Lightning Network, the technology that could end up having the most significant impact on the capacity of bitcoin, is to date, still is test phase, and it is only recommended that developers use the network.
Nonetheless, businesses like Blockstream have already launched Lightning-powered stores; these send stickers to bitcoin users that successfully transact across the network. And these early Lightning users are being celebrated for their bravery. This has attracted criticism by those that feel it encourages people to risk their real money.
With all that being said, there are ways to contribute to the Lightning without risking your portfolio. Below, we provide a guide for those that want to adopt this cutting-edge technology before the official release.
How to Use Testnet Trials
Using testnet might not be intuitive. However, it is more accessible and built to work on most of the operating systems. It also doesn’t require the use of real bitcoin. Instead, it allows you to use test bitcoin which you can get for free at any online faucet. Using this platform takes about five steps, and they are discussed below:
- There are couples of wallets you can download depending on the operating system you deploy, Lightning Labs and Zap for desktop and Éclair for android.
- After sending the test bitcoin to a wallet address, set up a channel and choose a testnet store you’d want to buy from.
- Next, go to your preferred network and find out a payment address, two addresses are given, a peer address and payment address (before you can send payment, you’ll need to add it to the store)
- After copying the peer address, add it as a contact in your wallet. You’ll be required to send a small fee of about 0.1 test bitcoin before you can open this channel.
- After successfully opening the channel, paste the payment address with the desired amount into your wallet and instantly send your test bitcoin.
Before you start, you have to know that not only can you lose your money, but it is also difficult for developers to administer updates because the more active people get on the platform, the more it gets complicated. While it is a bit more comprehensive (the process can take a couple of days), you can use the steps below as a rough guide:
- Blockstream's c-lightning is the easiest way you can use to access mainnet, Blockstream published a guide which breaks down the several command lines that are necessary to buy a stickers in their store.
- C-lightning uses Ubuntu operating system and several code toolkits you will need to download before you can start. It also requires syncing the whole bitcoin blockchain, it is a process that can take days to complete, and you need storage space of about 170GB.
- After that, install the necessary tools listed on Blockstream breakdown.
- Next, download bitcoind, and depending on your internet connection, it could be several hours or days to sync the bitcoin blockchain.
- After syncing, clone the c-lightning code from the GitHub repository, connect to Blockstream’ peer by using the command line, and you should also synchronize the channel. Use lightning-chi to create a bitcoin address and send some funds from your wallet.
- The next step is to use Blockstream’s peer to open payment channel, Use the command line to find the Blockstream public key which unlocks the channel. You have to pay a small fee, after which you confirm the success of the transaction by monitoring the logs. You have to wait for three confirmations before opening a channel.
- After the successful confirmations, you can now use the lightning-chi to create new payment channel, and you can then make payments to Blockstream store.
If the steps above are too comprehensive for you, don’t worry, developers are working on ways to make the network easier to use. Note that Lightning is still in its early stage, and as its development progress, several varieties of simplified interfaces will be released. While Lightning Network is still dangerous and difficult for an average user, there are ongoing developments and the use of Lightning could be as simple as existing payment interfaces.