Big Geth users are diversifying their clients following Nethermind bug

Ethereum’s Nethermind client software saw a bug that pulled validators offline for four hours last week, raising concerns in the Ethereum community about client centralization.

Ethereum clients are software that enable users to interact with the blockchain, allowing them to send transactions and run smart contracts, for example. 

When a minority client shuts down, the penalty often involves losing ether. However, in this case, Nethermind going offline has also sparked similar concerns around what would happen if Geth, Ethereum’s most popular execution client, failed as well.

Read more: Coinbase confronts client diversity risk following Nethermind bug

Last week, it was estimated that 84% of validators used Geth, meaning that Ethereum itself would not finalize if Geth were to go offline.

Mark Mackey, an Ethereum Core Developer at Sigma Prime, noted in a post on X that the reason Geth has become one of the most popular execution clients is correlated with its early mover advantage. 

“Back in the day, we used to have 2 clients: Geth and Parity. They were roughly equal in their usage,” Mackey wrote. “But then an exploit in the Parity wallet froze [500,000] ETH forever, including the vast majority of funds that were raised for the development of Polkadot.”

After Gavin Wood, the founder and CEO of Parity, decided to pull the plug on developing the execution client following the Parity wallet exploit, Geth became the only viable option, Mackey wrote.

In the aftermath of the recent Nethermind bug, a renewed interest in execution clients has arisen and crypto community members are now calling for client diversification.

One of the most prominent companies to respond to client diversification concerns was Coinbase Cloud, whose nodes currently solely rely on Geth. 

The company noted that although Geth is the only execution layer software client that meets its technical requirements, it is also looking into other client execution layers for alternative options, with further details to be expected in February. 

Coinbase Cloud is not the only team to have looked into diversifying its execution client. Allnodes shared in a recent post on X that it had fully transitioned to Besu, noting that not a single one of its 23,895 validators is on Geth anymore.  

P2P, another proof-of-stake validator and RPC node provider, had also transitioned to using Besu. It noted in an X post that “we believe that together with the rest of the community, we can reduce GETH usage to below 66%.”

Similarly, Aave-Chan, a delegate platform, noted that it would be switching minority EL clients for all its ETH nodes. 

“We can’t be diversity maxi without putting our money where our mouth is,” wrote Marc Zeller, founder of the Aave-Chan Initiative.

A week following calls for client diversification, there are — as of today — an estimated 78% of validators using Geth, meaning that in just a week, around 6% of node operators had switched their execution client.

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