The first chain candidate for the Polkadot mainnet has been running stably for over two weeks now; it’s time to move on to the next phase.
As you might know, the launch of the Polkadot network is split over several stages, starting with the most centralised, restrictive and permissioned network based around a proof-of-authority (PoA) consensus. This initial stage has been running (as I write this) for 19 days without a problem, hopefully a sign of things to come. During this period, we have upgraded the network to add or modify functionality seven times, introducing useful administrative and account management features amongst others and further demonstrating Polkadot’s (and Substrate’s on which Polkadot is built) remarkable agility.
It’s time to move on. With enough DOT holders having claimed their tokens, and with many of those bonding and staking their token, the network is ready to transition to our novel Nominated Proof-of-Stake consensus algorithm. As of writing, 193 stakers have signalled their intent to become a validator on the network. Ever conservative (and much like with Kusama), we will begin with just 20 validators, and slowly work our way up, with an initial aim of getting to 1,000 validators this Autumn (Kusama is already flirting with 400 validators and has seen no issues).
So here’s the specifics of how it will work. I just pushed a Sudo transaction onto the network which uses the Scheduler pallet (it’s trivial to schedule arbitrary actions to happen on Polkadot at some later point from any governance-privileged origin like Sudo) to schedule a special
Staking.ForceNewEra call which will effect the switch from PoA to NPoS. This is scheduled to happen at block number #325,148 which is expected to be authored at around 07:30 (Zug time) tomorrow morning. This was well chosen as it’s pretty much exactly half way through the consensus session which ends 1,200 blocks later at around 09:30. At that point, the next staking set will be chosen.
Now, the way that Babe (our underlying block production system) works, every validator set sticks around for one more session before retiring. As such, the newly chosen staked validators will begin producing their first blocks one whole session (around 4 hours) later, so we can expect the network to be fully transitioned to NPoS at around 13:30 (Zug time).
Once the transition is complete, we will be in Phase 2 of the launch, and be looking forward to our next milestone, Phase 3. According to our original roadmap (and based on Kusama’s launch), Phase 3 is the introduction of the governance mechanisms such as the council and referenda and Phase 4 is the removal of Sudo (and the end of permissioning). In reality these may be enacted within a very short period, and possibly even at the same time. As with Phase 2, we expect to be able to get to Phase 3 in somewhere between 2–4 weeks. Beyond Phase 4, there is Phase 5, which is the enabling of balance transfers, enacted on the decentralised, unpermissioned network through the newly enabled governance system. Phase 6, the rollout of the first parachains, will be seen once development and auditing is completed in the weeks following.
Would-be validators should go to the Polkadot Validators Lounge. Head to Polkadot JS Apps, for claiming, attesting and staking. More information on Polkadot can be found on its website. The v0.8 client code may be found on the GitHub releases page.