Blog Urbit Community Update - July 2021

Jeremy Tunnell at

0 – Grants

There are now multiple grants, apprenticeships, and bounties related to theUrbit runtime. We need developers and theUrbit Foundation is offering generous incentives to those who can help. Are you new toUrbit development? That’s okay! We are offering apprenticeships ( that pair devs with an experienced mentor to work on projects together. Check out our grants page to propose a project, snatch a bounty, or start an apprenticeship.

1 – Recent developer calls

Developer Call:Urbit Yakshaving
There is a developer call scheduled for July 15th (today!) with Jake Miller (~littel-wolfer). Jake will be giving us a look at his development process, walking through his "urbit-emacs" setup and how he uses org-mode and tmux for hoon development. He'll also be giving us a quick demo of his work-in-progress Roam importer. Remember, there will be another developer call in two weeks - make sure to follow

Developer Call: Programming Bitcoin and Lightning onUrbit
Back on June 17th we had a developer call with Tim (~timluc-miptev) on programming with Bitcoin onUrbit. If you didn’t already know, Tim created theUrbit bitcoin wallet and is the technical director at theUrbit Foundation – he knows what he’s talking about and does an excellent job explaining the inner workings of bitcoin wallets.

Developer Call: TheUrbit Runtime and its Future
Host Ted Blackman (~rovnys-ricfer) interviewed Joe Bryan (~master-morzod). Topics included event log truncation, plans for storing more than 2GB, multithreading implementation, and much more.

2 – Bitcoin &Urbit

Bitcoin andUrbit is a match made in heaven. The bitcoin wallets are up and running and BTC is whizzing over the network ship-to-ship. Commerce is absolutely for a network to be viable and relevant beyond just being a fun place for people to hang out. A fewUrbit & Tlon employees made it out to Miami for the Bitcoin 2021 conference where Josh and Christian gave a presentation on theUrbit and bitcoin integration. Unfortunately, their powerpoint was not included in the official video, but you here’s a link if you’d like to follow along. We also have a generous developer bounty to maintain the Bitcoin wallet

3 – Technical updates: runtime edition

The Vere Runtime: From King/Serf to Urth/Mars
The most recent developer call with Ted Blackman (~rovnys-ricfer) and Joe Bryan (~master-morzod) focused on upcoming changes to theUrbit runtime (Vere). Since we don’t have specially designed hardware that executes nock (yet),Urbit relies on a runtime that communicates with the underlying OS. Until now, the runtime had two major parts: the King, which handles IO, and the Serf, which processes nock code and manages memory. Now the code is being refactored into a new duo: Urth and Mars. The new separation puts Mars in charge of all “fundamental invariants ofUrbit”, i.e. event log management, nock execution and memory management, and puts Urth in charge of implementing Arvo’s IO protocols. You can learn more about it on the developer call from a few weeks ago, “TheUrbit Runtime and its Future”.

Event Log Truncation
Arvo maintains an event log that records every interaction with the system as an event, deriving the state of the system from it. This means that the event log continually grows over time as new events are added. While it’s long been said that it will be possible to truncate the event log by snapshotting it at a certain point and discarding all prior events, it has remained an outstanding issue that causes a fair bit of trouble for those that have had their ships running for a long time. The implementation turned out to be very difficult given the King/Serf architecture of the runtime, but the Urth/Mars re-architecture (see above) makes such an implementation far simpler. We expect this capability to land soon!

New Vane: The Wrath of Khan
Vanes are input/output modules that hook into theUrbit kernel, Arvo. Jōshin (~silsyn-wathep) and Jake Miller (~littel-wolfur) are working hard to replace the “herb” python script with a proper vane called “Khan”, which functions as a “control plane”. Khan will allow direct programmatic control of runningUrbit nodes from the host system, which will greatly help those that are runningUrbit in a hosted context.

4 – Blog posts

The View from the Skyway – Noah Kumin ( ~librex-dozryc)
Noah Kumin is currently writing a history of computers (andUrbit) on the network (~bidbel/a). In his Tlon blog post, Noah looks at howUrbit is circumventing the legacy internet to provide new capabilities to users in the fields of bitcoin, messaging, cryptographic identity, ecommerce, and governance. Noah demonstrates thatUrbit has the capacity to connect people directly, minimizing transaction costs while still having the security and reliability we’ve become accustomed to.

On Christopher Alexander – Matt (~tirwyd-sarmes)
In this post I give an overview of Christopher Alexander’s written work and his influence onUrbit. Alexander’s approach to design is not only fascinating but often immediately applicable and his influence can be felt across disciplines from architecture to computer science.

5 – New Tlon staff

Tlon is busy ramping up accessibility efforts in interface design and marketing. Hunter Miller (~nocsyx-lassul), the creator of Port, has joined the engineering team along with James Muturi (~masseg-simrev). Marisa Rowland (~riprud-tidmel) will be spearheading Tlon’s marketing efforts and onboarding process. Welcome all!

6 – Odds & ends

Although this has been out for awhile it’s worth mentioning Robert Kornacki’s “Urbit Content Archiver” which allows you to export channels from your ship. A great way to back up those important conversations.

~lagrev-nocfep has written a tutorial on jets - a very useful document!

~nortex-ramnyd has created anUrbit native app that sits in your desk directory and allows you to searchUrbit groups and channels. It’s great to see projects like this, especially withUrbit software distribution around the corner.

New hosting providers are springing up all the time: recently has entered the fray. The website is looking great and is already live - it’s currently the fastest way to get on the network. We can expect more people to enter the hosting ecosystemonce programmatic control ofUrbit ships becomes available via Khan.

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