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How to develop and test a dApp on a local, multi-client testnet

clientsnodessmart contractscomposabilityconsensus layerexecution layertesting
✍️Tedi Mitiku
📆11 Epreel 2023
⏱️11 minute read


This guide walks you through the process of instantiating a configurable local Ethereum testnet, deploying a smart contract to it, and using the testnet to run tests against your dApp. This guide is designed for dApp developers who want to develop and test their dApps locally against different network configurations before deploying to a live testnet or the mainnet.

In this guide, you will:

What is Kurtosis?

Kurtosis(opens in a new tab) is a composable build system designed for configuring multi-container test environments. It specifically enables developers to create reproducible environments that require dynamic setup logic, such as blockchain testnets.

In this guide, the Kurtosis eth-network-package spins up a local Ethereum testnet with support for the geth(opens in a new tab) Execution Layer (EL) client, as well as teku(opens in a new tab), lighthouse(opens in a new tab), and lodestar(opens in a new tab) Consensus Layer (CL) clients. This package serves as a configurable and composable alternative to networks in frameworks like Hardhat Network, Ganache, and Anvil. Kurtosis offers developers greater control and flexibility over the testnets they use, which is a major reason why the Ethereum Foundation used Kurtosis to test the Merge(opens in a new tab) and continues to use it for testing network upgrades.

Setting up Kurtosis

Before you proceed, make sure you have:

Instantiating a local Ethereum testnet

To spin up a local Ethereum testnet, run:

1kurtosis --enclave local-eth-testnet run
📋 Kọpịa

Note: This command names your network: "local-eth-testnet” using the --enclave flag.

Kurtosis will print the steps its taking under the hood as it works to interpret, validate, and then execute the instructions. At the end, you should see an output that resembles the following:

1INFO[2023-04-04T18:09:44-04:00] ======================================================
2INFO[2023-04-04T18:09:44-04:00] || Created enclave: local-eth-testnet ||
3INFO[2023-04-04T18:09:44-04:00] ======================================================
4Name: local-eth-testnet
5UUID: 39372d756ae8
6Status: RUNNING
7Creation Time: Tue, 04 Apr 2023 18:09:03 EDT
9========================================= Files Artifacts =========================================
10UUID Name
11d4085a064230 cl-genesis-data
121c62cb792e4c el-genesis-data
13bd60489b73a7 genesis-generation-config-cl
14b2e593fe5228 genesis-generation-config-el
15d552a54acf78 geth-prefunded-keys
165f7e661eb838 prysm-password
17054e7338bb59 validator-keystore-0
19========================================== User Services ==========================================
20UUID Name Ports Status
21e20f129ee0c5 cl-client-0-beacon http: 4000/tcp -> <> RUNNING
22 metrics: 5054/tcp -> <>
23 tcp-discovery: 9000/tcp ->
24 udp-discovery: 9000/udp ->
25a8b6c926cdb4 cl-client-0-validator http: 5042/tcp -> RUNNING
26 metrics: 5064/tcp -> <>
27d7b802f623e8 el-client-0 engine-rpc: 8551/tcp -> RUNNING
28 rpc: 8545/tcp ->
29 tcp-discovery: 30303/tcp ->
30 udp-discovery: 30303/udp ->
31 ws: 8546/tcp ->
32514a829c0a84 prelaunch-data-generator-1680646157905431468 <none> STOPPED
3362bd62d0aa7a prelaunch-data-generator-1680646157915424301 <none> STOPPED
3405e9619e0e90 prelaunch-data-generator-1680646157922872635 <none> STOPPED
Gosi Ihe Niine
📋 Kọpịa

Congratulations! You used Kurtosis to instantiate a local Ethereum testnet, with a CL (lighthouse) and EL client (geth), over Docker.


In this section, you executed a command that directed Kurtosis to use the eth-network-package hosted remotely on GitHub(opens in a new tab) to spin up a local Ethereum testnet within a Kurtosis Enclave(opens in a new tab). Inside your enclave, you will find both "file artifacts" and "user services".

The File Artifacts(opens in a new tab) in your enclave include all the data generated and utilized to bootstrap the EL and CL clients. The data was created using the prelaunch-data-generator service built from this Docker image(opens in a new tab)

User services display all the containerized services operating in your enclave. You will notice that a single node, featuring both an EL client and a CL client, has been created.

Connect your dApp development environment to the local Ethereum testnet

Setup the dApp development environment

Now that you have a running local testnet, you can connect your dApp development environment to use your local testnet. The Hardhat framework will be used in this guide to deploy a blackjack dApp to your local testnet.

To set up your dApp development environment, clone the repository that contains our sample dApp and install its dependencies, run:

1git clone && cd awesome-kurtosis/smart-contract-example && yarn
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The smart-contract-example(opens in a new tab) folder used here contains the typical setup for a dApp developer using the Hardhat(opens in a new tab) framework:

Configure Hardhat to use the local testnet

With your dApp development environment set up, you will now connect Hardhat to use the local Ethereum testnet generated using Kurtosis. To accomplish this, replace <$YOUR_PORT> in the localnet struct in your hardhat.config.ts config file with the port of the rpc uri output from any el-client-<num> service. In this sample case, the port would be 64248. Your port will be different.

Example in hardhat.config.ts:

1localnet: {
4// These are private keys associated with prefunded test accounts created by the eth-network-package
5// <>
6accounts: [
7 "ef5177cd0b6b21c87db5a0bf35d4084a8a57a9d6a064f86d51ac85f2b873a4e2",
8 "48fcc39ae27a0e8bf0274021ae6ebd8fe4a0e12623d61464c498900b28feb567",
9 "7988b3a148716ff800414935b305436493e1f25237a2a03e5eebc343735e2f31",
10 "b3c409b6b0b3aa5e65ab2dc1930534608239a478106acf6f3d9178e9f9b00b35",
11 "df9bb6de5d3dc59595bcaa676397d837ff49441d211878c024eabda2cd067c9f",
12 "7da08f856b5956d40a72968f93396f6acff17193f013e8053f6fbb6c08c194d6",
13 ],
Gosi Ihe Niine
📋 Kọpịa

Once you save your file, your Hardhat dApp development environment is now connected to your local Ethereum testnet! You can verify that your testnet is working by running:

1npx hardhat balances --network localnet
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The output should look something like this:

10x878705ba3f8Bc32FCf7F4CAa1A35E72AF65CF766 has balance 10000000000000000000000000
20x4E9A3d9D1cd2A2b2371b8b3F489aE72259886f1A has balance 10000000000000000000000000
30xdF8466f277964Bb7a0FFD819403302C34DCD530A has balance 10000000000000000000000000
40x5c613e39Fc0Ad91AfDA24587e6f52192d75FBA50 has balance 10000000000000000000000000
50x375ae6107f8cC4cF34842B71C6F746a362Ad8EAc has balance 10000000000000000000000000
60x1F6298457C5d76270325B724Da5d1953923a6B88 has balance 10000000000000000000000000
📋 Kọpịa

This confirms that Hardhat is using your local testnet and detects the pre-funded accounts created by the eth-network-package.

Deploy and test your dApp locally

With the dApp development environment fully connected to the local Ethereum testnet, you can now run development and testing workflows against your dApp using the local testnet.

To compile and deploy the ChipToken.sol smart contract for local prototyping and development, run:

1npx hardhat compile
2npx hardhat run scripts/deploy.ts --network localnet
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The output should look something like:

1ChipToken deployed to: 0xAb2A01BC351770D09611Ac80f1DE076D56E0487d
📋 Kọpịa

Now try running the simple.js test against your local dApp to confirm each player in our Blackjack dApp has 1000 minted for them:

The output should look something like this:

1npx hardhat test --network localnet
📋 Kọpịa

The output should look something like this:

2 mint
3 ✔ should mint 1000 chips for PLAYER ONE
5 1 passing (654ms)
📋 Kọpịa


At this point, you’ve now set up a dApp development environment, connected it to a local Ethereum network created by Kurtosis, and have compiled, deployed, and ran a simple test against your dApp.

Now let’s explore how you can configure the underlying network for testing our dApps under varying network configurations.

Configuring the local Ethereum testnet

Changing the client configurations and number of nodes

Your local Ethereum testnet can be configured to use different EL and CL client pairs, as well as a varying number of nodes, depending on the scenario and specific network configuration you want to develop or test. This means that, once set up, you can spin up a customized local testnet and use it to run the same workflows (deployment, tests, etc.) under various network configurations to ensure everything works as expected. To learn more about the other parameters you can modify, visit this link.

Give it a try! You can pass various configuration options to the eth-network-package via a JSON file. This network params JSON file provides the specific configurations that Kurtosis will use to set up the local Ethereum network.

Take the default configuration file and edit it to spin up two nodes with different EL/CL pairs:

  • Node 1 with geth/lighthouse
  • Node 2 with geth/lodestar
  • Node 3 with geth/teku

This configuration creates a heterogeneous network of Ethereum node implementations for testing your dApp. Your configuration file should now look like:

2 "participants":
3 [
4 {
5 "el_client_type": "geth",
6 "el_client_image": "",
7 "el_client_log_level": "",
8 "cl_client_type": "lighthouse",
9 "cl_client_image": "",
10 "cl_client_log_level": "",
11 "beacon_extra_params": [],
12 "el_extra_params": [],
13 "validator_extra_params": [],
14 "builder_network_params": null,
15 },
16 {
17 "el_client_type": "geth",
18 "el_client_image": "",
19 "el_client_log_level": "",
20 "cl_client_type": "lodestar",
21 "cl_client_image": "",
22 "cl_client_log_level": "",
23 "beacon_extra_params": [],
24 "el_extra_params": [],
25 "validator_extra_params": [],
26 "builder_network_params": null,
27 },
28 {
29 "el_client_type": "geth",
30 "el_client_image": "",
31 "el_client_log_level": "",
32 "cl_client_type": "teku",
33 "cl_client_image": "",
34 "cl_client_log_level": "",
35 "beacon_extra_params": [],
36 "el_extra_params": [],
37 "validator_extra_params": [],
38 "builder_network_params": null,
39 },
40 ],
41 "network_params":
42 {
43 "preregistered_validator_keys_mnemonic": "giant issue aisle success illegal bike spike question tent bar rely arctic volcano long crawl hungry vocal artwork sniff fantasy very lucky have athlete",
44 "num_validator_keys_per_node": 64,
45 "network_id": "3151908",
46 "deposit_contract_address": "0x4242424242424242424242424242424242424242",
47 "seconds_per_slot": 12,
48 "genesis_delay": 120,
49 "capella_fork_epoch": 5,
50 },
Gosi Ihe Niine

Each participants struct maps to a node in the network, so 3 participants structs will tell Kurtosis to spin up 3 nodes in your network. Each participants struct will allow you to specify the EL and CL pair used for that specific node.

The network_params struct configures the network settings that are used to create the genesis files for each node as well as other settings like the seconds per slot of the network.

Save your edited params file in any directory you wish (in the example below, it is saved to the desktop) and then use it to run your Kurtosis package by running:

1kurtosis clean -a && kurtosis run --enclave local-eth-testnet "$(cat ~/eth-network-params.json)"
📋 Kọpịa

Note: the kurtosis clean -a command is used here to instruct Kurtosis to destroy the old testnet and its contents before starting a new one up.

Again, Kurtosis will work for a bit and print out the individual steps that are taking place. Eventually, the output should look something like:

1Starlark code successfully run. No output was returned.
2INFO[2023-04-07T11:43:16-04:00] ==========================================================
3INFO[2023-04-07T11:43:16-04:00] || Created enclave: local-eth-testnet ||
4INFO[2023-04-07T11:43:16-04:00] ==========================================================
5Name: local-eth-testnet
6UUID: bef8c192008e
7Status: RUNNING
8Creation Time: Fri, 07 Apr 2023 11:41:58 EDT
10========================================= Files Artifacts =========================================
11UUID Name
12cc495a8e364a cl-genesis-data
137033fcdb5471 el-genesis-data
14a3aef43fc738 genesis-generation-config-cl
158e968005fc9d genesis-generation-config-el
163182cca9d3cd geth-prefunded-keys
178421166e234f prysm-password
18d9e6e8d44d99 validator-keystore-0
1923f5ba517394 validator-keystore-1
204d28dea40b5c validator-keystore-2
22========================================== User Services ==========================================
23UUID Name Ports Status
24485e6fde55ae cl-client-0-beacon http: 4000/tcp -> RUNNING
25 metrics: 5054/tcp ->
26 tcp-discovery: 9000/tcp ->
27 udp-discovery: 9000/udp ->
2873739bd158b2 cl-client-0-validator http: 5042/tcp -> RUNNING
29 metrics: 5064/tcp ->
301b0a233cd011 cl-client-1-beacon http: 4000/tcp -> RUNNING
31 metrics: 8008/tcp ->
32 tcp-discovery: 9000/tcp ->
33 udp-discovery: 9000/udp ->
34 validator-metrics: 5064/tcp ->
35949b8220cd53 cl-client-1-validator http: 4000/tcp -> RUNNING
36 metrics: 8008/tcp ->
37 tcp-discovery: 9000/tcp ->
38 udp-discovery: 9000/udp ->
39 validator-metrics: 5064/tcp ->
40c34417bea5fa cl-client-2 http: 4000/tcp -> RUNNING
41 metrics: 8008/tcp ->
42 tcp-discovery: 9000/tcp ->
43 udp-discovery: 9000/udp ->
44e19738e6329d el-client-0 engine-rpc: 8551/tcp -> RUNNING
45 rpc: 8545/tcp ->
46 tcp-discovery: 30303/tcp ->
47 udp-discovery: 30303/udp ->
48 ws: 8546/tcp ->
49e904687449d9 el-client-1 engine-rpc: 8551/tcp -> RUNNING
50 rpc: 8545/tcp ->
51 tcp-discovery: 30303/tcp ->
52 udp-discovery: 30303/udp ->
53 ws: 8546/tcp ->
54ad6f401126fa el-client-2 engine-rpc: 8551/tcp -> RUNNING
55 rpc: 8545/tcp ->
56 tcp-discovery: 30303/tcp ->
57 udp-discovery: 30303/udp ->
58 ws: 8546/tcp ->
5912d04a9dbb69 prelaunch-data-generator-1680882122181135513 <none> STOPPED
605b45f9c0504b prelaunch-data-generator-1680882122192182847 <none> STOPPED
613d4aaa75e218 prelaunch-data-generator-1680882122201668972 <none> STOPPED
Gosi Ihe Niine
📋 Kọpịa

Congratulations! You’ve successfully configured your local testnet to have 3 nodes instead of 1. To run the same workflows you did before against your dApp (deploy & test), perform the same operations we did before by replacing the <$YOUR_PORT> in the localnet struct in your hardhat.config.ts config file with the port of the rpc uri output from any el-client-<num> service in your new, 3-node local testnet.


And that's it! To recap this short guide, you:

  • Created a local Ethereum testnet over Docker using Kurtosis
  • Connected your local dApp development environment to the local Ethereum network
  • Deployed a dApp and ran a simple test against it on the local Ethereum network
  • Configured the underlying Ethereum network to have 3 nodes

We’d love to hear from you on what went well for you, what could be improved, or to answer any of your questions. Don’t hesitate to reach out via Github(opens in a new tab) or email us(opens in a new tab)!

Other examples and guides

We encourage you to check out our quickstart(opens in a new tab) (where you’ll build a Postgres database and API on top) and our other examples in our awesome-kurtosis repository(opens in a new tab) where you’ll find some great examples, including packages for:

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