Luxcore’s Proof of Stake web wallet: The first of its kind

“So actually, I started mining Lux one week after it was launched and it was really fun, because it was the first time that my rig did not crash every day (like it did with Eth or any other coin), and also the power consumption and heat generation were much lower. That was the moment when I knew that I wanted to give something back to this great project.”

To many of you, that probably sounds familiar. Something you might have said to yourself or to a friend; something maybe you heard from someone else. I know I had that exact same feeling at one point. In fact, these were my exact words when was first invited to be part of the Lux moderation team: “Lux has done a lot for me already, I totally support the project, so why wouldn’t I be willing to do my part to help make Lux as good as it can be?”

But those words in the first paragraph weren’t mine; they were uttered by Cheaterflums | Sebi, otherwise known as Sebastian Berger, and the end result of his resolve to give back is the first-of-its-kind Luxcore Proof-of-Stake web wallet.

I want to make something completely clear. Lots of projects have web wallets. Some of them have easy-to-use interfaces; some of them support advanced functionality; some of them look amazing; some of them are protected by high-grade security features. But very few of them do it all, and absolutely none of them can stake.

The elegant and sophisticated Lux web wallet dashboard

The idea of a staking web wallet for Lux came straight from the top. After Sebi had his inspirational moment, he set to work on a web wallet for Lux straight away. He showed what he had put together to the Lux team, who were immediately impressed, but of course the first thing 216k155 asked was, “Can it stake too?”

At the time, it couldn’t. In fact, no web wallet ever built could. But Sebi, undeterred, said he would think of something. Within 10 minutes, Sebi had one of those “Aha!” moments and set to work on designing the world’s first staking web wallet. He implemented the code he thought would work and then sat there, watching, waiting, hoping for that first stake reward to hit. Eventually, obviously, it hit and as the saying goes, “The rest was history.” But it was actually just the beginning.

First, there was some internal discussion about whether or not a staking web wallet was desirable in the first place. You see, Proof of Stake block rewards are an incentive for network actors to keep full copies of the blockchain on always-connected nodes, which support network decentralization. However, a web wallet doesn’t do that. Luxcore CTO Brian F. (Bfons) explained what was done to address this shortcoming: “Because of the centralization [a web wallet] can cause, the decision to spread the web-based wallet over a large number of nodes was made in order to ensure PoS was indeed supporting the network.”

Luxcore’s rather dapper web wallet team, L to R: Sebastian Berger, Brian F. and Zach Forsyth

In order to accomplish this, the Luxcore web wallet leverages the vast Amazon Web Services (AWS) network and is hosted across many parallel nodes. While this does not provide the same degree of decentralization that client wallets and daemons do, it does represent a significant improvement over the traditional uni-node implementation of a web wallet.

The calling card of a web wallet is ease-of-use. But all too often, easy-to-use technology is associated with a security tradeoff. The parallel-node implementation of the Lux web wallet contributes directly to its security, as there is no single hardware point of failure. Furthermore, as Sebi describes, “Every part of the architecture is as separated and stateless as possible for less of a security threat.” This means that each wallet-hosting node is isolated and the number of wallets per node is limited. In addition, each node features customized firewalls to control for port security, VPC peering connections, Internet gateways and private subnets. All of the security measures that protect the web wallet network and architecture have been thoroughly audited in a process overseen by Luxcore’s own Cyber Security Specialist, Zach Forsyth (ZZer00).

One of the more revolutionary security features of the Lux web wallet is that users retain total control of their private keys. Users can import and export a private key directly with the web wallet instead of sending funds wallet-to-wallet, thus saving on network fees. More importantly, though, when users are done using a web wallet address, they can export and delete the private key from the server.

Private key import/export functionality

Development of Luxcore’s first-of-its-kind staking web wallet is far from complete. More efforts to bolster security and refine ease-of-use are underway based on the external user feedback that is constantly being logged and analyzed. In particular, the Lux team wants to achieve feature parity with the web wallet so that it operates seamlessly alongside the wallet daemon API and the upcoming Luxgate API. Some of these advances are likely to include social logins, transactional 2FA, and of course Smart Contracts. Also, further development of the newly-released Luxcore Android mobile wallet, which ties in directly with the web wallet, is forthcoming.

You might remember, though, from my last blog entry that Luxcore CEO Brian Oliver (2cryptoGuyz) had this to say about the web wallet: “That will be our first real product that we can then sell to other projects.” So how close is the web wallet to actually being marketed and monetized?

“We have a couple customers we have defined who we will target once we’re ready,” says Bfons. “Beyond that, we’re entering uncharted waters.” Based on the multi-node infrastructure of the web wallet, it can scale up indefinitely to accommodate huge projects with many thousands of users spread across a wide geography. It can also, though, scale down for tiny projects with few users who may only wish to run it on a single node, maybe even a home server. “It can,” confirms Bfons, “but that’s not our market focus.”

Pro tip: Use a strong password and enable 2FA

So, dear reader, what do you need to know before using Luxcore’s Proof-of-Stake web wallet? Sebi reminds users, “Always use a very strong password and make sure 2FA is enabled.” Bfons also encourages users to “be attentive to phishing attempts” — this means paying close attention to the website URL and making sure it matches the real website you are attempting to visit. And finally, I’d like to remind users that a block reward change is coming for Proof of Stake soon. Currently, Proof of Stake rewards are split 60% to the staker / 40% to the masternode network. This ratio will soon change to 80% staker / 20% masternodes so that stakers receive 0.8 Lux per block.

It started out as one user’s desire to give something back to the project. Today, the Luxcore web wallet is the most technologically sophisticated and secure web wallet in existence, and the only one to ever support Proof of Stake. So if you have an idea for the Lux project, do what Sebi did: talk to the Lux team today!

Lux in San Fran: An Interview with Luxcore CEO Brian Oliver

Twenty-three. That’s the number of people currently working as part of the Luxcore team including development, marketing & communications, admin, tech support, project management, community relations, and so on. That’s quite a healthy number for a project still in its infancy. Despite that lofty number, though, it’s more about quality than quantity when it comes to Lux personnel as most members of the Lux community already know. They are a highly-skilled, dedicated and hard-working group. And last week many of them convened in San Francisco for the first-ever Lux team meetup to discuss the current state of affairs, challenges and opportunities, and to chart out the course ahead.

I was fortunate enough to be invited and got to meet many notables within the Lux universe such as Bfons, Mr. Test, Arsonic and his rambunctious partner-in-crime 2manyguns, Vaulter, ZZer00, TopoX, CryptoBurbano, and more. Even though I was meeting these people for the first time, I was struck by how much I felt I already knew them. In most cases, their real-life personalities are not incongruent with the personas of their Discord alter-egos. Well, all except azcrte — that guy is truly a wonder of nature.

Left to Right: azcrte, Bfons, TopoX, deadthings, Vaulter, 2cryptoGuyz, CryptoBurbano, ZZer00, Arsonic, Mr. Test

One member of the team with whom I got to spend quite a bit of time was 2cryptoGuyz, otherwise known as Luxcore CEO Brian Oliver. We discussed a great many things, crypto-related and otherwise, as we ascended seemingly all of the countless steep hills of San Francisco. We talked about his upbringing in middle-class Arkansas, how he got into the world of cryptocurrencies, and of course, we spoke at length about Luxcore.

If you were to take his word at face value, Brian would have you believe he’s just your typical white, Christian, middle-American family man who’s a bit of a fish-out-of-water in this crazy crypto world of ours. But I think it was one of the very first things he ever said to me that probably sums him up more accurately: “I am not afraid to try new things!”

From the top of Lombard Street: Everywhere you go in San Francisco is uphill. Way uphill.

After five years of school and three years of working in an apprenticeship, Brian started his own architecture firm in Tennessee, building up a small but loyal group of repeat clients. His business acumen guided him through the fiscal downturn of 2008–2010 when many architecture firms were being forced to close up shop and lots of competent architects found themselves out of a job.

As part of the design process of his business, Brian had three or four rather powerful rendering computers with which he and his IT guy decided to start mining. “We were just mining silly things like DOGE, not really taking it too seriously,” he recounts. “At some point around 2014 or 2015 we went away on vacation and I turned the computers off, and I never turned them back on.”

It was a lovely day for a walk. Brian is in the beige jacket.

At the time, he was less concerned about crypto than he was with a tiny new tech startup he launched called Walleries. Walleries was an iPad app that allowed people to take pictures of their artwork and pictures of their wall/room and use that to download templates that would tell them where the nail holes should go. “It was a pretty cool tool for people who don’t know how to hang art,” said Brian somewhat modestly.

Somewhat less modestly he continued, “Actually, we were the best new lifestyle app on the App Store, ahead of eBay and a bunch of other big ones.” Alas, Walleries did not punch Brian’s ticket to eternal Lambo parties because, “It had lots of users, but not many paying users… So basically the only people who made money off it were the developers I had hired.”

That’s about the time he met a crypto technical analyst who introduced him to 216k155. 216k155 already had a lot of ideas for a new proof-of-work algorithm and was looking for a more business-oriented person with whom he could work to launch a new blockchain platform. Brian and 216k155 hit it off immediately, talking on the phone and via text for long hours, collaborating on ideas, talking about their personal lives, just generally getting to know each other. They came to discover that although they were a world apart in many respects, they had a lot in common and quickly forged a powerful and dynamic working relationship. Thus, Luxcore was born.

Dragon’s Gate came towards the end of our rather exhausting journey.

Fast forward to San Francisco, March 2018, Brian and truthfully the whole of the Lux team are abundantly aware of some of the challenges Luxcore is currently facing. Lux suffered a significant network attack in February that forced 216k155 and his development team to accelerate the release of v4.0. The combined effects of the attack itself as well as rushing the not-fully-tested code to mainnet continue to cause problems for the Lux network.

“One thing that I hate what we’re doing with Lux is that we’re not meeting some of our goals,” said Brian. “Really we’re still working through some of the after-effects of that attack. Our devs are working on multiple strands: getting PoS back up to speed, Smart Contracts, SegWit, and a lot of the roadmap items. In a lot of ways, our roadmap was significantly disrupted by that attack… Now everybody is back on the right chain and we’re ready to get moving on tackling some of the roadmap items.”

So which roadmap items exactly are going to be tackled? And when can we expect to start seeing some progress in these areas? Here, I’ll let Brian explain…

“There’s at least a fork for sure for SegWit. And probably a fork for Smart Contracts too… I mean, we’re creating something totally brand new… So I think, unfortunately, we don’t really know how long it will take and so far we’ve guessed poorly. The premine coins that are to be burnt are already locked up in a wallet and ready to go, so that doesn’t affect our development one way or another, but we need to wait for a fork before we can implement that. And hence, we’re waiting for SegWit.”

“Marketing Phase 2 is probably our biggest, most exciting thing. That’s when we’ll have our TV appearances on CNN and Fox News. They haven’t made a press release announcing those appearances yet, so that’s why I’ve felt like we couldn’t say much about it. But now I feel like we should start talking about it because it’s happening, and we’re actually going to start shooting it soon. In the TV show, one of the things we’re going to talk about a lot is LuxGate and the Parallel Masternode Network — but I honestly can’t say how close we are to implementing those; they are a ways out. The PoS web wallet, on the other hand, is just about ready. That will be our first real product that we can then sell to other projects.”

Why do we do it? For the awesome hats, obviously.

After a five-hour walk through San Francisco that took us up Lombard Street, through Ghirardelli’s Square and Fisherman’s Wharf and back along Chinatown under the Dragon’s Gate, I had come to realize there’s quite a bit more to this supposedly typical white, Christian, middle-American family man, particularly when he says things in an off-the-cuff manner like, “The Luxcore project is a full-service blockchain infrastructure that we plan to license to a variety of users and on which all of our products and dApps will run.” He certainly does not strike me as a fish out of water, but rather exactly the kind of nuanced and multi-faceted yet also focused and driven person an ambitious project like Lux needs manning the tiller.

Luxcore year in review: The story so far

As this is my first blog entry, I find it fitting to be able to start with a Happy New Year message on behalf of the Luxcore team. As the calendar flips to January, not only is it a new year, it’s also something of a new beginning for Luxcore.

New brand, new logo, new website with new headshots of the team members — all the aesthetic changes have already been released. The nuts n’ bolts changes, though — including Luxcore v. 4.0 — await us in the New Year. As such, 2018 promises to be a very different year in Luxland compared to 2017. Join me, then, as I take a moment to reflect on the past few months in Luxland…

On October 2, @216k155 posted an ANN thread for a new coin called BHCoin, announcing the new PHI1612 POW/POS hybrid algorithm as offering “faster transactions, reduced heat and lower electricity bills.” Thanks to the involvement of the initial marketing team, saner thoughts prevailed and there was a rethink on the name and logo. Development was proceeding at a furious pace. So fast, in fact, that only five days later and just three days before launch, the placeholder name of BHCoin was dropped, replaced by LUXCoin.

Lux logo, through the ages

LUXCoin launched on October 10 to a raucous chorus of supporters and fudders alike. Thanks to the timely efforts of both @tpruvot and @elbandi, both Nvidia and AMD miners had access to optimized miners for the brand-new PHI1612 algorithm right from the get-go. But the get-go didn’t go so smoothly and multiple mining pools each found themselves on different chains. The blockchain had to be relaunched and the second go-around worked like a charm. By then, though, there were already over 20 pages of comments in the bitcointalk ANN thread, many of which were proclaiming “SCAM!”

You must remember, the LUXCoin launch came hot on the heels of some of the more notorious deceptions in the cryptocurrency marketplace that were still fresh in everyone’s mind. Between that, the last-minute rebranding and the false start at launch, LUXCoin became a preferred target for fudders. Things got so out of hand that @anorganix finally had to close the moderated ANN thread and replace it with a non-moderated one so that, as he said, “everybody has a chance to express their opinion and I will not be accused of hiding the devs or censoring posts.”

But what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, as they say, and I think the pervasiveness of fud all around Lux made the community of supporters all the stronger for it. The moderated ANN thread was closed on November 18, and I think that marked a turning point in Lux’s history when the chorus of support finally started to drown out the chorus of fud and people really started to appreciate what the project was doing.

There have been some other hiccups along the way, no doubt, but these did not prevent tremendous growth in the Luxcore ecosystem since mid-November in all aspects of the project. Miners and investors grew increasingly attracted to the project as @216k155 and his expanding team of support devs made more and more progress towards realizing some of the many ambitious goals the project has had.

And now, as we head into 2018, we have good reason to be excited about what’s in store for Luxcore. SegWit, Smart Contracts, LuxGate and Parallel Masternodes — and of course, more blog entries from yours truly — all suggest that 2018 may very well be the Year of the Luxcore. Happy New Year everybody!

One more note: The Luxcore community will soon be able to view our new FAQ section when it is posted in a few days, and it should answer some of the key question raised by the community recently. So stay tuned…