Quickly bootstrap Cardano Node

added: September 20, 2023

Today, there are several methods available to quickly configure and launch your Cardano node. In this brief post, I'd like to write about the precompiled node + chain snapshot setup, which is both quick and straightforward. However, if you plan to operate a Stake Pool, it's highly advisable to ensure maximum security by verifying and building your node from the official repository and manually syncing it. Let's cook! 👨‍🍳

This tutorial is based on a fantastic post by APEX Stake Pool!

download necessary files

  1. download tar file https://github.com/input-output-hk/cardano-node/releases
  2. Download the most recent, precompiled stable node version; at the time of writing this tutorial, that version is 8.1.2 Additionally, you can check preview version for the very latest developments and features. Be ready to encounter issues.

  3. Downlaod mainnet snapshot
  4. To speed up the synchronization proces we can download the mainet snapshot. This is a big file so make sure you have enough space to download and unpack it. The archive alone is ~80GB.

    You can also run Cardano PreProd which it's only ~3GB

  5. Downlaod configuration files
  6. These configuration files are necessary because they provide the settings and data required for your Cardano node to function correctly and stay synchronized with the Cardano blockchain. They ensure that your node operates in accordance with the network's rules and protocols, and they enable you to participate in the Cardano network effectively, whether you are running a stake pool or simply using a Cardano node for other purposes.

    Notice that we don't need all of files provided to run our relay node. We need:

node config - configuration settings for your Cardano node

node topology - specifies how your Cardano node connects to other nodes in the network

byron genesis - Byron-specific parameters

shelley genesis - Shelley-specific parameters

alonzo genesis - Alonzo-specific parameters

conway genesis - Conway-specific parameters

At the time of writing this tutorial, we are still in the pre-Conway era. However, with the introduction of node version 8.0.0, it is now necessary to include a config file for the upcoming Conway era.

setting up

  1. Folder Structure
  2. My folder will be located in users/mcj/cardano-node-mainnet and it will look like this:

    ├── bin
    ├── config
    └── db

bin - our node startup file will be located here

config - configuration files for the node

db - blockchain database

  1. Unpack cardano-node-8.1.2-macos.tar.gz
  2. Inside the archive cointaining pre-compilled cardano node you will find many binary files and a folder named configuration. Copy the binaries to usr/local/bin (Linux or macOS). When you place the Cardano node binaries in provided directory, you essentially integrate them into the system's PATH. This integration enables you to execute these binaries from any terminal location without having to specify their full path.

  3. create startup file
  4. Inside bin folder, create a startNode.sh file using a text editor of your choice. Copy and paste the script below, and be sure to update the DIRECTORY variable with your own path.

    cardano-node +RTS -N -RTS run \
    --topology ${TOPOLOGY} \
    --database-path ${DB_PATH} \
    --socket-path ${SOCKET_PATH} \
    --host-addr ${HOSTADDR} \
    --port ${PORT} \
    --config ${CONFIG}
  5. copy configuration files
  6. If you haven't already, move configuration files we downloaded into cardano-node-mainnet/config

  7. copy snapshot data files
  8. To use the snapshot we just downloaded, we need to decompress and unpack the file into our main folder, cardano-node-mainnet. You can achieve this with a single command:

    lz4 -dc /users/mcj/downloads/mainnet-db-103468146.tar.lz4 | tar -xv -C /users/mcj/cardano-node-mainnet/

    where /users/mcj/downloads/mainnet-db-103468146.tar.lz4 is the path of the file we downloaded and /users/mcj/cardano-node-mainnet/ is the destination to unpack.

Now all of the files are ready. Let's try to run the node!

running the node

startNode.sh - just drag and drop this file into the terminal and press enter. The node should start syncing. Becuase we downloaded the snapshot, the syncign time should be short.


Our node is now syncing! But how do we determine how much has been synchronized, and how can we check the current tip? It's actually quite simple. Open a new Terminal window - remember to leave the node running - and try to obtain the current tip with command:

cardano-cli query tip --mainnet

It may not work immediately, but don't worry! You just need to connect to the node socket using this command (remember to update the path):

export CARDANO_NODE_SOCKET_PATH=/Users/mcj/cardano-node-mainnet/db/node.socket

Now, when you attempt to query the tip, you should see the current EPOCH, block, and more.

what about mithril?

Mithril is quite similar to a snapshot we just downloaded, but with a significant difference: you don't need to trust the snapshot provider, as it's certified by Stake Pool operators. Currently, Mithril is in Beta. However, as soon as it becomes available, I will create a new tutorial on how to use it. This will enable you to bootstrap a Cardano node in just a few hours, depending on your connection speed.

final notes

While there are a few steps involved, this process teaches you some crucial aspects of the node setup process. We skipped the node build, which has quite a few steps & can be time consuming. Additionally, we didn't wait for synchronization. Without the snapshot, this process could take an entire day or even longer, as it depends not only on your connection speed but also on your CPU. I hope you found this informative!