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Getting Started

Last edited on February 7, 2023

This document is the entry point for developers who wish to work on Geth. Developers are people who are interested to build, develop, debug, submit a bug report or pull request or otherwise contribute to the Geth source code.

Please see Contributing for the Geth contribution guidelines.

Building and Testing

Developers should use a recent version of Go for building and testing. We use the go toolchain for development, which you can get from the Go downloads page. Geth is a Go module, and uses the Go modules system to manage dependencies. Using GOPATH is not required to build go-ethereum.

Building Executables

Switch to the go-ethereum repository root directory. All code can be built using the go tool, placing the resulting binary in $GOPATH/bin.

go install -v ./...

go-ethereum executables can be built individually. To build just geth, use:

go install -v ./cmd/geth

Cross compilation is not recommended, please build Geth for the host architecture.


Testing a package:

go test -v ./eth

Running an individual test:

go test -v ./eth -run TestMethod

Note: here all tests with prefix TestMethod will be run, so if TestMethod and TestMethod1 both exist then both tests will run.

Running benchmarks, eg.:

go test -v -bench . -run BenchmarkJoin

For more information, see the go test flags documentation.

Getting Stack Traces

A stack trace provides a very detailed look into the current state of the geth node. It helps us to debug issues easier as it contains information about what is currently done by the node. Stack traces can be created by running debug.stacks() in the Geth console. If the node was started without the console command or with a script in the background, the following command can be used to dump the stack trace into a file.

geth attach <path-to-geth.ipc> --exec "debug.stacks()" > stacktrace.txt

Geth logs the location of the IPC endpoint on startup. It is typically under /home/user/.ethereum/geth.ipc or /tmp/geth.ipc.

debug.stacks() also takes an optional filter argument. Passing a package name or filepath to filter restricts the output to stack traces involving only that package/file. For example:


returns data that looks like:

INFO [11-04|16:15:54.486] Expanded filter expression filter=enode expanded="`enode` in Value" goroutine 121 [chan receive, 3 minutes]: github.com/ethereum/go-ethereum/p2p/enode.(*FairMix).nextFromAny(...) github.com/ethereum/go-ethereum/p2p/enode/iter.go:241 github.com/ethereum/go-ethereum/p2p/enode.(*FairMix).Next(0xc0008c6060) github.com/ethereum/go-ethereum/p2p/enode/iter.go:215 +0x2c5 github.com/ethereum/go-ethereum/p2p.(*dialScheduler).readNodes(0xc00021c2c0, {0x18149b0, 0xc0008c6060}) github.com/ethereum/go-ethereum/p2p/dial.go:321 +0x9f created by github.com/ethereum/go-ethereum/p2p.newDialScheduler github.com/ethereum/go-ethereum/p2p/dial.go:179 +0x425



returns data that looks like:

INFO [11-04|16:16:47.141] Expanded filter expression filter=consolecmd.go expanded="`consolecmd.go` in Value" goroutine 1 [chan receive]: github.com/ethereum/go-ethereum/internal/jsre.(*JSRE).Do(0xc0004223c0, 0xc0003c00f0) github.com/ethereum/go-ethereum/internal/jsre/jsre.go:230 +0xf4 github.com/ethereum/go-ethereum/internal/jsre.(*JSRE).Evaluate(0xc00033eb60?, {0xc0013c00a0, 0x1e}, {0x180d720?, 0xc000010018}) github.com/ethereum/go-ethereum/internal/jsre/jsre.go:289 +0xb3 github.com/ethereum/go-ethereum/console.(*Console).Evaluate(0xc0005366e0, {0xc0013c00a0?, 0x0?}) github.com/ethereum/go-ethereum/console/console.go:353 +0x6d github.com/ethereum/go-ethereum/console.(*Console).Interactive(0xc0005366e0) github.com/ethereum/go-ethereum/console/console.go:481 +0x691 main.localConsole(0xc00026d580?) github.com/ethereum/go-ethereum/cmd/geth/consolecmd.go:109 +0x348 github.com/ethereum/go-ethereum/internal/flags.MigrateGlobalFlags.func2.1(0x20b52c0?) github.com/ethereum/go-ethereum/internal/flags/helpers.go:91 +0x36 github.com/urfave/cli/v2.(*Command).Run(0x20b52c0, 0xc000313540) github.com/urfave/cli/v2@v2.17.2-0.20221006022127-8f469abc00aa/command.go:177 +0x719 github.com/urfave/cli/v2.(*App).RunContext(0xc0005501c0, {0x1816128?, 0xc000040110}, {0xc00003c180, 0x3, 0x3}) github.com/urfave/cli/v2@v2.17.2-0.20221006022127-8f469abc00aa/app.go:387 +0x1035 github.com/urfave/cli/v2.(*App).Run(...) github.com/urfave/cli/v2@v2.17.2-0.20221006022127-8f469abc00aa/app.go:252 main.main() github.com/ethereum/go-ethereum/cmd/geth/main.go:266 +0x47 goroutine 159 [chan receive, 4 minutes]: github.com/ethereum/go-ethereum/node.(*Node).Wait(...) github.com/ethereum/go-ethereum/node/node.go:529 main.localConsole.func1() github.com/ethereum/go-ethereum/cmd/geth/consolecmd.go:103 +0x2d created by main.localConsole github.com/ethereum/go-ethereum/cmd/geth/consolecmd.go:102 +0x32e

If Geth is started with the --pprof option, a debugging HTTP server is made available on port 6060. Navigating to http://localhost:6060/debug/pprof displays the heap, running routines etc. By clicking "full goroutine stack dump" a trace can be generated that is useful for debugging.

Note that if multiple instances of Geth exist, port 6060 will only work for the first instance that was launched. To generate stacktraces for other instances, they should be started up with alternative pprof ports. Ensure stderr is being redirected to a logfile.

geth -port=30300 -verbosity 5 --pprof --pprof.port 6060 2>> /tmp/00.glog
geth -port=30301 -verbosity 5 --pprof --pprof.port 6061 2>> /tmp/01.glog
geth -port=30302 -verbosity 5 --pprof --pprof.port 6062 2>> /tmp/02.glog

Alternatively to kill the clients (in case they hang or stalled syncing, etc) and have the stacktrace too, use the -QUIT signal with kill:

killall -QUIT geth

This will dump stack traces for each instance to their respective log file.

Where to go next

Read the remaining pages in the Geth developer section, and get building!


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