. In addition to the bitcoin payment method, your customers can choose to pay via the Lightning Network directly, with no fees, transaction cost or a middleman. And because using Lightning for real life payments is still considered a bit reckless, the shop owner can set a maximum amount allowed through Lightning.

BTCPay is a non-custodial invoicing system which eliminates the involvement of a third-party. Payments with BTCPay go directly to your wallet, which increases the privacy and security. Your private keys are never uploaded to the server. There is no address re-use, since each invoice generates a new address deriving from your xpubkey.

This video will get you started in less than 10 minutes. You can run BTCPay as a self-hosted solution on your own server, or use a third-party host. The self-hosted solution allows you not only to attach an unlimited number of stores and use the Lightning Network but also become the payment processor for others.

The project page is located at GitHub and Woocommerce plugin can be downloaded here.

Strike from Acinq

Another option is Strike from Acinq. They charge a 1% transaction fee and their service only accepts Lightning payments, no on-chain bitcoin. The Strike interface is clean and the plugin installed without big issues.

Strike also has a complete testnet version, which you can use free of charge to setup and test the service.

For now only the BTC currency is supported, which is a pity, because pricing goods in BTC is still difficult due to the heavy price fluctuations. But Acinq plans to support other currencies like USD and EUR in the future.

When your balance reaches a configurable threshold (min 0.1 BTC) your funds will be automatically sent to your wallet, free of charge. 

Acinq is also working on a Prestashop and Shopify plugin.

We used Strike to power our Woocommerce testnet shop and people are successfully completing test purchases.

See the complete list of payment providers 

Lightning Network LND 0.5-beta released

A new version of Lightning Network Daemon has been released and marks the 5th major release release of LND: v0.5-beta!

This release marks a massive step in the robustness and reliability of LND as a routing node daemon for the Lightning Network. Additionally, a number of optimizations have been implemented which will reduce the memory and CPU footprint of LND making it more amendable to run on smaller devices like Raspberry Pis and also eventually mobile phones!

A number of bug fixes related to reliable HTLC forwarding, persistence recovery, and path finding have also landed in this release. As a result users should generally find path finding to be a smoother experience, and should find that LND is able to recover from a number of partial and complete failures in routine protocol exchanges.

https://github.com/lightningnetwork/lnd/releases/tag/v0.5-beta

Forget Lightning Statistics, reality is even better

Since the start of the Lightning Network, people are monitoring and publishing numbers that demonstrate the growth of the network.  More specifically the number of nodes, the number of open channels and the amount of BTC locked in those channels, also know as Network Capacity.

Example of Lightning statistics

There are, however, two important aspects that you need to take into account when evaluating these numbers.

Node view

To calculate the aforementioned numbers, a node uses it’s own network graph, which may be limited. It is possible that a node does not see the entire network and that in reality, the number of nodes and channels is higher.

Public versus Private Nodes

While initially most (relay) nodes were publicly exposing their channels, it is now recommended for security reasons that wallets (nodes which you personally run on your desktop or mobile) run in private mode. These private nodes are not visible to the network graph and hence not calculated in the statistics. It is possible that soon the number of private nodes will surpass the number of public nodes as most wallet software will run in private mode by default.

Conclusion

During the next months, you may see Lightning growth numbers slow down or even decline. This is not necessarily a bad sign. Keep in mind that these are the public statistics and that the total number (public and private) most probably will be increasing although this does not reflect in the published stats.

Lightning Labs releases new Desktop App

Lightning Labs released a complete redesign of its Lightning desktop app, with much improved backend light client support.

After downloading the Mac OS version, the one-click installation and synching took merely a couple of minutes. The app has a beautiful design and is easy to use for non-technical users.

At first startup, the app generates a backup seed, which you can use to recover your wallet in case of a breakdown.

Once the wallet has been funded with testnet coins, the autopilot will automatically open and fund channels. You can also manually open channels to specific nodes. For security reasons, the amount per channel is limited to 0.16 BTC.

At this moment the app still connects to a bitcoin full node cluster hosted by Lightning Labs. But as Neutrino light client support progresses however, the app will run as a standalone wallet. Optionally, users can still run their own full node and have the app connect to it if they want to. Users do not however need to run a separate lnd node.

This version currently runs on Lightning Testnet, but a Mainnet version will be available soon.

Read the full story on the Lightning Labs Blog.

LN Route website update

Because of the increasing number of people visiting this website, I decided to give it an update. This is work in progress and a lot of things still need to be done. For now, I simply copied the links from the old page, but content will be revised, edited and added over the next weeks.

Also, because development and implementations are moving so rapidly, some links on the site may be outdated. I will go through and fix these during  the next days.

It’s difficult and time consuming for me to keep track of all the new Lightning resources and implementations that pop up on the Internet. So please feel free to suggest additions and corrections. You can reach me by email at hello@lnroute.com

Hosting and maintaining lnroute.com is my contribution to the Bitcoin and Lightning community.  Please feel free to support, by sending a donation in BTC to 3DJkXEPc6RBuDTpXXznXCjoHvHnEMRvWmm.