2023 twenty-four merry days of Perl Feed

Santa tackles Bitcoin, part one

Bitcoin::Crypto - 2023-12-02

Santa is facing a new problem. Year after year, an increasing number of kids list Bitcoin as a thing they want to find under the Christmas Tree. This new trend comes much to the displeasure of the Kriss Kringle.

"This is outrageous!", he yelled in annoyance. "How can this thing even have value? Hasn't it died like five hundred times already? It's not even real!"

He started stroking his beard, thinking. His white moustache danced like waves on a beach as he tried to understand the new reality of 2023. If the good kids want it, then he must oblige. But how could something be left in someone's house if it isn't physical? He asked his most tech-savvy elf, McJingles, to research the subject.

McJingles is a hacker. He knows a bunch of programming languages but Perl is his favourite. He's a walking reference book for all things software. But Bitcoin? That's relatively new and not really something he paid attention to. Moreover, the nasty things he heard about it and the criminals has put him off a great deal. But to be tasked to research it from the Father Christmas himself? That's a completely new level of incentive!

So he searched the Web for the term, but most of what he got were rubbish price speculation articles. The Bitcoin wiki was of some help, but it was partially outdated. The Bitcoin Improvement Proposal documents were good, but a bit too specific for his level. So maybe books? He read Mastering Bitcoin by Andreas Antropolus, which gave him a nice insight into the technical side of Bitcoin. He pressed ahead with The Bitcoin Standard by Saifedean Ammous, which provided all the economic details he needed.

It quickly became obvious the new task couldn't be performed in the current modus operandi. The Elves were used to crafting everything themselves and often resorting to magic in their toy factory. They can't counterfeit Bitcoin - not because it's a bad thing to do, but rather because it's impossible. Even the strongest Elf Magic won't do. They could either try to mine it or obtain it by providing high quality goods and services on the market. Luckily, one of the elves remembered he had played with Bitcoin back in 2011 and still had the old hard drive, from which they were able to reclaim keys to 50 bitcoins, enough for a big juicy present for a lot of kids. The unspent transaction ID for their coins is a4e407ba6b54106e4bd209704666a2b541b9b03d04ef8cb779aafe18238744e1.

Now the next step was to split the big chunk of 50 bitcoins into smaller pieces. This means you need to create a transaction with one input (the unspent previous transaction output of 50 bitcoins) and N + 1 outputs (one output for each of N kids, plus an additional one for the change). Since Santa said the number N is well into the hundreds this year, crafting this transaction by hand in a wallet software was out of question and they needed some kind of programmable library. McJingles, being a Perl lover, decided to give the module Bitcoin::Crypto a go. He started a new script to create the transaction:

use v5.36;
use Bitcoin::Crypto qw(btc_prv btc_utxo);

# first, import the 50 BTC output from previous transaction hex
btc_utxo->extract([hex => '

# second, import the private key to these BTC
my $priv = btc_prv->from_wif('<SUPER SECRET KEY TO 50 BTC>');

So far so good, but there were some decisions to be made before continuing. The old private key was in WIF, short for Wallet Import Format, which is only capable of holding a single private key. Now hundreds of private keys needed to be generated, and the most important one of them all would be the change address for the unspent BTC. You may just send back to the address you've taken from, but since it was the effectively obsolete P2PK (pay to public key) address they figured it was smarter to generate a new type of address and send there. McJingles decided to generate a new mnemonic phrase capable of providing as many private keys as needed:

use Bitcoin::Crypto qw(btc_extprv);
use Bitcoin::Crypto::Util qw(generate_mnemonic);

# generate a new random mnemonic with 256 bits of entropy
my $mnemonic = generate_mnemonic(256);
my $password = 'Christmas';

# create a new master master key from the mnemonic
my $master_key = btc_extprv->from_mnemonic($mnemonic, $password);

# instruct the user to backup the mnemonic
# (say function is a part of 5.36 version bundle)
say "Your mnemonic is <$mnemonic>";
say "and your password is <$password>";
say "Back them up!";

Mnemonic phrases are sets of words which encode the wallet's entropy in a human (or elf!) readable way. In case of 256 bits, the mnemonic will contain 24 words. The optional password makes sure it's not that easy for anyone who gets the mnemonic to take hold of all the Bitcoin. It is a secondary security feature. McJingles knew it was best to store the mnemonic offline, for example written on paper.

The created $master_key can be used to derive many keys from it using Hierarchical Deterministic derivation schemes. The clever elf decided to use the most widely supported BIP44 scheme with purpose 84. By using this purpose number, Segregated Witness addresses were created. It's a modern type of address which makes the on-chain fees lower.

# cuz Santa said so
my $number_of_kids = 346;

# get the master key for the BIP44 account with purpose 84
my $account_key = $master_key->derive_key_bip44(
  purpose => 84,
  get_account => !!1,
  account => 0, # to be bumped up next Christmas!

# get the basic private key for the unused coins
my $change_key = $account_key->derive_key_bip44(
  get_from_account => !!1,
  change => 1,
  index => 0,

# get basic keys for all the kids!
my @kids_keys = map {
    get_from_account => !!1,
    index => $_,
} 0 .. $number_of_kids - 1;

McJingles now had all the essential parts needed to create the transaction. He asked the Santa how juicy the presents should be, but all he heard in return was some mumbling about the economy being tough and the need to cut the expenses. He figured 100,000 satoshi (the smallest units) for each kid should do. Adding these outputs turned out to be much simpler than he had anticipated:

use Bitcoin::Crypto qw(btc_transaction);

# create the transaction object
my $tx = btc_transaction->new;

# add the input from the UTXO
  utxo => [[hex => 'a4e407ba6b54106e4bd209704666a2b541b9b03d04ef8cb779aafe18238744e1'], 0],

# add all the gift outputs
foreach my $key (@kids_keys) {
    locking_script => [address => $key->get_public_key->get_address],
    value => 100_000,

The last thing to do was to add the output for unused funds and adjust the fee. The difference between input and output values is what the miner gets paid to include the transaction in a block. Without adding the change output, the fee paid would be 49.654 BTC! The higher it is the faster the transaction will be mined, but paying over $1.5 million for a transfer was simply too much. The fee must be proportional to the size of a transaction, so McJingles assumed 100 satoshi per output should be enough. He also set his transaction up for RBF (replace-by-fee), so that he could always bump it later if the blockchain got clogged:

# calculate the value of the change output
my $currently_unspent = $tx->fee;
my $wanted_fee = 100 * @kids_keys;
my $change_value = $currently_unspent - $wanted_fee;

# add the change output as the last output of the transaction
  locking_script => [address => $change_key->get_public_key->get_address],
  value => $change_value,

# set replace-by-fee

The transaction object was complete! Now all he had to do was to sign it and print it to the console. The transaction was not yet sent, but the serialized hex string can be broadcast to the Bitcoin network at any time, since the validity of the transaction won't ever expire!

use Bitcoin::Crypto::Util qw(to_format);

# sign the only input
$priv->sign_transaction($tx, signing_index => 0);

# just to make sure everything is okay - try to verify

say $tx->dump;
say to_format [hex => $tx->to_serialized];

When run, the program printed the mnemonic phrase to backup, a user-friendly summary of the transaction and the hex representation of the transaction. But something was missing... Of course, the outputs were supposed to be presents! The list of private keys was left behind in a variable, and without it there was no way to give the outputs to the children.

        Your mnemonic is <brown bulk hire culture capital hill trim turkey gossip artefact door media argue basic execute slam minute try number daughter music gauge vocal wink>
        and your password is <Christmas>
        Back them up!
        Transaction eed9ce72f2ee78c1f2a675172f7694f400e36ead0591b28b662a5e40fb4b20e1
        version: 1
        size: 10883vB, 43532WU
        fee: 34600 sat (~3.17 sat/vB)
        replace-by-fee: yes
        locktime: 0

        1 inputs:
        P2PK Input
        spending output #0 from a4e407ba6b54106e4bd209704666a2b541b9b03d04ef8cb779aafe18238744e1
        value: 5000000000
        sequence: 0xFFFFFFFD
        locking script: 410452b58be18046f78a0045fe49df56387a03f994ba2ac7a26e17f7d01dc6d346f1bed3979ad35d32a75bb625f6e521f75a1c5983d303ea04bfb43c8b72203a68eeac
        signature script: 483045022100b145a5f46f1fb69a3c7b4d55e1fdc5c2a4556129c2517816f4d8b5cc691414c20220055e5a4649021d26974c1b3b981bfecce9ba05cfae0be10ac136ff02e3e9319601

        347 outputs:
        P2WPKH Output to bc1qum6sd22rmsewwd75lzlynuve8wz0ah2uw2gltu
        value: 100000
        locking script: 0014e6f506a943dc32e737d4f8be49f1993b84fedd5c


        P2WPKH Output to bc1qyx43gm2rpdrgk0r70xhpt6ru5sk2xg7xs7lvga
        value: 4965365400
        locking script: 001421ab146d430b468b3c7e79ae15e87ca42ca323c6


McJingles had already safely backed up the mnemonic on a piece of paper, so he decided to write another script to print all the private keys generated. Running the same script again would produce a new mnemonic phrase for him. He couldn't do it as there was always a paper shortage in the toys factory. It should not come as a surprise since all the presents must be wrapped thoroughly, company policy.

It was getting late and he felt exhausted from deciphering all this output. It would be silly to work with Bitcoin being this tired! Any error you make may cause the coins to be lost forever! Well, with great power... yeah yeah, it was best if he just went to bed and left the rest for another day. Still plenty of time before Christmas!

... or is there?

Gravatar Image This article contributed by: Bartosz Jarzyna <contact@bbrtj.eu>