Notes on validators

Information on how to join the current testnet (genesis.json file and seeds) is held in our "networks" repo. Please check there if you are looking to join our latest testnet.

This documentation is only intended for validators of the Soju public testnet and the Columbus public mainnet.

Before setting up your validator node, make sure you've already gone through the Full Node Setup guide.

What is a Validator?

Validators are responsible for committing new blocks to the blockchain through voting. To make sure validators remain loyal to the network, the Terra Protocol requires a "security deposit" of Luna tokens to be staked while the validators are active. A validator's stake is slashed if they become unavailable or sign multiple blocks at the same height.

Users looking to operate a Terra validator, or are simply looking to learn more should study up on the correct security model, study robust network topologies, and familiarize themselves with Tendermint and general information.

Create Your Validator

Your terravalconspub can be used to create a new validator by staking Luna tokens. You can find your validator pubkey by running:

terrad tendermint show-validator

Next, craft your terrad gentx command:

Don't use more Luna than you have! You can always get more by using the Faucet!

terracli tx staking create-validator \
--amount=5000000uluna \
--pubkey=$(terrad tendermint show-validator) \
--moniker="choose a moniker" \
--chain-id=<chain_id> \
--from=<key_name> \
--commission-rate="0.10" \
--commission-max-rate="0.20" \
--commission-max-change-rate="0.01" \

Note: When specifying commission parameters, the commission-max-change-rate is used to measure % point change over the commission-rate. E.g. 1% to 2% is a 100% rate increase, but only 1 percentage point.

Note: If unspecified, consensus_pubkey will default to the output of terrad tendermint show-validator. key_name is the name of the private key that will be used to sign the transaction.

Participate in genesis as a validator

Note: This section only concerns validators that want to be in the genesis file. If the chain you want to validate is already live, skip this section.

Note: The currently running Soju testnet will not use this process. They will be bootsrapped using Tendermint seed validators. You will just need to use the create-validator command in order to join as a validator for these networks.

If you want to participate in genesis as a validator, you need to justify that you (or a delegator) have some stake at genesis, create one (or multiple) transaction to bond this stake to your validator address, and include this transaction in the genesis file.

We thus need to distinguish two cases:

  • Case 1: You want to bond the initial stake from your validator's address.

  • Case 2: You want to bond the initial stake from a delegator's address.

Case 1: The initial stake comes from your validator's address

In this case, you will create a gentx:

terrad gentx \
--amount <amount_of_delegation> \
--commission-rate <commission_rate> \
--commission-max-rate <commission_max_rate> \
--commission-max-change-rate <commission_max_change_rate> \
--pubkey <consensus_pubkey> \
--name <key_name>

Note: This command automatically store your gentx in ~/.terrad/config/gentx for it to be processed at genesis.

Consult terrad gentx --help for more information on the flags defaults.

A gentx is a JSON file carrying a self-delegation. All genesis transactions are collected by a genesis coordinator and validated against an initial genesis.json. Such initial genesis.json contains only a list of accounts and their coins. Once the transactions are processed, they are merged in the genesis.json's gentxs field.

Case 2: The initial stake comes from a delegator's address

In this case, you need both the signature of the validator and the delegator. Start by creating an unsigned create-validator transaction, and save it in a file called unsignedValTx:

terracli tx staking create-validator \
--amount=5luna \
--pubkey=$(terrad tendermint show-validator) \
--moniker="choose a moniker" \
--chain-id=<chain_id> \
--from=<key_name> \
--commission-rate="0.10" \
--commission-max-rate="0.20" \
--commission-max-change-rate="0.01" \
--address-delegator="address of the delegator" \
--generate-only \
> unsignedValTx.json

Then, sign this unsignedValTx with your validator's private key, and save the output in a new file signedValTx.json:

terracli tx sign unsignedValTx.json --from=<validator_key_name> > signedValTx.json

Then, pass this file to the delegator, who needs to run the following command:

terracli tx sign signedValTx.json --from=<delegator_key_name> > gentx.json

This gentx.json needs to be included in the ~/.terrad/config/gentx folder on the validator's machine to be processed at genesis, just like in case 1 (except here it needs to be copied manually into the folder).

Copy the Initial Genesis File and Process Genesis Transactions

Fetch the genesis.json file into terrad's config directory.

mkdir -p $HOME/.terrad/config
curl > $HOME/.terrad/config/genesis.json

Note: We use the latest directory in the testnets repo which contains details for the latest testnet. If you are connecting to a different testnet, ensure you get the right files.

You also need to fetch the genesis transactions of all the other genesis validators. For now there is no repository where genesis transactions can be submitted by validators, but this will as soon as we try out this feature in a testnet.

Once you've collected all genesis transactions in ~/.terrad/config/gentx, you can run:

terrad collect-gentxs

Note: The accounts from which you delegate in the gentx transactions need to possess stake tokens in the genesis file, otherwise collect-gentx will fail.

The previous command will collect all genesis transactions and finalise genesis.json. To verify the correctness of the configuration and start the node run:

terrad start

Edit Validator Description

You can edit your validator's public description. This info is to identify your validator, and will be relied on by delegators to decide which validators to stake to. Make sure to provide input for every flag below, otherwise the field will default to empty (--moniker defaults to the machine name).

The --identity can be used as to verify identity with systems like Keybase or UPort. When using with Keybase --identity should be populated with a 16-digit string that is generated with a account. It's a cryptographically secure method of verifying your identity across multiple online networks. The Keybase API allows us to retrieve your Keybase avatar. This is how you can add a logo to your validator profile.

terracli tx staking edit-validator \
--moniker="choose a moniker" \
--website="" \
--identity=6A0D65E29A4CBC8E \
--details="To infinity and beyond!" \
--chain-id=<chain_id> \
--from=<key_name> \

Note: The commission-rate value must adhere to the following invariants:

  • Must be between 0 and the validator's commission-max-rate

  • Must not exceed the validator's commission-max-change-rate which is maximum

    % point change rate per day. In other words, a validator can only change

    its commission once per day and within commission-max-change-rate bounds.

View Validator Description

View the validator's information with this command:

terracli query staking validator <account_terra>

Track Validator Signing Information

In order to keep track of a validator's signatures in the past you can do so by using the signing-info command:

terracli query slashing signing-info <validator-pubkey>\

Unjail Validator

When a validator is "jailed" for downtime, you must submit an Unjail transaction from the operator account in order to be able to get block proposer rewards again (depends on the zone fee distribution).

terracli tx slashing unjail \
--from=<key_name> \

Confirm Your Validator is Running

Your validator is active if the following command returns anything:

terracli query tendermint-validator-set | grep "$(terrad tendermint show-validator)"

You should also be able to see your validator on the Terra Station. You are looking for the bech32 encoded address in the ~/.terrad/config/priv_validator.json file.

To be in the validator set, you need to have more total voting power than the 100th validator.

Common Problems

Problem #1: My validator has voting_power: 0

Your validator has become auto-unbonded. In Soju and Columbus networks, we unbond validators if they do not vote on 50 of the last 100 blocks. Since blocks are proposed every ~2 seconds, a validator unresponsive for ~100 seconds will become unbonded. This usually happens when your terrad process crashes.

Here's how you can return the voting power back to your validator. First, if terrad is not running, start it up again:

terrad start

Wait for your full node to catch up to the latest block. Next, run the following command. Note that <terra> is the address of your validator account, and <name> is the name of the validator account. You can find this info by running terracli keys list.

terracli tx slashing unjail <terra> --chain-id=<chain_id> --from=<from>

If you don't wait for terrad to sync before running unjail, you will receive an error message telling you your validator is still jailed.

Lastly, check your validator again to see if your voting power is back.

terracli status

You may notice that your voting power is less than it used to be. That's because you got slashed for downtime!

Problem #2: My terrad crashes because of too many open files

The default number of files Linux can open (per-process) is 1024. terrad is known to open more than 1024 files. This causes the process to crash. A quick fix is to run ulimit -n 4096 (increase the number of open files allowed) and then restart the process with terrad start. If you are using systemd or another process manager to launch terrad this may require some configuration at that level. A sample systemd file to fix this issue is below:

# /etc/systemd/system/terrad.service
Description=Terra Columbus Node
ExecStart=/home/ubuntu/go/bin/terrad start