Preparing a PC, Mini-PC, or NUC
Before installing Rocket Pool, there are a few checks you should do to make sure your system is compatible and will work correctly.
We strongly encourage you to create a dedicated machine for running a Rocket Pool node. Running a node on a general-use machine, such as your daily work desktop or a gaming rig, presents extra security risks that may compromise your wallet and result in the theft of your coins.
For maximum safety, please build a new machine that is dedicated exclusively to running a node.
Below is a brief description of the software and hardware requirements that a Rocket Pool node requires. This guide assumes that you already have your machine physically built, and the operating system installed.
Supported Operating Systems
Rocket Pool's Smartnode client currently supports Linux and macOS systems.
At this time, Windows can be used to remotely manage a remote Linux or Mac machine, but the Smartnode itself cannot currently run on a Windows system. However, Rocket Pool can be run on a Linux virtual machine hosted by a Windows machine. This setup is not recommended over simply installing Linux as the host operating system, but it does work if necessary. Note that it will require extra resource overhead, and comes with its own set of security risks, so we do not advise using this setup when staking real Ether on the main network.
Rocket Pool is natively compatible with AMD64 (x64) and arm64 (aarch64) CPU architectures. For other architectures, you will need to compile the smartnode clients from source.
Note that the user must have root / Administrator access (or sudo privileges) to install the Smartnode.
There are many variants of the Linux OS (called distributions, or distros for short). While you can run Rocket Pool from any modern distro, Rocket Pool's installer can automatically install the entire stack on Ubuntu, Debian, CentOS, and Fedora.
If you plan to use Ubuntu, we strongly recommend using an LTS release such as 20.04. These releases are actively maintained for longer periods of time, which helps with the security and stability of your node.
For installation on other distros, the Smartnode installer will not be able to automatically install some system dependencies (such as
docker-compose). Some manual steps will be required during installation.
arm64 systems, the Smartnode installer only natively supports Debian and Debian-based distros such as Ubuntu. For other distros, manual steps will be required during installation.
The hardware requirements for a node depend largely on which Execution and Consensus clients you decide to run. As shown in the hardware guide, there is a wide range of possible configurations that work well. However, for the sake of completeness, we have assembled the following hardware profiles:
Low-Power Full Node
- CPU: Quad-core 1.6+ GHz
- RAM: 8 GB DDR4 2400 MHz
- SSD: 2 TB, 15k Read IOPS, 5k Write IOPS*
- Network: 10+ Mbps, 1.5+ TB monthly data cap
- Execution Client: Geth (in low-cache mode)
- Consensus Client: Nimbus
Typical Full Node
- CPU: Quad-core, 2.6+ GHz
- RAM: 16 GB DDR4 3200 MHz
- SSD: 2 TB, 15k Read IOPS, 5k Write IOPS*
- Network: 25+ Mbps, 1.5+ TB monthly data cap
- Execution Client: Any
- Consensus Client: Any
Installing the Operating System
If you're using macOS, it's highly likely that you already have the Operating System installed and can skip this step.
If you're installing Linux from scratch, each of the distributions listed above come with helpful and detailed tutorials for installing the Operating System from scratch. As an example though, we will walk you through the process of installing and preparing Debian Server. Debian is a good choice for node operation because it focuses on maximum stability and reliability - both of which are highly desirable for node machines that must be running 24/7.
Here is a good step-by-step guide with screenshots that shows you how to install Debian on your node machine from scratch.
We have a few helpful amendments to the guide linked above, which you may want to follow:
- When prompted to set up a root password, we recommend leaving it blank. This will disable the
rootaccount and instead install the
sudopackage, allowing your user to perform root operations by re-entering its password to elevate its permissions. This is analogous to the way Ubuntu Linux is set up, which may be more familiar to users.
- In the Software selection screen towards the end, you may not want to have a desktop GUI installed.
- Desktop GUIs are largely unnecessary for a node; they add extra overhead and most of the time will not be used since you'll be remote controlling it via the terminal anyway, so we prefer to uncheck GNOME and Debian desktop environment here.
- If you do want a desktop UI on your node, we recommend you uncheck GNOME and check XFCE instead, as it's lighter on system resources. We also recommend running no additional software on the node, such as browsers or Discord, as they diminish security and consume system resources.
- Uncheck web server, but leave SSH server and standard system utilities checked.
- If you have created a flash drive from an iso, you may need to disable the CD-ROM repository in order to run
apt. You can find an explanation of how to do this here.
- Your system may be set up to sleep/hibernate by default. To disable these settings, you can run the following command:
sudo systemctl mask sleep.target suspend.target hibernate.target hybrid-sleep.target
Rocket Pool's installer requires the
sudo program to acquire all of its dependencies. If you left the root user password blank in the previous step, you will already have this. If not, please install it now by running the following commands:
apt install sudo
usermod -aG sudo $USER
Then restart the machine. You should now be able to run commands via
sudo such as
sudo apt update.
Once the server is installed and you're able to log in, you need to get its IP address. An easy way to do this is with
ifconfig which is built into the 'net-tools' package:
sudo apt update
sudo apt install net-tools
You may see several entries here, but the one you want to look for is going to look something like this:
eth0: flags=4163<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,MULTICAST> mtu 1500
inet 192.168.1.8 netmask 255.255.255.0 broadcast 192.168.1.255
inet6 fe80::96f2:bf29:e269:1097 prefixlen 64 scopeid 0x20<link>
ether <mac address> txqueuelen 1000 (Ethernet)
The flags should say
inet value (here
192.168.1.8) is your machine's local IP address.
Next, install SSH:
sudo apt install openssh-server
If you had the SSH server box checked during Debian's installation, you should already have this installed so this command won't do anything.
Once this is done, you can log into the machine's terminal remotely from your laptop or desktop using
If you aren't familiar with
ssh, take a look at the Intro to Secure Shell guide.
At this point, you should strongly consider configuring your router to make your node's IP address static. This means that your node will have the same IP address forever, so you can always SSH into it using that IP address. Otherwise, it's possible that your node's IP could change at some point, and the above SSH command will no longer work. You'll have to enter your router's configuration to find out what your node's new IP address is.
Each router is different, so you will need to consult your router's documentation to learn how to assign a static IP address.
Setting up Swap Space
In most cases, if you choose your Execution and Consensus clients and your instance type carefully, you should not run out of RAM. Then again, it never hurts to add a little more. What we're going to do now is add what's called swap space. Essentially, it means we're going to use the SSD as "backup RAM" in case something goes horribly, horribly wrong and your server runs out of regular RAM. The SSD isn't nearly as fast as the regular RAM, so if it hits the swap space it will slow things down, but it won't completely crash and break everything. Think of this as extra insurance that you'll (most likely) never need.
Creating a Swap File
The first step is to make a new file that will act as your swap space. Decide how much you want to use - a reasonable start would be 8 GB, so you have 8 GB of normal RAM and 8 GB of "backup RAM" for a total of 16 GB. To be super safe, you can make it 24 GB so your system has 8 GB of normal RAM and 24 GB of "backup RAM" for a total of 32 GB, but this is probably overkill. Luckily, since your SSD has 1 or 2 TB of space, allocating 8 to 24 GB for a swapfile is negligible.
For the sake of this walkthrough, let's pick a nice middleground - say, 16 GB of swap space for a total RAM of 24 GB. Just substitute whatever number you want in as we go.
Enter this, which will create a new file called
/swapfile and fill it with 16 GB of zeros. To change the amount, just change the number in
count=16 to whatever you want. Note that this is going to take a long time, but that's ok.
sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/swapfile bs=1G count=16 status=progress
Next, set the permissions so only the root user can read or write to it (for security):
sudo chmod 600 /swapfile
Now, mark it as a swap file:
sudo mkswap /swapfile
Next, enable it:
sudo swapon /swapfile
Finally, add it to the mount table so it automatically loads when your server reboots:
sudo nano /etc/fstab
Add a new line at the end that looks like this:
/swapfile none swap sw 0 0
Enter to save, then
Enter to exit.
To verify that it's active, run these commands:
sudo apt install htop
Your output should look like this at the top:
If the second number in the last row labeled
Swp (the one after the
/) is non-zero, then you're all set. For example, if it shows
0K / 16.0G then your swap space was activated successfully. If it shows
0K / 0K then it did not work and you'll have to confirm that you entered the previous steps properly.
F10 to quit out of
htop and get back to the terminal.
Configuring Swappiness and Cache Pressure
By default, Linux will eagerly use a lot of swap space to take some of the pressure off of the system's RAM. We don't want that. We want it to use all of the RAM up to the very last second before relying on SWAP. The next step is to change what's called the "swappiness" of the system, which is basically how eager it is to use the swap space. There is a lot of debate about what value to set this to, but we've found a value of 6 works well enough.
We also want to turn down the "cache pressure", which dictates how quickly the server will delete a cache of its filesystem. Since we're going to have a lot of spare RAM with our setup, we can make this "10" which will leave the cache in memory for a while, reducing disk I/O.
To set these, run these commands:
sudo sysctl vm.swappiness=6
sudo sysctl vm.vfs_cache_pressure=10
Now, put them into the
sysctl.conf file so they are reapplied after a reboot:
sudo nano /etc/sysctl.conf
Add these two lines to the end:
Then save and exit like you've done before (
Pre-installation System Checks
Before installing Rocket Pool, please review the following checklist:
- Your system is fully built, powers on, and can boot into the operating system.
- You will not do any other activity on the system, such as browsing the Internet, checking email, or playing games.
- You have a Linux or macOS operating system installed.
- Your user account has root / Administrator privileges.
- You have an SSD that meets the performance requirements.
- Your SSD is mounted on your file system.
- You have at least 1.2 TB of disk space free for the initial Execution and Consensus syncing process.
- If your ISP caps your data, it is more than 2 TB per month.
If you have checked and confirmed all of these items, then you are ready to install Rocket Pool and begin running a node! Move on to the Choosing your ETH Clients section.