Become a Validator: Building from Source

0. Install Rust

If you don't have Rust installed already, visit rustup.rs to install it.

Note: if you're not familiar with Rust or you'd like more detailed instructions, see our installation guide.

1. Download and install Lighthouse

Once you have Rust installed, you can install Lighthouse with the following commands:

  1. git clone https://github.com/sigp/lighthouse.git
  2. cd lighthouse
  3. make

You may need to open a new terminal window before running make.

You've completed this step when you can run $ lighthouse --help and see the help menu.

2. Start an Eth1 client

Since Eth2 relies upon the Eth1 chain for validator on-boarding, all Eth2 validators must have a connection to an Eth1 node.

We provide instructions for using Geth (the Eth1 client that, by chance, we ended up testing with), but you could use any client that implements the JSON RPC via HTTP. A fast-synced node should be sufficient.

Installing Geth

If you're using a Mac, follow the instructions listed here to install geth. Otherwise see here.

Starting Geth

Once you have geth installed, use this command to start your Eth1 node:

 geth --goerli --rpc

3. Start your beacon node

The beacon node is the core component of Eth2, it connects to other peers over the internet and maintains a view of the chain.

Start your beacon node with:

 lighthouse beacon --eth1 --http

Note: the --http flag enables the HTTP API for the validator client. And the --eth1 flag tells the beacon node that it should sync with an Ethereum1 node (e.g. Geth). These flags are only required if you wish to run a validator.

Your beacon node has started syncing when you see the following (truncated) log:

Dec 09 12:57:18.026 INFO Syncing
est_time: 2 hrs ...

The distance value reports the time since eth2 genesis, whilst the est_time reports an estimate of how long it will take your node to become synced.

You'll know it's finished syncing once you see the following (truncated) log:

Dec 09 12:27:06.010 INFO Synced
slot: 16835, ...

4. Generate your validator key

First, create a wallet that can be used to generate validator keys. Then, from that wallet create a validator. A two-step example follows:

4.1 Create a Wallet

Create a wallet with:

lighthouse account wallet create --name my-validators --passphrase-file my-validators.pass

The output will look like this:

Your wallet's 12-word BIP-39 mnemonic is:

	thank beach essence clerk gun library key grape hotel wise dutch segment

This mnemonic can be used to fully restore your wallet, should
you lose the JSON file or your password.

It is very important that you DO NOT SHARE this mnemonic as it will
reveal the private keys of all validators and keys generated with
this wallet. That would be catastrophic.

It is also important to store a backup of this mnemonic so you can
recover your private keys in the case of data loss. Writing it on
a piece of paper and storing it in a safe place would be prudent.

Your wallet's UUID is:

	e762671a-2a33-4922-901b-62a43dbd5227

You do not need to backup your UUID or keep it secret.

Don't forget to make a backup of the 12-word BIP-39 mnemonic. It can be used to restore your validator if there is a data loss.

4.2 Create a Validator from the Wallet

Create a validator from the wallet with:

lighthouse account validator create --wallet-name my-validators --wallet-passphrase my-validators.pass --count 1

The output will look like this:

1/1	0x80f3dce8d6745a725d8442c9bc3ca0852e772394b898c95c134b94979ebb0af6f898d5c5f65b71be6889185c486918a7

Take note of the validator public key (the 0x and 64 characters following it). It's the validator's primary identifier, and will be used to find your validator in block explorers. (The 1/1 at the start is saying it's one-of-one keys generated).

Once you've observed the validator public key, you've successfully generated a new sub-directory for your validator in the .lighthouse/validators directory. The sub-directory is identified by your validator's public key . And is used to store your validator's deposit data, along with its voting keys and other information.

5. Start your validator client

Since the validator client stores private keys and signs messages generated by the beacon node, for security reasons it runs separately from it.

You'll need both your beacon node and validator client running if you want to stake.

Start the validator client with:

 lighthouse validator --auto-register

The --auto-register flag registers your signing key with the slashing protection database, which keeps track of all the messages your validator signs. This flag should be used sparingly, as reusing the same key on multiple nodes can lead to your validator getting slashed. On subsequent runs you should leave off the --auto-register flag.

You know that your validator client is running and has found your validator keys from step 3 when you see the following logs:

Dec 09 13:08:59.171 INFO Loaded validator keypair store          voting_validators: 1
Dec 09 13:09:09.000 INFO Awaiting activation                     slot: 17787, ...

To find an estimate for how long your beacon node will take to finish syncing, lookout for the following logs:

beacon_node_1       | Mar 16 11:33:53.979 INFO Syncing
est_time: 47 mins, speed: 16.67 slots/sec, distance: 47296 slots (7 days 14 hrs), peers: 3, service: slot_notifier

You'll find the estimated time under est_time. In the example log above, that's 47 mins.

If your beacon node hasn't finished syncing yet, you'll see some ERRO messages indicating that your node hasn't synced yet:

validator_client_1  | Mar 16 11:34:36.086 ERRO Beacon node is not synced               current_epoch: 6999, node_head_epoch: 5531, service: duties

It's safest to wait for your node to sync before moving on to the next step, otherwise your validator may activate before you're able to produce blocks and attestations (and you may be penalized as a result).

However, since it generally takes somewhere between 4 and 8 hours after depositing for a validator to become active, if your est_time is less than 4 hours, you should be fine to just move on to the next step. After all, this is a testnet and you're only risking Goerli ETH!

Installation complete!

In the next step you'll need to upload your validator's deposit data. This data is stored in a file called eth1_deposit_data.rlp.

You'll find it in /home/.lighthouse/validators -- in the sub-directory that corresponds to your validator's public key.

For example, if your username is karlm, and your validator's public key (aka voting_pubkey) is 0x8592c7.., then you'll find your eth1_deposit_data.rlp file in the following directory:

/home/karlm/.lighthouse/validators/0x8592c7../

Once you've located your eth1_deposit_data.rlp file, you're ready to move on to Become a Validator: Step 2.