What is Kusama?

By Jennifer MuirheadPublished in GuidesThu 3rd 20227 min read


Kusama? Kusama Parachain? This article covers all the basics about Kusama, its relationship with Polkadot and the becoming of Karus Starter.

2022 Edit: How Did KSM Starter Become Karus Starter In late 2021, after much community discussion on how we could improve our product, we decided it was time to expand our offerings to include IDOs (Initial DEX Offering), IPOs (Initial Private Sale Offering), and IMOs (Initial Metaverse Offering). We also made the difficult decision to move away from Kusama in order to offer our clients access to more diverse chains, including Ethereum, Moonriver, Polygon, Binance Smart Chain, Avalanche, and Heco. To reflect this change, we rebranded from KSM Starter to Karus Starter. Although we are no longer using Kusama, we continue to respect them as our roots, recognise their merits, and remain thankful to them for being a part of our journey. 


Why Did We Choose Kusama? In our early days of KSM Starter, we agreed that if we wanted to become the premier crypto IDO launchpad, we could only do so by focussing on one network at a time. Because of this, we had to choose wisely. After extensive research, deliberation, and debate, it was unanimous. Kusama was the perfect fit for us. So for many months, we worked on launching KSM Starter from the ground up. And it worked! In less than a year, we launched multiple successful IDOs for brilliant projects and raised over $500,000. Our communities were growing rapidly. The KSM Starter launch was a success for all involved. During the process, we became larger, more organised, and more experienced. Most importantly, we gained the capacity and capability to help other projects become successful in their own right. We will become the premier crypto IDO launchpad, but not how we had originally planned. Karus Starter will focus on supporting high quality, genuine projects and helping them launch safely into the ever-evolving IDO ecosystem. This rebranding is not only a name change, it’s a testament to our commitment and continued efforts for now and many years to come. ## What is Kusama? Kusama is a pre-production environment for Polkadot that allows developers to experiment and test new blockchains and applications before releasing them on the network. As Kusama's primary purpose is to facilitate testing, it gives developers more flexibility when finalising their projects. Generally, Kusama has looser rules than Polkadot. An example of this is Kusama's less stringent governance parameters. Kusama has been described as a "sandbox", as it allows developers to test early versions of their Polkadot projects in a safer environment. Notably, Kusama does trade real cryptocurrency on an open market. For these reasons, it is also where official Polkadot upgrades are tested before their release. It has also been called a "canary network", referencing the practice of miners carrying canary birds into the coal mine with them to provide an early warning of dangerous gasses. Kusuma acts as the canary, warning developers of any problems, dangers, and vulnerabilities in their code. Once a developer has tested and optimised their code, it can then be moved to Polkadot. Although Kusama is mainly used for testing, it is a real blockchain network and not just a test net. Testnets are development environments that use valueless tokens. Kusama is governed by a DAO - a decentralised autonomous organisation - and has its own token, the KSM. Thus, Kusama can be better considered as an environment for rapid development and innovation that can be moved to Polkadot when the project matures. ## What is Kusama Parachain? Parallelisable chains, or parachains, are custom, project-specific blockchains integrated within the Polkadot and Kusama networks. Parachains are specialised for a multitude of use cases, enabling optimised services and thriving multifaceted economies. They are a rich, interconnected ecosystem where data flows freely between chains, leading to innovative new interoperable services. Parachains rely on the Layer-0 security provided by the Relay Chain instead of providing its own security. The Relay Chain is responsible for the network's shared security, consensus and transaction settlements. By being integrated into the Relay Chain, all parachains benefit from the Relay Chain's base features. Parachains can use the Substrate blockchain framework to simplify and speed up development and maintenance drastically. The substrate is the modular blockchain framework with various feature options available for a wide range of project needs. These options include encrypted transactions and states, multi-level permissioning, account-level locking, WebAssembly smart contracts, and governance tools. Parachains can be built for any blockchain use case, including DeFi to identity, supply chain, gaming, NFTs, IoT, and DAOs. Parachains can also leverage Kusama's built-in, transparent governance features or create their own to implement the system that's best for their community. ## What are the benefits of the Kusama network? One of the benefits of building on Kusama is interoperability, meaning that your protocol and token can be utilised by any other blockchain that connects to the Polkadot network. It has a low barrier to entry for parachain deployment and low bond requirements for validators and parachains. It is also renowned for its fast interaction, use of the latest technology, and low slashing penalties. Kusama is designed for startup networks in their early stage. It acts as a safe environment for experimentation on new ideas, general testing, pre-production projects, and applications which don't require bank-like security. ### User Roles on Kusama **Builders** Builders create parachains, parathreads, and other features on the network. **Nominators** Nominators secure the relay chain by choosing trusted validators and staking KSM. They can delegate their tokens to validators who they think will act in a proper and reputable way. In return, they get a certain portion of the block rewards earned by the validators they have chosen. **Collators** Collators create blocks on parachains that contain up-to-date transactions. They are required to stake KSM tokens to connect the parachain to the relay chain. **Validators** Validators are responsible for maintaining the network's health by adding new blocks and cooperating with other validators by reaching a consensus with them. In addition, validators decide which of the blocks created by collators are the most accurate representation of the parachain. New validators are chosen every 24 hours. **Governance actors** Governance actors are responsible for choosing what direction Kusama will go in the future. ## What is Kusama's relationship with Polkadot? Although they share many parts of their code, Polkadot and Kusama are independent, standalone networks with different priorities. Kusama is used for bold experimentation and early-stage deployment. Polkadot is more conservative, prioritising stability and dependability. Kusama was released as an early version of Polkadot, and as such, they share the same underlying architecture. Both Kusama and Polkadot have a multichain, heterogeneously-sharded design based on Nominated Proof of Stake (NPoS). In addition, both networks have on-chain governance, hot-swappable runtimes for forkless, on-chain upgrades, and Cross-Consensus Message Passing (XCM) for interoperability. Governance on both networks is designed to be decentralised and permissionless. Users who own either DOT or KSM can vote on how their respective networks are run. This has the effect of the two networks evolving independently over time as they converge and diverge according to the decisions of their respective communities. 


What is KSM Starter? KSM Starter is the primary launchpad on Kusama that supports upcoming projects that wish to build on the Kusama network and the greater Substrate ecosystem. It is a platform for the community, by the community and of the community. KSM Starter allows any projects to raise funds, as long as the projects are committed to exploring the possibility of joining the intricate Kusama ecosystem. KSM Starter offers unique opportunities for these emerging projects to partner with experts and already established projects to continue building and delivering superior products that their communities can enjoy, while enriching the Kusama ecosystem. 


Why did KSM Starter Choose Kusama? The team behind KSM Starter sought a comprehensive, collaborative launchpad that can not only help emerging projects raise capital but support their growth, as well. After extensive research, the Kusama Network was chosen as the most appropriate framework, and KSM Starter was built.

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