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Networks

Polkadot is built on top of Substrate, a modular framework for blockchains. One feature of Substrate is to allow for connection to different networks using a single executable and configuring it with a start-up flag. Here are some of the networks associated with Polkadot or Substrate that you may want to connect to and join.

Polkadot networks

To connect to a Polkadot network please follow the instructions for installing the Polkadot executable.

Polkadot Mainnet

Currently Polkadot is built from the tip of master and is the default option when starting a node.

To start a Polkadot node, run the Polkadot binary:

polkadot

and you will connect and start syncing to Polkadot.

Check your node is connected by viewing it on Telemetry (you can set a custom name by specifying --name "my custom name")

Kusama Canary Network

Kusama is a canary network and holds real economic value.

Run the Polkadot binary and specify kusama as the chain:

polkadot --chain=kusama

and you will connect and start syncing to Kusama.

Check your node is connected by viewing it on Telemetry (you can set a custom name by specifying --name "my custom name")

Westend Test Network

Westend is the latest test network for Polkadot. The tokens on this network are called Westies and they purposefully hold no economic value.

Run the Polkadot binary and specify westend as the chain:

polkadot --chain=westend

and you will connect and start syncing to Westend.

Check that your node is connected by viewing it on Telemetry (you can set a custom name by specifying --name "my custom name").

Westend Faucet

Follow the instruction here for instructions on acquiring Westies.

Differences

Runtime differences (e.g. existential and multisignature deposit sizes) between the different networks can be found by doing a diff between the src/lib.rs of the repositories. For example, to compare the Polkadot and Westend runtimes:

  • git clone https://github.com/paritytech/polkadot && cd polkadot/runtime
  • ls - show the available runtimes
  • diff polkadot/src/lib.rs westend/src/lib.rs

You can also paste the runtimes (Polkadot, Westend) into a web-based diff tool like Diffchecker if you're not comfortable with the CLI.

Substrate Networks

To connect to a Substrate public network, follow the instructions for installing the Substrate executable first.

Flaming Fir

Flaming Fir is the public Substrate test network. It contains some pallets that will not be included in the Polkadot runtime.

Flaming Fir is built from the tip of master and is the default option when running the Substrate executable.

Run Substrate without a flag or explicitly state fir:

substrate --chain fir

and you will connect and start syncing Flaming Fir.

Telemetry Dashboard

If you connect to the public networks, the default configuration for your node will connect it to the public Telemetry service.

You can verify that your node is connected by navigating to the correct network on the dashboard and finding the name of your node.

There is a built-in search function on the nodes page. Simply start typing keystrokes in the main window to make it available.