The mainnet

Apr 28, 2024 1:13:57 AM

A fact that surprises many people is discovering that there is not just one blockchain but many of them. That’s why we have to be careful when we use the word blockchain. Generally, when we talk about a blockchain, we refer to a particular network that implements a specific protocol. That is because even certain protocols, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Neo, have more than one network.

The protocols have more than one network because users need to learn, and developers need a testing environment. It would be a problem if developers had to test their applications on the mainnet using tokens with real value. Usually, every protocol has at least one testnet used for learning and development. Ethereum, for example, has more than one testnet.

So protocols have more than one network, and there are several protocols, each with its networks. Thus, Bitcoin is a protocol that has its mainnet and its testnet. The same goes for Ethereum, Neo, Solana, and others. Every network in every protocol is independent of the others, with its participants. Generally, blockchains are networks that don’t require permission, and anyone can join the network or become a node, as we say. There are also private blockchains that require permission, but that’s not a topic we’re going to talk about right now.

Let me clarify one thing. Having an account on a blockchain is not the same as being a network node. To have an account on the network, just have a private key and interact with it. To participate in the network as a node, you need to run a client software that connects with other peers.

Running a node is recommended if you want to help with network security or don’t want to rely on a provider to send your transactions. However, most users just have network accounts and use a provider that offers node services.

Native Tokens

Public blockchains usually have some type of token associated with them, known as native tokens or coins. Bitcoin’s token, or its coin, is called bitcoin. Ethereum, ether. Neo has two tokens, Neo and Gas. Such tokens are registered on the mainnet and have financial value. They can be acquired through participation in the network or purchased on exchanges. Each protocol decides how such tokens are generated and distributed.

What about testnets? Do they also have tokens? Do testnet tokens have any value? Let’s talk about that now.