User Manual & FAQ

This guide is not meant to replace the Darknode Installation instructions but supplement it as a handy manual for Darknode Operators.


Darknodes are the physical machines that power and secure the Ren network (RenVM). Think of one computer split into thousands of pieces and placed all around the world. For that computer to work, all the pieces need to cooperate and work together. What makes Darknodes special is that they don’t know what it is they are computing. Imagine being given a maths equation on a piece of paper, having that piece of paper torn up into thousands of pieces, and given out to 1000 people. Then everyone, without even looking at the piece of paper, works together to solve the answer correctly. This is achieved through a number of technological breakthroughs pioneered by the Ren team and you can read more about them here and here. Security Audits are also available here. To run a Darknode, you will need 100,000 REN and an account with one of the supported Virtual Private Servers (VPS). These are the machines around the world that you’ll be installing the Darknode software onto, in order to power RenVM. For a full list of supported VPS providers, head here. Since running a VPS costs per month (around $5-10 USD) it’s only fair that Operators would expect some kind of incentive for running a Darknode. Since RenVM is used to transact value between blockchains, a small percentage of the volume is captured by the Darknode Rewards Pool contract and split between all participating Darknodes every 28 days (known as an Epoch). We’ll go into more detail on each of these as you read through the rest of this manual.

Launching a Darknode

Before you launch your Darknode you MUST be aware that running a Darknode is a responsibility! It requires moderate involvement in the community and some technical expertise.

If you’ve made the decision that you want to operate a Darknode, the first thing you’ll need to do is acquire 100,000 REN and determine which VPS provider you want to go with.

Further, your Darknode will not become operational and start earning rewards UNTIL the beginning of the next Epoch. An Epoch is a 28 day period, for more information, look at the Epoch section of this manual.

You must also be aware that to deregister your Darknode and receive your 100,000 REN there is a total deregistration period of 3 full Epochs. Find out more about this in the Deregistration section of this manual.

Once you’re ready to begin, head over to the Darknode Installation instructions and be very careful to follow them step-by-step. If you stray away from our official instructions, we can not help you recover any lost funds.

Although Darknodes can be launched with many of the different Ethereum wallets, the Ren team suggests you use MetaMask.

Bonding REN

The REN bond is required for a number of reasons. Firstly, it ensures that you have an economic stake in the network, to ensure you’ll uphold your end of the deal and help power the network. The second reason is to ensure Darknode Operators act honestly and cooperate with other Darknodes. For example, if you are caught acting dishonestly, your bond will be slashed and divided between all honest active Darknodes. More information about acting dishonestly is detailed in the FAQ section of this manual. To find out more about security risks, head here.

The REN bond is one of the first things you’ll be required to do once you’ve installed the Darknode software on your computer. Note that the Darknode itself is operating from the VPS, however the software on your computer is what you’ll use to update the software your Darknode is running. Think of your computer as the command terminal to communicate with your Darknode, which is hosted on your VPS.

REN is bonded to the Darknode Registry.


An Epoch is a 28 day period of time in which new Darknodes become active and existing Darknodes become inactive (if the operator has chosen to deregister their Darknode). Also, at the end of each Epoch, the rewards are paid out to all active Darknodes.

You can view how far through the current Epoch we are by navigating to either your Darknode Dashboard or the Darknode tab on the Command Center.

Registration and Deregistration Periods

Registration After successfully registering your Darknode it will not become operational and begin earning rewards until the beginning of the next Epoch. Epoch’s last 28 days so if you launch your Darknode on the 26th day of the Epoch, it will begin earning rewards in 2 days' time.

Deregistration Deregistration will become effective at the end of the third Epoch, so if you decide to deregister your Darknode on the 26th day of the current Epoch, you’ll have to wait 2 days for the next Epoch to begin then 2 full Epochs (56 days) until it is fully deregistered. It is only at this point can you withdraw your 100,000 REN bond and the Gas (ETH) in your Darknode.

Adding Gas (ETH) to your Darknode

Once your Darknode has been registered, and before it becomes operational (it will become operational and start earning rewards at the start of the next Epoch), you can top up your Darknode with Gas (ETH). ETH is the base cryptocurrency for the Ethereum blockchain and since the Darknode Reward Pool smart contract is hosted on Ethereum, ETH is required. At the end of each Epoch when rewards are split between all active Darknodes, a small amount of Gas (ETH) is required for your Darknode to claim it’s share of the rewards. This will happen automatically as long as you have sufficient Gas (ETH) in your Darknode. The Ren team recommends maintaining a balance of 0.1 ETH at all times.

If you do not have the required amount of Gas at the end of the Epoch, your rewards for that Epoch are forfeited and will be distributed amongst all other active Darknodes.

Earning rewards

RenVM currently takes a fee each time a digital asset is minted or released from a Guest Chain or a Host chain For example, if someone was to send 1 BTC to Ethereum, RenVM would retain 0.001 BTC and place it into the Darknode Reward Pool. The user who sent the 1 BTC would receive 0.999 renBTC in their designated Ethereum wallet.

To view the current Mint and Burn fee, view the Command Centre.

If that same user decided they wanted their original BTC back, they would be charged the fee again. So they’d send their 0.999 BTC and receive 0.999001 BTC. The fee would then also be placed in the Darknode Reward Pool.

At the end of each Epoch, every Darknode that has been active for the entire Epoch will take an even share of the rewards.

The rewards are paid out in the digital asset that travels through RenVM. For example if your Darknode earns 0.01 BTC in one Epoch, you will receive your rewards in Bitcoin. This will require you to have a wallet that supports Bitcoin - however, you can send your rewards to a Centralized Exchange, such as Binance, but we advise against this as it may not always function as expected.

Note that only 50% of the fees taken by RenVM in any Epoch are paid out at the end of that Epoch. The rest of the fees are carried over into the next Epoch. So for example, if in Epoch 1 there was $100M worth of value transacted through RenVM, $100,000 would be claimed and added to the Darknode Reward Pool. 50% of that (or $50,000) would be paid out to all Darknodes at the end of Epoch 1. The next Epoch (Epoch 2) would already have $50,000 in rewards ready to be paid out to the Darknodes that were active for that entire Epoch. Let’s say that in the Epoch 2, $120M is transacted via RenVM, and the Darknode Reward Pool grows by $120,000, taking the total to $170,000. This time, $85,000 would be paid out to all active Darknodes, and the remaining $85,000 would carry across to the next Epoch.

The reason we split the fees this way is to incentivize Darknodes to stay registered - the more Darknodes powering RenVM, the more secure it is.

Withdrawing Rewards

Once in the Command Center, logged in to MetaMask and viewing your Darknode.

Click the arrow (>) on the right-hand side of the WITHDRAWABLE Window. Assets are withdrawn to ERC20 representations. For example BTC rewards are withdrawn as renBTC. Use "fast" ETH GAS to avoid any issues.

Wait patiently for your assets to arrive and you're all set.

Darknode Statuses

This is the status of your Darknode. If everything is running correctly, your Darknode will display the status as ‘Operational’. If your Darknode is Operational, it is earning rewards and you have nothing to worry about. There are other statuses but these are highly unlikely and in the case that you experience them the team will notify Darknode Operators via Twitter and Telegram the reason for any downtime.

Software Version

This is the version of Software your Darknode is running. From time to time the team will update the Darknode software. There are multiple reasons for this and full release notes detailing what has been updated will be included upon each release.

These reasons generally include performance upgrades, such as increasing the speed at which Darknode’s communicate with each other, resulting in faster transaction times for users bridging assets between blockchains.

You will be alerted to new versions of Darknode software via the official Ren Announcements Telegram group, and the Ren Twitter.

Your Darknode will not automatically update. But updating your Darknode is easy by following this simple guide.

Technical Information

  1. ID: The ID is the Ren Protocol ID for the Darknode, this is how the Darknodes talk to each other.

  2. Multiaddress: Multiaddress is an advanced IP address that is used in P2P networking (it has more information than a normal ip address).

  3. System Uptime: System Uptime is your Darknode's uptime

  4. Service Uptime: Service Uptime is the whole Ren Network's uptime.

  5. CPU Cores: The number of cores on the computer on which the Darknode is running, info for technical users and high-performance computing enthusiasts.

  6. ID (hex): The ID is usually represented in base64 (your regular Darknode ID), but if people want to use Ren at a lower level then they might need it in hex. This is for more technical users and nothing to worry about.

Resource Usage

This is a visual representation of a high-level overview of resource usage. This can help you understand how your resource usage is changing over time and how different resource levels correlate. You don’t need to worry about this and is only of interest to highly technical users.

Next Epoch

This is the countdown timer until the end of the current Epoch and the beginning of the next. At the end of the current Epoch, if your Darknode has sufficient Gas, it will autoclaim rewards (assuming it has been active for the entire Epoch). The Epoch timer is also helpful when deciding to register another Darknode or deregistering your current Darknode (for more information on this, look at the Registration/Deregistration periods section)


We'll be unveiling more details about this in time. If you've had experience with Blockchain/Decentralized Governance and would like to be actively involved in this design and development process, please reach out to [email protected]

Withdrawing Gas from your Darknode

Once your Darknode has become fully deregistered, at the end of the 3rd Epoch will you be able to withdraw your Gas. You cannot do this from the Darknode Dashboard and it will need to be done from the Command Line Interface (CLI) from the computer you used to originally register your Darknode. For more information on this, head here.