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I might need a small modification to ethereum virtual machine but I still want to run it as a node on the public blockchain not private, if that makes sense. I assume its doable? Since I will not be changing the protocol at all.

Do any other companies run a customized versions of ethereum as a public node. What are the use cases/exampes here?

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Modifications of the EVM that affect the consensus require a hard fork.

For example adding a new opcode requires a fork, but fixing a bug does not.

So depending on how "small" the modification is it will be feasible or not.

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