S12 E9: Christian Rootzoll & Matthew Croughan on RaspiBlitz + NixOS

Christian Rootzoll is the creator and lead developer of the RaspiBlitz project – an operating system for the RaspBerry Pi which enables anyone to run a full Bitcoin and Lightning node on this relatively affordable, general-purpose, small, quiet, and energy-efficient computer. Essentially, RaspiBlitz enables anyone around the world to become financially sovereign and ready to embrace the future of payments.

At its core, the project is an evolution of earlier experiments with the “node in a box” concept. The first notable one is the Casa Node, which was a little too ambitious for its time and used underpowered hardware (the RaspBerry Pi 3 board) to achieve underwhelming results. The second one is a true DIY initiative which is called RaspiBolt: basically a guide on how to do a clean installation of Bitcoin Core and LND on your RaspBerry Pi, developed by Stadicus.

You take these two design philosophies, put them together, add an uncompromising open source ethos and a powerful suite of free applications (BTCPay, LNBits, Mempool, JoinMarket, RunTheLightning, Electrum Rust), and you get RaspiBlitz.

But until recently, Christian Rootzoll’s project used to be a little bit too geeky. It required a little bit of command line skills and made use of a user interface which reminds computer nerds of Norton Commander. Due to this lesser user-friendly aesthetic, many newbie enthusiasts migrated towards lesser open source alternatives such as MyNode and Umbrel. For a while, it was thought that you must accept tradeoffs and user experience compromises: Umbrel was like Windows, while RaspiBlitz was the more intimidating Linux.

RaspiBlitz’s response to this false dichotomy came in July 2022, with the release of version 1.8. Now the Bitcoin and Lightning-friendly RaspBerry Pi operating system benefits from an intuitive web interface that anyone familiarized with an app store screen can use. It’s visual, it’s point and click, and it’s exactly what free open source projects require in order to become popular among the masses.

Around the time of this significant launch, I’ve met Christian Rootzoll at Mallorca Blockchain Days and decided to interview him. The good news is that I’ve managed to use my 20 minutes of laptop battery to ask him some of the most significant questions. The bad news is that my laptop died just when our discussion became a little bit more engaging.

This is how this interview became a first in the history of the Bitcoin Takeover podcast: we decided to record the second part some other time when we meet: either via remote video call, or at some other conference. Luckily, I’ve met Christian at Hackers Congress Paralelni Polis in October 2022 and we agreed to resume our exploration of the RaspiBlitz project roadmap.

The better news is that Christian Rootzoll had just made a significant announcement on stage: NixOS contributor Matthew Croughan would make use of his skills to also integrate his stateless and reproducible Linux distribution into the project. So the three of us got together in the recording room right next to the Bordel and started a conversation about the future of RaspiBlitz. Almost three months later, the interview became complete.

Will there be a NixBlitz? Is the future of RaspiBlitz on other hardware platforms that have more computing power than the RaspBerry Pi? There is only one way to find out!

More info about ROOTZOLLHEAD: https://xchain.io/asset/ROOTZOLLHEAD

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Vlad Costea

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