This blog article refers to the Olympia Betanet that operated in early 2021. It is not relevant to the Babylon Betanet that is operating in early 2023. For more details on the Radix Roadmap, see What is the Radix roadmap?
The Radix DLT team is pleased to announce that we will be launching our “betanet” network on April 28th, 2021. This will mark the end of our “drop 3” internal milestone (more on our drops here), and the completion of the bulk of core Radix development intended for the first public network release by end of Q2.
Betanet is going to be an exciting and intense period of testing with the community’s help, so let’s get right into the nuts and bolts.
What is Betanet?
Many crypto projects have “betanets” that often refer to pretty different things, so it’s worth explaining what it means for Radix.
The Radix betanet is a temporary test network, pure and simple. It is intended to provide a final, large-scale stress test of the protocol that will be offered to our community as the basis of the first version of the Radix public network (called Olympia).
Our betanet is not the beginning of the official public Radix ledger or the official XRD token – that’s the Olympia mainnet. Unlike mainnet, the Radix team will have ultimate control of the betanet network (described more below), and we will be shutting it down shortly before the release of Olympia. That means that all assets stored on betanet will vanish. In other words, all tokens and transactions on betanet are just playing with “funny money” and nothing will be carried over to the main network (where everything will be forever immutable).
Betanet is, however, enormously important to make sure that everything is working smoothly, from the low-level consensus and network layers, up through the node-running experience, and to the Radix wallet.
So we will be offering up betanet versions of most of the things we plan to deliver for mainnet, including:
- Beta Olympia desktop wallet, for storing, transacting, and staking tokens.
- Beta Olympia explorer website, which lets you view network conditions and see details about addresses and transactions.
- Beta Olympia full node/validator node software and CLI (command line interface), offered both as a docker image and a pre-built JAR.
- A faucet website which will distribute free tokens (betanet only).
Testing how all of this stuff works together under real world conditions on a functional, global network means we need your help.
What Can I Do In Betanet?
There are three main ways to participate in betanet.
1) Use and Test the Wallet
First and foremost, we want everyone to install the Radix desktop wallet, which will run natively on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Once you have started the wallet and generated a private key, you can use our faucet website to get yourself some free XRD and assorted other test tokens. You can then push tokens around, stake your (fake) XRD to various validator nodes to earn (fake) Proof of Stake (PoS) network incentive rewards, and then claim those rewards.
We want everyone using these mechanisms to generate organic network traffic, which creates more test data for our monitoring infrastructure to collect and more confidence that the network is running well. But also everybody should get familiar with staking through the wallet to be ready for staking on mainnet. Staking will be the best way for everyone to help secure the Radix mainnet against attack – and to get their share of new XRD tokens created to incentivize that security – sometimes called “dPoS mining”. No need to run a node.
2) Set up and Operate a Full Node
Full nodes maintain a copy of the ledger and are able to respond to queries for information as well as forward submitted transactions on to validator nodes. Radix will be setting up our own full nodes to support things like the explorer, but running a personal full node is a great way to understand how the Radix network works at a little deeper level than the wallet. In fact you’ll be able to configure the wallet to connect to your own full node rather than Radix-operated nodes if you like.
Full nodes are actually the same piece of software as validator nodes; simply not registered with the network to participate in consensus (and, with sufficient stake, receive network incentive rewards). But because the demands aren’t as high, we expect just about anybody can run a full node on their own PC to kick the tires.
3) Set up and Operate a Validator Node
Finally, an important part of betanet is testing the operation of a network on a set of validator nodes run by the community, not just private Radix test nodes.
As a quick refresher, the unsharded version of Cerberus consensus used in Olympia (and betanet) processes all transactions (atoms) on a single shard, and the validator set size is fixed at 100 nodes. These 100 nodes are selected by delegated Proof of Stake (dPOS). This means that there are a limited number of validator node slots available at any given time.
On mainnet, we expect that the most trusted and technically savvy community members, running nodes that consistently keep up with consensus without bottleneck the network, will naturally attract the most delegated stake from the community and fill out the 100 slots.
At present, our recommended hardware spec for a Validator Node is an AWS c5.xlarge instance provisioned with a gp2 storage volume. If you know what that means, you may be a good candidate for running a validator node.
On betanet for testing, Radix will control validator node selection – but we want as much as possible to give the members of the community most likely to run good mainnet nodes the chance to run test validator nodes
.The way we’re going to do this is through a Validator Node Community Proposal program that we are launching today. In short, we ask anyone who is interested in running a validator node on betanet (and mainnet) to fill out a questionnaire and we will offer up the full set of responses to the community for comment. Radix will select as many of the best proposals as we can to participate in betanet and start to prove themselves to the community of XRD holders.
If you are interested in participating in the Validator Node Community Proposal program, or simply want to know more, please head over to a separate post on this topic. Responses are due on March 15th, so step lively!
How Can I Help?
The best way for most people to help will be to use the wallet! Once betanet goes live, this will be easy for anyone to download and use – the more the better. We’ll want everyone to get tokens from the faucet, send them around, and stake/unstake betanet XRD across multiple validators.
We will also have some scheduled special events during betanet, such as network stress test days, forced liveness failures, and the like. We will be particularly interested in people using the wallet and explorer during those times, to test that our tools are appropriately communicating under unusual network conditions.
If you want to step up and put yourself forward as one of Radix’s intrepid validator node runners on betanet, by all means check out the Validator Community Proposal page and submit your proposal.
And lastly, we will be setting up a special channel on the Radix Discord server and bug report form for you to provide feedback on using any of the betanet tools above.
As we get closer to April 28th, we’ll have more on our testing events, and will provide more detailed instructions on how to be ready.