A bug in the code of popular bitcoin wallet MultiBit has sparked considerable debate about the reliability of the open-source wallet client. Several threads posted to Reddit in recent days have revealed a number of problematic glitches in MultiBit’s code, as well as a seeming reluctance on the part of the developer to address them.
Reddit user ‘wetseals’ encountered a major glitch in the software that seems to have cost him more than 0.5 BTC. Having created over 550 wallets in his MultiBit install, the system apparently “lost” the private keys to his primary address. Although the wallet was able to track the public address and display the deposit, the exported private keys and wallet.dat file did not include the private keys, making the BTC completely inaccessible.
Several bitcoin software analysts have since looked at the file, and confirmed the glitch. Strangely, MultiBit’s lead developer, Jim Burton, seemed less than interested in the issue. Responding on Reddit, he wrote:
In the life of MultiBit (i.e from 2011) there’s probably a handful of cases like these. If there is damage to the private key bytes (for whatever reason) and there is no other copy available/backed up then you’ve lost access to the bitcoins.”
Burton noted that all resources are currently being focused on MultiBit HD, a hierarchical deterministic wallet that would prevent such glitches from happening in the future. Burton expressed doubt that the problem originated with his code, and cited several reasons that he didn’t have time to look into the issue.
Burton’s disinterested tone provoked many outraged posts on Reddit, and users soon began posting new threads reporting other long-ignored problems with MultiBit. With nearly 1.5 million downloads, MultiBit is easily one of the most popular locally hosted wallet clients.