Nomadic Labs
Nomadic Labs
Athens on the testchain

The quorum for the second voting phase has been reached, with a supermajority of Yays! This means that the voting procedure can proceed to its third stage: the test chain for Athens is going to be launched soon, approximately Friday April 12th. To accompany that, we just released a new version of the Tezos node and its baking daemons. This release includes many improvements, most notably a new --enable-testchain option. Users who want to participate in the test chain should upgrade to this release and run a node with that option. As this is the first time this procedure is run in Mainnet, we recommend that node administrators enable this option on a secondary deployment only.

Using the test chain

The main interest of running a testchain that forks from a mainchain, as opposed to running a separate test network such as Alphanet or Zeronet, is twofold.

First, we can see the effect of the context migration on a real context which is much more complex than any test network context.

Second, we can actually perform operations using real accounts, which allows testing remote signers, hardware wallets etc.

For this, the tezos-client can now take a global parameter --chain test. All operations made with this parameter will only be valid in the test chain. At the protocol level, each operation is signed with a unique identifier for each network so it is not possible to replay operations from the test chain on the main chain.

Similarly, developers can use the /chains/test API prefix, in lieu of the usual /chains/main.

Both the option and the API prefix are only valid when the test chain is active.

Running a lighter test chain infrastructure from a snapshot

We recently released a version of the Tezos node with snapshots and history modes, available for beta testing in the mainnet-snapshots Git branch/docker tag.

To help deploy a secondary infrastructure, this node release includes a new command snapshot export. This way, node administrators can extract a snapshot from an existing deployment, in order to spawn a secondary one for running the test chain with a much lower footprint. It is also a good opportunity to get familiar with snapshots, and help us beta-test that feature.

Observing Athens running in the test chain

The are several changes proposed in the variant of protocol athens_004 that is going to be tested, or more precisely Pt24m4xiPbLDhVgVfABUjirbmda3yohdN82Sp9FeuAXJ4eV9otd. The main changes concern 3 constants, namely the size of a roll, the gas limit per block and per operation. These changes can be found in the context once the test chain is started using the rpc

tezos-client rpc get /chains/test/blocks/head/context/constants

and checking that the value of tokens_per_roll is indeed 8000000000μꜩ (or 8000ꜩ), hard_gas_limit_per_operation and hard_gas_limit_per_block are 8000000.

During the context migration there will also be a first example of invoicing, a way for developers to fund their work on new protocols. For the first vote Nomadic is asking for 100ꜩ, enough for a round of drinks for the devs. This can easily be checked using tezos-client.

tezos-client --chain test get balance tz1iSQEcaGpUn6EW5uAy3XhPiNg7BHMnRSXi

Baking on the test chain

Bakers who want to bake on the test chain will also have to start the daemons for proto-004 with the option --chain test on this node.

Several precautions are in place to avoid double baking, they have been all updated to support the test chain, including the Ledger apps from Obsidian Systems. Yet, as always, bakers should be extra careful with double baking. The documentation includes specific instructions and setup recommendations.

Meanwhile at Nomadic Labs #2

The last few weeks have been pretty intense at Nomadic with the preparation of the first community voted upgrade! The team has been working hard on some special future improvements to Tezos… Improvements to the consensus layer Tezos has the unique ability to amend itself which allows us to propose state of the art research to the network at any time. This is not a far fetched ideal and will happen sooner rather than later in a series of new efforts...

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Athens: Second Voting Period

As we approach the completion of the first active voting period, the proposal period, we would like to describe what’s to come during the second voting period. The first voting period saw the Athens protocols injection and bakers upvoted Athens A and/or Athens B, with Athens A, the most popular proposal, promoted for the second voting phase: the test voting period. In this new period, participants are asked to vote on whether to advance Athens A to the next stage: the...

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Athens: Proposals Injected!

Today marks an important milestone for Tezos. We just triggered the beginning of the first on-chain vote for self amendment. This process could end in the successful migration from current protocol alpha to Athens in about three months, if the participants decide so. As advertised in the last meanwhile at Nomadic and as detailed in our previous post, we injected the hashes of two proposals. Both include the same enhancements except for one: the decreased amount in the number of tokens needed to...

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Athens: Our Proposals for the First Voted Amendment

This blog post is a preview of Athens: our protocol proposal for the first voted upgrade of Tezos. As announced in the last meanwhile at Nomadic, we shall propose two upgrades: one lowers the roll size to 8,000 tez, the other leaves it unchanged at 10,000 tez. Both alternatives will include an increase of the gas limit. The hashes of both versions will be proposed on mainnet later this week, now that a new proposal period has begun. Later this week, we will publish a...

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Amendments at Work in Tezos

We are now on the verge of submitting a protocol upgrade to a vote, and it seems like a good opportunity to explain in details the way in which Tezos node handles amendment in practice. Brace yourselves, this article is quite technical, as are all articles in our in-depth category. Still, as we did in the previous one on snapshots, we’ll try to explain the stakes and announcements and give a brief summary in a short foreword understandable even by non-programmers. The original whitepaper...

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Introducing Snapshots and History Modes for the Tezos Node

In this article, we introduce two new features for the Tezos node: snapshots and history modes. A snapshot is a file that contains everything necessary to restore the state of a node at a given block. A node restored via a snapshot can synchronise and help other nodes synchronise in the existing network. The only difference is that you cannot query the chain context (balances, baking rights, etc.) before the restoration point, but you can still get the full chain history. In conjunction, we also...

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Nomadic Labs at Fosdem 2019

Fosdem is of the largest gatherings of Free and Open Source Developers in Europe. It’s held every year in Brussels during the first weekend of February. This year Nomadic Labs is involved in the organization of the “Blockchain and Crypto-currencies devroom”, a one day workshop to present Blockchain projects to the FOSS community. We strongly believe in open source and we want to share our work with the FOSS community at large. We will also present our work on the Tezos project,...

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Meanwhile at Nomadic Labs #1

This post is the first of a series covering the on-going work at Nomadic Labs. In these posts, we focus on our current top priorities, but of course we have many more projects in the works. Preparing Our First Amendment Proposals Tezos is capable, by design, of automatically amending its economic protocol without the need for a manual update or hard-fork. The current protocol is designed to amend itself only after a successful voting procedure, ensuring that there is awareness and consensus in...

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Study, Learn and Work with Nomadic Labs

Nomadic Labs is opening its doors to students from all around the world to join our internship program. We are interested in many research and practical projects ranging from parallel programming using hardware accelerators, to verification of Michelson contracts, creation of ReasonML/Michelson decentralized applications and privacy analysis of the Tezos network. Internships are tailored to Master’s students. Some proposals have already been submitted to a few European universities. They will typically run for a maximum of six months. We will happily receive and evaluate applications from...

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