As the proposed Ethereum Shanghai update date approaches, developers have created a test environment called a “shadow fork,” according to a Jan. 23 tweet thread by Go-Ethereum developer Marius Van Der Wijden. The new testnet appears to have been created to test the conditions needed for Ether (ETH) staking withdrawals, which are currently banned but are set to be enabled in an update.
It started with a few problems because the configuration was not properly applied to geth (we don’t allow overriding the main network configuration). The configuration is applied correctly and all nodes agree. Let’s run some evil nodes,.
— MariusVanDerWijden (@vdWijden) January 23, 2023
The name of the testnet is “Withdrawal-Mainnet-Shadow-Fork-1”. According to Web3 node provider Alchemy, a “shadow fork” is a fork in the mainnet intended use for testing purposes only.
Van Der Wijden said that he and another developer named “Potuz” will create malicious nodes that will send bad blocks and messages to other nodes on the test network and try to convince them to join a fake version of the network. The network is running smoothly so far, but Van Der Wijden said he wants to “see if Potuz and I can crack it.” Apparently this is done to see if the update can prevent malicious attacks or if more changes need to be made before it can be implemented on the mainnet.
The launch of this testnet comes after developers expressed increasing urgency to make withdrawals from Ether staking a reality. On January 6, they held a meeting at which he agreed exclude the proposed EVM Object Format (EOF) from the Shanghai update. EOF was supposed to make it easier to upgrade Ethereum in the future. But due to its complexity, the developers decided to leave it out of Shanghai for fear that it would delay the implementation of the download.
Over 14.5 million ETH have been created (worth over $23 billion at the time of writing). saved to the Ethereum staking contract, and according to the December 2022 Nansen report, it cannot be withdrawn at this time. In November 2022 Ethereum developers came under severe criticism for allegedly moving the wicket in terms of allowing withdrawals.
The Shanghai update is currently scheduled to implementation sometime in March.