Connecting To The Network

If you start geth without any flags, it will connect to the Ethereum mainnet. In addition to the mainnet, geth recognizes a few testnets which you can connect to via the respective flags:

  • --ropsten, Ropsten proof-of-work test network
  • --rinkeby, Rinkeby proof-of-authority test network
  • --goerli, Goerli proof-of-authority test network

Note: network selection is not persisted in the config file. To connect to a pre-defined network you must always enable it explicitly, even when using the --config flag to load other configuration values. For example:

# Generate desired config file. You must specify testnet here.
geth --goerli --syncmode "full" ... dumpconfig > goerli.toml

# Start geth with given config file. Here too the testnet must be specified.
geth --goerli --config goerli.toml

How Peers Are Found

Geth continuously attempts to connect to other nodes on the network until it has peers. If you have UPnP enabled on your router or run ethereum on an Internet-facing server, it will also accept connections from other nodes.

Geth finds peers through something called the discovery protocol. In the discovery protocol, nodes are gossipping with each other to find out about other nodes on the network. In order to get going initially, geth uses a set of bootstrap nodes whose endpoints are recorded in the source code.

To change the bootnodes on startup, use the --bootnodes option and separate the nodes by commas. For example:

geth --bootnodes enode://pubkey1@ip1:port1,enode://pubkey2@ip2:port2,enode://pubkey3@ip3:port3

Common Problems With Connectivity

Sometimes you just can’t get connected. The most common reasons are as follows:

  • Your local time might be incorrect. An accurate clock is required to participate in the Ethereum network. Check your OS for how to resync your clock (example sudo ntpdate -s time.nist.gov) because even 12 seconds too fast can lead to 0 peers.
  • Some firewall configurations can prevent UDP traffic from flowing. You can use the static nodes feature or admin.addPeer() on the console to configure connections by hand.

To start geth without the discovery protocol, you can use the --nodiscover parameter. You only want this is you are running a test node or an experimental test network with fixed nodes.

Checking Connectivity

To check how many peers the client is connected to in the interactive console, the net module has two attributes give you info about the number of peers and whether you are a listening node.

> net.listening
true
> net.peerCount
4

To get more information about the connected peers, such as IP address and port number, supported protocols, use the peers() function of the admin object. admin.peers() returns the list of currently connected peers.

> admin.peers
[{
  ID: 'a4de274d3a159e10c2c9a68c326511236381b84c9ec52e72ad732eb0b2b1a2277938f78593cdbe734e6002bf23114d434a085d260514ab336d4acdc312db671b',
  Name: 'Geth/v0.9.14/linux/go1.4.2',
  Caps: 'eth/60',
  RemoteAddress: '5.9.150.40:30301',
  LocalAddress: '192.168.0.28:39219'
}, {
  ID: 'a979fb575495b8d6db44f750317d0f4622bf4c2aa3365d6af7c284339968eef29b69ad0dce72a4d8db5ebb4968de0e3bec910127f134779fbcb0cb6d3331163c',
  Name: 'Geth/v0.9.15/linux/go1.4.2',
  Caps: 'eth/60',
  RemoteAddress: '52.16.188.185:30303',
  LocalAddress: '192.168.0.28:50995'
}, {
  ID: 'f6ba1f1d9241d48138136ccf5baa6c2c8b008435a1c2bd009ca52fb8edbbc991eba36376beaee9d45f16d5dcbf2ed0bc23006c505d57ffcf70921bd94aa7a172',
  Name: 'pyethapp_dd52/v0.9.13/linux2/py2.7.9',
  Caps: 'eth/60, p2p/3',
  RemoteAddress: '144.76.62.101:30303',
  LocalAddress: '192.168.0.28:40454'
}, {
  ID: 'f4642fa65af50cfdea8fa7414a5def7bb7991478b768e296f5e4a54e8b995de102e0ceae2e826f293c481b5325f89be6d207b003382e18a8ecba66fbaf6416c0',
  Name: '++eth/Zeppelin/Rascal/v0.9.14/Release/Darwin/clang/int',
  Caps: 'eth/60, shh/2',
  RemoteAddress: '129.16.191.64:30303',
  LocalAddress: '192.168.0.28:39705'
} ]

To check the ports used by geth and also find your enode URI run:

> admin.nodeInfo
{
  Name: 'Geth/v0.9.14/darwin/go1.4.2',
  NodeUrl: 'enode://3414c01c19aa75a34f2dbd2f8d0898dc79d6b219ad77f8155abf1a287ce2ba60f14998a3a98c0cf14915eabfdacf914a92b27a01769de18fa2d049dbf4c17694@[::]:30303',
  NodeID: '3414c01c19aa75a34f2dbd2f8d0898dc79d6b219ad77f8155abf1a287ce2ba60f14998a3a98c0cf14915eabfdacf914a92b27a01769de18fa2d049dbf4c17694',
  IP: '::',
  DiscPort: 30303,
  TCPPort: 30303,
  Td: '2044952618444',
  ListenAddr: '[::]:30303'
}

Custom Networks

Sometimes you might not need to connect to the live public network, you can instead choose to create your own private testnet. This is very useful if you don’t need to test external contracts and want just to test the technology, because you won’t have to compete with other miners and will easily generate a lot of test ether to play around (replace 12345 with any non-negative number):

geth -—networkid="12345" console

It is also possible to run geth with a custom genesis block from a JSON file by supplying the --genesis flag. The genesis JSON file should have the following format:

{
  "alloc": {
    "dbdbdb2cbd23b783741e8d7fcf51e459b497e4a6": { 
        "balance": "1606938044258990275541962092341162602522202993782792835301376"
    },
    "e6716f9544a56c530d868e4bfbacb172315bdead": {
        "balance": "1606938044258990275541962092341162602522202993782792835301376"
    },
    ...
  },
  "nonce": "0x000000000000002a",
  "difficulty": "0x020000",
  "mixhash": "0x0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000",
  "coinbase": "0x0000000000000000000000000000000000000000",
  "timestamp": "0x00",
  "parentHash": "0x0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000",
  "extraData": "0x",
  "gasLimit": "0x2fefd8"
}

Static nodes

Geth also supports a feature called static nodes if you have certain peers you always want to connect to. Static nodes are re-connected on disconnects. You can configure permanent static nodes by putting something like the following into <datadir>/geth/static-nodes.json:

[
  "enode://f4642fa65af50cfdea8fa7414a5def7bb7991478b768e296f5e4a54e8b995de102e0ceae2e826f293c481b5325f89be6d207b003382e18a8ecba66fbaf6416c0@33.4.2.1:30303",
  "enode://pubkey@ip:port"
]

You can also add static nodes at runtime via the js console using admin.addPeer():

admin.addPeer("enode://f4642fa65af50cfdea8fa7414a5def7bb7991478b768e296f5e4a54e8b995de102e0ceae2e826f293c481b5325f89be6d207b003382e18a8ecba66fbaf6416c0@33.4.2.1:30303")

Trusted nodes

Geth supports trusted nodes that are always allowed to reconnect, even if the peer limit is reached. They can be added permanently via a config file <datadir>/geth/trusted-nodes.json or temporary via RPC call. The format for the config file is identical to the one used for static nodes. Nodes can be added using the admin.addTrustedPeer() RPC-call over the js console and removed using the admin.removeTrustedPeer() call.

admin.addTrustedPeer("enode://f4642fa65af50cfdea8fa7414a5def7bb7991478b768e296f5e4a54e8b995de102e0ceae2e826f293c481b5325f89be6d207b003382e18a8ecba66fbaf6416c0@33.4.2.1:30303")