If you’re just joining us, let’s rewind the story a little bit. Think of the internet as a series of tubes connecting people, information, and ideas. When you log on to the internet, you’re automatically connected to the world’s best collection of libraries, museums, and galleries (yes, there are also videos of cats on YouTube).
Since its inception in the 1990s, the internet has been changing how we live, communicate, and conduct business. While the world’s dominant communication platform – email – may have seen the most change, the internet itself is evolving into something far greater.
As the web’s underlying technology, blockchain is being utilized in nearly every industry to provide a trusted, secure, and private way to conduct business.
Now is the perfect time to explore the growing popularity of blockchain and its role in modern business, so let’s dive in.
What is blockchain?
Blockchain is a decentralized, encrypted digital ledger that transparently records transactions between parties according to set rules. Every block in a blockchain is linked to the previous block, meaning the chain cannot be altered retroactively.
The technology was pioneered by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 and later launched as open-source software in 2014 by the pseudonymous developer.
Since then, dozens of cryptocurrencies (including bitcoin) have been designed to function as digital tokens on the blockchain. A handful of these are still extremely popular today, with nearly all major cryptocurrencies enjoying a market capitalization of over $10 billion.
Although the technology emerged from blockchain’s revolutionary roots, it has since become so much more than just the technology behind Bitcoin and other popular cryptocurrencies. As a result of its versatility and growing adoption, Ethereum – the largest and most popular blockchain by market cap – is arguably the most important infrastructure project in the history of cryptocurrencies.
Why should you start an Ethereum node?
Before we begin, a quick note about the difference between Bitcoin and Ethereum. Bitcoin is the original cryptocurrency and was the first to implement the concept of a blockchain. As a result, it has far more established protocols and is more technologically advanced. Ethereum, on the other hand, was developed from the ground up to be more versatile and to support a wider array of applications. Because of this, it is the perfect platform for people who want to experiment with cryptocurrency, software development, or both.
As a decentralized, open-source project, the Ethereum community continues to develop and refine the platform in response to the growing needs of its users. In addition, numerous third-party developers have worked with the Ethereum network to launch decentralized applications (dApps) as a way to further enhance the platform.
Ethereum offers some great perks for people who want to host their own personal or business website. Not only does it have a massive and constantly expanding network to connect to for web hosting, but it also provides a free, public domain that can be registered and paid for. Finally, with many people moving to decentralized networks in search of privacy and security, the blockchain’s ability to keep all transactions secure and private makes it the perfect choice for anyone looking to conduct business online.
How do I start an Ethereum node?
All right, now that you’re equipped with the basics of what blockchain is, let’s discuss how to start your own node. For the purposes of this tutorial, we will be using the well-known Ethereum blockchain.
First, you will need to decide which Ethereum network to join – there are currently two competing protocols, mainnet and testnet. Mainnet is the live network and serves as the default choice for most people. If you plan to use the Ethereum network to host your website, you will want to join the mainnet and ensure your content is available to everyone. Testnet is primarily used for testing and development, so if you’re looking to launch a crypto-related product on the network, you will need to opt for testnet.
After joining the network, you will need to download the Ethereum client to access the blockchain. Once this is done, you will need to register with the network to obtain a wallet to store your coins in. Finally, you will need to set up your node to begin hosting websites and processing transactions.
Let’s examine each of these steps in more detail.
What is the Ethereum client?
If you’ve ever purchased anything from Amazon, you may have noticed the number of times you were asked to download a separate app to make a purchase. That’s because the majority of transactions on the Ethereum blockchain occur not via web browsers but through a custom-built application called the Ethereum client. The Ethereum client is like a toolbox for Ethereum users, enabling them to seamlessly interact with the blockchain via an easy-to-use graphical user interface (GUI). This makes it super easy for anyone to get up and running with a node in just a few minutes.
As a result of its versatility, the Ethereum client is the most popular tool among cryptocurrency users, particularly beginners who want to get up and running quickly.
How do I download the Ethereum client?
To download the Ethereum client, you will first need to visit the project’s official website and click on the green button labelled „Download ZIP“. This will take you to the download page, where you can click on the button to begin the download.
The Ethereum client is about 110 MegaBytes in size and should take no more than a few minutes to download. Once downloaded, unzip the package to access the client’s source code.
How do I register with the Ethereum network?
After you have downloaded the Ethereum client, you will need to register with the network to gain access to the blockchain. On the project’s official website, click on the green button labelled „Register“. You will then be brought to the project’s registration page, where you can enter your email address and choose a strong password.
You will then receive an email confirming your registration. You can access the Ethereum network through any valid email address.
How do I create a wallet to store my coins?
Now that you have registered with the network and downloaded the Ethereum client, you will need to create a wallet to store your coins in. This wallet will serve as the interface between you and the blockchain, so it is extremely important that you keep it safe. To create a wallet, follow the on-screen instructions and enter a strong passphrase. Remember, a strong passphrase is a phrase that you can only remember a few words of, making it ideal for security.
When you have created your wallet, you will be brought to a page where you can click on the green button to confirm the creation of your wallet. From here, you can send and receive Ether (the cryptocurrency on the Ethereum network) to and from your wallet.
How do I set up my node?
Now that you have a wallet, you can set up your node to begin accepting payments and storing content in a secure and private manner. On the project’s official website, click on the green button labelled „Nodes“ and follow the on-screen instructions to set up your node.
When the setup process is complete, you will be brought to the main menu of the Ethereum client. From here, click on the plus sign to access the GUI interface. Using the navigation bar at the top of the screen, find the setting that says „Name“ and change the value to „Ethereum Node“.
Where can I learn more about Ethereum?
Besides setting up your own node, the Ethereum community has created a documentation portal with a wealth of information on the platform. In addition, the community-run Reddit forum is a great place to get help and discuss all things Ethereum related. If you have any doubts or want to bounce creative ideas off other users, the Reddit forum is a great place to do that. Lastly, if you’d like to stay in touch with the Ethereum community, you can register on the website to receive regular announcements about important information, events, and competitions.