Run a Validator Node

Validator parameters

  • Minimum stake: 250,000 NEON
  • Maximum validator size: 15x the self-stake amount
  • Minimum hardware requirements: AWS EC2 m5.xlarge with 4 vCPUs (3.1 GHz) and at least 1 TB of Amazon EBS General Purpose SSD (gp2) storage (or equivalent).
  • Rewards: currently ~13% APY (Normal APY on self-stake + 15% of delegators' rewards). APY varies based on staked %. For up-to-date APY, check https://staking.neonlink.io

What are we going to do?

  1. 1.
    Launch Cloud Instance
  2. 2.
    Set up Non-Root User
  3. 3.
    Install Required Tools
  4. 4.
    Register Validator
  5. 5.
    Run Validator Node

Launch Cloud Instance

You can either run a node on your own hardware or use a cloud provider. We would recommend choosing one of the big cloud providers, e.g. Amazon AWS.

Node Specifications

We recommend the following or better: m5.xlarge General Purpose Instance with 4 vCPUs (3.1 GHz), 16GB of memory, up to 10 Gbps network bandwidth, and at least 1 TB of disk space.
We would recommend going with Ubuntu Server 20.04 LTS (64-bit).
Storage 1 TB is needed if you're running with a full-size data dir.

Network Settings

Open up port 22 for SSH, as well as port 5050 for both TCP and UDP traffic. A custom port can be used with the "--port <port>" flag when running your neon node.

Set up Non-Root User

If there is already a non-root user available, you can skip this step.
# SSH into your machine
(local)$ ssh root@{VALIDATOR_IP_ADDRESS}
# Update the system
(validator)$ sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade -y
# Create a non-root user
(validator)$ USER={USERNAME}
(validator)$ sudo mkdir -p /home/$USER/.ssh
(validator)$ sudo touch /home/$USER/.ssh/authorized_keys
(validator)$ sudo useradd -d /home/$USER $USER
(validator)$ sudo usermod -aG sudo $USER
(validator)$ sudo chown -R $USER:$USER /home/$USER/
(validator)$ sudo chmod 700 /home/$USER/.ssh
(validator)$ sudo chmod 644 /home/$USER/.ssh/authorized_keys
Make sure to paste your public SSH key into the authorized_keys file of the newly created user in order to be able to log in via SSH.
# Enable sudo without password for the user
(validator)$ sudo vi /etc/sudoers
Add the following line to the end of the file:
{USERNAME} ALL=NOPASSWD: ALL
Now close the root SSH connection to the machine and log in as your newly created user:
# Close the root SSH connection
(validator)$ exit
# Log in as a new user
(local)$ ssh {USERNAME}@{VALIDATOR_IP_ADDRESS}

Install Required Tools

You are still logged in as the new user via SSH. Now we are going to install Go and Neon.
First, install the required build tools:
# Install build-essential
(validator)$ sudo apt-get install -y build-essential

Install Go

# Install go
(validator)$ wget https://go.dev/dl/go1.17.8.linux-amd64.tar.gz
(validator)$ sudo tar -xvf go1.17.8.linux-amd64.tar.gz
(validator)$ sudo mv go /usr/local
Export the required Go paths:
# Export go paths
(validator)$ vi ~/.bash_aliases
# Append the following lines
export GOROOT=/usr/local/go
export GOPATH=$HOME/go
export PATH=$GOPATH/bin:$GOROOT/bin:$PATH
(validator)$ source ~/.bash_aliases

Validate your Go installation

Install Neon

# Install Neon Protocol
(validator)$ git clone https://github.com/neon-link/go-ethereum.git
(validator)$ cd go-ethereum/
(validator)$ make
Validate your Neon installation:
$./build/galaxy version
VERSION:
1.0.2

Register Neon Validator

After installing everything we need, you can continue by registering your Neon validator node on-chain. To do this, you need to create a validator wallet. The wallet is the validator’s identity in the network which it uses to authenticate, sign messages, etc. First, start the Neon read-only node to interact with it and create a validator wallet:
# Start neon node
(validator)$ cd build/
(validator)$ wget https://github.com/neon-link/neon-binaries/raw/master/mainnet.g
(validator)$ nohup ./galaxy --genesis mainnet.g --nousb &
Note that HTTPS and WSS must not be enabled on a server that stores a wallet account.
Starting up your node will look something like this:

Create a validator wallet

The node running and syncing the network in your current console, so you need to open up a new console window, connect via SSH to the server and enter the following commands to create a wallet:
# Create a validator wallet
(validator)$ ./galaxy account new
After entering the command, you will get prompted to enter a password for the account (= wallet) — use a strong one! You can e.g. use a password manager to generate a 20+ digit password to secure your wallet. It will look something like this:
NEVER share your private key or key store with anyone!
By the way: The wallet above is not a real wallet we use, it’s just for demonstration purposes only.

Fund your validator wallet

The next step is to fund your validator wallet with enough NEON to become a validator. That means you need to have at least 250,000 NEON in the wallet you just created (send a little more to cover transaction fees).
If you don’t have your NEON on the Galaxy mainnet already, you will need to swap your NEON using the bridge.neonlink.io:
After successfully swapping NEON to your newly created Neon wallet, you can register your validator via the SFC Smart Contract.
Make sure you wait for your node to be fully synced, otherwise, your NEON will not show up in your wallet!

Create a new validator key

We have to create a validator private key to sign consensus messages with.
(validator)$ ./galaxy validator new
Follow the prompts and supply the password, the output is as follows:
Your new key was generated
Public key: 0xPubkey
Path of the secret key file:
- You can share your public key with anyone. Others need it to validate messages from you.
- You must NEVER share the secret key with anyone! The key controls access to your validator!
- You must BACKUP your key file! Without the key, it's impossible to operate the validator!
- You must REMEMBER your password! Without the password, it's impossible to decrypt the key!

Create your validator via the SFC

You should wait for your node to sync to the latest block of the network before proceeding. To proceed, open up the console where you entered the commands to create the validator wallet previously and attach it to the Neon node console:
# Attach to neon console
(validator)$ ./galaxy attach
By doing so, you will get a JavaScript console where you can directly interact with the Neon node and e.g. send transactions (which you will do in a moment):
abi = 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… as well as the SFC contract object itself:
sfcc = web3.neon.contract(abi).at("0xfc00face00000000000000000000000000000000")
After initializing both variables, you can now interact with the network’s SFC. Enter the following command to check that everything works as expected:
// Sanity check
sfcc.lastValidatorID() // if everything is all right, will return a non-zero value
If it looks like this, everything is OK (you should not get an error here):
Next, try to get your validatorID from the SFC using your previously generated validator wallet address:
# Get your validator id
sfcc.getValidatorID("{VALIDATOR_WALLET_ADDRESS}")
This should return 0, as you are not registered as a validator yet:
Next, unlock your validator wallet to be able to execute the registration transaction (make sure to use the password you set before). Note that, you can perform this step (unlockAccount + createValidator) in a separate machine (different from the machine you'll run your validator node), or it'd be even more secure if you use hardware wallet to do it.
# Unlock validator wallet
personal.unlockAccount("{VALIDATOR_WALLET_ADDRESS}", "{PASSWORD}", 60)
This will return “true” if unlocking the wallet was successful:
Next, send the createValidator transaction to register your validator (the value is the representation of the smallest NEON unit, so dividing it by 1e18 will result in 250,000 NEON. Alternatively, you can use web3.toWei("250000.0", "neon")). Use quotes for "0xYOUR_PUBKEY" and "0xYOUR_ADDRESS":
# Register your validator
tx = sfcc.createValidator("0xYOUR_PUBKEY", {from:"0xYOUR_ADDRESS", value: web3.toWei("1000000.0", "neon")}) // 1000000.0 NEON
Make sure to check your registration transaction (could take a few moments to be confirmed):
# Check your registration transaction
neon.getTransactionReceipt(tx)
Look for the status: “0x1” at the bottom, which means the transaction was successful:
You can also copy the transactionHash and go the Neon Explorer and check your transaction there:
https://scan.neonlink.io/tx/[YOURTX]
This would look something like the below:
Finally, execute the following command again to check your validatorID:
# Get your validator id
sfc.getValidatorID("{VALIDATOR_WALLET_ADDRESS}")
It should now return something other than “0”:
Congrats, you are now a Neon validator!

Run your Neon Validator Node

Before you run off celebrating, you need to restart your node in validator mode! Close the Neon console window by typing “exit”. Then head back to the console window where you started your node with the following command:
(validator)$ nohup ./galaxy --genesis $NETWORK --nousb --validator.id ID --validator.pubkey 0xPubkey --validator.password /path/to/password &