Bitcoin Core Upgrade Introduces Descriptor Wallets and Tor V3 Support

Bitcoin Core developers have rolled out Bitcoin Core 0.21.0, which is a precursor to the highly anticipated Taproot/Schnorr proposal.


An upgrade to the original software client launched by Bitcoin's founder Satoshi Nakomoto has been released. According to an announcement on Twitter, the Bitcoin Core Project published an update to the original open-source node.

Changes to Private Keys

The update known as Bitcoin Core 0.21.0 was led by Bitcoin Core lead maintainer Wladimir van der Laan in partnership with other contributors.

This update introduces several security and privacy improvements that might not be apparent for regular every day users. Most significant is the addition of “descriptor wallets, which fundamentally expand the operation of traditional Bitcoin wallets; compact client-side block filtering; fewer rebroadcast attempts, Tor V3 support, and more.

Descriptor wallets require scripts to move the Bitcoins they contain instead of traditional wallets, which require private keys.

The Bitcoin Core developers believe that this change will improve wallet operations' flexibility, especially on the back end. While the scripts can incorporate private keys, their operations aren't bound to these keys either. Users might not notice much of the differences between the descriptor wallets and legacy wallets.

However, prominent developer Andrew Chow has expressed his belief that these new wallets would replace the legacy ones by 2023.

Taproot/Schnorr and Tor V3

The new release also marks the end of the Bitcoin Core's ability to create new Bitcoin wallets automatically. Instead, the Core will load wallets. In cases where specified wallets don't exist, the system will log errors instead of creating new wallets.

Bitcoin Core 0.21.0 supports the latest version of Tor browser – a privacy-focused browser app popular with crypto users. The Tor project announced last July that it was retiring several of its obsolete versions due to security concerns. By supporting the latest version, the Bitcoin Core is hoping to benefit from enhanced privacy and security all around. Tor's recent upgrade from Version 2 (V2) to Version 3 (V3)—whose addresses are longer than V2. While V2 addresses are still valid, there are plans to deprecate them soon, leaving many Bitcoin Core nodes in limbo. Providing Tor V3 support means Bitcoin Core users can share their messages/IP with their peers.

The new upgrade appears to be a precursor to Taproot and Schnorr – two highly-anticipated Bitcoin Core proposals. Both are expected to increase the Bitcoin network's privacy and capacity and have been implemented already. However, they haven't been activated yet.

Their inclusion in the upgrade means application developers can start building around the protocols.

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