We talked with Dmitry Gachko about the work that ensures the operability of the Free TON network, about the validator’s successes, risks and revenues, as well as the benefits of staking for depositors.
Dmitry joined the Free TON community in early May 2020 and took part in the Magister Ludi contest, as a result, becoming one of the Free TON blockchain validators. He has extensive experience in the field of system administration, as well as in the organization and management of the IT business.
- Magister Ludi is a game held to select validators for the Free TON blockchain. Please tell us who could participate in the game and how did you personally decide to join?
There were no restrictions for the participants. You needed basic knowledge of Unix administration and a little (relatively) money for renting a server — about $ 200 per month.
I found out about the Free TON project as soon as it appeared in public, as I followed the epic with the launch of this blockchain by the Telegram team led by Durov. Since in my youth I was engaged in administration, I was happy to fit into this contest and even agitated colleagues.
- Did you experience any difficulties while playing? Was it possible to achieve the desired results by relying only on the server power?
In general, there were no difficulties. Of course, as with any server software, you have to control it — set up monitoring and respond to problems in time.
Since I initially decided to place the validator node in our serverspace.io cloud hosting project, I did not count on the best places in the game. But we managed to improve the tuning of our hosting, using it for this task.
In my opinion, the requirements for the validator C node were overestimated — this was evident from the actual server load. Therefore, Internet access speed (1 Gbps +) and proximity to other validator nodes were often more important than the physical resources of the server. For example, the clustering of most of the nodes in Hetzner gave these players a distinct advantage, especially during the 4th week of the game under increased load.
- What successes and failures have you experienced while playing the validator game?
In my opinion, the most interesting was the process of the game itself, from learning new technology and new entities to meeting other players. I still communicate with some of them on various issues.
As for the failures, I don’t really see them. Probably, I could attract more colleagues to this game, but I don’t think it can be called a failure.
- What hardware is needed for network validation and what are the monthly costs for it?
The current data is relevant for the C node, which will be replaced with a Rust node. Now such a server can be rented for 200-300 USD per month. In truth, you have to be prepared that some providers (like Contabo) will raise the rent when they see that your node is constantly transmitting 100 Mbps of traffic.
- Can the server perform any tasks other than validation, or does validation consume all resources?
Server load is directly related to network load. No matter how strange it may sound, the lowest load is in the MAIN network, since there are not so many transactions there, in contrast to the test networks (NET / FLD). Therefore, of course, you can run something else on the server, if its resources allow, but do not forget that if you are a serious validator, then you should not mix warm with soft. Moreover, the income from validation allows you to do this.
- What is the current minimum stake for validation on the Free TON network? In your opinion, how fast will the minimum rate grow?
Now there are about 230,000 crystals per cycle, that is, 460,000 for full validation.
I won’t say exactly about growth, but I am sure that it will grow gradually.
- Is the validator one person or part of a team?
Before and now — it is most often one or a couple of people. In the future, teams will be formed, and this is happening now.
- What about professional humor, is there a joke that only another validator would understand?
Not good at this. Have the validators mastered TikTok since the launching of depools?
- How do you feel about the launch of the new Rust Cup validator game? Is it comparable to Magister Ludi?
Extremely reckless and positive. I think both games are very different, although, of course, some of the old players will participate in the race.
First of all, the difference is in the objectives of the competition and the target audience. The winners will not receive just tokens, even in the form of vesting. They will get a good base for developing their staking depool business.
Therefore, I believe that there will be more teams in the contest than singles. Teams that can rent good hardware ($ 1000 + per server) and understand that after the game they will be able to fill the received prize depools with new contributors or their crystals.
- Are you planning to participate in the Rust Cup? What difficulties will the participants of the game face?
Yes, definitely. We will act as an ITGOLD.IO team with a large number of machines.
I think the biggest challenge is waiting for the start.
- How is user staking income generated? What influences the increase in income?
Based on network emissions and transaction fees.
Income is most influenced by competition — the fewer participants, the greater their share of the issue. Until the number of main network validators (main) increased due to the winners of the game Magister Ludi, it was possible to receive up to 30% per annum, now — about 8%. It is clear that when there are many transactions, income will grow.
- Could you illustrate with your example how staking works: how much is your monthly income as a validator, and how much of your income is received by those who invest in your depool?
As a result of the game, I have about 600,000 crystals in the form of a Lock stake in my depool. Since I am the beneficiary of this stake, now I get 8-10% from validation (about 5000 per month). Any third party participant / contributor will receive a similar percentage minus 10% of the validator’s commission.
- What should depositors pay attention to when choosing a depool for staking?
As usual, for the amount of the validator’s insurance: the more the better. And also on the size of the validator’s commission: 5-10%.
Many people pay attention to the presence and number of depositors in the depool, and to the uptime of the depool (in the extraTON the Stability parameter). You can also see the statistics on signed validator blocks — to estimate the probability of slashing, but I think this is more for geeks.
- What are the risks of a validator?
The risks for the validator are that if the average stake grows and they do not get enough contributors, they will stop participating in the validation.
Also, of course, technical: the node must work and not skip blocks.
- Depool version 3.0 has been released. What do you think this will affect?
Validators will finally be able to recruit loyal customers without having to face the need to redeploy a depool. And the project initiators will stop jumping with vesting conditions for validators.
- Have you worked with other blockchain projects before? Have you had a similar experience?
PoW only, experience is not relevant.
- In what directions do you think Free TON should develop at this stage?
Everything is as usual: more practical cases, DeFi, etc.