55. What Is the Ethereum Rinkeby Testnet and How Does It Work?
Rinkeby is one of Ethereum’s test networks, which is a fully decentralized platform that supports smartcontracts. Testnets are used by developers to test applications, based on a given blockchain, before deploying them to the main network. The Rinkeby network is a publicly available testnet on Ethereum. Interestingly, however, it was phased out in 2022, just like the Ropsten and Kovan networks.
What Was the Ethereum Rinkeby Testnet Test Network?
As we mentioned in the title, it was an Ethereum test network. Used mainly by developers, to test decentralized applications, before deploying them to the main network.
Rinkeby was a fork of the main Ethereum network, run by authorized nodes. In this way, it prevented spam attacks and increased performance.
Developers used this network to get a free ETH testnet to try out their smart contracts. All without any risk of financial loss. The network itself was a test version, and the cryptocurrency contained in it – worthless. Importantly, no user was allowed to mine ETH on this testnet – they could only request it. The authorized nodes themselves were the only ones that created new blocks. This meant that no other node won a block reward.
It is worth mentioning that Rinkeby supported such nodes as: Geth, Besu, Nethermind and OpenEthereum. So why was such an “important” network deprecated?
So let’s start from the beginning. The Rinkeby Ethereum Testnet was launched in 2017 using a modified Proof-of-Authority consensus model. Why? So that instead of pointlessly staking something that has monetary value but is worthless, the identity of the validator is used for this activity. This ensured high network performance and fault tolerance.
The Rinkeby network itself was quite large. It contained about 11,000,000 blocks. In 2021 alone, the network had about 50 million transactions. While it was in use, as many as 46 nodes were active, and the block time for the network was about 15 seconds.
Did the network use gas? Of course. After all, it was built on Ethereum. The blockchain gas limit for this testnet was about 30 million.
A quick reminder: the gas limit refers to the maximum price an asset pays to transact or perform a function of a given smart contract on the Ethereum chain. Fees are charged in gas, and the limit determines its maximum value.
How Did Rinkeby Work and Why Was It the Developers’ Choice?
As we mentioned, the testnet was a network based on a Proof-of-Authority (PoA) consensus. In practice, this means that transactions were approved by nodes, not miners. Simply put, the network used consensus to create blocks.
It was the validators who were entrusted with creating new blocks, and they were selected based on their reputation and the amount of Rinkeby Ether they possessed. They were encouraged to create new blocks by receiving rewards in the form of Rinkeby Ether.
The test network itself also had a built-in block explorer and debugger that automatically allowed developers to debug their applications. This made Rinkeby a faster and more predictable network than Ethereum.
Not surprisingly, it became the developers’ choice. Rinkeby also had a shorter block time of about 15 seconds. For example, Ropsten, has a block time of about 30 seconds.
Moreover, the size of the chain data for the test network was less than 6 GB. What did this mean in practice? Running an Ethereum node for Rinkeby did not require a large data size.
Before its shutdown, Rinkeby was known as a reliable and fast test network.
Use Cases of the Rinkeby Test Network
The network was mainly used for application testing by developers. It was a great choice because the testing environment was controlled, worked practically like the Ethereum mainnet, and did not require the financial input associated with executing smart contracts.
As an interesting aside, we’ll tell you that Rinkeby has been used by companies such as OpenSea, Manifold Studios and even Rarible.
The second major use case was as an educational tool. Everyone gets it wrong – developers do too. Using a test network, in this case Rinkeby, allowed developers to better understand how to use the mainnet in the future.
And the last case, where developers used this network to test updates to the underlying platforms. This is an almost essential process, for creating better development tools for the entire Web3 ecosystem.
Pros and Cons of the Network
Using this Ethereum-based test network had its advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at the key factors:
- First, Rinkeby was faster and more predictable than Ethereum. It made it easier for developers to test an application, making sure it worked properly.
- With its own currency, Rinkeby Ether (RNET), developers could test ideas in a more realistic environment.
- Transactions were approved by nodes, not miners. The network was therefore more secure and less vulnerable to attacks.
- Rinkeby provided a fast and reliable environment for Ethereum-based applications.
- The network was not intended for use in production environments. So in this aspect, it did not have the same level of security, reliability and performance as Ethereum.
- As a PoA network, it was less decentralized than the mainnet.
- If it were still operating today, it probably wouldn’t have the same level of support and resources as Ethereum.
- RNET had no value in the real world. It could not be traded or exchanged for other cryptocurrencies. Rinkeby Ether was only used for testing on the network.
When Rinkeby was in use, it worked well with other developer tools. It provided developers with great tools to create decentralized applications while using modern Web3 technology.