Ethereum Testnets: What Are They and Why So Many?
Kovan, Rinkeby, Sokol, Görli & Ropsten
Any new software destined to be released into the wild has to be well tested. Deploying a DApp directly to the Ethereum Mainnet before first testing it on a testnet would be extremely reckless.
There are several test networks that developers can utilise. Don’t worry, unlike Ether on the mainnet, the Ether on test networks has no value.
The Kovan testnet. Created by the Parity team in March 2017, it’s named after a subway station in Singapore. Unlike the Ethereum mainnet, which uses a Proof of Work (PoW) consensus algorithm, Kovan uses Proof of Authority (PoA). Ether supply is controlled by trusted parties and can be obtained via a faucet. The network is immune to DDOS attacks because of this.
The network supports only Parity, which is an Ethereum client written in the Rust programming language.
The Rinkeby testnet. Created by the Ethereum Foundation in April 2017, it is named after a subway station in Stockholm. Like Kovan, it uses a Proof of Authority algorithm, is not vulnerable to DDOS attacks and Ether is obtained via a faucet.
The network supports only Geth, an Ethereum client written in Go.
The Sokol testnet. Initially proposed by POA.network in December 2017, it’s named after a subway station in Moscow (can you spot the theme?). Again this network utilizes a Proof of Authority algorithm like Kovan and Rinkeby, having the same advantages as both of those.
The network supports only Parity.
The Görli testnet. Created by the Parity team in November 2018, it is the youngest in our list and the subway station in question is in Berlin. Proof of Authority like all of the testnets we’ve covered so far.
Multiple client support includes Geth, Parity (support is in development) and a few other less popular clients. However, it is new and somewhat unstable in comparison with other testnets.
The Ropsten testnet. Created in November 2016, it’s named after a subway station in Stockholm. This is considered to be the testnet most closely related to the mainnet. The consensus protocol is Proof of Work (the same as the mainnet), and Ether can be mined or requested from a faucet.
It supports both Geth and Parity clients.
For the development of any software system, multiple test environments are paramount to ensure the robustness of the software. Developers can have more confidence in their software if it has been tested on a variety of environments. In Blockchain, this is even more important because they are immutable. Once actions are committed they cannot be reverted.
What’s With Subways?
Naming conventions are often novel, and it just so happens that any new Ethereum testnet is always named after a metro station. On April 1st 2017, the Ethereum Foundation released a press release announcing two new networks named Qinghuadongluxikou and Hongqiao Airport Terminal 2… April Fools.
Do It Yourself
You can deploy your own Smart Contracts to any one of these testnets. Follow my 6 Step Tutorial on How To Deploy Your Own Smart Contract.
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