The latest in a series of Ethereum 2.0 testnets, called Spadina, launched on Tuesday with mixed success.
Spadina was proposed as a short-lived “dress rehearsal” for the mainnet launch process, signaling that Ethereum 2.0 Phase 0 is getting ever closer. The network launched on Sept. 29 at 12 P.M. UTC, and was intended to last for only 72 hours.
Developers said that this is likely to be the last chance for prospective Ether (ETH) stakers to test the deposit and launch tools before the Phase 0 genesis.
From that perspective, the test appears to have been largely successful. No major issues were found in the deposit process and the clients handled blocks successfully.
Like with the initial Medalla testnet launch, however, participation rates were vastly below expectations. The first few rounds of validation saw below 34% of the stake joining in the consensus process, while the target percentage was 80%.
Such low participation rates suggest that many community members who signed up to be validators failed to bring their clients online in time for launch. Developers highlighted during the launch party that this is a manifestation of the “nothing at stake” problem. Since testnet Ether has no value, stakers don’t care if their capital gets slashed while they are offline.
A future mainnet launch with real ETH is likely to involve more serious and dedicated participants, who would be greatly penalized for avoiding their obligations.
Danny Ryan, the Eth 2.0 lead coordinator at the Ethereum Foundation, said, “I think we’ve got 90% of what we wanted from this.”
Since the testnet was specifically targeted at the launch process, low participation is not a major concern. Nevertheless, some users reported issues with Teku, one of the more recent clients to enter the readiness stage. Others highlighted a potential issue with port forwarding, as most clients seem to not be using Universal Plug & Play. This technology dynamically opens router ports to let incoming connections be accepted by the local network, crucial for peer-to-peer networking. Its absence could create issues for some less tech-savvy users, who may not know how to manually open network ports.
While no indications were yet given, the testnets launched so far seem to be relatively stable and successful. With three months left, these results appear to bode well for a 2020 Phase 0 launch.
Phase 0 is not going to immediately impact Ethereum’s wider ecosystem, however. The proof-of-work blockchain will continue operating exactly as it’s done so far, save for the presence of an Ethereum 2.0 deposit smart contract. Afri Schoedon, who has been deeply involved with the Eth 2.0 testnets, referred to Phase 0 as “an incentivized test phase,” suggesting it is primarily a way to test the behavior of stakers in realistic scenarios.
Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum co-founder, was nevertheless optimistic that the raw beacon chain from Phase 0 could still be useful for light clients on Ethereum 1.0. He also said that its launch signals a change in approach focused on shipping and iterating on features, instead of getting bogged down in less efficient theoretical work.
“The Eth 2.0 network is just going to gradually add functionality and become more important for the ecosystem over time,” he added.