What is a Dash Masternode and how do I set up one?

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What is a Dash Masternode and how do I set up one?


BolehVPN is a proud supporter of Dash and grants a 10% discount to users who pay for our services using Dash.

What is a Dash Masternode?

As you know, we are a big fan of Dash, a privacy centric, anonymous and innovative digital currency that seeks to solve the drawbacks of Bitcoin. These improvements are achieved primarily through a layer of users hosting servers that provide services on top of Dash which are called masternodes.

Masternodes enable the following services:

  • InstantX (instant transactions). In contrast, Bitcoin takes about 10 minutes to confirm a payment.
  • PrivacyProtect (anonymous transactions). In contrast, Bitcoin transactions are totally public and traceable. Only the identity of the addresses is anonymous.
  • Dash Evolution (a decentralized payment processor (think a decentralized Paypal).)

Masternode users also have to put down a stake of their Dash (1000 Dash which at the time of writing is worth about USD4240.00) and temporarily locks it up to host a masternode. This prevents people from easily creating a masternode in order to game the security of the system.

Masternode users also are given voting rights on proposals. Each masternode has 1 vote and this vote can be used on budget proposals or important decisions that affect Dash.

How much can you earn from hosting a Masternode?

Masternodes cost money and effort to host so they are paid a share of the block reward to incentivize them. With current masternode numbers and rewards masternodes earn approximately a 14% return on 1000 Dash (which means 140 Dash or USD593.60 at current prices) for the year of 2016. This rewards fall off in subsequent years but as the value of Dash is rising and the supply of Dash goes down, masternodes should still be sufficiently incentivized. This projection also doesn’t count the fees that masternodes earn whenever someone uses its services (InstantX and PrivacyProtect).

MN Chart

Masternode Returns

What do I need to host a Masternode?

  • 1000 Dash: Arguably the hardest part. Dash can be obtained from exchanges such as Poloniex, Bittrex and LiveCoin. Shapeshift‘s service is also an excellent way. You can also use
  • A server or a VPS installed with Linux: For the purposes of this guide we will be used Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. We recommend cheap VPSes such as from Vultr and DigitalOcean though any decent provider will do. Generally a low specced one will do. I use the 5 USD ones from Vultr and they work fine.
  • A dedicated IP address: These usually come with the VPS/server.
  • A little time <3 When I first got into masternodes, there were only a few guides around and did not cover all the scenarios. It took days for me to figure out the best ways to do everything. However, the process now takes a few minutes. With this guide it, I hope it will make the process a lot easier.

If you can’t be bothered with setting up and maintaining your own and don’t mind paying a little extra, you can go with paid masternode hosters which will greatly simplify the process. A few good ones are:

  • Node40 You can tell Perry that BolehVPN sent you! (perry [a] node40 dot com)
  • Splawik Supershare Hosting Service Tell Splawik (splawik21 [a] dash dot org) that BolehVPN  sent you! He also does share services where if you don’t have 1000 Dash you can share with other people too! Splawik is an official member of the Dash team.
  • Masternodehosting by Holger (flare). Holger is an official member of the Dash team.
  • Moowcowmoo Masternode.Me Moocowmoo is an official member of the Dash team.

BolehVPN is not affiliated to any of these providers though we have been in contact with most of them. A full list can be found here.

Step By Step Guide in Hosting a Masternode

This post assumes you are familiar with setting up a Ubuntu 14.04 VPS and already have a Dash wallet installed on your local computer.

If you do not have your Dash wallet yet, you can download the client from here. You can also read full documentation on the Dash wallet here.

If you need step by step instructions on setting up a VPS, you can use Tao’s Masternode setup guide for dummies which has a section on setting up one in Vultr.

Step 1 Secure your wallet

First of all make sure you have encrypted your wallet. This makes sure your Dash is kept safely even if your computer or wallet falls in the wrong hands.

Click on Settings > Encrypt Wallet and choose a suitably long passphrase.

Step 2 Generate a masternode private key and a deposit address.

Your masternode private key identifies you as the owner of the masternode. It also allows you to vote on budget proposals.

Although it isn’t a good idea to leak out your masternode private key, even if this information is out, your 1000 Dash is safe. If a third party gets hold of this masternode private key, all they can do is use your vote on proposals so it isn’t the end of the world.

Your deposit address is where you will be depositing your 1000 Dash.

Click on Tools > Debug Console and enter in the following commands as in the picture below.


Copy the two results and save it in a text file for later use. The first result is the masternode private key and the second result is the masternode deposit address. We will use it very shortly!

Step 3 Deposit your 1000 Dash

Make sure DarkSend (or Privacy Protect) and InstantX are left UNCHECKED. Send EXACTLY 1000 Dash into the masternode deposit address that you just created in one single transaction. That means, don’t send 500 and then another 500! It has to be in one single transaction! When sending it from direct from an exchange, make sure you have accounted for the transfer fees or else you might end up with less than 1000 Dash!

You now have to wait for 15 confirmations which should take approximately 40 minutes. We can move on to the other steps first while waiting for this!

Step 4 Install Dashman

Dashman is an amazing script by Moocowmoo (one of Dash’s devs) that automates a lot of the tedious parts of maintaining a masternode.

SSH into your Linux server.

Type the following in a terminal.

sudo apt-get install git
git clone https://github.com/moocowmoo/dashman.git
cd dashman
./dashman install

This will create a new hidden folder called .dash in your user directory with all the relevant Dash files. You now need to edit the Dash configuration file.
nano ~/.dash/dash.conf

This will bring up a file like this:


Delete the three “#” marked in green and enter in your masternode private key that you created in Step 2 in the place marked red. Dashman should have already automatically inserted your masternode ip in the appropriate section but just double check to make sure.

Press Ctrl X and confirm to save the file.

Type the following to restart your dash client to use the new settings:

./dashman restart

It is also highly recommended also to setup a simple firewall for added security.

apt-get install ufw

Enter the following commands EXACTLY (in this order) to set up your firewall:
Please note: Make sure you enter the code in this order! If you do not, the program will not work!
If need be you can disable your firewall by entering as root: ufw disable.

ufw allow ssh/tcp
ufw limit ssh/tcp
ufw allow 9999/tcp
ufw logging on
ufw enable

Check your firewall’s status by entering the following command:

ufw status

You will see a message saying that your ufw status is active and will activate upon reboot as well.

Step 5 Create a masternode.conf file on your local PC

Masternode.conf is a place to put all your masternodes details so your local Dash wallet knows which funds are in masternodes and allows you to label your masternodes.

You would first need to get your transaction hash and index for the deposit that you did into your masternode deposit address. To do this, go to Tools>Debug Console and type

masternode outputs

This will return something like this (the details below are fake but are for illustration purposes only).

06e38868bb8f9958e34d5155437d009b72dff33fc28874c87fd42e51c0f74fdb” : “0“,

The transaction hash is the first part marked in blue and the index is the single digit marked in orange (usually 0 or 1). You will need this info to create your masternode.conf.

Create a new text file called masternode.conf in the same place where dash.conf is located on your local PC (not your masternode server!). On Windows this is located at %appdata%/Dash (type this in Windows Explorer). Open it to edit it and enter in the following format.


LABEL: Any name that you want to call your masternode in one word. For e.g. MN1
IP: Your masternode IP
MASTERNODEPRIVKEY: This is the masternode private key that you placed in your remote configuration just now
TRANSACTIONHASH: This is the transaction hash for the transaction in which you got your 1000 DASH deposited which you obtained just now through the masternode outputs command.
INDEX: This is the Index of your transaction which you obtained just now through the masternode outputs command.

To make things clearer let’s show a made up example of how a masternode.conf would look like. Colors are for illustration only.

MN1 7rxSr3fXpX3dZcU7CoiFuFWqeHYw83r28btCFfIHqf6zkMp1PZ4 06e38868bb8f9958e34d5155437d009b72dff33fc28874c87fd42e51c0f74fdb 0

Once you have entered the necessary details, save your masternode.conf. Restart your Dash local client so it would take the new settings.

Note for multiple masternodes:

If you are creating more than one masternode, the “masternode outputs” command will return several transaction hashes and indexes. Just determine which one is the new one by comparing it with your existing masternode.conf and see which one is not in it.

You will then add the new corresponding details in new line in masternode.conf. An example is below:

MN1 7rxSr3fXpX3dZcU7CoiFuFWqeHYw83r28btCFfIHqf6zkMp1PZ4 06e38868bb8f9958e34d5155437d009b72dff33fc28874c87fd42e51c0f74fdb 0
MN2 7qmYP6epTN8d3S7pmkKsY52oFWRPCMs99kDe8tY4jkiDcP2X5bM 2788be8a939d445fff0c53ba5a53669925434a7498bd607a0791117633810b6a 1

Remember to restart your local Dash wallet whenever you edit your masternode.conf.

Step 6 Starting your Masternode

Before you proceed, make sure your masternode is synced up to the latest block. To do this, on your masternode server, type:

./dashman status

This will return a result that shows the health and other information on your masternode. Generally if everything is ok, it will appear green. To check if your masternode has fully synced, see this portion of the status:


If your local dashd has the same number as the other ones, you are synced!

Now startup your local Dash wallet if it isn’t open already.

Open up your terminal and type

masternode start-missing YOURWALLETPASSWORD

If all is well, you will see something to similar to this (in this example there are 3 Masternodes listed in masternode.conf)

"overall" : "Successfully started 3 masternodes, failed to start 0, total 3",
"detail" : {
"status" : {
"alias" : "MN1",
"result" : "successful"
"status" : {
"alias" : "MN2",
"result" : "successful"
"status" : {
"alias" : "MN3",
"result" : "successful"

You can also use the command below to selectively start a single masternode.

masternode start-alias YOURMNLABEL

To make sure they are properly started, go back to your masternode server and type again

./dashman status

It should show the following:


Sometimes the ninja one may take a few minutes to sync up but if the first two results are YES you should be safe and can check a bit later to ensure that ninja is updated.

Congratulations, you now have a running masternode!

Step 7 Getting your Payment and Maintaining your Masternode

Your first payment may take a week or more to show but afterwards should take place once every 6 days. As long your dashman status shows that everything is okay, you should be in line for a masternode payout!

IMPORTANT NOTE: Everytime you start a masternode, it resets its place in the payout queue thus delaying payments. Therefore although there is also a “masternode start-many ” command, it isn’t recommended since it would also restart nodes that have no issues. If one of your masternode servers has an issue (for e.g. the server was rebooted), only restart the masternodes which are down by using the masternode start-missing command and not the start-many command.

If there is a new version of Dash out, you can easily update by issuing the following command on your masternode server which will update your Dash to the latest version.

./dashman update

After you update always double check with a./dashman status to make sure your masternode is still in a started state. If not, you will have to start it again from your local Dash wallet.

Step 8 Optional: Auto restart of dashd in the event of crash

You can also install a monitor to auto restart dash if it crashes. This is optional. The below is taken from Moomoocow’s post:

Install Monit

sudo apt-get install monit

Create file /home/user/.dash/start_dashd.sh (change user to yours)

/bin/su user -c '/home/user/.dash/dashd 2>&1 >> /home/user/.dash/rc.local.log'

Make it executable

chmod 755 /home/user/.dash/start_dashd.sh

Edit the file /etc/monit/monitrc

sudo nano /etc/monit/monitrc

Edit the file as follows:

# uncomment these lines
set httpd port 2812 and
use address localhost  # only accept connection from localhost
allow localhost        # allow localhost to connect to the server and
# add this to bottom - change user to yours
check process dashd with pidfile /home/user/.dash/dashd.pid
start program = "/home/user/.dash/start_dashd.sh" with timeout 60 seconds
stop program = "/bin/su user -c /home/user/.dash/dash-cli stop"

Load the new configuration

sudo monit reload

Enable the watchdog

sudo monit start dashd

That’s it. You only have to do above once.
You can check monit’s status by typing below:

sudo monit status

It’ll keep your dashd running for you (across reboots too, no need for any crons or scripts) and keep you from fighting with your chosen OS. Monit only runs once a minute, so be patient if you’re waiting for it to do something.

If you need proof it works, once you see your dashd in the ‘sudo monit status‘ output, you can test it by simply stopping your dashd (dash-cli stop) — within 2 minutes it’ll start it back up,


This post is not officially affiliated with Dash nor sponsored in any way. Our Co-Founder Reuben is a big fan of the cryptocurrency and wished to share what he had to learn through asking around and trawling many posts scattered across the web. He owns several masternodes in his own private capacity.


  1. MangledBlue says:

    This is a very nice write-up….
    I even see attributes from DASH DEV(s)…..


  2. MangledBlue says:

    Would @Moocowmoo be willing to share/post an Advanced Setting: Dump the ‘debug.log’ into “no-where” ?? – nice thing to have….

  3. moocowmoo says:

    To bypass writing to debug.log, add ‘printtoconsole=1’ to your dash.conf.
    If you do this, it’s recommended to launch dashd in a screen session so you have the option of reviewing the recent debug.log output if needed.

    If you don’t know about GNU screen, here’s a good primer https://www.linode.com/docs/networking/ssh/using-gnu-screen-to-manage-persistent-terminal-sessions

  4. SonnyTico says:

    Really impressive sir! Thank you for all your hard work

  5. Mateo says:

    This is an awesome wiki. Thanks so much. I have 1000 dash and want to setup a mnode. I am just considered that even if I use a VPS will it be a problem that my local DashQT node is installed on a machine at a coworking space (which I will leave in a month)

    I am worried my static IP will suddenly change I will have problems reconfiguring or possibly lose my Dash!

  6. Mateo says:

    In other words my question is: once I get the masternode up and running on my vpn server can I take my local dash wallet offline and leave it in cold storage? Would I lose the masternode? maintain the masternode but lose the ability to vote ?

    • Reuben says:

      Mateo: Once the masternode is setup on your remote server or VPS, you can close off your local Dash wallet and the masternode will continue to run. You can actually continue voting if you want to use services like DashWhale by Rango. They store your masternode voting private keys but in a trustless way which is encrypted by your passphrase.

  7. Mateo says:

    Thanks Reuben. That’s super cool! I have my VPS running. I almost ready to fire up dashd. I just didn’t exactly follow the wiki on this blog; I also combined with part’s of Tao’s masternode wiki and I want to make sure I have it right.

    The question I have is basically if my ./dashd (or I guess, ./dashman for this wiki) needs to be in the same directory as my dash.conf file ??

  8. Mat says:

    there is already 3500 master nodes, it seems it is not interesting at all to setup a master node is the setupcost is 1000 dash…

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