How to Transact on the Lightning Testing Network or on the Mainnet (if you are stubborn)

How to Transact on the Lightning Testing Network or on the Mainnet (if you are stubborn)

It’s like at the beginning of the bitcoin. We have communication channels that you can only enter with invitation, complicated terminology and warnings at every step. We also have an ecosystem just emerging around the Lightning network, the scalability technology that could have the greatest impact on bitcoin capacity and which is still hard to handle.

“I will be honest,” wrote one of the developers, “if you do not know how to compile something, you probably will have more work and fewer chips.”
In short, Lightning, as it looks today, is dangerous for the time being. Bearing in mind, however, the great promises of the network – instant transactions and negligible commissions – the risks do not discourage users.

Companies like Blockstream already have shops that use the Lightning network and send them stickers to users who are successful in successfully transferring funds to the network. Those who have been adopting Lightning technology are celebrating online for “courage” on the blockchain.

Show the world that you are among the first to use Lightning on legitimate shopping malls,” Blockstream writes on the site.

Their drive has been criticized by some who believe Blockstream encourages users to lose money. That being said, there are ways to contribute to the new network without risking your own funds.

You can very well stay on the test, where most of the Lightning developers are, or go to the mainnet, where there is already a set of best practices, even if there are still a lot of risks.

Here’s a guide for those who insist on being the first to adopt technology despite the recommendations from developers.

Tests on testnet

Of the available options, connecting to the test is not intuitive, but is easier to access than the alternative. Developers have built software for most operating systems.

The test network also has the advantage of not asking you to use real bitcoins. Instead, you can use test chats that you receive free of charge at online fuses and you can send them in your lightning wallet.

In total, using the test network has five navigation steps:

To begin with, you can download one of the available wallets – Zap and Lightning Labs for the desktop, an Eclair wallet for Android, and an option that does not need to be downloaded. If you download a wallet, note that you will have to synchronize to the test network, which may take several hours.

Once you have sent test bitcoins to a wallet address of your choice, you must set a special channel. Select a testnet shop you want to shop for. There are all kinds of variants, including Alex Bosworth’s Lightning Lab blog, a Starbucks-inspired caf√© run by Eclair’s developer team, and an ice cream shop.

Navigate to the chosen site and search for the payment address. You’ll see that you have two address options – a payment address and a peer-to-peer address. You must add the store as peer before sending the payment.

Copies the peer-to-peer address, enters the wallet and adds the address as a contact. You will need to send a small commission to open this channel, which on the testnet costs somewhere at 0.1 bit test blocks.

Once you’ve opened a channel, you can copy the address in your wallet, with the amount you want, and instantly send the test quizzes.

If you want to risk the mainnet

We have to say again that we do not advise anyone to do this, nor do developers recommend users to run their bitcoins. If you try to send bitcoins on the mainnet over the Lightning network, you have the chance to lose them.

Not only do you risk your wallet, but it disturbs Lightning developers, who said the more people are active on the mainnet, the more complicated they are to manage updates.

It is a more complicated process, has seven individual steps, and the process can last for a few days.

The easiest way to access the mains is to use Blockstream’s C-lightning.

Blockstream has published a useful guide explaining which orders you have to write to buy a sticker in their store. For a more detailed guide, you can visit their website directly. Other developer teams, Lightning Labs and Eclair, have not yet published mainnet customers.

For C-lightning you need the Ubuntu operating system and a set of tools that you need to download before you start. To use Lightning, you need to synchronize with the entire bitcoin blockchain, a process that may take a few days and you need 170 gigabytes of storage space.

Once you’ve done this step, install the necessary tools listed on the Blockstream site.

Then download bitcoind, a Bitcoin full bit easier to download – bitcoin.org provides a list of steps to make the procedure right and secure. Note that it takes a long time to synchronize with the blockchain bitchain, so you can let it sync overnight. It depends on what connection you have, but it can generally take several days.

Once you’ve synchronized with the chain, you’re ready to clone the c-lighning code on the GitHub repository. Once you’ve installed it, you can use the command line to connect to the Blockstream peer and synchronize with the channel. You also need bitcoins to work with, so you can use the lightning-cli, the internal light client to generate a bitcoin address to send funds from your normal wallet.

Once you’ve done this – and your transfer has been confirmed – you can open the Blockstream peer channel. First, use the command line to locate the public key at Blockstream. Just like the testnet, you have to pay a small fee of 500 satoshi. Then you must confirm that the transaction has been processed by monitoring the registers. Wait for three confirmations until you open the channel.

Once the three confirmations have been passed, you can use lightning-cli to list a new payment channel that you can use to make payments at the Blockstream store.

Next steps

If the task list gets you up, it’s all right, developers are working on ways to make the network easier to use. Lightning is in the alpha stage. Simplified interfaces will appear as they progress.

We will most likely have wallets easy to use for mainnet access. So there will be fewer requirements for lightning users to get familiar with the command line.

Eclair launched an incipient version for the lightning API. Instead of obliging businesses to open their own channels, Eclair will handle the back-end, process payments, and send bitcoins directly to the blockchain.

Other developers like Alex Bosworth are working on how users can send Lightning payments without setting up a channel, creating simple ways for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency to interact with the Lightning Network.

Finally, although the network is now hard to use and dangerous for the average user, developers’ work shows that Lightning will soon be as easy to use as existing payment interfaces.

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