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ETH 2.0 Still on Track After Medalla Testnet Issue

Speculations of the death of the Medalla testnet have been extremely overstated, Prysmatic Labs’ editor Raul Jordan says. He added that in spite of the issues with the testnet, the launch timetable for ETH 2.0 remains on track.

Medalla, the final multi-client testnet before ETH 2.0’s phase 0 release, came to a shaking halt on August 14th when a bug sent most of the testnet’s validators offline. The issue had one of the testnet’s six servers report the time and date as being one day into the future, which the system reacted to by averaging out the gap – ending up in the time kept by each of the servers being incorrect by four hours.

Therefore, ‘validators incorrectly proposed blocks and attestations for future slots,’ Prysmatic’s official incident report notes. The flaw affected everyone using the Prysm client, which most of them were.

‘The Best Thing to Happen to a Testnet’

In a new blog post, Jordan said that the result of the vulnerability was ‘carnage, with over 3,000 slashing events… and all our internal validators slashed.’ Although he stated that the failure was ‘the best thing to happen to a testnet’ as the incident could have been disastrous on mainnet with real money at stake, advocates of competing networks have gladly seized on the failure.

Bitcoin SV blog CoinGeek reported it as a major catastrophe that proved ‘Ethereum 2.0 is not ready to launch … you can expect significant delays in the launch of ETH 2.0.’ Any delay would be a significant issue for the Ethereum network, which is having a hard time because of congestion and record-high fees.

Jordan minimized the issues, referring to it as ‘an eventful weekend’ that provided ‘the greatest learning experience to prevent this happening again, especially on mainnet.’ He said that the problem was caused because of Prysmatic using roughtime cloud servers to offer users feedback that their system time might be off, mentioning that ‘dynamically adjusting their time based on the responses of these servers was a nice thing to do, but this was not necessary at all and instead was problematic.’

He also added that they now know it was a security problem to have a single point of failure for something so crucial, and starting with now, they will ‘rely on system time only.’ Jordan said that speculations the testnet was ‘dead’ were not correct, and that as long as sufficient validators get back on board, the testnet could return to being fully operational.

“We still have hope. Participation has now climbed from 0–5 percent to 40 percent. The chain needs > 66 percent to finalize,” he said on August 18th.

ETH 2.0 is on Track

The Medalla testnet is now up and running as of earlier today, August 21st, but it is not yet entirely stable from all accounts.

According to Jordan, Prysmatic Labs believes the occurrence ‘does not inherently affect the launch date’ of ETH 2.0 and that the phase 0 release can continue as intended.

“We believe the expected launch target of 2 to 3 months from Medalla genesis is still an ideal timeline. There will be a public checklist of requirements for an ETH2 launch, and this Medalla incident will definitely add a lot of new items to the list regarding client resilience, security, and proper release,” he said.

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