Basic Node Setup

Casper Node Launcher

The node software is run from the casper-node-launcher package. This can be installed with a Debian package which also creates the Casper user, creates directory structures and sets up a systemd unit and logrotate.

The casper-node-launcher Debian package can be obtained from

You can also build from source: However, all of the setup and pull of casper-node releases will be manual.

File Locations

This section describes the directories and files the casper-node-launcher Debian install creates, needed for running casper-node versions and performing upgrades.

A casper user and casper group is created during install and used to run the software.

Each version of the casper-node install is located based on the semantic version with underscores. For example, version 1.0.3 would be represented by a directory named 1_0_3. This convention applies to both binary and configuration file locations. We will represent versioning with [m_n_p] below, representing the major, minor, patch of a semantic version.

Note: multiple versioned folders will exist on a system when upgrades are setup.

The installation of casper-node-launcher, casper-node, and casper-client software is relatively simple, but the process accomplishes many things behind the scenes. This section describes the installation process and where the files are stored.

Two main folders are relevant for our software: /etc/casper and /var/lib/casper.

The following is the state of the filesystem after installing the casper-client and casper-node-launcher Debian packages, and also after running the script /etc/casper/


The default location for executables from the Debian package install is /usr/bin.

  • casper-client - A client for interacting with the Casper network

  • casper-node-launcher - The launcher application which starts the casper-node as a child process


This is the default location for configuration files. It can be overwritten with the CASPER_CONFIG_DIR environment variable. The paths in this document assume the default configuration file location of /etc/casper. The data is organized as follows:

  • - Removes *.lmdb* from /var/lib/casper/casper-node

  • <protocol_version> <network_name> - Pulls bin.tar.gz and config.tar.gz from for a protocol package; decompresses them into /var/lib/bin/<protocol_version> and /etc/casper/<protocol_version>, and removes the *.tar.gz files

  • <protocol_version> - Gets external an IP to replace and create the config.toml from config-example.toml

  • casper-node-launcher-state.toml - This is the local state for the casper-node-launcher and it is created during the first run

  • validator_keys - The default location for node keys.

    • - Instructions on how to create validator keys using the casper-client

    • secret_key.pem - casper-client keygen creates this file or it is manually copied here

    • public_key.pem - casper-client keygen creates this file or it is manually copied here

    • public_key_hex - casper-client keygen creates this file or it is manually copied here

  • 1_0_0 - created with 1_0_0 <network_name> for genesis files

    • accounts.toml - Contains the genesis validators and delegators

    • chainspec.toml - Contains the genesis state with the activation_point as a timestamp

    • config-example.toml - Example for creating a config.toml file

    • config.toml - Created by a node operator manually or by running 1_0_0

  • m_n_p - 0 to N upgrade packages

    • chainspec.toml - Contains the activation_point as the Era ID int

    • config-example.toml - Example for creating a config.toml file

    • config.toml - Created by a node operator manually or by running <protocol_version>


This is the location for larger and variable data for the casper-node, organized in the following directories and files:

  • bin - The location for storing the versions of casper-node executables. This location can be overwritten with the CASPER_BIN_DIR environment variable. The paths in this document assume the default of /var/lib/casper/bin.

    • 1_0_0 - Created with 1_0_0 <network_name> for binaries

      • casper-node - Defaults to the Ubuntu 18.04 compatible binary

      • - Information about the repository location and the Git hash used for compilation to allow a rebuild on other platforms

    • m_n_p - 0 to N upgrade packages for binaries using 1_0_0 <network_name>

      • casper-node - This is where the given version of the casper-node executable lives and is run from the casper-node-launcher.


  • casper-node - Local data store and the largest user of disc space

    • data.lmdb - Global state of the chain

    • data.lmbd-lock

    • storage.lmdb - Blocks, deploys, and everything else

    • storage.lmdb-lock

    • unit_* - The node creates one of these files per era

Upgrade Operation

The chainspec.toml contains a section to indicate what era the given casper-node version should start running.

# This protocol version becomes active at the start of this era.
era_id = 0

At every block finalization, the casper-node looks for newly configured versions. When a new version is configured, the running node will look at future era_id in the chainspec.toml file. This will be the era before where the current casper-node will cleanly shut down.

The casper-node-launcher will detect a clean exit 0 condition and start the next version casper-node.

You can choose to build from source. If you opt to do this, please ensure that the correct software version (tag) is used.

Node Version Installation

Included with casper-node-launcher debian package are two scripts to help with installing casper-node versions.

/etc/casper/ will pull bin.tar.gz and config.tar.gz from

This is invoked with the release version in underscore format such as:

sudo -u casper /etc/casper/ 1_0_2

This will create /var/lib/casper/bin/1_0_2/ and expand the bin.tar.gz containing at a minimun casper-node.

This will create /etc/casper/1_0_2/ and expand the config.tar.gz containing chainspec.toml, config-example.toml, and possibly accounts.csv and other files.

This will remove the arcive files and run /etc/casper/ 1_0_2 to create a config.toml from the config-example.toml.

Client Installation

The casper-client can be installed from Download and install the correct version using sudo apt install.

Create Keys

The Rust client generates keys via the keygen command. The process generates 2 pem files and 1 text file. To learn about options for generating keys, include --help when running the keygen command.

sudo casper-client keygen /etc/casper/validator_keys

More about keys and key generation can be found in /etc/casper/validator_keys/ if casper-node-lancher was installed from the Debian package.

Config File

One config.toml file will need to exist for each casper-node version installed. It should be located in the /etc/casper/[m_n_p]/ directory where m_n_p is the current semantic version. This can be created from config-example.toml by using /etc/casper/ [m_n_p] where [m_n_p] is replaced current version with underscores.

Below are some fields you may find in the config.toml that you may want or need to adjust.

Trusted Hash for Synchronizing

The Casper network is a permissionless, proof of stake network - which implies that validators can come and go from the network. The implication is that, after a point in time, historical data could have less security if it is retrieved from ‘any node’ on the network. Therefore, joining the network has to be from a trusted source, a bonded validator. The system will start from the hash from a recent block and then work backward from that block to obtain the deploys and finalized blocks from the linear block store. Here is the process to get the trusted hash:

  • Find a list of trusted validators.

  • Query the status endpoint of a trusted validator ( http://[validator_id]:8888/status )

  • Obtain the hash of a block from the status endpoint.

  • Update the config.toml for the node to include the trusted hash. There is a field dedicated to this near the top of the file.

Secret Keys

Provide the path to the secret keys for the node. This is set to etc/casper/validator_keys/ by default.

Networking & Gossiping

The node requires a publicly accessible IP address. We do not recommend NAT at this time. Specify the public IP address of the node. If you use the external services are called to find your IP and this is inserted into the created config.toml.

Default values are specified in the file if you want to change them:

  • Specify the port that will be used for status & deploys

  • Specify the port used for networking

  • Known_addresses - these are the bootstrap nodes. No need to change these.