Kiln v0.5.2: Voting and Governance


May 28, 2019

Version 0.5.2 of Kiln is out! There are lots of great features in this new release, particularly surrounding governance. Kiln bakers can vote through its UI, we’ve added data about the current amendment period, and Kiln handles the 003 to 004 protocol transition seamlessly. We’ve also implemented lots of tweaks based on your feedback to improve Kiln’s usability and functionality!

Major Release Features

Voting: Kiln bakers can now VOTE! On your Kiln Baker’s tile, click the menu icon to show the dropdown menu where you’ll see an option to Vote. Kiln will show you what you can vote on and guide you through the process of voting with your ledger device.

Voting during the Exploration Period with Kiln

Governance Data: Kiln also shows data about the current amendment! In the header, you’ll see the current amendment period and how many cycles into the current period have past. Hover over this data to see detailed information about the current period. You can also click on previous periods in this amendment cycle to see information about them, too! All of this information updates in real time; you can be confident you are always viewing the latest governance status.

Detailed governance data for Athens promotion. Click another period on the left to view its data!

Protocol Transitions: As you’re probably aware by now, the Tezos protocol can change over time. For bakers to keep baking on the new protocol, they should start running the baker and endorser for the new protocol before the transition and stop the old baker and endorser after the new protocol takes effect. Kiln users, however, don’t need to do this. Kiln completely manages protocol upgrades for the user!

In addition to changing the baker and endorser binaries, protocol transitions introduce additional challenges for software like Kiln. Some questions we’ve asked ourselves:

  • What happens if the protocol amendment doesn’t pass? How does Kiln know which baker/endorser to run and which to kill at the end of the amendment period?
  • How do we know we will continue to bake through this transition to Athens?
  • Does any data we’re relying on assume fixed constants that are changing?

Protocol transitions don’t happen often, even on test networks. That can make developing features surrounding these events very difficult. That’s why we’ve developed the tools necessary to test our solutions rigorously. For instance, here is our test script for voting in Kiln and baking through the protocol transition. We plan to write more about these tools in the near future so other Tezos developers can take full advantage of them.

Minor Release Features

Cache of Kiln - We’ve set up a dedicated cache of Kiln’s build! This Kiln-specific cache should drastically reduce build times for anyone building from source. If you previously would have wanted to build Kiln from source but were turned off by the long build times, now is the time to update your cache and try again! This is also important for non-source distributions.

Ledger udev Rules - v0.5.1 assumed the user has previously set up udev rules for their Ledger device. We’re now more aggressive with this setting, ensuring the user doesn’t have to take any manual steps to get Kiln communicating with their ledger device, even if you’ve never used a ledger with your machine before.

Non-Default Kiln Node Ports - The Kiln Node previously used the default RPC and net address ports of 8732 and 9732, respectively. If you were already running a node on your machine, that node’s ports would have probably conflicted with Kiln’s resulting in all types of weird behavior. We’re avoiding that now by using 8733 and 9733 for RPC and Net ports. These attributes are also configurable via the command line or a config file for advanced users.

Debian Support - Our debian package, previously only tested on Ubuntu, now also works on debian linux!

Other Changes

  • We’ve improved the accuracy of information shown for nodes to which we cannot connect
  • We’ve made notifications for soon-to-be inactive bakers more correct
  • Our documentation has been re-organized and improved

Coming Soon

We’ve been working on an OVA file distribution of Kiln which can run in VirtualBox on any machine. That has been progressing well and is nearly ready for a release, but had been put on hold to get voting done before the protocol transition :)

We’re also changing the Kiln Node to take advantage of the history modes! The Kiln Node will soon default to Full mode, and we’ll delete unnecessary chain history, drastically reducing the amount of storage required for the Kiln Node. We’re very excited to incorporate this excellent feature from Nomadic Labs!

You’ll also be able to sync your Kiln Node from a snapshot! This awesome feature, also from Nomadic Labs, will reduce the amount of time necessary to sync the Kiln Node from days to minutes.

Questions or comments? We’d love to hear from you! Tweet us @obsidian_llc or shoot us an email: tezos@obsidian.systems