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Mainnet shadow forks are conducted as previews or rehearsals of upcoming upgrades. They allow the developers to identify any flaws or glitches and resolve them before the upgrade is implemented.
The broader crypto market is off to a good start in 2023, and Ethereum has been enjoying a smooth uptrend with the rest of the community. There are multiple factors behind Ethereum’s growth at the moment, including ETH’s increased burn rate and a clear growth of ETH address balances.
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However, one of the main driving forces behind ETH’s momentum over the last few weeks is the blockchain’s upcoming Shanghai Upgrade. This update will allow users to withdraw their staked ETH and their respective staking rewards, which have been locked on the protocol since 2020.
To reach this goal without any hiccups, Ethereum recently implemented the ‘Withdrawal-Mainnet-Shadow-Fork-1.’ In this article, we will discuss what this shadow fork is and how it will help Ethereum realise one of its biggest updates since the Merge in 2022.
What is Ethereum’s mainnet shadow fork?
On January 23, Ethereum developer Marius Van Der Wijden announced the successful launch of the ‘Withdrawal-Mainnet-Shadow-Fork-1.’ The shadow fork will allow developers to test the waters before the upcoming Shanghai upgrade. The trial environment is a fork of the mainnet and is only used for testing the network; it is not a parallel or a separate blockchain.
Mainnet shadow forks are conducted as previews or rehearsals of upcoming upgrades. They allow the developers to identify any flaws or glitches and resolve them before the upgrade is implemented. As such, Ethereum’s shadow fork will help developers determine the preparedness of the ETH staking withdrawal feature.
According to Wijden’s tweet, the shadow fork was taken live successfully after ironing out a couple of glitches. “Withdrawal-Mainnet-Shadow-Fork-1 is finalising. It started with a few issues because the config wasn't correctly applied on geth (we disallow overriding the mainnet config). The config is applied correctly, and all nodes are in agreement. We will start some evil nodes,” wrote Wijden.
Among many things other things, Ethereum core developers Van Der Wijden and Potuz will be creating malicious nodes that will try to convince other nodes on the network to follow a false iteration of the blockchain. The purpose or objective is to see if malicious entities can threaten or harm the network during the upgrade or after it.
The Shanghai upgrade is the first major upgrade to be implemented on the blockchain since the iconic Ethereum Merge which took place in September 2022. The Merge saw Ethereum transition from a Proof-of-Work (PoW) to a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism. The transition enabled users to stake their ETH and earn the rights of validating transactions on the blockchain. In exchange for that, the users will be rewarded with freshly minted ETH.
However, users can only withdraw their staked and rewarded ETH once the Shanghai upgrade is completed. Therefore, testing the upgrade is incredibly essential, especially with more than $26 billion worth of tokens currently staked on Ethereum.
The ability to withdraw staked ETH would open up new horizons for Ethereum and may change how crypto staking works. It could also drive a massive upward trend for ETH prices. That is the reason why the team is hastening to get the Shanghai upgrade rolling by March, and the shadow fork is key to realising this goal smoothly and effectively.
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