Polkadot: Running and interacting with a full node

I recently set up a Polkadot node on Google Cloud Platform that could create addresses and make transactions.

Instead of building from source I used Docker. After some troubleshooting, I found the command to run is:

docker run -it -p 30333:30333 -p 9944:9944 -p 80:9933 -v /mnt/polkadot:/polkadot/.local/share parity/polkadot:latest --rpc-external --rpc-cors=all --chain westend --ws-external

This differs from the (current) documentation in two ways:

  1. The data volume needs to point to /polkadot/.local/share. The symlink that is supposed to exist for /data appears to be broken in the current image. See this GitHub issue for details.

  2. Port 9944 needs to be mapped.

  3. One of the first API calls you are likely to make to check that things are working as expected, particularly for WebSocket connections, is to open to a WS connection to be notified when your node syncs a new block. The node only does this once it has caught up with its piers. Whilst it is still syncing it will only return the current highest block when you make the initial API call. I ended up chatting to one of the Parity devs about this issue on discord and then on Stack Overflow.

Other than that, everything went as described in the documentation.