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Learning Bitcoin (and Lightning) from the Command Line

Learning Bitcoin from the Command Line is a tutorial for working with Bitcoin (and Lightning) that teaches direct interaction with the servers themselves, as the most robust and secure way to begin cryptocurrency work.

NOTE: This is a draft in progress, so that I can get some feedback from early reviewers. It is not yet ready for use.

This tutorial assumes that you have some minimal background of how to use the command line interface. If not, there are many tutorials available, and I have one for Mac users at

Table of Contents


Status: Finished. Updated for 0.20.


Status: Finished. Updated for 0.20.


Status: Finished. Updated for 0.20 and btcdeb.


Status: Finished.


Status: What's up here is finished, though work progresses on additional chapters, below.


Status: Finished.

This is the end of the polished second-edition course as it currently stands. We are looking for reviews on chapters 0-14 above. Thank you for your help & support!

We want to expand this course to also introduce programming with RPC and finally talk about Lightning. The material below is all in process. We'll move it "above the line" for review and learning when we finish it up.


Status: VERY Unfinished. Rgularizing other languages chapter; and deciding what to do with Swift


Status: Unfinished. Requires renumbering [currently all listed as chapter 13], editing

(At this point, I'm assuming that Lightning will be integrated into Standup, at which point we just need to tech how to use it at a pretty basic level.)

  • 18.0: Understanding Lightning
    • 18.1: Verifying Your Lightning Setup
    • 18.2: Knowing Your Lightning Setup
    • 18.3: Setting up a Channel
  • 19.0: Using Lightning
    • 19.1: Generating a Payment Request
    • 19.2: Paying an Invoice
    • 19.3: Closing a Channel
  • 20.0: Talking to Lightningd with C

Some good docs from one of the developers are here:

Status - Work in Progress

Learning Bitcoin from the Command Line is currently under active development and its writing in progress. Current chapters are functional, but need to be updated to more modern versions of Bitcoin-Core. Additional chapters also need to be written to fill out our intended scope.

The empty chapters above show some of our current plans for future work. Other plans, mainly drawn from old issues, can be found in

Obviously, this work in progress should not be used for production tasks until it is completed and has had further testing and auditing.

Origin, Authors, Copyright & Licenses

Unless otherwise noted (either in this / or in the file's header comments) the contents of this repository are Copyright © 2020 by Blockchain Commons, LLC, and are licensed under CC-BY.

Financial Support

Learning Bitcoin from the Command Line is a project of Blockchain Commons. We are proudly a "not-for-profit" social benefit corporation committed to open source & open development. Our work is funded entirely by donations and collaborative partnerships with people like you. Every contribution will be spent on building open tools, technologies, and techniques that sustain and advance blockchain and internet security infrastructure and promote an open web.

To financially support further development of $projectname and other projects, please consider becoming a Patron of Blockchain Commons through ongoing monthly patronage as a GitHub Sponsor. You can also support Blockchain Commons with bitcoins at our BTCPay Server.


We encourage public contributions through issues and pull requests! Please review for details on our development process. All contributions to this repository require a GPG signed Contributor License Agreement.


The best place to talk about Blockchain Commons and its projects is in our GitHub Discussions areas.

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The following people directly contributed to this repository. You can add your name here by getting involved. The first step is learning how to contribute from our documentation.

Name Role Github Email GPG Fingerprint
Christopher Allen Lead Author @ChristopherA <> FDFE 14A5 4ECB 30FC 5D22 74EF F8D3 6C91 3574 05ED
Shannon Appelcline Lead Author @shannona <> 7EC6 B928 606F 27AD

Additional contributions are listed below:

Role Names
Contributors: gg2001 (Go, Node.js sections), gorazdko (Rust section), Javier Vargas (C, Java, Lightning, Tor sections), jodobear (Appendix: Compiling Bitcoin, Python section)
Reviewers: Glen Willem @gwillem
Sponsors: Blockstream Corporation

Responsible Disclosure

We want to keep all of our software safe for everyone. If you have discovered a security vulnerability, we appreciate your help in disclosing it to us in a responsible manner. We are unfortunately not able to offer bug bounties at this time.

We do ask that you offer us good faith and use best efforts not to leak information or harm any user, their data, or our developer community. Please give us a reasonable amount of time to fix the issue before you publish it. Do not defraud our users or us in the process of discovery. We promise not to bring legal action against researchers who point out a problem provided they do their best to follow the these guidelines.

Reporting a Vulnerability

Please report suspected security vulnerabilities in private via email to (do not use this email for support). Please do NOT create publicly viewable issues for suspected security vulnerabilities.

The following keys may be used to communicate sensitive information to developers:

Name Fingerprint
Christopher Allen FDFE 14A5 4ECB 30FC 5D22 74EF F8D3 6C91 3574 05ED

You can import a key by running the following command with that individual’s fingerprint: gpg --recv-keys "<fingerprint>" Ensure that you put quotes around fingerprints that contain spaces.

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