Are there any plans to encourage solo mining?

It seems the general consensus is that miners should use a pool to maximise returns, yet pools are completely the opposite of what the philosophy of digital currency is about. Zcash will be safer and better if everyone was solo mining as the network would be more resilient and harder to corrupt… and people will not be constantly wondering (as I see them do here) whether their pool is stealing from them.

Do people join pools to make returns more even, or is there any further advantage?
As an example, if my rig has x% the sols/s rate of an average pool, after say 4 years of solo operation will I have made x% of the coins the pool has made? I am guessing the answer is a big fat NO, and not just because of random luck. Can anyone confirm that?

On a separate note, is it normal for a miner to run for a couple of hours with a Sols/s rate of 0? Granted, it is only an old workstation doing CPU mining but still I was expecting a non-zero value lol. The image below shows only a few minutes of runtime but I did leave it running for a couple of hours yesterday but only the validated transactions number was growing.

I guess you've never tried solo mining when your hash rate is 1/100,000 of the network hash rate. You'll find a block so infrequently you'll drive yourself insane wondering if your miner is even working, or your node has a bug, or you didn't say your prayers today, or ....

I should add CPU mining directly with the node (zcashd) is virtually unused, so it may not even work. Further, mining with a CPU at the current network difficulty/hashrate is an utter waste of electricity; you'll spend more on power than you could ever possibly make from block rewards (you'll wait months to find a block).

Yes, I gather that is the state of the game right now. I'll agree too that the returns are more even and consistent, making a miner's life easier...
What gets me is that to a very large extent the value of the currency depends on how resilient and hard to corrupt the network is. If 70-80% of the nodes are grouped into a handful of pools, then if those pools get corrupted the whole thing will break. What am I missing?

I was simply trying to get the thing to work, so when my hardware arrives I don't have to start working through the setup and troubleshooting but can go straight to mining :slight_smile:

Nothing, except those pools are doing OK as it is, so they have little incentive to collude and, basically, destroy their livelyhood. What do you think happens when a rogue bunch of nodes forks off the chain? Sure they may be able to do some double-spends, before the alarm goes off, but they've killed the value of the coin, which they usually have/make running the pools, and their rogue fork is most likely doomed from the start.

The last thing you want to mine with these days is "tromp". With GPUs you should consider Claymore's or Optiminer's miner. There is a devfee to use them (2-2.5%), but they are, by far, the most productive mining software available at this time. There may be a decent open source miner coming, as some point, but it's a bit too early to tell.

That's normal for a first run. You haven't actually been mining in that time - your node was busy syncing the block chain (it is >10,000 blocks behind the chain tip as of the screenshot), during which the miner was not running. There's an open issue to improve the UI to make this clearer.

Yes, it is unlikely (though not impossible) that pool operators will go rogue beyond some maybe stealing whatever can go under the radar. Crypto currency exchanges however have been hacked more than once and a mining pool can be an attractive target as well. If it is hacked and just siphons off 1-2% no one will know, most likely. If it is hacked by people with a stake in a competing currency they may well have interest in compromising ZEC.
I probably sound paranoid, but the argument that because something hasn't happened yet it will never happen is just not sound - and ZEC is being marketed as the secure version of BTC. So why not take out a potential vulnerability?
Yes, by and large solo miners are screwed atm, but it should be possible to change that by developing changes in the way mining is rewarded. The ZEC team did something along those lines when introducing memory requirements to prevent the use of ASICs.
Seems to me (no claim to expertise) all they need to do to fix solo mining is make the rewards X times smaller and X times more common?

Well, there are certainly risks, no doubt about it, but the solution to exchanges getting hacked is simple: keep your coins in your own private wallet, per coin. Only use the exchanges for the time it takes to do your trade and withdraw the results back to your private wallet.

There's no way the network can discriminate between pools and solo miners. It's just not technically possible without serious changes to the blockchain block template, which would require a hard fork to implement. That, in turn, requires the majority of miners, including pools, to vote, via their choice of which of the, now, two distinct block chains they are going to follow. The chain with the most (longest) chain becomes the new (continuation, with changes made) "main" chain, and retains the established coin of the original chain. Those kinds of changes are not designed/intended to be made easily, for obvious security reasons, if nothing else.

Edit: In any case, clearly the pools would not be very positive about such a change, and there you have an example of what BTC vs BTU is going through right now.