The Mary hard fork FAQ—Everything you need to know

The Mary hard fork FAQ—Everything you need to know

Written by @elliothill of the Cardano Foundation

The update proposal for the Mary hark fork to the Cardano mainnet has been submitted, and is ready to take effect via IOHK’s hard fork combinator event at the border of epoch 251—or more precisely, at 21:44:51 UTC on 1 March 2021.

Just like the Shelley hard fork which transitioned Cardano seamlessly in July 2020, the Mary hard fork will be equally hands-off for our general community. But to ease you through this process, and answer some frequently asked questions, we have put together this short Mary hard fork FAQ for you.

Thank you for coming with us on this journey into the next phase of Cardano’s development! We look forward to seeing what you will deploy on Cardano during the exciting times ahead.

1. What is a ‘hard fork’?

In simple terms, a hard fork is the introduction of any significant alteration to the core code of a blockchain protocol, rendering any transaction record before it incompatible with the hard-forked version of the blockchain. On other blockchains, hard forks have traditionally represented a radical change in the blockchain which required the previous protocol to stop operating, and a new chain to begin. Often, this required users to swap tokens and other similar intensive processes. This has led to some trepidation and expectations of upheaval when hard forks are scheduled.

This isn’t the case for Cardano. Instead of implementing radical changes, Cardano ensures a smooth transition to a new protocol, while saving the history of the previous blocks. This means that the blockchain does not change radically. Instead, it contains Shelley blocks, and after a transition period, adds Mary blocks. There will be no fundamental restart point that erases the history of previous activities.

Therefore, hard forks are necessary and timely upgrades of Cardano’s core infrastructure, and the engineers at IOHK have built the Hard Fork Combinator to ensure this transition is orderly and seamless. The current Cardano chain combines Byron and Shelley blocks, and after Mary, it will also combine Goguen blocks. The Hard Fork Combinator facilitates the transition from Shelley to Goguen and beyond.

You can read more about the hard fork process and the Hard Fork Combinator on Cardano in our documentation here.

2. When will the Mary hard fork take place?

As we briefly mentioned in the introduction, the on-chain changes required for Mary have already taken place. The transition to Mary will take place at the border of epoch 251. This will take place at 21:44:51 UTC on 1 March 2021.

3. Do I need to do anything to prepare for the hard fork?

If you are an ada holder or general user, there won’t be anything you need to do to prepare for the Mary hard fork. You will not be required to redeem any tokens, nor will you need to send your existing ada tokens anywhere in preparation for or following the hard fork.

Please be especially vigilant at this time, anyone asking you to transfer ada to prepare for a hard fork is not a legitimate entity. The Cardano Foundation, EMURGO, or IOHK will never ask you to transfer funds.

If you have your ada in an official wallet, such as Daedalus or Yoroi, there’s no need to take any action. Other third-party providers and exchanges should likewise require no user actions. However it is an individual exchange’s responsibility to ensure they are using the latest Cardano components, and so there is a potential that deposits and withdrawals at this time could be delayed.

If you are an exchange provider, wallet provider, or third party service provider, the relevant documentation and components to prepare for the Mary hard fork were shared with you at the beginning of February 2021 by the Cardano Foundation’s Exchange and Integrations team.

4. Are there any deadlines I might miss for the Mary hard fork?

No. The IOHK Hard Fork Combinator will handle the Mary hard fork, there are no deadlines. It will be a hands-off and seamless process for most users.

5. Why is a hard fork required?

Mary is a very significant upgrade to Cardano, bringing new features and functionality through the availability of native tokens and the multi-asset ledger. The Cardano protocol is undergoing a period of significant change and growth, and the Mary hard fork will facilitate these changes.

While the Mary hard fork itself will be seamless, we are sure you will notice the proliferation of native tokens and the hive of activity that follows shortly after it!

6. Will the wallet I hold my ada in affect my actions during the hard fork?

Your choice of wallet won’t affect the actions you need to take as an individual ada holder. But do bear in mind that the onus is on your wallet provider to ensure they have the necessary components in place to support the Mary hard fork as soon as it’s live. Therefore, depending on the individual wallet provider’s readiness, there may be some delays.

Please note that the Cardano Foundation, EMURGO, and IOHK are unable to assist or expedite this process. That being said, we do work closely with all third-party infrastructure providers to ensure that their components are up to date.

7. Where can I find help and support during the hard fork?

In the event that you do need support during or after the Mary hard fork, we encourage you to reach out to us using our official channels. We will always communicate updates and announcements through these channels. Again, please stay safe and only trust information posted on our official channels.

8. What will I be able to do after the Mary hard fork?

It will take some time for all of the components of Mary to begin bearing fruit. The Mary hard fork does represent a step change for the Cardano protocol, but there is still plenty of work to be done to improve the native token user experience. The first focus areas will be creating a Cardano token registry, and release new versions of Daedalus Flight.

You can explore our multi-asset ledger documentation here. At the moment, you will need to be familiar with the Cardano command-line interface (CLI) in order to define and mint a native token.

In the future, Daedalus will include a token generator with a user-friendly interface for easy creation and deployment of native tokens. You can read more about this planned feature here.

More questions?

As more Goguen components are rolled out, of which the Mary hard fork is a critical component, we are sure that you will be eager to learn about new features. If you have more questions, leave them in the comments below.

If you have a question that has already been asked, please ‘like’ the original question and we will produce more content around the most important topics.

Thank you for participating in this transformational time for the Cardano protocol and our community. We are on the advent of one of the most important times for our ecosystem, and we are glad you are along for the journey.


Read more about the Mary hard fork here:

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