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Step 1: Prerequisites

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🚀
How Staking on Ethereum Works

  1. 1.
    Acquire some hardware (laptop, desktop, server) or rent a VPS (cloud server): You need to run a node to stake.
  2. 2.
    Sync an execution layer client
  3. 3.
    Sync a consensus layer client
  4. 4.
    Generate your validator keys and import them into your validator client
  5. 5.
    Monitor and maintain your node
A Ethereum node consists of the Execution Layer + Consensus Layer.
A Ethereum Staking node is the previous plus a Validator client.
Client Stack
Big picture: Execution / Consensus / Validator

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👋
Introduction

This guide was written for aspiring Ethereum stakers who have basic familiarity with command line tools and it was tested against Ubuntu 22.04.1 LTS client. You’ll want a dedicated cloud VPS or local desktop/server/laptop running a clean install of Ubuntu preferably.

Terminology

Your Ethereum staking node may be
  • Local: on a laptop / PC / NUC that you can physically connect keyboard/mouse/monitor.
  • Remote: in the cloud on a VPS
If your staking node is remote, then you will want to setup SSH, secure shell.
If using a VPS or remote node, install and start the SSH client for your operating system:
Windows: PuTTY​
MacOS and Linux: from the Terminal, use the native command:
ssh <YourUserName>@<YourServersIP>
Here's a guide from Makeuseof to connect by SSH to your remote node.

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👩💻
Skills for operating an staking node

As a validator for Ethereum, you will typically have the following abilities:
  • operational knowledge of how to set up, run and maintain a Ethereum consensus client, execution client and validator continuously
  • a long term commitment to maintain your validator 24/7/365
  • basic operating system skills

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👨💻
Experience required to be a successful ETH Staker

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Minimum Node Setup Requirements

  • Operating system: 64-bit Linux (i.e. Ubuntu 22.04.1 LTS Server or Desktop)
  • Processor: Dual core CPU, Intel Core i5–760 or AMD FX-8100 or better
  • Memory: 16GB RAM
  • Storage: 2TB SSD
  • Internet: Stable broadband internet connection with speeds at least 5 Mbps upload and download.
  • Internet Data Plan: At least 2 TB per month.
  • Power: Reliable electrical power. Mitigate with a Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS).
  • ETH balance: at least 32 ETH and some ETH for deposit transaction fees
  • Wallet: Metamask installed
  • Operating system: 64-bit Linux (i.e. Ubuntu 22.04.1 LTS Server or Desktop)
  • Processor: Quad core CPU, Intel Core i7–4770 or AMD FX-8310 or better
  • Memory: 32GB RAM
  • Storage: 2TB NVME
  • Internet: Stable broadband internet connections with speeds at least 10 Mbps without data limit.
  • Data Plan: At least 2 TB per month. Ideally, no data cap or unlimited data plan.
  • Power: Reliable electrical power with a Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS).
  • ETH balance: at least 32 ETH and some ETH for deposit transaction fees
  • Wallet: Metamask installed
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💡
For examples of actual staking hardware builds, check out RocketPool's hardware guide.
Ethereum Staking Node
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✨
Pro Validator Tip: Highly recommend you begin with a brand new instance of an OS, VM, and/or machine. Avoid headaches by NOT reusing testnet keys, wallets, or databases for your validator.

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🖥
Local Node vs Remote Node

Decision: Do I run my Ethereum staking node locally at home or rent a VPS cloud server remotely? Here's a list of criteria to help you decide.
Criteria
Local Node
Remote Node
Ongoing Costs
Plus - No fees, besides internet bill and electricity.
Minus - Monthly or Annual reoccurring rental fees.
Hardware Maintenance
Minus - Do it yourself if hardware issues.
Plus - Included, covered by hosting provider.
Internet
Minus - Can slow down home internet and use up data plan (if not unlimited) Budget for at least 2TB per month data plan.
Plus - Often plans are generous and more than sufficient for an ETH node.
Reliability
Minus - Do it yourself with UPS, redundant internet connections, computer issues
Plus - Hosted in a data center with multiple power/internet backups.
Barrier to Entry
Plus - Can re-use or re-purpose existing hardware Minus - Initial cost to purchase new computer equipment
Plus - Renting a VPS might require a lower initial investment as you can pay monthly.
Decentralization
Plus - Home staking is the gold standard for Ethereum decentralization, nothing bets it!
Minus - VPS cloud hosts like Netcup or AmazonWebServices are by nature more centralized.
Customization
Plus - More fine control over hardware configuration
Minus - May be limited choices and hardware can be shared. For example, a common issue is insufficient disk storage I/O speeds (IOPS).
Security
Plus - As secure as your home and personal OPSEC​
Plus - Enterprise-grade, professional data centers.
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Minus - Not your hardware, not your node. It's possible the hosting provide can view your node's contents.
Freedom
Plus - Do whatever you want. Plan your own upgrades. Minus - With great freedom and power, you are solely responsible for your node.
Plus - Professionally managed.
Minus - At the mercy of the host's actions, data center outages are possible.

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🛠
Setup Ubuntu

With your local or remote node, now you need to install an Operating System. This guide is designed for Ubuntu 22.04 LTS.
Recommendation: A headless (no monitor) install of Ubuntu Server on a dedicated NUC/laptop/desktop/VPS is best for ease of reliability and security.
🔥
Do not use this system for email/browsing web/gaming/socials.
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Tip: When installing Ubuntu Server, ensure you are selecting “Use an entire disk” on the Guided storage configuration screen. Next screen will be the Storage configuration screen, ensure your settings are using all available disk storage. A common issue is that Ubuntu server defaults to using only 200GB.

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Setup Metamask

When the time comes to make your validator's 32ETH deposit(s), you'll need a wallet to transfer funds to the beacon chain deposit contract.

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🧩
High Level Validator Node Overview

At the end of this guide, you will build a staking validator node that hosts three main components in two layers: consensus layer consists of a consensus client, also known as a validator client with a beacon chain client. The execution layer consists of a execution client, formerly a eth1 node.
Validator client - Responsible for producing new blocks and attestations in the beacon chain and shard chains.
Beacon chain client - Responsible for managing the state of the beacon chain, validator shuffling, and more.
Execution client (aka Eth1 node) - Supplies incoming validator deposits from the eth mainnet chain to the beacon chain client.
How eth2 fits together featuring Leslie the eth2 Rhino, the mascot named after American computer scientist Leslie Lamport