The news about RaspiBlitz adding support for Blockstream’s c-lightning implementation first broke in early June of 2021, during the Bitcoin 2021 conference in Miami. At the time, Christian Rootzoll (maintainer of Fulmo’s free open source Bitcoin full node software) announced that RaspiBlitz would integrate Blockstream’s Lightning Network client.
But for a while, it remained unclear whether or not the transition from LND (Lightning Labs’ popular client) to c-lightning would be radical or the two clients would run in parallel. It took another four months for the software to get coded – but on October 12th 2021, Christian Rootzoll has revealed version 1.7.1 of the RaspiBlitz OS: a powerful and much-needed upgrade which adds Taproot support for the Bitcoin Core client while also allowing users to choose any Lightning configuration involving LND and c-lightning.
In other words, RaspiBlitz node operators can now choose between running only LND, running only c-lightning, or running both at the same time. The move towards supporting a new Lightning implementation was explained in a Blockstream blog post which highlighted the competitive advantages of c-lightning over LND:
- better privacy via multi-part payments which randomize the path selection during the transaction routing process;
- the ability to fund channels from both sides involved, to reduce the costs involved and encourage for larger channels to get opened (see this article about dual-funded channels);
- the option to lease inbound liquidity in your Lightning channel via Liquidity advertisements;
- BOLT12 invoices and QR codes, which enable reusability (as opposed to the popular single-use BOLT11s) and add lots of extra functionalities such as recurring payments, payment proofs, and even multisig setups (check this article for more details);
- better overall performance and stability on the otherwise low-powered Raspberry Pi 4 hardware, due to lower system requirements;
On the other hand, LND has some advantages of its own. Every other full node in a box project (from Umbrel to myNode) makes use of it, so it has a larger community of users and developers. Lightning Labs’ implementation is also more reliable for routing payments on the first try, and benefits from more third party applications and wallets. Therefore, some users might prefer to stick with LND instead of upgrading – hence the optionality between c-lightning and LND in the RaspiBlitz dashboard.
But those who are looking into experimenting with a snappier implementation of Lightning can run both or even set up a second node to discover c-lightning’s mightiness. To help users make up their minds about the differences between LND and c-lightning, RaspiBlitz developer Openoms has published a comparison table.
How to upgrade your node to RaspiBlitz 1.7.1
If you’re already running an older version of RaspiBlitz, then you should know about the project’s GitHub page and the extended step by step update instructions. For newer versions, all you have to do is access the “Update” options from the dashboard’s main menu and then follow the on-screen instructions in the “Release” sub-menu (you’re going to need another computer to download and flash the ROM file, as well as another SD card to complete the operation).
The RaspiBlitz architecture makes it possible to store all Bitcoin and Lightning-related information on the hard drive, so the removable SD card only enables the access to the operating system. This way, your channels and wallet files aren’t affected during the update process.
If you’re currently running MyNode, Umbrel or Nodl and want to upgrade to RaspiBlitz, then the process is similar. All you have to do is flash the SD card with the RaspiBlitz dashboard, and versions newer than 1.7 will automatically recognize your channels, wallet files, and settings. You even have a page which includes step by step instructions. So don’t worry, you won’t have to resync the entire blockchain or close your Lightning channels to make the transition.
And if you buy a new Raspberry Pi 4 computer and wish to run RaspiBlitz, then the process is fairly similar to the update – except that you will have to wait for the initial blockchain download and also set up your wallet files.
Last but not least, you also have the option to buy a RaspiBlitz device which comes packaged with the latest version of the dashboard. If you’re in Europe, you can purchase the device from the Fulmo shop. I bought one earlier this year and recorded an unboxing video that you can find with some explanatory links here.
If you’re in the United States, then Lightning in a Box will offer you the best deal with the smallest shipping costs.
Should you update to RaspiBlitz 1.7.1 if you don’t want to use c-lightning?
To put it plainly, yes. The update also comes with Bitcoin Core v22, LND v0.13.3, updates for all applications, as well as the possibility to connect over Tor with SphinxApp. These newer versions should bring extra speed and stability optimizations.
And if you choose to not run c-lightning, you can simply ignore everything related to it. If you don’t set it up from the dashboard, you won’t have to ever deal with it. For most uses, LND should be more than enough – especially if you care more about routing transactions and having access to more wallets and applications.
On the other hand, if you care about privacy and exciting new features, you should give c-lightning a try. Given its modular design and architecture, it will run better and consume fewer system resources on your Raspberry Pi 4 system. Clearly, c-lightning is better suited for developers and new technology enthusiasts.
In an upcoming release, RaspiBlitz will also add a friendly graphical user interface that you can access from your computer browser. This way, the software is going to become even more accessible to newbies who tend to gravitate towards Umbrel. To better understand why truly free open source software matters and what’s wrong with the “source accessible” approach of Umbrel, read this article.
And if you need a crash course on the Lightning Network, then check our my explanatory guide. I’ve written it so that the concepts become accessible even to a ten year-old.
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