Nym version 0.10.0 is almost here with quite a few new features that will get us closer to the mainnet launch. To put all these features into test, we are going to run another incentivized testnet that we are calling Finney after Hal Finney, the great cypherpunk who also happened to be the person who received the first ever Bitcoin transaction from Satoshi!
We would like to invite our amazing community to join Nym testnet Finney. Anyone who participates will be eligible for a share of the bug bounty fund that will be released after the mainnet.
In this post we will go through the new features of Nym v0.10.0, plus rules and instructions on how to join the testnet.
What’s new in v0.10.0?
1) The main feature that makes this version different from the previous releases, is that the previously centralized directory authority is removed. The directory is now stored on a blockchain, which is based on the Cosmos SDK (and CosmWasm).
The testnet tokens issued in testnet Finney are HALs. It’s important to note that HAL tokens are not the final NYM tokens. HALs are purely created to mimic the features, mechanisms and uses that the final NYMs will have and to test those out in the wild. HALs are absolutely valueless, can’t be bought, sold or transferred for NYMs.
2) The other feature is that the system will now run on a set of decentralized validators. Replacing our previously centralized database, validators maintain the Nym chain which serves as a public directory that determines which nodes are included within the network at a given time.
For now, Nym validators are a permissioned set of experienced validators. In the next testnet, this set will expand and more can join in a permission-less fashion.
3) In addition to a new chain and validators, we are now introducing mixnode and gateway bonding. Bonding is the process of starting a node, and putting up some stakes or a “bond” of tokens to get it into the blockchain-based directory. Once fully implemented, this feature will secure the network against Sybil attacks by making it costly for the malicious actors to spam the network with numerous nodes. Later, in a future release we will introduce the concept of delegated staking, where token holders who are not operating their own nodes can delegate stake to mixnode and gateway operators that they believe are trustworthy, and earn a share of their rewards.
HAL tokens needed for bonding and starting a node will be provided during the onboarding process (more on that below).
How to join Finney?
Testnet Finney, means that we arrive at the much awaited moment where we will remove the hard cap of 1500 mixnodes, and so more nodes can join the network.
But let’s not forget why we had a cap on the number of nodes to start with!
Back in the day, when there was no cap on the Nym testnet, the network got attacked by a funny pal who started creating more than 10 thousand nodes, either for personal gain or to undermine the network. Although at the time it was not a surprise to us that this could happen, we did not do anything to prevent it in advance either. To the Nym team, it was interesting to see if the network could stand all that many nodes and not fall apart. It did, and it was a good test of the stability of the network.
So now, in order to prevent Sybil attacks, we will be imposing “one node per server” and “one node per person” rules, plus limiting the circulation of HALs per node, until Sybil defences are fully implemented and a more developed staking system is in place. For that reason there will be an onboarding process that requires Telegram usernames (more on that below).
The onboarding will start with the existing NYMPH-holding nodes. That means if you had participated in the previous testnet and had received NYMPHs, you will be able to join Finney first. Have in mind you will need to have your mixnode private and ‘identity’ keys (not the ‘Sphinx key’) and a Telegram username to cryptographically claim your mixnode. Once you claim your node you will be able to join Finney and keep your node’s history all the way to the mainnet and beyond! To check if you are part of this group check if your mixnode’s Identity Key is on this list. To find your Identity Key, run your mixnode, the key will be printed out at the node startup.
We will allow one week for the existing community members (those on the aforementioned list) to switch to Finney, after that the on-boarding for everyone else will start.
Onboarding will start at 11am CET on Thursday April 15th for the former group, and at 11am CET on Thursday April 22nd for the latter. Finney will run until Thursday May 22nd.
To join Finney as an existing community member, follow the instruction on Nym documentation under “Upgrading from an earlier version”.
To join as a new community member or to start a new mixnode follow instructions under “Initialize a mixnode”. You can do this from April 22nd.
What to expect next?
As mentioned earlier there are lots of new features in this version that need to be battle tested. In order to ensure rigorous testing of all the different aspects of the system (ie bonding and un-bonding, rewards based on capacity, etc) before we move to the next phase and eventually the mainnet, we may (or may not) destroy the chain ran by the validators and start it over during this testnet.
That is why the HAL chain, stakes, rewards or any other assets issued on it will have absolutely no value and are purely for testing the system. For any reason if we have to restart the chain, we will keep the nodes’ history, that is public/private keys, the duration each node was online, and their contribution in privacy-enhanced packet transfers. Rest assured you will be able to claim your node in the future through the glory of the public/private key cryptography.
In addition to being incentivized for transmitting privacy-enhanced packets for longer and maintaining a good quality node, there will be tasks and games that will be introduced as we go along that can increase your chances of getting moar and moar rewards!
Please note that we will be very strict with those trying to run numerous nodes and if we catch them none of their nodes will be kept or rewarded. We will introduce algorithmic measures to prevent these attacks, to automate this in the future.
Lastly, the previous testnet will be turned off after all NYMPH-holding operators have a fair chance to join the new testnet. A transition plan for NYMPH will be released, where nodes can keep their reputation — so keep those Liquid addresses! Participants in the new testnet will start receiving HALs, and continue increasing their long-term reputation now on the new chain maintained by the validators.
We can’t wait for all of you to join the network, and the fun that we will be having together testing it!