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Quickstart: Run a node and (optionally) stake ETH using Prysm

Already running a node?

This guidance is targeted at new users. If you're already running a node, see Prepare for The Merge.

Prysm is an implementation of the Ethereum proof-of-stake consensus specification. In this quickstart, you’ll use Prysm to run an Ethereum node and optionally a validator. This will let you stake 32 ETH using hardware that you manage.

This is a beginner-friendly guide. Familiarity with the command line is expected, but otherwise this guide makes no assumptions about your technical skills or prior knowledge.

At a high level, we'll walk through the following flow:

  1. Configure an execution node using an execution-layer client.
  2. Configure a beacon node using Prysm, a consensus-layer client.
  3. Configure a validator and stake ETH using Prysm (optional).

Knowledge Check

Not familiar with nodes, networks, and related terminology? Consider reading Nodes and networks before proceeding.

Step 1: Review prerequisites and best practices#

Node typeBenefitsRequirements
Execution + beacon
  • Contributes to the security of Ethereum's ecosystem.
  • Lets you access the Ethereum network directly without having to trust a third party service.
  • Lets you run a validator post-Merge.
  • Software: Execution client, beacon node client (instructions for clients below), curl
  • OS: 64-bit Linux, Mac OS X 10.14+, Windows 10+ 64-bit
  • CPU: 4+ cores @ 2.8+ GHz
  • Memory: 16GB+ RAM
  • Storage: SSD with at least 2TB free space
  • Network: 8 MBit/sec broadband
ValidatorLets you stake ETH, propose + validate blocks, earn staking rewards + transaction fee tips.
  • Everything above, plus...
  • Software: Validator client, browser-based crypto wallet (instructions below)
  • Hardware: (Recommended) A new machine that has never been connected to the internet that you can use to securely generate your mnemonic phrase and keypair
  • 32 ETH (Mainnet)
  • 32 testnet ETH (Testnets)

Best practices#

Step 2: Install Prysm, generate secret#

First, create a folder called ethereum on your SSD, and then two subfolders within it: consensus and execution:

📂ethereum┣ 📂consensus┣ 📂execution

Navigate to your consensus directory and run the following commands:

USE_PRYSM_VERSION=v2.1.4-rc.0mkdir prysm && cd prysmcurl https://raw.githubusercontent.com/prysmaticlabs/prysm/master/prysm.sh --output prysm.sh && chmod +x prysm.sh

This will download the Prysm client and make it executable.

The HTTP connection between your beacon node and execution node needs to be authenticated using a JWT token. There are several ways to generate this JWT token:

  • Use an online generator like this. Copy and paste this value into a jwt.hex file.
  • Use a utility like OpenSSL to create the token via command: openssl rand -hex 32 | tr -d "\n" > "jwt.hex".
  • Use an execution client to generate the jwt.hex file.
  • Use Prysm to generate the jwt.hex file:
USE_PRYSM_VERSION=v2.1.4-rc.0./prysm.sh beacon-chain generate-auth-secret

Prysm will output a jwt.hex file path.

This guide assumes that you've placed your jwt.hex file in your consensus directory, but you can place it anywhere and revise the below commands as needed.

Step 3: Run an execution client#

In this step, you'll install an execution-layer client that Prysm's beacon node will connect to.

Download the latest stable release of Nethermind for your operating system from the Nethermind downloads page. Extract the contents into your execution folder. Run the following command to start your execution node:

Nethermind.Runner --config mainnet --JsonRpc.Enabled true --HealthChecks.Enabled true --HealthChecks.UIEnabled true

See Nethermind's command-line options for parameter definitions.

Your Nethermind execution node will begin syncing. This can take a long time - from hours to days. You can check your Nethermind execution node's sync status by navigating to http://localhost:8545/healthchecks-ui or by running the following command from a separate terminal window:

curl localhost:8545/health 

A sync status of false indicates that your node is fully synced. You can proceed to the next step while Nethermind syncs.

Congratulations - you’re now running an execution node in Ethereum’s execution layer.

Step 4: Run a beacon node using Prysm#

In this step, you'll run a beacon node using Prysm.

Use the following command to start a beacon node that connects to your local execution node:

./prysm.sh beacon-chain --http-web3provider=http://localhost:8545 --mainnet

Your beacon node will now begin syncing. This usually takes a couple days, but it can take longer depending on your network and hardware specs.

You can check your beacon node's sync status by running the following command from a separate terminal window:

curl http://localhost:3500/eth/v1/node/syncing

This should produce the following output:

{"data":{"head_slot":"6944","sync_distance":"3003133","is_syncing":true,"is_optimistic":true}}

When you see "is_syncing":false, your beacon node is fully synchronized. When you see "is_optimistic":false, your execution node is fully synchronized.

You can verify that your beacon node has successfully connected to your execution node by running the following command from a separate terminal window:

curl http://localhost:3500/eth/v1alpha1/node/eth1/connections

Congratulations - you’re now running a full Ethereum node. Your full node consists of an execution node in Ethereum’s execution layer, and a beacon node in Ethereum’s consensus layer.

Step 5: Run a validator using Prysm#

ETH Required

Running a validator requires 32.1 ETH (for Mainnet) or 32.1 GöETH / rETH (for Testnets). Instructions for acquiring testnet ETH are provided below. Note that using Sepolia as a validator is currently unsupported.

Next, we'll create your validator keys with the Ethereum Staking Deposit CLI. Before proceeding, we recommend temporarily moving over to a new machine that has never been connected to the internet if possible. This will reduce the risk that your validator private key is exposed to an adversary. We'll carry an encrypted version of your private key to your primary machine after creating your keys on this "airgapped" machine.

Download the latest stable version of the deposit CLI from the Staking Deposit CLI Releases page.

Run the following command to create your mnemonic phrase and keys:

./deposit new-mnemonic --num_validators=1 --mnemonic_language=english

Follow the CLI prompts to generate your keys. This will give you the following artifacts:

  1. A new mnemonic seed phrase. This is highly sensitive and should never be exposed to other people or networked hardware.
  2. A validator_keys folder. This folder will contain two files:
    1. deposit_data-*.json - contains deposit data that you’ll later upload to the Ethereum launchpad.
    2. keystore-m_*.json - contains your public key and encrypted private key.
Copy the validator_keys folder to your primary machine's consensus folder. Run the following command to import your keystores, replacing <YOUR_FOLDER_PATH> with the full path to your consensus/validator_keys folder:
./prysm.sh validator accounts import --keys-dir=<YOUR_FOLDER_PATH>

You’ll be prompted to specify a wallet directory twice. Provide the path to your consensus folder for both prompts. You should see Successfully imported 1 accounts, view all of them by running accounts list when your account has been successfully imported into Prysm.

Next, go to the Mainnet Launchpad’s deposit data upload page and upload your deposit_data-*.json file. You’ll be prompted to connect your wallet.

You can then deposit 32 ETH into the Mainnet deposit contract via the Launchpad page. Exercise extreme caution throughout this procedure. Finally, run the following command to start your validator, replacing <YOUR_FOLDER_PATH> with the full path to your consensus folder:

./prysm.sh validator --wallet-dir=<YOUR_FOLDER_PATH>

Congratulations!

You’re now running a full Ethereum node and a validator.


It can a long time (from days to months) for your validator to become fully activated. To learn more about the validator activation process, see Deposit Process. You can paste your validator's public key (available in your deposit_data-*.json file) into a blockchain explorer to check the status of your validator:

In the meantime, you should leave your execution client, beacon node, and validator client terminal windows open and running. Once your validator is activated, it will automatically begin proposing and validating blocks.


Frequently asked questions#

Why do you recommend putting everything on a single machine?
Keeping all of your client software on a single machine keeps things simple, which aligns with our security best practices.

Can I use Prysm on a Mac M1 ARM chip? Mac M1 ARM chips currently require users to run Prysm through Rosetta. See our open bug for details.

Do I need to configure JWT if I'm using IPC instead of HTTP?
No.

Do I need to configure my firewall?
We recommend closing TCP port 8545 to the internet and keeping TCP and UDP ports 30303 open to support other execution nodes.

Can you mix and match networks between execution layer and consensus layer?
No. See Nodes and networks for more information.

Can I stake with less than 32 ETH?

Pooled staking lets you stake with less than 32 ETH.

What should I do if I can't run a node using my own hardware?

Staking as a service lets you delegate hardware management to a third party.

Can I use an external SSD connected via USB?
Yes, but your USB connection introduces a possible point of failure. If you do this, avoid connecting your SSD to your computer through a USB hub - instead, connect it directly.

Can I use a light client as my local execution client so I don't have to download so much data?
No, a full execution node is needed.

Why do I need to run my own execution client?
The Merge introduces a new Engine API that allows consensus-layer clients to communicate with execution-layer clients. Teku docs contain a great explainer here: The Merge.

What happens if my execution client goes down? Will I be penalized?
Yes. Downtime penalties are minimal but we recommend having uptime and downtime alerts configured for your execution node, beacon node, and validator if possible.

My beacon node is taking a long time to sync. Is there any way I can speed it up?
Yes - you can use checkpoint sync to start your beacon node's synchronization from a checkpoint rather than from genesis. This is actually a more secure way to run your beacon node.

My attestations are working, but proposals aren’t. Why not?
This is usually an indication that your validator isn't able to communicate with your beacon node, or your beacon node isn't able to connect to your execution node.

How long does it take for my validator to be selected to propose a new block?
At the time of this writing, a ballpark estimate is around a week. Every 12 seconds a new block is proposed, and your validator has a one in [total number of active validators] chance of being chosen, so this duration can vary significantly from one validator to the next.