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Cosmosvisor Quick Start

Cosmovisor is a small process manager around Cosmos SDK binaries that monitors the governance module via stdout to see if there's a chain upgrade proposal coming in. If it sees a proposal that gets approved, it can be run manually or automatically to download the new code, stop the node, run the migration script, replace the node binary, and start with the new genesis file.



go get

Command Line Arguments And Environment Variables

All arguments passed to the cosmovisor program will be passed to the current daemon binary (as a subprocess). It will return /dev/stdout and /dev/stderr of the subprocess as its own. Because of that, it cannot accept any command line arguments, nor print anything to output (unless it terminates unexpectedly before executing a binary).

cosmovisor reads its configuration from environment variables:

  • DAEMON_HOME is the location where upgrade binaries should be kept (e.g. $HOME/.injectived).
  • DAEMON_NAME is the name of the binary itself (eg. injectived).
  • DAEMON_ALLOW_DOWNLOAD_BINARIES (optional) if set to true will enable auto-downloading of new binaries (for security reasons, this is intended for full nodes rather than validators).
  • DAEMON_RESTART_AFTER_UPGRADE (optional) if set to true it will restart the sub-process with the same command line arguments and flags (but new binary) after a successful upgrade. By default, cosmovisor dies afterwards and allows the supervisor to restart it if needed. Note that this will not auto-restart the child if there was an error.
  • DAEMON_LOG_BUFFER_SIZE (optional) is the buffer size for cosmovisor to scan log. If not set, it will use the default 64. (e.g. set to 256 or 512) It is to avoid scanning stuck in case of long line of the log.

Data Folder Layout

$DAEMON_HOME/cosmovisor is expected to belong completely to cosmovisor and subprocesses that are controlled by it. The folder content is organised as follows:

├── current -> genesis or upgrades/<name>
├── genesis
│   └── bin
│   └── $DAEMON_NAME
└── upgrades
└── <name>
└── bin

Each version of the Cosmos SDK application is stored under either genesis or upgrades/<name>, which holds bin/$DAEMON_NAME along with any other needed files such as auxiliary client programs or libraries. current is a symbolic link to the currently active folder (so current/bin/$DAEMON_NAME is the currently active binary).

Note: the name variable in upgrades/<name> holds the URI-encoded name of the upgrade as specified in the upgrade module plan.

Please note that $DAEMON_HOME/cosmovisor just stores the binaries and associated program code. The cosmovisor binary can be stored in any typical location (eg /usr/local/bin). The actual blockchain program will store it's data under their default data directory (e.g. $HOME/.injectived) which is independent of the $DAEMON_HOME. You can choose to set $DAEMON_HOME to the actual binary's home directory and then end up with a configuation like the following, but this is left as a choice to the system admininstrator for best directory layout:

├── config
├── data
└── cosmovisor


The system administrator admin is responsible for:

  • installing the cosmovisor binary and configure the host's init system (e.g. systemd, launchd, etc) along with the environmental variables appropriately;
  • installing the genesis folder manually;
  • installing the upgrades/<name> folders manually.

cosmovisor will set the current link to point to genesis at first start (when no current link exists) and handles binaries switch overs at the correct points in time, so that the system administrator can prepare days in advance and relax at upgrade time.

Note that blockchain applications that wish to support upgrades may package up a genesis cosmovisor tarball with this information, just as they prepare the genesis binary tarball. In fact, they may offer a tarball will all upgrades up to current point for easy download for those who wish to sync a fullnode from start.

The DAEMON specific code and operations (e.g. tendermint config, the application db, syncing blocks, etc) are performed as normal. Application binaries' directives such as command-line flags and environment variables work normally.


Generally, the system requires that the system administrator place all relevant binaries on the disk before the upgrade happens. However, for people who don't need such control and want an easier setup (maybe they are syncing a non-validating fullnode and want to do little maintenance), there is another option.

If you set DAEMON_ALLOW_DOWNLOAD_BINARIES=on then when an upgrade is triggered and no local binary can be found, the cosmovisor will attempt to download and install the binary itself. The plan stored in the upgrade module has an info field for arbitrary json. This info is expected to be outputed on the halt log message. There are two valid format to specify a download in such a message:

  1. Store an os/architecture -> binary URI map in the upgrade plan info field as JSON under the "binaries" key, eg:
"binaries": {
  1. Store a link to a file that contains all information in the above format (eg. if you want to specify lots of binaries, changelog info, etc without filling up the blockchain).


This file contained in the link will be retrieved by go-getter and the "binaries" field will be parsed as above.

If there is no local binary, DAEMON_ALLOW_DOWNLOAD_BINARIES=on, and we can access a canonical url for the new binary, then the cosmovisor will download it with go-getter and unpack it into the upgrades/<name> folder to be run as if we installed it manually.

Note that for this mechanism to provide strong security guarantees, all URLS should include a sha{256,512} checksum. This ensures that no false binary is run, even if someone hacks the server or hijacks the DNS. go-getter will always ensure the downloaded file matches the checksum if it is provided. go-getter will also handle unpacking archives into directories (so these download links should be a zip of all data in the bin directory).

To properly create a checksum on linux, you can use the sha256sum utility. e.g. sha256sum ./testdata/repo/zip_directory/ which should return 29139e1381b8177aec909fab9a75d11381cab5adf7d3af0c05ff1c9c117743a7. You can also use sha512sum if you like longer hashes, or md5sum if you like to use broken hashes. Make sure to set the hash algorithm properly in the checksum argument to the url.

Example: injectived

The following instructions provide a demonstration of cosmovisor's integration with the injectived application shipped along the Cosmos SDK's source code.

First compile injectived:

cd injective-core/
make build

Create a new key and setup the injectived node:

rm -rf $HOME/.injectived
./build/injectived keys --keyring-backend=file add validator
./build/injectived init testing --chain-id=injective-1
./build/injectived add-genesis-account --keyring-backend=file $(./build/injectived keys --keyring-backend=file show validator -a) 1000000000inj
./build/injectived gentx --keyring-backend=file --chain-id=injective-1 validator 100000inj
./build/injectived collect-gentxs

Set the required environment variables:

export DAEMON_NAME=injectived         # binary name
export DAEMON_HOME=$HOME/.injectived # daemon's home directory

Create the cosmovisor’s genesis folders and deploy the binary:

mkdir -p $DAEMON_HOME/cosmovisor/genesis/bin
cp ./build/injectived $DAEMON_HOME/cosmovisor/genesis/bin

For the sake of this demonstration, we would amend voting_params.voting_period in .injectived/config/genesis.json to a reduced time ~5 minutes (300s) and eventually launch cosmosvisor:

cosmovisor start

Submit a software upgrade proposal:

./build/injectived tx gov submit-proposal software-upgrade test1 --title="upgrade-demo" --description="upgrade"  --from=validator --upgrade-height=100 --deposit=10000000inj --chain-id=injective-1 --keyring-backend=test -y

Query the proposal to ensure it was correctly broadcast and added to a block:

./build/injectived query gov proposal 1

Submit a Yes vote for the upgrade proposal:

./build/injectived tx gov vote 1 yes --from=validator --keyring-backend=file --chain-id=injective-1 -y