Solana Validator Prerequisites
Operating a validator is an interesting and rewarding task. It requires someone with a technical background but also involves community engagement and marketing. Here is a list of some of the requirements for being a good operator:
- Computer hardware and a fast internet connection
- Knowledge of the linux terminal
- Ubuntu system administration
- Accessing your machine via ssh and scp
- Installing software (potentially installing from source)
- Keeping Ubuntu up to date
- Managing users and system access
- Understanding computer processes
- Formatting and mounting drives
- Hardware performance monitoring
- Quick response times in case of an outage
- Marketing and communications to attract users
- Customer support
Whether you decide to run a validator or an RPC node, you should consider all of these areas of expertise. A team of people is likely necessary for you to achieve your goals.
Below are some common getting started topics:
Solana is Permissionless
Anyone can join the solana cluster (devnet, testnet or mainnet) at any time! The network is permissionless and censorship resistant. It is open to anyone by design
Solana Foundation Delegation Program
The Solana Foundation helps facilitate the growth of the consensus validator network by running a SOL delegation program. The program is open to new applicants, but it currently is not offered to US residents. You can find out more information here
Solana Foundation Server Program
Separately from the delegation program, The Solana Foundation offers a server program that secures servers in various data-centers all over the world. If you would like to run a consensus validator or RPC server, you may use this program rent bare metal servers in these data-centers. The servers meet or exceed the the Solana validator hardware specs. No long-term lease commitments are required and the program is open to US residents. To find out more, visit the solana server program page.
Can I use my computer at home?
While anyone can join the network, you should make sure that your home computer and network meets the specifications in the hardware requirements doc. Most home internet service providers do not provide consistent service that would allow your validator to perform well. If your home network or personal hardware is not performant enough to keep up with the solana cluster, your validator will not be able to participate in consensus.
In addition to performance considerations, you will want to make sure that your home computer is resistant to outages caused by loss of power, flooding, fire, theft, etc. If you are just getting started and learning about being an operator, a home setup may be sufficient, but you will want to consider all of these factors when you start operating your validator on the mainnet-beta cluster.
Do I Have To Use the Solana Server Program?
No! You can acquire the computers that you need any way that you like. You can rent a server through a data-center without going through the solana server program. You could also build your own computer and then do a colocation. Colocation is a more technical option for people who are experienced with computer hardware and system administration but it may be a great option in many areas.