Bitcoin started in 2009 and have become more popular and valuable as the years progress. If you want to learn more about Bitcoin, I suggest visiting Wikipedia’s article on Bitcoin or Bitcoin’s homepage and then exploring YouTube for some more information. The cryptography behind Bitcoin is fascinating if you are into that type of thing. This article is about getting started in Bitcoin and Bitcoin mining based on how I got started reading articles on the Internet.
If you just want to invest by buying some bitcoins, you will need a wallet first. Try Bitcoins! is an easy way to get some bitcoins (less than a penny), learn about Bitcoin, and get your wallet set up on CoinBase. Coinbase will host your wallet and let you buy bitcoins from their exchange. You do have to trust them with your bitcoins like any other organization not to steal them. They look to have a good track record of not doing that. If you are not in the USA, check out this link for your other options.
Let’s say you want to get more technical though and you want to host your own wallet. Bitcoin’s webpage has all the good resources and options but I am going to focus on what seems to be the most popular options out there: Bitcoin-qt. The download page comes from Bitcoin’s website. Running right away is simple because the website will provide you the version you need. Windows’s .exe is straightforward. If you download Linux’s .tgz, extract the archive, cd into the extracted folder, look at the README, then cd into your bin/32|64/ folder and execute .bitcoin-qt. The other binary bitcoind is for running the client without a GUI. BE PATIENT. Your wallet will need to sync with the Bitcoin community and this can take days. The progress bar is at the bottom. This is the only boring part of this process!
At this point, your wallet is ready. With this bitcoin-qt program, you can manage your wallet and send/receive funds. That is great but what about mining for bitcoins! There are bitcoins that exist in the world that are free, if you can find them. Finding them are very difficult and will take a lot of expensive hardware if you try alone. Mostly all bitcoin miners join a pool where all the bitcoins found by the group are split based on the amount of shared work everyone did. If you are just starting, you will see you are earning pennies or less than pennies a day, but don’t worry, you can earn more if you want.
The easiest miner program out there is guiminer. If you are running Windows, this is very straight forward to download and run. It needs no further instructions. If you are running Linux, life is a bit tougher because guiminer was developed for Windows so you are going to need to do some playing around. Luckily, this discussion on StackExchange helps with the terminal commands you need to run after downloading the program from the above website. Note that OpenCL and and PyOpenCL are not required to start mining but they will greatly improve your mining results when they are installed. If you hit an error in guiminer about “no module named serial tools,” here is your answer.
The last bit of knowledge you will need is what pool to join. If you want easiest and most popular, go with slush’s pool. It is the default in guiminer and looks to return decent bitcoins on your hardware investment.