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Version: v0.14.4

Split existing validator keys


Charon is in an early alpha state and is not ready to be run on mainnet.

This process should only be used if you want to split an existing validator key into multiple keyshares.

If you are starting a new validator, you should follow the quickstart guide instead.

Split an existing Ethereum validator key into multiple keyshares for use in an Obol Distributed Validator.


  • Ensure you have the existing validator keys (the ones to split) ready to be copied.
  • Ensure you have docker installed.
  • Make sure docker is running before executing the commands below.

Step 1. Clone the charon repo and copy existing keystore files

Clone the charon repo.

# Clone the repo
git clone

# Change directory
cd charon/

# Create a folder within this checked out repo
mkdir split_keys

Copy the existing validator keystore.json files into this new folder. Alongside them, with a matching filename but ending with .txt should be the password to the keystore. E.g., keystore-0.json keystore-0.txt

At the end of this process, you should have a tree like this:

├── split_keys
│   ├── keystore-0.json
│   ├── keystore-0.txt
│   ├── keystore-1.json
│   ├── keystore-1.txt
│   ├── keystore-*.json
│   ├── keystore-*.txt

Step 2. Split the keys using the charon docker command

Run the following docker command to split the keys:

CHARON_VERSION=                # E.g. 0.16.0
NETWORK= # E.g. goerli or mainnet
CLUSTER_NAME= # The name of the cluster you want to create.
WITHDRAWAL_ADDRESS= # The address you want to use for withdrawals.
FEE_RECIPIENT_ADDRESS= # The address you want to use for fee payments.
THRESHOLD= # The number of keyshares required to sign a message.
NODES= # The number of nodes in the cluster.

docker run --rm -v $(pwd):/opt/charon obolnetwork/charon:v${CHARON_VERSION} create cluster --name="${CLUSTER_NAME}" --network="${NETWORK}" --withdrawal-addresses="${WITHDRAWAL_ADDRESS}" --fee-recipient-addresses="${FEE_RECIPIENT_ADDRESS}" --split-existing-keys --split-keys-dir=/opt/charon/split_keys --threshold ${THRESHOLD} --nodes ${NODES}

The above command will create validator_keys along with cluster-lock.json and deposit-data.json in ./.charon/cluster for each node.

Command output:

***************** WARNING: Splitting keys **********************
Please make sure any existing validator has been shut down for
at least 2 finalised epochs before starting the charon cluster,
otherwise slashing could occur.

Created charon cluster:

├─ node[0-*]/ Directory for each node
│ ├─ charon-enr-private-key Charon networking private key for node authentication
│ ├─ cluster-lock.json Cluster lock defines the cluster lock file which is signed by all nodes
│ ├─ deposit-data.json Deposit data file is used to activate a Distributed Validator on DV Launchpad
│ ├─ validator_keys Validator keystores and password
│ │ ├─ keystore-*.json Validator private share key for duty signing
│ │ ├─ keystore-*.txt Keystore password files for keystore-*.json

These split keys can now be used to start a charon cluster.


If you have gotten this far through the process, and whether you succeeded or failed at splitting an existing validator keystore, we would like to hear your feedback on the process and where you encountered difficulties. Please let us know by joining and posting on our Discord. Also, feel free to add issues to our GitHub repos.