Ambitious Ethereum Browser Mist Shuts Down
Ethereum News

Ambitious Ethereum Browser Mist Shuts Down

In a recent Medium article, Alex Van de Sande, a UX designer at Ethereum, announced that of the most ambitious and earliest Ethereum Foundation projects, Mist, is now shutting down.

Talking about his feelings about the whole ordeal, de Sande said:

“Personally it feels like yesterday, but I’ve been working on Mist for over four years. While I’m proud of all the accomplishments we achieved in this time advancing the usability of Ethereum and sharing a vision for web3, we feel Mist, the browser has outlived it’s usefulness: the ecosystem has matured so much that now the user has tons of great options of wallets and browsers on both mobile and desktop. At the same time, the message of how crypto can make a better web has reached so far that now great names like Samsung, Opera and Brave are all focused on integrating web3 features on their roadmap.”

Talking about the difficulties faced, he said:

“Not all were roses, and in our way we faced some extreme security challenges that forced us to reevaluate our whole roadmap and question if keeping the project alive would be a good use of the Ethereum Foundation resources. We decided then to take everything that was valuable from Mist and roll into separate projects, but the main browser app should be considered deprecated and insecure. For more details on what these are, follow on.”

He then moves on to crucial milestones that the team managed to hit with Mist. The first milestone that he mentioned was that it was the wallet that launched the token standard. Talking about it further, he said:

“Fabian Vogelsteller, writer of the ERC20 draft, was also the lead developer of Mist and we decided to use it to break the chicken and egg problem of standards: we released a version of the wallet that supported tokens almost at the same time we published the token standard, and it also came with an easy way to write and deploy your own tokens”

He also talked about the fact that Ethereum Wallet taught the industry how to build a DApp, being the first GUI wallet which enabled early users to use Ethereum, along with many other milestones.

Also Read: CoinFlip ATMs now Support Binance Coin (BNB)

He also talked about the “speed bumps”:

“Our biggest speed bumps were always mainly two: syncing a node and relying on Electron. Syncing a full node was doable in the early years, but soon became a chore that would take hours. These issues started being solved in 2017 when light client became reliable, and then in 2018 we also compromised and added a remote node (INFURA) connection that would seamlessly switch between nodes; we strongly believe the ecosystem needs a vast number of nodes being run by users. This issue led us to lose a lot of our early users who voted with their feet to use apps with hosted remote nodes. While decentralization and convenience are always constant struggles with both sides having downsides, it certainly something that can be fixed in the long term, with both mixed remote/local solutions like we used and with the advancement of light stateless clients. But this was not the case for the security vulnerabilities brought by electron.”

Adding to it, he said:

“Electron is a great framework for webapps on the desktop, built for apps that used their own trusted javascript files. But when you are building a browser, you are, by definition, running random code from unknown people all around the world. This is tricky. Also, for most of our history together, electron was not updated frequently and even when it was, it was still running several versions behind chromium, which meant that often the latest version of Mist was running an engine several months out of date. Google tends to publish vulnerabilities it found after six months of releasing a fix, and at that point we were still stuck with the one-hundred-day exploit open, leading to a situation where we were paying from our bug bounties fund from people who simply took known vulnerabilities in chrome and applied them to us. We had a professional audit of Mist and they were able to discover multiple vulnerabilities that were fixed, none very dangerous but in late last year we received notice of a few very serious bugs: ones that would allow an attacker to take control of your computer (and your crypto keys) by simply visiting an untrusted website. This is very bad.”

He then talked about a few more issues before moving on to claiming that there is still a long way to go before the web3 vision would become a reality.

And that marks the end of the Mist era.

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Syed Ali Mudassar
It was when he was pursuing his graduation in Computer Science that he found his flair for writing about new and existing technologies. He likes researching about technologies and how they could help people. Currently, he works as the Content Manager at CoinFrenzy, a leading blockchain news, and media publication website.