#substrate #key #polkadot #generate-keys #command-line #numbers #parachain

bin+lib subkey

Generate and restore keys for Substrate based chains such as Polkadot, Kusama and a growing number of parachains and Substrate based projects. (polkadot v1.15.0)

15 major breaking releases

new 19.0.0 Jul 19, 2024
17.0.0 Jul 13, 2024
16.0.0 Jun 24, 2024
15.0.0 May 24, 2024
2.0.1 Aug 4, 2021

#1228 in Magic Beans

Download history 96/week @ 2024-03-28 100/week @ 2024-04-04 27/week @ 2024-04-11 91/week @ 2024-04-25 45/week @ 2024-05-02 2/week @ 2024-05-09 25/week @ 2024-05-16 159/week @ 2024-05-23 27/week @ 2024-05-30 17/week @ 2024-06-06 9/week @ 2024-06-13 141/week @ 2024-06-20 45/week @ 2024-06-27 127/week @ 2024-07-04 105/week @ 2024-07-11

419 downloads per month
Used in polkadot-sdk

GPL-3.0-or-later…

290KB
4.5K SLoC

Subkey

Subkey is a commandline utility included with Substrate. It allows generating and restoring keys for Substrate based chains such as Polkadot, Kusama and a growing number of parachains and Substrate based projects.

subkey provides a few sub-commands to generate keys, check keys, sign messages, verify messages, etc...

You can see the full list of commands with subkey --help. Most commands have additional help available with for instance subkey generate --help for the generate command.

Safety first

subkey does not need an internet connection to work. Indeed, for the best security, you should be using subkey on a machine that is not connected to the internet.

subkey deals with seeds and private keys. Make sure to use subkey in a safe environment (ie. no one looking over your shoulder) and on a safe computer (ie. no one able to check your command history).

If you save any output of subkey into a file, make sure to apply proper permissions and/or delete the file as soon as possible.

Usage

The following guide explains some of the subkey commands. For the full list and the most up to date documentation, make sure to check the integrated help with subkey --help.

Install with Cargo

You will need to have the Substrate build dependencies to install Subkey. Use the following two commands to install the dependencies and Subkey, respectively:

Command:

# Install only `subkey`, at a specific version of the subkey crate
cargo install --force subkey --git https://github.com/paritytech/substrate --version <SET VERSION> --locked
# If you run into issues building, you likely are missing deps defined in https://docs.substrate.io/install/

Run in a container

# Use `--pull=always` with the `latest` tag, or specify a version in a tag
docker run -it --pull=always docker.io/parity/subkey:latest <command to subkey>

Generate a random account

Generating a new key is as simple as running:

subkey generate

The output looks similar to:

Secret phrase `hotel forest jar hover kite book view eight stuff angle legend defense` is account:
  Secret seed:      0xa05c75731970cc7868a2fb7cb577353cd5b31f62dccced92c441acd8fee0c92d
  Public key (hex): 0xfec70cfbf1977c6965b5af10a4534a6a35d548eb14580594d0bc543286892515
  Account ID:       0xfec70cfbf1977c6965b5af10a4534a6a35d548eb14580594d0bc543286892515
  SS58 Address:     5Hpm9fq3W3dQgwWpAwDS2ZHKAdnk86QRCu7iX4GnmDxycrte

☠️ DO NT RE-USE ANY OF THE SEEDS AND SECRETS FROM THIS PAGE ☠️.

You can read more about security and risks in SECURITY.md and in the Polkadot Wiki.


The output above shows a secret phrase (also called mnemonic phrase) and the secret seed (also called Private Key). Those 2 secrets are the pieces of information you MUST keep safe and secret. All the other information below can be derived from those secrets.

The output above also shows the public key and the Account ID. Those are the independent from the network where you will use the key.

The SS58 address (or Public Address) of a new account is a representation of the public keys of an account for a given network (for instance Kusama or Polkadot).

You can read more about the SS58 format in the Substrate Docs and see the list of reserved prefixes in the SS58 Registry.

For instance, considering the previous seed 0xa05c75731970cc7868a2fb7cb577353cd5b31f62dccced92c441acd8fee0c92d the SS58 addresses are:

  • Polkadot: 16m4J167Mptt8UXL8aGSAi7U2FnPpPxZHPrCgMG9KJzVoFqM
  • Kusama: JLNozAv8QeLSbLFwe2UvWeKKE4yvmDbfGxTuiYkF2BUMx4M

Json output

subkey can also generate the output as json. This is useful for automation.

command:

subkey generate --output-type json

output:

{
  "accountId": "0xfec70cfbf1977c6965b5af10a4534a6a35d548eb14580594d0bc543286892515",
  "publicKey": "0xfec70cfbf1977c6965b5af10a4534a6a35d548eb14580594d0bc543286892515",
  "secretPhrase": "hotel forest jar hover kite book view eight stuff angle legend defense",
  "secretSeed": "0xa05c75731970cc7868a2fb7cb577353cd5b31f62dccced92c441acd8fee0c92d",
  "ss58Address": "5Hpm9fq3W3dQgwWpAwDS2ZHKAdnk86QRCu7iX4GnmDxycrte"
}

So if you only want to get the secretSeed for instance, you can use:

command:

subkey generate --output-type json | jq -r .secretSeed

output:

0xa05c75731970cc7868a2fb7cb577353cd5b31f62dccced92c441acd8fee0c92d

Additional user-defined password

subkey supports an additional user-defined secret that will be appended to the seed. Let's see the following example:

subkey generate --password extra_secret

output:

Secret phrase `soup lyrics media market way crouch elevator put moon useful question wide` is account:
  Secret seed:      0xe7cfd179d6537a676cb94bac3b5c5c9cb1550e846ac4541040d077dfbac2e7fd
  Public key (hex): 0xf6a233c3e1de1a2ae0486100b460b3ce3d7231ddfe9dadabbd35ab968c70905d
  Account ID:       0xf6a233c3e1de1a2ae0486100b460b3ce3d7231ddfe9dadabbd35ab968c70905d
  SS58 Address:     5He5pZpc7AJ8evPuab37vJF6KkFDqq9uDq2WXh877Qw6iaVC

Using the inspect command (see more details below), we see that knowing only the secret seed is no longer sufficient to recover the account:

subkey inspect "soup lyrics media market way crouch elevator put moon useful question wide"

which recovers the account 5Fe4sqj2K4fRuzEGvToi4KATqZfiDU7TqynjXG6PZE2dxwyh and not 5He5pZpc7AJ8evPuab37vJF6KkFDqq9uDq2WXh877Qw6iaVC as we expected. The additional user-defined password (extra_secret in our example) is now required to fully recover the account. Let's inspect the previous mnemonic, this time passing also the required password as shown below:

subkey inspect --password extra_secret "soup lyrics media market way crouch elevator put moon useful question wide"

This time, we properly recovered 5He5pZpc7AJ8evPuab37vJF6KkFDqq9uDq2WXh877Qw6iaVC.

Inspecting a key

If you have some data about a key, subkey inspect will help you discover more information about it.

If you have secrets that you would like to verify for instance, you can use:

subkey inspect < mnemonic | seed >

If you have only public data, you can see a subset of the information:

subkey inspect --public < pubkey | address >

NOTE: While you will be able to recover the secret seed from the mnemonic, the opposite is not possible.

NOTE: For obvious reasons, the secrets cannot be recovered from passing public data such as pubkey or address as input.

command:

subkey inspect 0xa05c75731970cc7868a2fb7cb577353cd5b31f62dccced92c441acd8fee0c92d

output:

Secret Key URI `0xa05c75731970cc7868a2fb7cb577353cd5b31f62dccced92c441acd8fee0c92d` is account:
  Secret seed:      0xa05c75731970cc7868a2fb7cb577353cd5b31f62dccced92c441acd8fee0c92d
  Public key (hex): 0xfec70cfbf1977c6965b5af10a4534a6a35d548eb14580594d0bc543286892515
  Account ID:       0xfec70cfbf1977c6965b5af10a4534a6a35d548eb14580594d0bc543286892515
  SS58 Address:     5Hpm9fq3W3dQgwWpAwDS2ZHKAdnk86QRCu7iX4GnmDxycrte

Signing

subkey allows using a secret key to sign a random message. The signature can then be verified by anyone using your public key:

echo -n <msg> | subkey sign --suri <seed|mnemonic>

example:

MESSAGE=hello
SURI=0xa05c75731970cc7868a2fb7cb577353cd5b31f62dccced92c441acd8fee0c92d
echo -n $MESSAGE | subkey sign --suri $SURI

output:

9201af3788ad4f986b800853c79da47155f2e08fde2070d866be4c27ab060466fea0623dc2b51f4392f4c61f25381a62848dd66c5d8217fae3858e469ebd668c

NOTE: Each run of the sign command will yield a different output. While each signature is different, they are all valid.

Verifying a signature

Given a message, a signature and an address, subkey can verify whether the message has been digitally signed by the holder (or one of the holders) of the private key for the given address:

echo -n <msg> | subkey verify <sig> <address>

example:

MESSAGE=hello
URI=0xfec70cfbf1977c6965b5af10a4534a6a35d548eb14580594d0bc543286892515
SIGNATURE=9201af3788ad4f986b800853c79da47155f2e08fde2070d866be4c27ab060466fea0623dc2b51f4392f4c61f25381a62848dd66c5d8217fae3858e469ebd668c
echo -n $MESSAGE | subkey verify $SIGNATURE $URI

output:

Signature verifies correctly.

A failure looks like:

Error: SignatureInvalid

Using the vanity generator

You can use the included vanity generator to find a seed that provides an address which includes the desired pattern. Be warned, depending on your hardware this may take a while.

command:

subkey vanity --network polkadot --pattern bob

output:

Generating key containing pattern 'bob'
best: 190 == top: 189
Secret Key URI `0x8c9a73097f235b84021a446bc2826a00c690ea0be3e0d81a84931cb4146d6691` is account:
  Secret seed:      0x8c9a73097f235b84021a446bc2826a00c690ea0be3e0d81a84931cb4146d6691
  Public key (hex): 0x1a8b32e95c1f571118ea0b84801264c3c70f823e320d099e5de31b9b1f18f843
  Account ID:       0x1a8b32e95c1f571118ea0b84801264c3c70f823e320d099e5de31b9b1f18f843
  SS58 Address:     1bobYxBPjZWRPbVo35aSwci1u5Zmq8P6J2jpa4kkudBZMqE

Bob now got a nice address starting with their name: 1bobYxBPjZWRPbVo35aSwci1u5Zmq8P6J2jpa4kkudBZMqE.

Note: While Bob, having a short name (3 chars), got a result rather quickly, it will take much longer for Alice who has a much longer name, thus the chances to generate a random address that contains the chain alice will be much smaller.

License

License: GPL-3.0-or-later WITH Classpath-exception-2.0

Dependencies

~87–130MB
~2.5M SLoC