4 Takeaways From the Eth2 Testnet: Validator Issues, Sync Bugs, and More

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The launch of Eth2 is almost upon us. A testnet was launched a while ago to effectively determine how the code behaves. So far, it is not going according to plan by any means. 

There is a good reason why developers test their code first before deploying it to a live network. More often than not, some bugs and kinks are discovered in the process. Ensuring these concerns are addressed in crucial, but not always an easy task. The current Eth2 testnet, dubbed Medalla, is a good example of how complex things can get. 

An Eth2 Validator Conundrum

The first problem became apparent when multiple network validators disappeared. An exact reason for this change in behavior has not been disclosed as of yet. This is not entirely uncommon when dealing with a testnet. However, given the importance of Eth2 and its features, it is not a promising sign either. 

This decrease in validators triggers extra problems. The network hit a state of non-finality at one point. This means there aren’t enough validators to achieve any sort of consensus. It also increases the memory and CPU requirements for those who continue to validate network information during this time. 

Interestingly enough,this is an issue capable of resolving itself. Either new validators come,  or they don’t. If they don’t, existing validators will lose ETH at an accelerating pace until finality is regained. If a validator’s balance is too low, they will be ejected from Medalla automatically. 

Sync Bugs Aren’t Helping

While it is possible some Eth2 validators decided to pack their bags, another issue has arisen. More specifically, multiple synchronization bugs have popped up since. Both Prysm and Nimbus are affected by these problems. This is another contributing factor to the decrease in overall validators.

The issues have been resolved by the developers, however. It is a matter of current validators upgrading manually, which is often a difficult process. Until everyone does so, it remains unlikely new validators will jump on the testnet. For now, there is a network participation of 41.8%, compared to the required 66%. 

Designed to Handle Eth2 Adversity

Although the statistics regarding Eth2 don’t look great, it is worth noting this is why Medalla was created. After all, it is a network capable of self-healing. This aspect will likely make it into the mainnet code as well, albeit that has not been confirmed as of yet.  

At the same time, there are some concerns after the network heals itself. It remains to be seen if the team can get a solid grasp on the testnet again. It creates a very interesting situation where plenty of data can be collected in the process. 

Mainnet Impact Should be Less Severe

It is not unthinkable a situation like this can occur on the Eth2 mainnet as well. Assuming push comes to shove, the drop-off in validators will not last this long. After all, people will be losing real money at that point, which isn’t ideal. 

At the same time, if issues like these persist when the Eth2 mainnet launches, Ethereum may not be in a good state either. This upgrade is a pretty big ordeal, yet the overall response to it seems a bit meager, for now. There is a lot to look forward to, but it remains unclear if everything will go according to plan once Eth2 launches. 

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