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I am studying Ethereum and have not been able to figure out the difference between Homestead and Morden. In some docs, it is written that Homestead uses a new algorithm which takes less time. I don't understand this. Is Morden for testing and Homestead for production?

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Each network version gets a name (id). Here is an overview.

  • Olympic (0) is also regularly referred to as Ethereum 0.9; it launched early 2015 and was the first public Testnet. Deprecated in mid 2015 and replaced by Morden.
  • Frontier (1) the official 1.0 release was launched as public main network in the summer of 2015. Forked to Homestead in early 2016.
  • Morden (2) was the Frontier-equivalent testnet; it launched with Frontier and basically replaced Olympic. Deprecated in late 2016 and replaced by Ropsten.
  • Homestead (1) was the first major upgrade (1.1) of the Frontier network in March 2016. It did not replace Frontier but upgraded it.
  • Ropsten (3) is a new Homestead-equivalent testnet launched in late 2016 due to multiple issues in the old testnet; it finally replaced Morden. Ropsten was attacked in February 2016 and declared dead. But with great effort it has been revived on March 2017.
  • Kovan (42) is the first proof-of-authority (PoA) testnet issued by Ethcore, Melonport, and Digix after the Ropsten attacks.
  • Rinkeby, another PoA testnet is currently being drafted.

The current protocol version is Homestead. The Ropsten testnet is broken and there is no public Homestead equivalent testnet available.

Despite the differences in name, Olympic, Morden and Ropsten have the network ids 0, 2 and 3. Frontier, Homestead are the main network with id 1. You can run your own chain by specifying a network id other than 0, 1, 2, or 3.

Upcoming releases:

  • Metropolis will be the 1.2 release and come probably in the fall of 2017 and be rolled out using in two halves. It includes the opening of the decentralized application browsers and so called DApp stores, and will upgrade the Homestead network (1).
  • Serenity is among the most distant milestones and marks the move to Proof of Stake (PoS). This is often referred to as Ethereum 1.5 and I do not expect this to happen before 2018.

There are also blog posts by Vitalik Buterin talking about scalability and Ethereum 2.0 but these releases are way too far in the future, so let's wait for Metropolis for now.

See also: What is Olympic, Frontier and Morden? (merged)

  • nice explanation. – Himanshu sharma Oct 24 '16 at 7:25
  • Don't forget to mark the answer as accepted by clicking the green tick if this answered your question. – Waqar Lim Oct 29 '16 at 17:07
  • Wow, that was super helpful. I just want to quickly summarize the history you mapped out, and ask if you could possibly update your answer to get us to the present date (July 2017). TESTNET: Olympic (0) --> Morden (2) --> Ropsten (3) --> What happened after that? MAINNET: Frontier (1) --> Homestead Upgrade to Frontier (1) --> Metropolis? – Tesa Jul 7 '17 at 22:16
  • Ropsten is still a valid testnet and still being used. Please don't declare it dead as some people invested a lot of work to keep it alive: Ropsten @ Github – larsl Jul 8 '17 at 9:27
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Frontier is the name of Etheneum's current release stage. It is for early adopters, experimenters. When it was released, there were no Graphical User Interface available, everything had to be done with the command line. Also, some technical issues were to be expected often. For some serious use, people were encouraged to wait for the next phase, Homestead.

Olympic was the stage before the launch of 'Frontier'. It was also the name of the testnet. Ethereum DEV team announced some prizes for people trying to exercise the test network (creating lots of transactions, trying to find and exploit vulnerabilities etc). It is not available anymore.

Morden is the new testnet, which was created after Ethereum was launched. The size of Olympic blockchain was very large, and it also had some issue with keys (private keys created on Olympics could potentially be vulnerable).

When the Ethereum just launched, the first users had to switch from testnet to mainnet, therefore there were switches --frontier (for main net) and --olympic (for test net). Also, people who won prizes in Olympic had to post special transactions there to claim reward. Therefore they wanted to sometimes run olympic network. But now --olympic is not useful anymore and will probably be removed soon.

  • 1
    So setting the flat --testnet is equivalent to setting the flat --networkid 2? – TMOTTM Jun 18 '16 at 22:34
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Frontier is the name of the launch and first release of the live Ethereum network. Frontier is the current Ethereum network. It is described more, as well as the names for upcoming releases, here.

Morden is the testnet for Frontier. Any bugs found here, will most likely also happen on Frontier. Responsible developers would test their code on Morden first, before deploying it to Frontier.

Olympic was the name of the Ethereum network before it launched, where various testing and rewards were offered. Any bugs in Olympic, may have already been fixed in Frontier. Think of it as a pre-release and it is now historical with little practical use.

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That´s right. Homestead is the current main network whereas morden is commonly called the 'testnet'. They are both similar beside their content and value. Testnet 'coins' are worthless. While users can create some private chains for development and internal testing, it is interesting to have a network similar to the mainnet where smart contracts and Dapps can be tested in more realistic conditions. Another major difference is that the difficulty is much lower on testnet, allowing people to miner on testnet with a simple CPU.

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