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Last update: December 14, 2020


Besu implements the Clique Proof-of-Authority (PoA) consensus protocol. The Rinkeby testnet uses Clique and private networks can also use Clique.

In Clique networks, approved accounts, known as signers, validate transactions and blocks. Signers take turns to create the next block. Existing signers propose and vote to add or remove signers.

Genesis file

To use Clique in a private network, Besu requires a Clique genesis file. When connecting to Rinkeby, Besu uses the rinkeby.json genesis file in the /besu/config/src/main/resources directory.

A Clique genesis file defines properties specific to Clique.

Sample Clique Genesis File

    "constantinoplefixblock": 0,
  "alloc": {},

The properties specific to Clique are:

  • blockperiodseconds - The block time, in seconds.
  • epochlength - The number of blocks after which to reset all votes.
  • extraData - Vanity data takes up the first 32 bytes, followed by the initial signers.

Extra data

The extraData field consists of:

  • 0x prefix.
  • 32 bytes (64 hex characters) of vanity data.
  • A concatenated list of initial signer addresses (at least one initial signer required). 20 bytes (40 hex characters) for each signer.
  • 65 bytes (130 hex characters) for the proposer signature. In the genesis block there is no initial proposer so the proposer signature is all zeros.

One Initial Signer

One Initial Signer

Two Initial Signers

Two Initial Signers

Connecting to a Clique network

To connect to the Rinkeby testnet, start Besu with the --network=rinkeby command line option. To start a node on a Clique private network, use the --genesis-file option to specify the custom genesis file.

Adding and removing signers

To propose adding or removing signers using the JSON-RPC methods, enable the HTTP interface using --rpc-http-enabled or the WebSockets interface using --rpc-ws-enabled.

The Clique API methods are not enabled by default. To enable them, specify the --rpc-http-api or --rpc-ws-api option and include CLIQUE.

The JSON-RPC methods to add or remove signers are:


A majority of existing signers must agree to add or remove a signer. That is, more than 50% of signers must execute clique_propose to add or remove a signer. For example, if you have four signers, the vote must be made on three signers.

To view signer metrics for a specified block range, call clique_getSignerMetrics.


clique_getSignerMetrics can be used to identify validators that are not active. The validator’s lastProposedBlockNumber will be 0x0

Adding a signer

To propose adding a signer, call clique_propose, specifying the address of the proposed signer and true. A majority of signers must execute the call.

JSON-RPC clique_propose Request Example

curl -X POST --data '{"jsonrpc":"2.0","method":"clique_propose","params":["0xFE3B557E8Fb62b89F4916B721be55cEb828dBd73", true], "id":1}' <JSON-RPC-endpoint:port>

When the signer creates the next block, the signer adds a vote to the block for the proposed signer.

When more than half of the existing signers propose adding the signer, with their votes distributed in blocks, the signer can begin signing blocks.

To return a list of signers and confirm the addition of a proposed signer, call clique_getSigners.

JSON-RPC clique_getSigners Request Example

curl -X POST --data '{"jsonrpc":"2.0","method":"clique_getSigners","params":["latest"], "id":1}' <JSON-RPC-endpoint:port>

To discard your proposal after confirming the addition of a signer, call clique_discard specifying the address of the proposed signer.

JSON-RPC clique_discard Request Example

curl -X POST --data '{"jsonrpc":"2.0","method":"clique_discard","params":["0xFE3B557E8Fb62b89F4916B721be55cEb828dBd73"], "id":1}' <JSON-RPC-endpoint:port>

Removing a signer

The process for removing a signer is the same as adding a signer except you specify false as the second parameter of clique_propose.

Epoch transition

At each epoch transition, Clique discards all pending votes collected from received blocks. Existing proposals remain in effect and signers re-add their vote the next time they create a block.

Define the number of blocks between epoch transitions in the genesis file.

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