This article is written on the eve of the great outbreak of RUNEs

SuperEx
5 min readMar 29, 2024

Introduction

The heat of inscription has not subsided, and now the wind of runes is blowing. Can runes surpass inscriptions?

The recent turbulence in the Bitcoin market stems from a series of technological innovations and controversies within the cryptographic field, especially the discussions surrounding the Bitcoin inscription project Rune Alpha and the concept of runes.

The founder of Ordinals, Casey Rodarmor, proposed a new Bitcoin-based alternative token protocol called Runes in September 2023, also known as the Rune protocol. He believed that existing FT protocols such as BRC-20, RGB, Counterparty, and Taproot were either too complex or occupied Bitcoin’s space, thereby affecting the user experience. To address these pain points, the Rune protocol was born!

The Rune protocol aims to provide a simple and UTXO-based FT protocol that not only brings a good experience to Bitcoin users but also attracts the attention of users and developers, encouraging them to adopt Bitcoin itself.

Casey Rodarmor’s vision attracted market attention, but it did not initially create much of a stir. It was not until the launch of the Rune Alpha project that market enthusiasm was ignited, successfully bringing the Runes protocol and runes to the forefront of market focus, and in a short period, causing a significant FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) sentiment among users.

What Are Bitcoin Runes?

Bitcoin runes are unique, alternative tokens that exist on the Bitcoin blockchain. They are designed to represent alternative assets with unique features and metadata. Proposed by Casey Rodamor, the creator of the Ordinals protocol, the scheme is called Runes. Runes aim to provide a user-friendly, UTXO-based alternative for existing tokenization protocols such as Ordinals, ORC-20, BRC-20, and Stamps.

Runes are a new type of alternative token on the Bitcoin network. These tokens differ from existing alternatives in several ways. First, runes are native to the unspent transaction output (UTXO) model of Bitcoin. This minimizes the generation of “junk” UTXOs, leading to more responsible UTXO management and a smaller on-chain footprint. The Bitcoin blockchain is designed as a minimal and efficient ledger for transferring value through Bitcoin transactions.

What Is the Rune Protocol?

Overview:

The runes offer a simpler and more intuitive way to handle alternative tokens on the Bitcoin blockchain.

Details:

- Runes are designed for ease of use, following Bitcoin’s UTXO model, providing an optimized way to reduce unnecessary UTXO expansion, a significant issue for existing protocols like BRC-20 and Stamps.

- The simple design of Runes has attracted more interest and participation from developers, also providing new impetus for innovation within the Bitcoin development community. More importantly, Runes do not require handling of native tokens or dealing with off-chain complexities, which undoubtedly provides a seamless user experience and is bound to attract the adoption of more mainstream projects.

It can be said that the simplicity, ease of use, and seamless integration of Runes bring some influential changes to the Bitcoin token ecosystem.

For example:

- Allowing flexible allocation and transfer of rune balances;

- Invalid protocol messages result in the burning of runes;

  • Issuing specific human-readable symbols and decimal configurations, and its issuance and transfer do not require the use of native tokens, making the protocol less cumbersome and more user-friendly.

Differences Between Runes and Inscriptions?

We have mentioned that the Runes protocol is the rune protocol. However, it was not until the recent launch of the Rune Alpha project that the market’s enthusiasm was ignited, especially because of its name’s similarity to Runes, further stimulating users’ FOMO.

Of course, this rune protocol has little to do with the runes proposed by Casey, merely a similarity in name. Casey Rodammor quickly clarified through social media that Rune Alpha has nothing to do with his Runes, and the Rune Alpha project party also stated that they are unrelated.

Nevertheless, the fervent FOMO sentiment of users still led to a frenzy of minting for the first token of Rune Alpha, COOK.

So, what is the difference between inscriptions and runes? Technically speaking: The key differences between Bitcoin inscriptions (inscription) and runes (Rune) are twofold:

- Inscription location: Bitcoin inscriptions are inscribed in segregated witness data, while runes are inscribed in OP_RETURN.

- Performance characteristics: Inscriptions can cause congestion in the Bitcoin network, while runes do not.

It is worth noticing that other token protocols based on Bitcoin UTXO and based on ERC-1155, such as runes, have also begun to receive attention. For example, tokens like $pipe from the Pipe protocol and $ers from the Ethrunes-based protocol, etc. The heat of these tokens indicates the market’s strong demand for solving on-chain congestion, and the Rune protocol is considered a potential solution to this problem.

What Are the Popular Runes?

As this article is for educational purposes and not an investment recommendation, only a few leading rune tokens are mentioned here as examples, which do not constitute investment advice.

- Rune (Rune): Pipe (Top leader)

- Rune Alpha (Rune): COOK, PSBTS

In summary, Runes is a new protocol designed to replace BRC20, using the OP_RETURN output on the Bitcoin blockchain as a data storage method. The main advantage of this protocol is that it can provide a more efficient way of data storage and reading while maintaining the security and reliability of Bitcoin.

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