Alternateth: A 'Friendly' Ethereum Fork to Be Released for Testing and Research Purposes

James Hancock, the Project Team Lead at EthSignals, an organization focused on providing “tools and sources of high-quality information” to assist in the growth of Ethereum’s (ETH) ecosystem, has revealed that he intends to conduct a “friendly fork” of the world’s largest smart contract platform.

Friendly Fork Will Serve as Tesnet for Main ETH Blockchain

Referred to as “Alternateth,” the Ethereum fork will serve as “a sister chain” to the Ethereum mainnet. This, as Alternateth will primarily be used to test and explore various design ideas and proof-of-concepts (POCs) - before they’re launched on the main Ethereum blockchain.

In statements shared with CoinDesk, Hancock said that the Ethereum fork would be launched within the next two months. He also mentioned:

For ethereum to be sound money, it needs to be very conservative in making changes. For ethereum to keep pace with competition it needs to keep making changes. These two ideas are in tension as it is difficult to do both well.

As the world’s second-largest blockchain-based network, Ethereum’s market capitalization currently stands at nearly $33 billion - with Ether tokens trading at around $310. Although Ethereum has managed to remain the dominant platform for building decentralized applications (dApps), there are several legitimate competitors that have entered the cryptocurrency industry.

These include EOS and TRON (TRX), both of which saw their mainnets go live during the summer months of 2018. Notably, both EOS and TRON appear to have more dApps running on their networks when compared to Ethereum, however recent reports have confirmed that Ethereum still has the most developers working to improve its platform.

Serving as a Testnet for Programmatic Proof-of-Work (ProgPoW)

According to Hancock, Alternateth’s main goal will be to test new technologies and protocols, including the Programmatic proof-of-work (ProgPoW) algorithm, before they’re considered safe for launch on the Ethereum mainnet.

While Ethereum’s core developers had decided in January of this year that ProgPoW could be added to the smart contract platform in a future update, the exact date (or with which upgrade) for when it will go live has not yet been finalized. The protocol still might require additional testing, which Alternateth could be used for (when launched).

Incentivizing Developers to Work on Alternateth

In order to incentivize developers, Hancock has proposed distributing mining rewards to contributors in a manner that is similar to how the Zcash blockchain is used to compensate network participants.

As noted by Hancock, the Alternateth network will accumulate mining rewards into a multi-signature address “comprised of multiple trusted community members.”

Currently, Hancock is trying to get other Ethereum developers involved in preparing Alternateth for launch.

He confirmed that the relatively new ProgPoW mining protocol will be used for mining on the forked Ethereum network. Hancock also noted that the project’s founders would not conduct any fundraising campaign - as its funds would come in the form of donations and other types of voluntary contributions.

While explaining the primary objective of the project, Hancock remarked:

It will be a test-bed for some of these upcoming features [for Ethereum] and will support funding development for the main chain…Similar to the relationship between litecoin and bitcoin.