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8% Ethereum Validators Went Down on Sunday, Sparking Worries on Client Diversity

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Reported by Coindesk, a bug in Ethereum’s Nethermind client software – used by validators of the bitcoin blockchain to interact with the network – knocked out a chunk of the chain’s key operators on Sunday.
It was a manageable incident, but the episode revived a long-simmering debate in the Ethereum ecosystem around the need for “client diversity.” Some experts took the opportunity to point out how bad things could have been if another client software, Geth, the chain’s most popular execution client, had gone out; the question is whether Ethereum could have kept going since Geth stands out as a possible single point of failure for the network.
Nethermind powers around 8% of the validators that operate Ethereum, and this weekend’s bug was critical enough to pull those validators offline. Ethereum stayed up and running despite the issue, and Nethermind’s developers released a patch fixing things within hours. The main consequence of the bug was that modest financial penalties fell onto some Nethermind-based validators.
Around 85% of Ethereum’s validators are currently powered by Geth, and the recent outages to smaller execution clients have renewed concerns that Geth’s dominant market position could pose grave consequences if there were ever issues with its programming.
Depending on the nature of the bug, a Geth glitch could halt the entire network, rendering it impossible for validators to add new blocks to the blockchain. Ethereum is also programmed to penalize validators that fall offline or break the network’s rules, meaning thousands of Geth-based validators could be held financially liable in the event of a bug, and the penalties could get even bigger if the bug proves difficult to patch.

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