Regtest with Zebra

The Regtest network in Zebra enables testing of custom functionalities in a private testnet environment with configurable network upgrade activation heights. It allows for starting an isolated node which won't connect to any peers and currently allows for committing blocks without validating their Proof of Work (in the future, it may use a very low target difficulty and easier Equihash parameters instead of skipping Proof of Work validation altogether).

Zebra always activates the Canopy network upgrade at block height 1 due to limitations on its block construction.

In order to use Regtest, Zebra must be configured to run on the Regtest network. The [mining] section is also necessary for mining blocks, and the [rpc] section is necessary for using the send_raw_transaction RPC method to mine non-coinbase transactions onto the chain.

Relevant parts of the configuration file:

miner_address = 't27eWDgjFYJGVXmzrXeVjnb5J3uXDM9xH9v'
network = "Regtest"

# This section may be omitted when testing only Canopy
# Configured activation heights must be greater than or equal to 1, 
# block height 0 is reserved for the Genesis network upgrade in Zebra
NU5 = 1 

# This section may be omitted if a persistent Regtest chain state is desired
ephemeral = true

# This section may be omitted if it's not necessary to send transactions to Zebra's mempool
listen_addr = ""

Zebra should now include the Regtest network name in its logs, for example:

2024-05-15T21:33:57.044156Z  INFO {zebrad="01633af" net="Regtest"}: zebrad::commands::start: initializing mempool

There are two ways to commit blocks to Zebra's state on Regtest:

  • Using the getblocktemplate and submitblock RPC methods directly
  • Using Zebra's experimental internal-miner feature

Using Zebra's Internal Miner

Zebra can mine blocks on the Regtest network when compiled with the experimental internal-miner compilation feature and configured to enable to internal miner.

Add internal_miner = true in the mining section of its configuration and compile Zebra with cargo build --features "internal-miner" (or cargo run --features "internal-miner" to compile and start Zebra) to use the internal miner with Regtest:

internal_miner = true

Zebra should now mine blocks on Regtest when it starts after a short delay (of around 30 seconds).

To confirm that it's working, look for successfully mined a new block messages in the logs, or that the tip height is increasing.

Using RPC methods directly

Blocks could also be mined outside of Zebra and submitted via Zebra's RPC methods. This requires enabling the RPC server in the configuration by providing a listen_addr field:

listen_addr = ""

With Proof of Work disabled on Regtest, block templates can be converted directly into blocks with the proposal_block_from_template() function in the zebra-chain crate, serialized, hex-encoded, and then submitted via the submitblock RPC method.

The submitblock RPC method should return { "result": null } for successful block submissions.

For example:

fn main() {
let client = RpcRequestClient::new(rpc_address);

let block_template: GetBlockTemplate = client
    .json_result_from_call("getblocktemplate", "[]".to_string())
    .expect("response should be success output with a serialized `GetBlockTemplate`");

let network_upgrade = if block_template.height < NU5_ACTIVATION_HEIGHT {
} else {

let block_data = hex::encode(
    proposal_block_from_template(&block_template, TimeSource::default(), network_upgrade)?

let submit_block_response = client
    .text_from_call("submitblock", format!(r#"["{block_data}"]"#))

let was_submission_successful = submit_block_response.contains(r#""result":null"#);

See the regtest_submit_blocks() acceptance test as a more detailed example for using Zebra's RPC methods to submit blocks on Regtest.

When Proof of Work validation is enabled for Regtest with a low target difficulty and easy Equihash parameters, Zebra may have a network.testnet_parameters.disable_pow field in its configuration so that this would continue working.