I mean, you just need to install the software, and with the time, you will get lots of bitcoins?

  • The bitcoin software only allows you to hold, send and receive bitcoins. Just like a real money wallet or bank account. – nmat Nov 2 '11 at 18:03
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    A couple of related questions: What exactly is Mining? | Is there any point to casual mining? – D.H. - bitcoin.se Nov 2 '11 at 19:42
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    If it was easy to "get lots of bitcoins", they would be worthless. – Meni Rosenfeld Nov 2 '11 at 20:56
  • You might want to checkout litecoin.org - it's an alternative to Bitcoin that is geared more towards "casual" users. With Litecoin, if you run the standard client, you will make some small amount of money, even without a mining pool. Litecoin are exchanged for Bitcoin at btc-e.com – ripper234 Nov 3 '11 at 17:02

Not really, there are a few issues you have to know about:

  1. In order to generate Bitcoins, you have to be explicitly mining them. The standard client does not mine coins, it stores the keys you use to access them. You need to run a so called miner (like the GUIMiner) and you probably want to join a mining pool (like, Slush's Pool).
  2. Even if you are mining Bitcoins, you probably won't make too many coins unless you have some good hardware. You should check out what hashing speed your hardware has and then punch the hash speed in a dedicated calculator.
  3. If you want to mine coins by yourself (without pool), the chances of getting coins are pretty small, again, check the calculator and look for "Time to generate one block".

So in short, you need specialised software and hardware to mine coins, but it's not hard to get started.

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    It might be worth noting that once upon a time the default client did have this ability built-in, but CPU mining is adequately difficult as to be useless any more, so the option was removed. – David Perry Nov 2 '11 at 16:11
  • Just to update: I'm not sure of the history, but as of Bitcoin Core 0.9.1, CPU mining is available but disabled by default. It's only suitable for testing. – Nate Eldredge May 8 '14 at 12:23

The earlier versions of the client did include a "miner" which generated bitcoins. At that time the network was young and the amount of hashing power was low. Including the miner in the client made sense as it gave new users a tangible benefit and adding hashing power to the network was useful. However the network is now more than a million times more powerful than the early network. Most of the hashing power comes from high end graphics cards or custom built hardware (FGPA).

The option to use a CPU to add hashing power to the network (and earn coins) was removed from the client simply because the network the amount of hashing power it would add is minimal and thus the amount of coins the user would receive is negigible. It was determined by development team that having a miner which used up electricity and no realistic chance of generating coins was a determent to adoption.

Today if you want Bitcoins there are three routes: - Invest in some powerful hardware to mine for them (add hashing power to the network). - Sell goods or services and accept payment in Bitcoins. - Use an exchange or person to person transaction to trade money for Bitcoins.

The reality is that as the network matures there is little need for every consumer to support the network. The wallet & mining functions are no seperate specialized pieces of software. As time goes on mining will likely become even more of specalized "field" where only the most efficient and largest miners can gain any significant revenue from mining.

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