4 min read

Solana Walkthrough - Preamble

Walkthrough - @paulx has a walkthrough time to dive in... so let's try it out

Let's start off with installing everything locally

  • Installing the CLI tools - the rest of the documentation is more geared towards specific topics, so let's find something a little easier to digest;

Take a look at CLI options... interesting, looks very thorough... Like they learned from all the Btc and Eth troubles.

| => solana --help
solana-cli 1.6.9 (src:9e42883d; feat:2960423209)
Blockchain, Rebuilt for Scale


    -h, --help                           Prints help information
        --no-address-labels              Do not use address labels in the output
        --skip-seed-phrase-validation    Skip validation of seed phrases. Use this if your phrase does not use the BIP39
                                         official English word list
    -V, --version                        Prints version information
    -v, --verbose                        Show additional information

        --commitment <COMMITMENT_LEVEL>    Return information at the selected commitment level [possible values:
                                           processed, confirmed, finalized]
    -C, --config <FILEPATH>                Configuration file to use [default:
    -u, --url <URL_OR_MONIKER>             URL for Solana's JSON RPC or moniker (or their first letter): [mainnet-beta,
                                           testnet, devnet, localhost]
    -k, --keypair <KEYPAIR>                Filepath or URL to a keypair
        --output <FORMAT>                  Return information in specified output format [possible values: json, json-
        --ws <URL>                         WebSocket URL for the solana cluster

    account                        Show the contents of an account
    address                        Get your public key
    airdrop                        Request lamports
    authorize-nonce-account        Assign account authority to a new entity
    balance                        Get your balance
    block                          Get a confirmed block
    block-height                   Get current block height
    block-production               Show information about block production
    block-time                     Get estimated production time of a block
    catchup                        Wait for a validator to catch up to the cluster
    cluster-date                   Get current cluster date, computed from genesis creation time and network time
    cluster-version                Get the version of the cluster entrypoint
    config                         Solana command-line tool configuration settings
    confirm                        Confirm transaction by signature
    create-address-with-seed       Generate a derived account address with a seed
    create-nonce-account           Create a nonce account
    create-stake-account           Create a stake account
    create-vote-account            Create a vote account
    deactivate-stake               Deactivate the delegated stake from the stake account
    decode-transaction             Decode a serialized transaction
    delegate-stake                 Delegate stake to a vote account
    deploy                         Deploy a program
    epoch                          Get current epoch
    epoch-info                     Get information about the current epoch
    feature                        Runtime feature management
    fees                           Display current cluster fees
    first-available-block          Get the first available block in the storage
    genesis-hash                   Get the genesis hash
    gossip                         Show the current gossip network nodes
    help                           Prints this message or the help of the given subcommand(s)
    inflation                      Show inflation information
    largest-accounts               Get addresses of largest cluster accounts
    leader-schedule                Display leader schedule
    live-slots                     Show information about the current slot progression
    logs                           Stream transaction logs
    merge-stake                    Merges one stake account into another
    new-nonce                      Generate a new nonce, rendering the existing nonce useless
    nonce                          Get the current nonce value
    nonce-account                  Show the contents of a nonce account
    ping                           Submit transactions sequentially
    program                        Program management
    rent                           Calculate per-epoch and rent-exempt-minimum values for a given account data
    resolve-signer                 Checks that a signer is valid, and returns its specific path; useful for signers
                                   that may be specified generally, eg. usb://ledger
    slot                           Get current slot
    split-stake                    Duplicate a stake account, splitting the tokens between the two
    stake-account                  Show the contents of a stake account
    stake-authorize                Authorize a new signing keypair for the given stake account
    stake-history                  Show the stake history
    stake-set-lockup               Set Lockup for the stake account
    stakes                         Show stake account information
    supply                         Get information about the cluster supply of SOL
    transaction-count              Get current transaction count
    transaction-history            Show historical transactions affecting the given address from newest to oldest
    transfer                       Transfer funds between system accounts
    validator-info                 Publish/get Validator info on Solana
    validators                     Show summary information about the current validators
    vote-account                   Show the contents of a vote account
    vote-authorize-voter           Authorize a new vote signing keypair for the given vote account
    vote-authorize-withdrawer      Authorize a new withdraw signing keypair for the given vote account
    vote-update-commission         Update the vote account's commission
    vote-update-validator          Update the vote account's validator identity
    wait-for-max-stake             Wait for the max stake of any one node to drop below a percentage of total.
    withdraw-from-nonce-account    Withdraw SOL from the nonce account
    withdraw-from-vote-account     Withdraw lamports from a vote account into a specified account
    withdraw-stake                 Withdraw the unstaked SOL from the stake account

That looks like a great list of command line options to be explored later.

Moving on to the walkthrough itself, theory is a little dense.

Basically Solana uses something called the Berkeley Packet Filter, or BPF described as  provides a raw interface to data link layers, permitting raw link-layer packets to be sent and received

  • I surmise that basically, the big challenge in developing Solana was to figure out a way to transmit and sync small packets of data across a large distributed system. And basically lots of middleware ends up getting stripped out and coders have to move down layer.. closer to the metal in order to get more efficient
  • This is funnily enough a reversion to the historical byte level optimization of computing, and will probably come as a rude shock to mostly mobile and front end devs who are relatively resource insensitive
  • Anyway, looks like BPF is one of the technologies Solana is using to achieve this

Continuing the walkthrough

  • each program is processed by its BPF Loader and has an entrypoint whose structure depends on which BPF Loader is used
  • accounts are used to store state
  • accounts are owned by programs
  • only the account owner may debit an account and adjust its data
  • all accounts to be written to or read must be passed into the entrypoint
  • accounts hold:
    • programs, in executable accounts
    • data
    • SOL
  • The NativeLoader program owns
    • the System Program, which handles SOL transactions
    • the BPF Loader, which owns
      • all other Solana programs, stored in executable accounts