I know that Bitcoin has at least one alternate full node implementation, btcd. From what I've heard the Conformal developers spent years on this, and have had to emulate everything (even bugs), and there's still a risk of a fork between btcd and bitcoind.

So are alternate full nodes even possible with Monero? And are there any plans to make this easier for developers?

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Generally speaking, yes, it's possible. All a developer has to do is to carefully implement the protocol specification in her programming language of choice.

However, a formal monero protocol specification does not exist at the time of writing. It means hard times for 3rd party client implementations as they would have to have deep knowledge of the existing monero client and protocol.

Finally, I'd like to mention that btcd is not the only full node implementation for Bitcoin, apart from bitcoin-core there is also libbitcoin, another full node implementation. And to compare, other blockchain platforms also offer different full clients, e.g., Ethereum has seven different implementations as far as I am aware of. All you need is a well-written protocol specification.

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