A common question from new farmers is, can I run Zero OS in a VM (virtual machine) or on a VPS (virtual private server)?
Technically speaking, Zero OS can run fine in a virtualized environment, but such nodes don’t farm tokens. You must run your node on “bare metal” in order to earn rewards on the ThreeFold Grid. But why?
ThreeFold is different than most other decentralized network projects. Rather than securing a ledger or executing smart contracts, the Grid exists to provide cloud capacity, which is always derived from the underlying hardware. Furthermore, it is designed to do so in the most efficient and secure way possible. Virtualized nodes are a liability to all three goals: decentralization, efficiency, and security.
Nodes running on a VPS are by definition hosted on an existing cloud providers infrastructure. Whether that’s big tech or a smaller provider, these nodes have an external dependency on another business that can disappear, raise it’s prices, or decide to stop serving certain kinds of customers on a whim.
That last point isn’t just theoretical either. Node operators at our partner Presearch have reported being banned from cloud hosters because they were running cryptocurrency related software on their VPS.
Nodes running on bare metal hardware, which is typically owned by the farmer, aren’t at risk of being turned off like this.
Zero OS is a minimal operating system with minimal overhead. While the Linux distributions used on servers are certainly lighter weight than consumer operating systems used on personal computers, they still come with a certain baseline of resource consumption. Virtualized nodes require a layer below to host them, and that’s typically Linux.
Zero OS itself provides facilities for virtualized assets like VMs and containers. Adding another layer of virtualization before booting Zos creates additional overhead. In a way, this defeats a major purpose of Zos: to be a super efficient alternative operating system that can host everything the internet needs.
Virtualized systems are basically open to monitoring and manipulation by administrators of the host system. Zero OS is, again, designed to provide an alternative. With no administrative access, those deploying workloads on Zos can have added confidence that those workloads are secure. If intervention is possible by a host system administrator, this advantage is nullified.
Even if the host system administrators are honest, having a host system means that there is an additional vector for external attack. Removing this layer and running Zos on bare metal provides the best security that Zos can offer
Farming on bare metal is awesome
When it comes to decentralized network node/passive income type projects, ThreeFold farming is a unique proposition. You don’t have to buy and stake any tokens, you can’t lose money by getting slashed, your earnings aren’t dependent on demand for network capacity, and you don’t have to deal with tons of noise/heat/power consumption. All you need is hardware, electricity, and wired internet. To me, that’s a pretty sweet deal