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Ethereum 2.0 Proof of Stake testnet: What we learned

Ethereum 2.0 Proof of Stake testnet: What we learned

Proof of Stake testnet

Prysmatic Labs’ public Proof of Stake testnet is live!

You have to hand it to the folks at Prysmatic Labs for working behind the scenes for months and emerging with something truly remarkable. I won’t try to summarize everything covered in Prysmatic Labs’ announcement of the Prysm Ethereum 2.0 Proof of Stake testnet. In fact, I recommend you go ahead and give it a read.

Are you looking to try staking? You’re in luck because taking Proof of Stake for a test drive today only takes a little know-how and a few clicks. The deposit contract is hosted on the Göerli testnet, the first testnet where you actually put down a deposit and can get slashed. Of course, you won’t have to put up real Ether for this test – Prysmatic Labs offers a handy faucet to provide you with the necessary GöETH.

I spun up a node myself, and I’ll give you some of the ups and downs of ironing out the kinks of this public test network.

The installation process is fast and approachable

Prysmatic Labs makes it quick and easy to fire up the testnet on an old laptop by following their guide. It surprised me how fast I managed to get my 10-year-old old Dell staking. It took just 15 – 30 minutes to go from beginning the download of the required docker files to validating blocks on the testnet. Waiting for my deposit confirmation and for my validator to go live felt like the longest step. And since that was the last step, I didn’t even necessarily need to be there at that point.

If you’re concerned for your privacy, you should run your client through a VPN. Plus, remember the age-old wisdom of, “Did you turn it off and back on again?” This simple fix will save you a lot of time and effort when you inevitably encounter problems.

You might hit a few bumps in the road, but fixes are coming¹

Did your client crash due to the bitfield bug? Were you, as a validator, ejected? Don’t lose hope in the future of Ethereum just yet! After all, that’s the whole point of a test network: to catch all the bugs. Bugs will pop up, and the rate at which you’re ejected is faster than normal for testing purposes, so there is no need to be alarmed.

I’ll admit that I’ve had a few of my validators ejected already, and I’m not the only one. Some underlying network issues seem to cause issues for many people. The Prysmatic Labs team knows about these issues and is working on a fix to be released ASAP.

If you do encounter bugs, please remember that this is still a test, so any feedback you can provide will help everyone. Please report any problems by submitting an issue to the Prysm repo or by contacting the team via their Discord. And most of all, don’t give up. It’s pretty quick to create a new account and launch a fresh validator in a new directory. So if you get ejected, just jump right back on the horse and get back in the action. At the end of the day, you can feel good about helping the community take one more step towards Proof of Stake on the main network.

Where are we on the Proof of Stake timeline?

We’ve made some progress towards Ethereum 2.0, but we still have a ways to go. Ethereum 2.0 will roll out in phases. It’s important to keep in mind that this Proof of Stake testnet is for Phase 0. The path to mainnet Proof of Stake looks something like:

  1. Formalization of technical specification
  2. Implementation of formal spec
  3. Private client testing
  4. Private single-client testnets
  5. Public single-client testnets  👈 We’re here
  6. Private or public cross-client testnets
  7. Phase 0 testnet
  8. Phase 0 goes live

So you can see we’re getting there. That being said, this testnet implements the v0.4 version of the official specification created by the Ethereum Research team. The latest version is v0.6, with the complete spec likely to be finalized this year.

Proof of Stake really is coming soon™

If you’re itching to give the Prysm Proof of Stake testnet a try, fire up your own validator and help make history. But if you’re looking for a smoother test experience, you may want to wait for the bug fix update that’s expected within the next week or so.

Whether choose to test now, test later, or never test, you can always support Prysmatic Labs + Ethereum’s progress by getting the word out about the testnet!

¹ Fixes have been released since the publication of this article.

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