Validator and Node Setup

This page is the step by step guide that shows how to run a validator node in the SKALE Network.

1. Validator Setup

Due date - 20th day of each month

1.1. Prepare

1.1.1. Obtain Ethereum Software Wallet or Hardware wallet

Get a Ledger, Hardware or Software wallet ready like Metamask/Portis/Bitski/Torus/myetherwallet. Specific setup instructions will follow.

This wallet will be used for receiving delegation, bounties, and self delegating.

1.1.2. Fund Validator Wallet with ETH

Be ready to have some ETH to accept delegations and link your validator node. Remember these are transactions with SKALE Manager on Ethereum, and therefore require ETH.

Minimum ETH: 1.0

1.1.4. Fund SRW Wallet with ETH

Be ready to fund ETH in your self-recharging wallet (SRW). See Self-recharging wallet documentation.

Minimum ETH:

1.1.5. Decide your commission fee

Decide on your commission fee. This cannot be changed once it is set. To set a new commission fee, you’ll have to register a new validator. This new validator would have to link nodes and accept delegations for it (old validator nodes and delegations cannot be rolled into a new validator commission fee).

1.2. Register Validator

SKALE Validator CLI is the validator client interface for registering a new validator into network or handling additional delegation services where validators can self delegate or token holders can delegate to a validator. These are the type of operations that can be done with the Validator CLI:

  • Register Validator (Set Commission Rate or Minimum delegation amount)

  • Accept pending delegations

  • Link all validator node addresses to a validator wallet address

  • Request or cancel a delegation

This document contains instructions on how to get started with the SKALE Validator CLI.

Validator CLI doesn’t have to be installed in the same server as the node-cli. This can be set up on Mac or Linux. This does not need to be included in every node. Setting up once per validator organization is sufficient.

1.2.1. Install SKALE Validator CLI

Download the SKALE Validator CLI binary

VERSION_NUM is a version identifier

VERSION_NUM=[VERSION_NUM] && sudo -E bash -c "curl -L https://github.com/skalenetwork/validator-cli/releases/download/$VERSION_NUM/sk-val-$VERSION_NUM-`uname -s`-`uname -m` >  /usr/local/bin/sk-val"
Apply executable permissions to the binary
chmod +x /usr/local/bin/sk-val
Set SKALE Manager contracts info and set the endpoint
sk-val init -e [ENDPOINT] -c [ABI] --wallet [software/ledger]

Required arguments:

  • --endpoint/-e - RPC endpoint of the node in the network where SKALE manager is deployed (http or https) Example: https://my.geth.node.ip/...

  • --contracts-url/-c - URL to SKALE Manager contracts ABI and addresses

  • -w/--wallet - Type of the wallet that will be used for signing transactions (software or ledger)

1.2.2. Setup wallet

Software wallet

If you want to use software wallet you need to save private key into a file.

Replace [YOUR PRIVATE KEY] with your wallet private key

echo [YOUR PRIVATE KEY] > ./pk.txt
Ledger wallet

If you want to use ledger you should install ETH ledger application and initialize device with setup-ledger command.

sk-val wallet setup-ledger --address-index [ADDRESS_INDEX] --keys-type [KEYS_TYPE]

Required arguments:

  • --address-index - Index of the address to use (starting from 0)

  • --keys-type - Type of the Ledger keys (live or legacy)

Make sure you enabled blind signing on ETH application settings. Otherwise transactions won’t work

1.2.3. Register as a new SKALE validator

DON’T REGISTER A NEW VALIDATOR IF YOU ALREADY HAVE ONE! check : sk-val validator ls. For additional node set up, please go to Step 3.
sk-val validator register -n [NAME] -d [DESCRIPTION] -c [COMMISSION_RATE] --min-delegation [MIN_DELEGATION]

Required arguments:

  • --name/-n - Validator name

  • --description/-d - Validator description (preferably organization info)

  • --commission-rate/-c - Commission rate (percent %)

  • --min-delegation - Validator minimum delegation amount

Optional arguments:

  • --pk-file - Path to file with private key (only for software wallet type)

  • --gas-price - Gas price value in Gwei for transaction (if not specified doubled average network value will be used)

  • --yes - Confirmation flag

1.3. Make sure that your validator is added to the trusted list

To ensure that your validator is added to trusted contact SKALE team.

This is a temporary process, which will be removed as the community matures.

2. SGX Setup

Due date: 23rd of each month

2.1. Overview

SGX is a secure storage for BLS private key shares, which are used in consensus to sign new blocks. SGX is also used for private key shares.

SKALE DKG uses Intel® SGX server to store account and BLS keys and all the data related to DKG process and it also uses the random number generator provided by Intel® SGX. For more information, please check here..

Clients connect to the server, authenticate to it using TLS 1.0 protocol with client certificates, and then issue requests to the server to generate crypto keys and perform cryptographic operations. The keys are generated inside the secure SGX enclave and never leave the enclave unencrypted.

2.2. Configure server

To be able to set up an SGXWallet, validators are required to have SGX compatible servers. Before installing SGXWallet, validators must make sure that SGX is enabled in the server.

2.2.1. Server requirements

  • Ubuntu 18.04 (Ubuntu > 18.04 not yet supported)

  • SGX-enabled Intel processor

  • At least 8 GB

  • Swap size equals to half of RAM size

2.3. Configure network

It’s required to setup VPN between nodes and SGX server. Ports 1026–1031 open only to SKALE Nodes, not public ports should be accessible by nodes.

SGXWallet can support up to 5 SKALE nodes. If you have more, you should setup additional server.

2.4. Install and configure packages

Before running SGXWallet install the following packages

Install general tools:

sudo apt-get install -y build-essential make cmake gcc g++ yasm  python libprotobuf10 flex bison automake libtool texinfo libgcrypt20-dev libgnutls28-dev

Install Docker:

sudo apt-get install -y docker

Install docker.io:

sudo apt-get install -y docker.io

Install docker-compose:

sudo apt-get install -y docker-compose

Install cpuid and libelf-dev packages:

sudo apt-get install -y libelf-dev cpuid

Verify your processor supports Intel SGX with:

cpuid | grep SGX:

After installing docker make sure that live-restore option is enabled in /etc/docker/daemon.json. See more info in the docker docs.

Disable automatic updates

It’s recommended to only update the SGXWallet server if there are critical security fixes. This is because SGXWallet is based on new low level technology, and kernel updates may break the system. Currently SGX is tested on 4.15-\* kernels. It’s best to avoid minor version updates too.

To make sure apt update won’t update the kernel you should use apt-mark hold command:

sudo apt-mark hold linux-generic linux-image-generic linux-headers-generic

Also if you configured unattended upgrades, you should make sure kernel won’t update automatically. To do this, add the following lines to /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/50unattended-upgrades file:

Unattended-Upgrade::Package-Blacklist {
        "linux-generic";
        "linux-image-generic";
        "linux-headers-generic";
};

Output

SGX: Software Guard Extensions supported = true

2.5. Download SGXWallet source code

2.5.1. Clone SGXWallet Repository

Clone SGX Wallet Repository to your SGX compatible Server:

git clone https://github.com/skalenetwork/sgxwallet/
cd sgxwallet
git checkout tags/ADD_VERSION_TAG

2.5.2. Enable SGX

SGX Wallet repository includes the sgx_enable utility. To enable SGX run:

sudo ./sgx_enable

Note: if you aren’t using Ubuntu 18.04 (not recommended), you may need to rebuild the sgx-software-enable utility before use by typing:

cd sgx-software-enable;
make
cd ..

Install SGX Library:

cd scripts
sudo ./sgx_linux_x64_driver_2.5.0_2605efa.bin
cd ..

System Reboot:

Reboot your machine after driver install!

Check driver installation: To check that isgx device is properly installed run this command:

ls /dev/isgx

If you don’t see the isgx device, you need to troubleshoot your driver installation from here.

Another way to verify Intel SGX is enabled in BIOS:

If you already executed the previous steps please move to STEP 3

Enter BIOS by pressing the BIOS key during boot. The BIOS key varies by manufacturer and could be F10, F2, F12, F1, DEL, or ESC.

Usually Intel SGX is disabled by default.

To enable:

find the Intel SGX feature in BIOS Menu (it’s usually under the "Advanced" or "Security" menu) Set SGX in BIOS as enabled (preferably) or software-controlled. save your BIOS settings and exit BIOS. Enable "software-controlled" SGX Software-controlled means that SGX needs to be enabled by running a utility.

2.6. Update docker-compose.yaml

Open run_sgx directory

cd sgxwallet/run_sgx;

On some machines, the SGX device isn’t /dev/mei0 but a different device, such as /dev/bs0 or /dev/sg0. In this case please edit docker-compose.yml on your machine to specify the correct device to use:

vi docker-compose.yml

make sure image is skalenetwork/sgxwallet:<`SGX_VERSION`> in docker-compose and it will look like:

version: '3'
services:
  sgxwallet:
    image: skalenetwork/sgxwallet:<SGX_VERSION>
    ports:
      - "1026:1026"
      - "1027:1027"
      - "1028:1028"
      - "1029:1029"
    devices:
      - "/dev/isgx"
      - "/dev/sg0"
    volumes:
      - ./sgx_data:/usr/src/sdk/sgx_data
      -  /dev/urandom:/dev/random
    logging:
      driver: json-file
      options:
        max-size: "10m"
        max-file: "4"
    restart: unless-stopped
    command: -s -y -V
    healthcheck:
      test: ["CMD", "ls", "/dev/isgx", "/dev/"]

2.7. Spin up SGXWallet container

Start SGX Wallet Containers To run the server as a daemon:

sudo docker-compose up -d

2.8. Securely save generated backup key

The backup key is automatically stored in sgx_data directory.

The filename of the key is sgx_wallet_backup_key.txt, and is generated the first time the SGX wallet is started.

This key must be securely recorded and stored. Be sure to store this key in a safe place, then go into a docker container and securely remove it with the following command:
docker exec -it <SGX_CONTAINER_NAME> bash && apt-get install secure-delete && srm -vz backup_key.txt
You should enable SSL/TLS for your SGX node. Make sure you finalize this before you move on to your next step.

2.9. Backup sgx data

It’s strongly recommended to backup sgx data regularly. The guide can be found here

3. Node Setup

Due date: 23rd of each month

After Setting up SGX Wallet and create certifications, validators can download the SKALE Node CLI executables register and maintain your SKALE node. This process downloads docker container images from docker hub and spins up SKALE Node functionalities. Some base containers such as SKALE Admin, Bounty, TransactionManager will be created during installation for each node.

This document contains instructions on how to setup node using SKALE Node CLI.

3.1. Prepare server

Node server should follow compliance requirements which will be checked during installing SKALE node software. Please make sure

General requirements

  • A Linux x86_64 machine

  • Ubuntu 18.04

  • 2TB attached storage

  • 8 physical cores

  • 32GB RAM

  • 16GB Swap

More information can be found here Compliance requirements

3.2. Install packages

Before setting up node you should make sure that the following software is installed:

  • docker

  • docker-compose (preferably 1.27.4)

  • iptables-persistent

  • lvm2

  • After docker installation make sure that the live-restore option is enabled in /etc/docker/daemon.json. See more info in the docker docs.

You can install iptables-persistent using the following commands:
echo iptables-persistent iptables-persistent/autosave_v4 boolean true | sudo debconf-set-selections
echo iptables-persistent iptables-persistent/autosave_v6 boolean true | sudo debconf-set-selections
sudo apt install iptables-persistent -y
  • You should carefully control any automatic updates. In general avoid updates to the Linux kernel, docker, docker-compose, btrfs-progs. And take care when updating lvm2, iptables, iptables-persistent, and python. Please see the [FAQ - Node update procedure for more information](/validators/faq.adoc#node-update-procedure).

If you have any concerns or questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to SKALE Team leads on Discord.

3.3. Download Node CLI binary

3.4. Download the executable

sudo -E bash -c "curl -L {node-cli} >  /usr/local/bin/skale"

3.5. Apply executable permissions to the downloaded binary:

chmod +x /usr/local/bin/skale

3.6. Test the installation

sudo skale --help
You should run node-cli commands using sudo

More information can be found here.

3.7. Configure .env

Configuration parameters are passed to Node CLI through .env file. It should contain the following variables:

  • CONTAINERS_CONFIG_STREAM - git branch with containers versions config

  • DISK_MOUNTPOINT - Attached storage block device

  • DOCKER_LVMPY_STREAM - git branch of docker lvmpy volume driver for schains

  • ENDPOINT - RPC endpoint of the node in the network where SKALE manager is deployed (http or https)

  • FILEBEAT_HOST - URL to the Filebeat log server

  • IMA_CONTRACTS_ABI_URL - URL to IMA contracts ABI and addresses

  • IMA_ENDPOINT - IMA endpoint to connect (should be the same as ENDPOINT).

  • MANAGER_CONTRACTS_ABI_URL - URL to SKALE Manager contracts ABI and addresses

  • SGX_SERVER_URL - URL to SGX server in the network (i.e. http(s)://host:port, do not add a trailing "/" after the port number )

  • ENV_TYPE - network type (mainnet/testnet)

ENDPOINT, IMA_ENDPOINT, SGX_SERVER_URL, DISK_MOUNTPOINT are server dependent. Other options depend on the network type.

For the mainnet network .env will look like:

CONTAINER_CONFIGS_STREAM=2.1.8
DOCKER_LVMPY_STREAM=1.0.2-stable.0
FILEBEAT_HOST=filebeat.mainnet.skalenodes.com:5000
MANAGER_CONTRACTS_ABI_URL=https://raw.githubusercontent.com/skalenetwork/skale-network/master/releases/mainnet/skale-manager/1.9.0/skale-manager-1.9.0-mainnet-abi.json
IMA_CONTRACTS_ABI_URL=https://raw.githubusercontent.com/skalenetwork/skale-network/master/releases/mainnet/IMA/1.3.0/mainnet/abi.json
ENV_TYPE=mainnet
DISK_MOUNTPOINT=[DISK_MOUNTPOINT]
IMA_ENDPOINT=[IMA_ENDPOINT]
ENDPOINT=[ENDPOINT]
SGX_SERVER_URL=[SGX_SERVER_URL] # Do not add a trailing "/" after the port number.

It’s possible to configure Telegram based alert system by providing the following options:

  • TG_API_KEY - Telegram API key

  • TG_CHAT_ID - Telegram chat ID

3.8. Initialize node

To install node on your server you should run skale node init. It will create necessary configuration files and run base services and containers.

sudo skale node init .env

Example Output:

48914619bcd3: Pull complete
db7a07cce60c: Pull complete
d285532a5ada: Pull complete
8646278c4014: Pull complete
3a12d6e582e7: Pull complete
0a3d98d81a07: Pull complete
43b3a182ba00: Pull complete
Creating monitor_filebeat          ... done
Creating skale_transaction-manager ... done
Creating skale_watchdog            ... done
Creating skale_admin               ... done
Creating skale_bounty              ... done
Creating skale_api                 ... done

You can verify installation procedure by running:

sudo skale wallet info

Output:

Address: <your-skale-node-wallet-address>
ETH balance: 1.0 ETH
SKALE balance: 0 SKALE

The common problem is network misconfiguration between the node and SGXWallet. You can recheck connection status using skale health sgx:

sudo skale health sgx

Output:

SGX server status:
┌────────────────┬──────────────────────────┐
│ SGX server URL │ <sgx-url>                │
├────────────────┼──────────────────────────┤
│ Status         │ CONNECTED                │
└────────────────┴──────────────────────────┘

3.9. Setup SSL Certificates

3.9.1. Setup IP redirects

You will need to setup redirects from each node IP to the node domain.

3.9.2. Issue SSL certificates

You will need SSL certs issued by one of the Trusted CAs. Once you’ve decided on the certificate issuer you have several options - issue a separate certificate for each subdomain (node-0.awesome-validator.com, node-1.awesome-validator.com) or issue a single Wildcard SSL for all nodes (\*.awesome-validator.com). As a result, you should have 2 main files saved and copied to the respective nodes:

  • Certificate file (for example, fullchain.pem or cert.pem)

  • Private key file (for example, privkey.pem, pk.pem)

3.9.3. Upload certificates to the SKALE Node

Once you copied the certificate and private key file, all you have to do is to run the following command:

sudo skale ssl upload -c $PATH_TO_CERT_FILE -k $PATH_TO_KEY_FILE

3.9.4. SSL Status

Status of the SSL certificates on the node

sudo skale ssl status

For more details, please see Node SSL docs.

3.10. Fund Node wallet with ETH

Some of the node operations send ETH mainnet transaction (e.g. chain creation). So the node wallet should have at least 1 ETH

To get the address you should run skale wallet info command.

Spent ETH is reimbursed after the transaction was completed.

3.11. Sign validator id using SGXWallet

Using validator-cli check your validator ID:

sk-val validator ls

Get your SKALE node signature by running node-cli command.

sudo skale node signature [VALIDATOR_ID]

Output:

Signature: <your-signature>

To successfully register new node you should bind node address and validator entity using validator-cli link-address:

 sk-val validator link-address [NODE_ADDRESS] [SIGNATURE]
You can find node address by executing skale wallet info command

Optional arguments:

  • --pk-file - Path to file with private key (only for software wallet type)

  • --gas-price - Gas price value in Gwei for transaction (if not specified doubled average network value will be used)

  • --yes - Confirmation flag

3.13. Backup node

We strongly recommend to regularly backup node data. The critical information stored ~/.skale directory.

The skale node backup command archives the data which you can download and store somewhere else.

To restore the node you should use skale node restore

More information can be found here.

3.14. Accept Delegations

Every delegation need to be accepted. You can do it using sk-val validator accept-delegation command:

sk-val validator accept-delegation --delegation-id [DELEGATION-ID]

Required arguments:

  • --delegation-id - Delegation id to accept

Optional arguments:

  • --pk-file - Path to file with private key (only for software wallet type)

  • --gas-price - Gas price value in Gwei for transaction (if not specified doubled average network value will be used)

  • --yes - Confirmation flag

You can get [DELEGATION-ID] by running sk-val validator delegations:

sk-val validator delegations [VALIDATOR_ID]

You will see your pending delegation (PENDING status) as well as already accepted ones (DELEGATED status).

To register the node validator must meet minimum staking requirement

4. Register Node in SKALE Network

4.1. Register Node with Node CLI

Before proceeding, you will need to have at least 1 ETH. Also amount of delegated skale tokens need to be more or equal to minimum staking amount.

To register with the network, you will need to provide the following:

  • Node name

  • Machine public IP

  • Domain name

sudo skale node register --name [NODE_NAME] --ip [NODE_IP] --domain [DOMAIN_NAME]

Optional arguments:

  • --port - beginning of the port range that will be used for skale schains (10000 by default)

Output:

Node registered in SKALE manager. For more info run: skale node info

4.2. Check Node Status

You can check the status of your node, and ensure that it’s properly registered with the SKALE Network.

sudo skale node info

Output:

# Node info
Name: <Node name>
ID: <Node ID>
IP: <IP of Machine>
Public IP: <Public IP of Machine>
Port: <Node port>
Domain name: <Node domain name>
Status: Active

5. Post Registration Checks

  • Private and backup keys are secured in a safe place.

  • VPN is configured on all SGXWallet servers.

  • Ensure node wallets have sufficient ETH

  • Accept delegations for the next month

  • Check telegram notifications (if you enabled them)

  • Use watchdog to monitor node status.

  • Get support from the SKALE validator community