What is the Prater testnet?
This article covers the Prater testnet and how developers can use it to test and refine their smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain.
The Prater testnet allowed developers to test node operations such as adding and removing validators, migrating between clients, and performing upgrades and backups.
The Prater testnet is unique because it involves a proof-of-stake testing environment rather than proof-of-work. Because the mainnet Ethereum blockchain merged with the Beacon Chain to switch to a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism, the Prater testnet was a useful environment for developers to test their node configurations and smart contracts.
Generally, testnets are alternative blockchains for developers to run their smart contracts in a sandbox environment to detect bugs and refine their codebase.
Overall, the Prater testnet was a great place for developers to test their validators, particularly regarding node operations, which ensured a smooth deployment of Ethereum's planned proof-of-stake mainnet migration in 2022.
While you can use the Goerli testnet, we caution against it as the Ethereum Foundation has announced that Goerli will soon be deprecated. Therefore, we recommend using Sepolia testnet as Alchemy has full Sepolia support and a free Sepolia faucet.
What is the Prater testnet?
The Prater testnet, a Proof-of-Stake beacon chain, which was first deployed in March 2021 by the Ethereum Foundation, is a testnet that specializes in testing node validator actions, particularly those that simulate staking.
A testnet is a sandbox environment that mimics the blockchain mainnet (in this case, the Ethereum mainnet), to allow developers to test their node configurations and smart contract code without threat of spending real ETH or disrupting the production environment.
To understand the Prater testnet, we must first understand the basics of consensus and validation on Ethereum.
A validator is an entity that participates in the process of achieving consensus on the Ethereum protocol–effectively, they vote on whether a new block should be added to the blockchain.
The more Ethereum a validator has staked, the higher the weight of their vote. The minimum weight for an Ethereum–and Prater–validator is 32 ETH, and this ETH is staked to ensure financial consequences if validators behave improperly.
Additionally, to ensure that the validation of nodes is not taken over by a large party and remains decentralized, staking more than 32 ETH does not add to the weight of one’s consensus vote. The Prater testnet currently has 328,681 active validators.
Prater and Goerli Merge
In preparation for the Ethereum merge, which had Ethereum migrating from a Proof-of-Work consensus mechanism to a Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism, the Consensus Layer (CL) Proof-of-Stake testnet, Prater, was merged with the Goerli, the Execution Layer (EL), Proof-of-Authority testnet.
Because Prater simulates a Proof-of-Stake, Consensus Layer environment, independent stakers, and validators should use Prater to test their CL client configurations before the official Prater merge with Goerli.
If you are not an independent staker or node operator and want to test dApps in a testnet, it is recommended that you use the Sepolia testnet because it is the primary testnet after the Ethereum Merge, with all others - Kovan, Ropsten, and Rinkeby - being deprecated.
How to Get Prater Testnet ETH
Because Prater merged with the Goerli testnet, Prater accepts Goerli ETH (goETH). You can get Prater testnet ETH from a Goerli faucet by following this simple guide on how to request Goerli ETH from a faucet.
If you need larger quantities of Goerli ETH, please reach out to the Alchemy support team.
Prater Testnet Alternatives
Alternative testnets to Prater that might be relevant to your blockchain application or Ethereum Merge planning include the Sepolia testnet which uses a Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism that will replace the now merged proof-of-work testnet, Ropsten.
For more information regarding the Ethereum Merge timeline, review Alchemy’s resources.