All About BTC, LTC, ETH mining as well as other alternative crypto currencies
The work on the official Ethereum graphical wallet (GUI wallet) is continuing and the software is getting improved and becoming more user friendly with each new beta release, making it easier for new people to get started with ETH. The wallet relies on geth (by default) or the eth client as a backend and provides a user friendly interface with the most important information and functions available to the user without requiring him to type console commands to execute them. The latest version Ethereum Wallet 0.5.1 (Beta 9) is ready for the upcoming Ethereum hardfork as the crypto currency moves to the next phase of its development called Homestead that is planned to happen at block 1150000 or in other words in less than 50 thousand blocks.
The Ethereum GUI wallet can be used as a new installation to get you started with a new wallet, it will start with an easy step by step guide to help you get started by generating a new wallet and even import pre-sale wallet if you have participated in the pre-sale and still have not imported your coins. If you already have a local wallet and were using the geth or eth console clients, then you can use the GUI wallet with your existing address and the blockchain data will not need to be re-downloaded as you already have it available locally and the GUI wallet will use it. It took some time for the official Ethereum GUI wallet to become available and to offer the functionality users needed in an easy graphical user interface, but you can say that now, even thought still in beta, the GUI wallet works very well and makes it really easy for new users to get into Ethereum.
There are just about 57000 blocks left before we reach the Ethereum hardfork planned for block 1150000 when Ethereum will move to the next phase called Homestead. Do note that Homestead is the second major version release of the Ethereum platform, which includes several protocol changes and a networking change that requires the hardfork. The Ethereum clients with support for the Homestead are already available for download and it is recommended to upgrade any Ethereum nodes or local wallets if you are using such at this time in order to be ready for the hardfork.
The initial Go version of Ethereum (geth) for Homestead is release 1.3.4, but there is already 1.3.5 and the initial C++ version of Ethereum (eth) for Homestead is the version 1.2.0 with version 1.2.2 already available with some fixes. Do not wait for the last possible moment or after the 1150000th block is here in order to avoid any possible issues resulting from the hardfork. A large number of the Ethereum nodes have already been updated, but there are still some that are running older versions of the software that are not ready for the hardfork. Hopefully all of the Ethereum mining pools and the nodes running 24/7 on the network will be ready for the hardfork that should hit in a little over a week from now.
The Ethereum project has released an official update regarding the next phase called Homestead that will need a hardfork and that will take place at block 1150000 or roughly around Pi Day (March 14th). Homestead is the second major version release of the Ethereum platform, which includes several protocol changes and a networking change that requires the hardfork. This does not mean that Ethereum will be switching to PoS yet, Homestead will continue to rely only on PoW mining with Proof of Stake switch phase planned for a later time in the future. After the Homestead hardfork everything should continue to run normally as it is now.
The Go version of Ethereum (geth) for Homestead will be release 1.3.4 and includes the above mentioned changes to the protocol and network. Following the release of Homestead the Go team will also shortly come with the 1.4 release, which is our big feature release and includes months of work. The C++ version of Ethereum (eth) for Homestead will be version 1.2.0. Apart from the protocol and network changes, it also tries to be as compatible to geth as possible. So make sure you keep track of the development in the newt two weeks as you will have to upgrade your Ethereum client if you are running a local node or have a local wallet when the new versions with support for Homestead become available.