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Is it possible to create a Firefox or Chrome extension which ran either a full node or light node?

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It should be possible to create a light node. A full node is probably impossible. Your main limitation is storage space (5Mb for some browsers). This page on the light client protocol specifically mentions extensions, though it's a year old. You would also not want to use too much CPU, as the user wouldn't thank you for running at a high CPU continuously.

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    I reworded my question to be phrased in the positive perspective which now makes the wording of your answer a little awkward. – Piper Merriam Jan 29 '16 at 18:04
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    And I've reworded my answer. – paulmorriss Feb 1 '16 at 11:38

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