Does using Umbrel make Bitcoin more centralized?

Obviously having more nodes makes Bitcoin more decentralized. What I mean is that having all these nodes running the Umbrel software takes away the “voting” aspect of running a Bitcoin node away from the users. When changes are made to the Bitcoin Core node software then Umbrel decides if they like the changes or not and can push them in an update to users.

For example, if Umbrel had existed during the blocksize wars and the Umbrel devs decided they wanted bigger blocksizes, then they would have inordinate voting power over the change if Umbrel users were not paying attention and just updating blindly.

I’m still pretty new to running a node so I’m not very knowledgeable on this stuff yet, but I’m trying to learn. I know if this a valid concern the answer is simply for me to just go download and run Bitcoin Core by itself. I may do that eventually, but for now I wanted something more simple while I dipped my toes in the waters, and I also wanted to get involved in LN. Not trying to throw shade on Umbrel, I just wanted to see what people thought of this issue.

As I recall on the last update to bitcoin core pushed by Umbrel in the software, all of us umbrel node operators essentially do still have the choice NOT TO UPDATE. I remember tapping on a an update button which I assume if I did not do that, it would not update and I could effectively stay on the last version of bitcoin core. As long as updates are not forced on umbrel users by automatically occurring, it seems like we validating nodes still have a vote when it comes to potentially difficult soft or hard forks. As for your comment regarding how easy it is to “update blindly”, when I maintained my own node without Umbrel, it was just as easy to update “blindly” running one’s own node without umbrel as it is with umbrel. Many node validators, just like normal citizens in a country, will not take the time to research the larger issues and values at stake when it comes to one bitcoin version and another or when it comes to one candidate and another and I don’t see that umbrel’s helpful service exaggerates or diminishes that issue of people blindly voting on one bitcoin core or another or one political candidate or another. “Blindly” voting is a much more widespread problem that neither running one’s own bitcoin core nor using umbel prevents anymore than the many screen prompts with terms and condition statements prevents many (or most) from blindly “accepting” the terms and agreements (which aren’t even read much less understood) of all the apps we are using.

Afterthought: In the bigger picture, I am more concerned with the “voting” that occurs by choosing to run a validating node in the first place (either with umbrel or without). While the vote between one version of bitcoin core and another could be important (as in the bitcoin cash vs. bitcoin hardfork), the importance of that vote is still quite small in comparison with the huge vote to EXIT the legacy banking systems by affirming the Bitcoin network and all the values embodied in it by running a node anyway you want or can. The really significant and valuable voting (given how little of the world at this point has adopted bitcoin) is: TO BTC or NOT TO BTC anywhich way you can.


Good answer. Nice job living up to your name :thinking:

1 Like