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What Is an Ethereum Testnet and How Is It Used?

Te this postbode wij’ll shortly explain Ethereum testnets – what they are, what they’re used for, and how they’re used.

For a better understanding of the content that goes after, it’s recommended you read the following introductory articles:

When writing programs for the EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine), i.e. the Ethereum blockchain, wij need to pay for their launch and usage ter gas. This cost can be prohibitive te times of network overuse and it can also be financially dangerous – a bug deployed on the live network is a bug forever open to manhandle. Any switch on the Ethereum blockchain is voortdurend and cannot be undone.

Testnets are copies of the Ethereum blockchain almost identical te every way to the Mainnet except ter the fact that their Ether is worthless (and, of course, the software that’s bot deployed on thesis testnets).

There are three types of testnets.

Public Test

Public testnets are available to everyone, they’re connected to the internet. Anyone can connect to them at any time, even from popular wallet interfaces like MyEtherWallet or MetaMask.

The following public testnets are available:

Ter the MyEtherWallet interface, they’re marked with a yellow edge. Each has two knots you can connect to (doesn’t matter which one you pick – both lead to the same network).

The same testnets are available through MetaMask:


Ropsten wasgoed launched te November 2016. Its Ether can be mined just like on the Mainnet. Both Geth and Parity support it – two different implementations of the Ethereum knot software – so it’s possible to develop for it from two different angles.

Of all three testnets, Ropsten resembles the current Mainnet the most. Its results resemble Mainnet results because its overeenstemming mechanism is PoW (i.e. it can be mined on) so the simulation of transaction confirmations is the most realistic.

Ropsten’s current blockchain opstopping size is around 9 GB.

On the Ropsten network, Ether can be mined or demanded through the Ropsten Faucet – a webstek that exists for the foot purpose of providing away free test Ether.

Because Ether can be mined on Ropsten, it is susceptible to spam attacks – a wave of futile transactions that clog the network. If Ether is free and effortless to get, it’s effortless to create this flood. Such an attack happened te February 2017. when attackers mined enormous amounts of Ether and kept sending too big transactions into the network. Ethereum’s block size limit is designed to be limber and to grow with request, so they managed to pump it up to several billion units of gas instead of the Four million it wasgoed at up until then. After this pumping of block size thresholds, they sent large computationally intensive but worthless transactions into the network, clogging the gas limit te those immense blocks totally, inflating blockchain size for no reason and blocking everyone else’s work. The network collapsed and wasgoed revived a month straks after resetting the blockchain gegevens.

It’s interesting to note that Ropsten only differs from the Mainnet (on which all of us hold our “real” Ether) by agreement. Wij collectively determined that Ropsten’s Ether is worthless, and now it is. Ropsten has its own mining pools, its own software, etc. but wij all determined that its Ether has no value, and so it doesn’t. Here wij see, fairly literally, how the community’s overeenstemming dictates the value of an asset – or, to be more precies, the lack of value of said asset.

Ropsten transactions can be examined on Etherscan.


Kovan wasgoed launched ter March 2017 by the Parity team after Ropsten wasgoed attacked. Kovan only works with the Parity knot, which means you’re out of luck if you use Geth. Instead of mining with PoW, Kovan uses PoA spil a overeenstemming mechanism: Proof of Authority. Simplified, ter PoA certain knots are authorized to produce fresh blocks and confirm transactions, and only those knots can do this.

You can only get Kovan’s Ether by requesting it from such a knot via their dedicated faucet, or by receiving it from an address which already has it.

Because of the PoA mechanism, Kovan differs somewhat from the Mainnet and thus cannot be considered a very accurate simulation. Despite this, it’s excellent for public testing, reliable and stable, and immune to spam attacks (Ether is hard to come by).


Launched ter April 2017 by the Ethereum team, Rinkeby shares the advantages of Kovan with two minor alterations: it does not support Parity and only works with Geth, and it uses a slightly different PoA overeenstemming mechanism.

Rinkeby is also supported on Etherscan:

Rinkeby Ether can be requested from an authorized faucet.


Morden wasgoed the very first Ethereum testnet. It wasgoed shut down te November 2016 due to a multitude of attacks and a loterijlot of junk gegevens having bot accumulated te its blockchain making it unsustainable disk-space-wise. Some differences inbetween the Geth and Parity implementation also contributed to the shutdown. It wasgoed superseded by Ropsten.

Private Test

A private test network is omschrijving to one’s own individual blockchain – your own copy of Ethereum.

When booting up a private blockchain, a Genesis opstopping needs to be generated from which a implement like Geth builds the fresh chain. This chain is then tested and interacted with via devices like Waas, MetaMask, MyEtherWallet, etc.

Private testnets are excellent for teamwork and closed environments that need to simulate mining and transaction confirmations without exposing their network to the outside world and taking a chance spam attacks.

There’s no expense involved ter creating one, other than a puny fraction of the CPU and disk space of the developer’s pc being occupied while the testnet is ter use. After a private testnet grows enough, it can be exposed to the public through the internet and other interested parties can connect to it and extend it. This lends itself flawlessly to experimentation, collaboration, cross-application interaction, and more.

Ether can be mined on even the weakest computers when running a private testnet, and during initialization some addresses can even get some Ether pre-mined for future use if needed.


Testrpc is a NodeJS package which simulates the Ethereum network on a single pc. When launching, it’ll generate several Ethereum addresses, each with some Ether already on it. Testrpc – however a cool idea te theory – usually falls vapid te practice due to some bugs and makes for a particularly frustrating practice. Ter our practice, it’s lighter and more reliable to just launch a private testnet (see above) with all the bells and whistles of a zindelijk blockchain, than to bother with setting up Testrpc.


Testnets are an exceptionally useful instrument te EVM development. They make effortless and painless Ethereum software testing possible and provide safety layers on which to proefneming before having to launch on the Mainnet. Public testnets like Ropsten, Rinkeby, and Kovan are enormously significant for decentralized apps that need to interact with one another – e.g. MetaMask communicating with, communicating with uPort, etc.

Ter the next postbode wij’ll demonstrate using Ropsten with Waas.

Related movie: How to connect a USB to TTL Raspberry Pi

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