In nearly three hours the Constantinople and St. Petersburg upgrades are scheduled to go into effect on the Ethereum network, and many are waiting patiently.
The atmosphere around this upgrade seems mostly hopeful, especially in light of the last failed attempt. On January 15, the Ethereum community and curious onlookers were counting down the blocks to number 7,080,000, which, when mined, would enact the Constantinople hard fork (or “upgrade,” as Vitalik Buterin prefers to call it). The upgrade would have introduced five new Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs) to the network and cut miners’ payouts by 33 percent, but it never happened.
Instead, a smart contract auditing firm called ChainSecurity found a vulnerability in Constantinople that would have opened up once-secure smart contracts on Ethereum to a “reentrancy attack.” The particular EIP at fault was 1283, which was going to reduce the cost of gas for performing certain operations on the network. (For more details, read our post on the issue here.) For the time being, Ethereum developers hit pause on Constantinople.
But they were still working hard on the upgrade. On February 22, the Ethereum Foundation announced a date and block number for Constantinople, take two. It’s scheduled for today (though “the exact date is subject to change depending on block times between now and then”) and it will happen at block number 7,280,000—200,000 blocks down chain from the original projection.
What’s changed since Constantinople, take one?
There’s a new upgrade in town, which is also the name of a town. The St. Petersburg upgrade will join Constantinople at block 7,280,000, where both will occur simultaneously to address “issues,” as the Ethereum Foundation puts it, on Ethereum test networks. The St. Petersburg upgrade was added to undo the problem presented by the original Constantinople. It removes EIP 1283 from test networks where the original Constantinople upgrade was already applied. (Ethereum uses these test networks to roll out upgrades before applying them to the main network, just in case something goes wrong like it did in January.)
Another change is Afri Schoedon’s lack of involvement. After controversy earlier this month, in which Schoedon published a divisive tweet and got significant backlash, including threats, from others in the Ethereum community, he decided to stop working on Ethereum. Schoedon was a community coordinator for the initial planned deployment of the hard fork, but others in the community have clearly stepped up.
Get the BREAKERMAG newsletter, a weekly roundup of blockchain business and culture.
This time around, no one appears to be named as a central coordinator for the project, though multiple developers are contributing. Coindesk spoke to a couple of devs—MyCrypto CEO Taylor Monahan and core developer Lane Rettig. “I’m eager to put Constantinople behind us because it’s been such a distraction for a lot of core developers, the community, [and] the entire ecosystem,” Monahan told the publication.
Besides EIP 1283, the four other EIPs announced back in January are all still in play, including EIP 1234, which will reduce miners’ block rewards. ETH holders who use most exchanges, software wallets, and hardware wallets needn’t do anything to prepare for the fork. The Ethereum Foundation lists the latest versions of various Ethereum clients miners and node operators need to download before the upgrade kicks in.
If you’re eager to stay on top of the action, here’s a live countdown to keep in an open tab on your computer, and here’s where you can watch the upgrade in real time. Honestly, it might be more fun to watch than this year’s Super Bowl.