Urbit and Bitcoin

A sound money deserves a sound computer.

October 16, 2019

Christian Langalis


Sound money deserves a sound computer.

Urbit imagines a new model for an OS that – among other changes – includes money as a native service. Developers within the Urbit ecosystem will be able to securely use money in their applications as easily as they might use file systems or networking protocols. Creating a new sound currency, however is not our goal; Bitcoin has already done that.

Running a Bitcoin node is very much like running a single purpose personal server (one that hosts the Bitcoin blockchain and verifies transactions). Urbit is designed to be the final personal server, so this week we launched several grants to incorporate Bitcoin into our development cycle. The first of these are directed towards interacting with Bitcoin nodes directly from Urbit.

Bitcoin and Urbit are complementary systems. Sound digital money requires sound computing to be used safely and effectively. Urbit’s OS is strictly-typed and entirely functional, and as a result, it’s orders of magnitude more secure than the Unix ecosystem when fully implemented.

Urbit and Bitcoin converge along the realization that the Virtual is subsuming the Real. In other words, the locus of control over your life is no longer embodied in the physical, but the digital. For example, what worries you more: a pickpocket or a sim-swapper? The bogeymen of today don’t target our physical selves; they target our private keys, our searches, and our data. The client-server computing paradigm is falling in upon itself, and cannot protect us in this new reality. Without peer-to-peer tools like Urbit and Bitcoin, our property and lives lie vulnerable to control by platforms.

To integrate Bitcoin with Urbit, we’re starting with the basics: a Bitcoin wallet and a Bitcoin node solution for Urbit. These tools will bring Urbit’s Bitcoin functionality from 0 to 1, and will serve as building blocks for our upcoming push from 1 to n. We’ll be sharing more about this in the coming weeks and months. If this excites you, please feel free to get involved with some of our current Bitcoin bounties, found here.