Ethereum Node Tester Describes Operational “Failure”

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  • An Ethereum 2.0 node tester has documented his attempts to start an Ethereum staking test wallet
  • The software continually crashed on his home PC, despite CPU throttling and other alterations
  • The attempt “ended in failure”, which doesn’t bode well for the platform

An Ethereum 2.0 node tester has explained how the practice “ended in failure”, in a warning to developers that they are some distance away from achieving their goals. Twitter user @PaddysPubKey detailed his experience in a Twitter thread which ended after a permanently crashing synchronization process, suggesting that there is plenty of work still to do if Ethereum 2.0 home staking is to be achieved.

Trust Issues

@PaddysPubKey began by stating that he is no amateur, being “a programmer with 10+ years experience in development on Linux and another decade or so on Windows before that.” The computer he intended to run the Ethereum node on was also no slouch – an 8-core Intel NUC with 16GB RAM with a 1 TB SSD on which he did most of his daily working.

@PaddysPubKey’s first issue became apparent before he has even really got started – he was unable to verify who signed the binaries that make up the Ethereum 2.0 staking software. In his own words, @PaddysPubKey was “about to store 20% of my net worth in Eth” and so needed to ensure he was downloading the genuine article. He says he was reassured by “friendly developers ono Discord”, but that in the end it came down to “trusting GitHub”.

Ready, Set…Crash

The initial Ethereum node setup was “easy” says @PaddysPubKey, but the first sync crashed two hours into running it. He tried again and again it crashed after two hours. After conducting some monitoring, @PaddysPubKey realized that at the two hour mark the software was “smoking all my 8 cores”, showing a huge demand resource from the computer – worse than a cryptojacking attack.

@PaddysPubKey decided to throttle the CPU usage which seemed to do the trick, running for longer…before crashing again, once more for unknown reasons, given that there is no error log. He decided to give it one last try, once more limiting the CPU, resulting in a day and a half’s worth of synchronization before it crashed again.

It was at this point he gave up, summarizing that “I’m not going to buy a bigger machine for this ($), and I’m not going to run it on the cloud (trust).” He also noted that, by comparison, “my Bitcoin full node runs on a Raspberry Pi 3 (much weaker).

Ethereum Developers Have Work To Do

@PaddysPubKey’s experience doesn’t bode well for those wanting to go it alone in staking Ethereum, although given that the project is still in the testing phase bugs are naturally expected. However, the fact that an Ethereum node can’t operate properly on a relatively powerful home computer is a concern given that Ethereum 2.0 is only a few weeks away from Phase 0 testing. @PaddysPubKey mentions throughout the piece that the issue is likely RAM-related, although with no error logging facilities there is no way of knowing this.

What we can say for sure is that it’s not yet safe to go putting your 32 ETH anywhere near the current iteration of the staking software. Hopefully in the not too distant future we will be able to update this advice with something more positive.