Technically, nearly all of the Ethereum networks have similar capabilities in terms of functionality because they share many common parts. Some networks might have additional ones, but they can be easily ported to other networks in terms of weeks. So for this comparison, we focus on pre-mine, coin distribution, philosophy, and community.
The chain by Ethereum Foundation is the oldest and currently the most valuable. Launching this coin, the Foundation issued an ICO of 60 million ETH and also included an additional 12 million ETH pre-mined for developers, meaning 72 million ETH was pre-mined. Since then, only about 10 million new ETH can be mined by miners per year. Today, three years after its launch, all the coins in the genesis block (block 0) still represent more than half of all the coins available. This makes the coin distribution of Ethereum questionable. For example, at the time of the DAO hack, many users didn’t trust the result of CarbonVote (one-ETH-one-vote style of voting).
In the recent Byzantium hard fork, Ethereum further changed the coin issuance per block from 5 ETH to 3 ETH. This further reduced the total coins that can be mined and made the pre-mine and the overall coin distribution even more questionable.
In terms of community, Ethereum has the largest group of developers and businesses supporting it. However, its hard forks and many changes that require acknowledgment from the whole community are often criticised as being “rushed” and “one person (Vitalik Buterin) decides everything”. Many people argue that this is a good thing because it allows the coin to change much faster. Many others don’t like this fact that a “decentralized cryptocurrency” is, in fact, centralized, and have switched to other coins like Ethereum Classic.
Ethereum Classic is a community split that happened during the DAO hard fork. Compared with Ethereum, it has a strong principle of “code is law” and “transaction finalization”. Many people consider this to be more censorship resistant. It also has a clear monetary policy (which Ellaism borrowed from) that has a 210 million total coin supply.
However, Ethereum Classic still has the same problem as Ethereum in terms of pre-mine. A 72 million pre-mine, even after the 210 million coins are all mined, still equates to more than 30% of the network. Many people consider this to be a problem, while others do not.
The Expanse network is one of the early forks of Ethereum. Compared with Ethereum and Ethereum Classic, its community is smaller. The Expanse network consists of 11.11 million coins pre-mined in the genesis block in which the founder controls the private key.
The Expanse network also has the Tokenlab project.
Ubiq is a re-launch of Jumbucks (JBS) and is advertised to be no pre-mine. While this is true, some people criticise that Jumbucks is a Proof of Stake coin (in which is much harder to get a fair coin distribution) consisting of only 21 days of Proof of Work period. The fact that Ubiq is a re-launch means that about 36 million coins are in the genesis block. In the future, Ubiq’s monetary policy makes it so that block rewards start out at 8, and decrease by 1, until it reaches 1 per block.
The Ubiq development team is run by donations. This fact, combined with that it is advertised as being no pre-mine, attracts some developers. Ubiq also has the unique Flux Difficulty Algorithm.
Pirl is a coin launched in July 2017. The coin is also advertised to be no pre-mine, and is probably the only cryptocurrency besides Ellaism that contains zero coins in the genesis block (block 0). The coin, however, takes around a 16% dev fee (for masternode and dev fund) in every block reward. People interested in Pirl usually don’t consider this as a pre-mine, because devs are only paid if the coin is valuable. This, however, is sometimes criticised in other coins like Zcash, which also takes dev fees called “founders’ reward”.
Pirl has a slightly bigger community compared with Ellaism.
Ellaism is designed to be a “pure” coin. A coin that is as fair as Bitcoin. Compared with Ubiq, the only other Ethereum-like coin here that has no pre-mine or dev fees, Ellaism can be argued to have a much more fair launch due to the fact that Ubiq is a “re-launch”.
Ellaism’s current development team (Ellaism Core) is run by donations. While this fact makes the coin have a good long-term foundation, people argue that this would result in a slower initial coin growth in the beginning. Ellaism’s community size is also small right now.
Specialized Ethereum Networks
There are also other specialized Ethereum networks that serves some specific functionalities based on the Ethereum protocol. Notable ones include:
- WhaleCoin: A social network based on Ethereum.
- Musicoin: Direct payments for musicians.
Appendix: Comparison Table
|Name||Dev Fees||ICO Premine||Dev Premine||Genesis Block||PCS1||DCS2|
|Ethereum||0||60 million||12 million||72 million||>50%||13%|
|Ethereum Classic||0||60 million||12 million||72 million||>50%||13%|
|Expanse||0||0||11.11 million||11.11 million||>50%||>50%|