Guide to buying or receiving an urbit planet or star

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This guide assumes you know what Urbit is. If not, check out my post on that.

Urbit can be a little intimidating when you first get started because it's completely new and we don't have an existing mental model of how it works.

But, here's what you need to know in order to get a urbit planet or star (sometimes called an urbit id).

Step 1: Get an Ethereum address

Ownership of Urbit ids are tracked on the Ethereum blockchain. That is the only thing Urbit uses Ethereum for. That means the owner of an Urbit point is whoever owns the Ethereum address where that point resides.

Ethereum addresses are generated by wallets. You will need to get an Ethereum wallet.

There are many types of wallets, but for ease of use, if you don't know what to get, then install Metamask. Alternately, if you want to hold many points and you want superior security you should purchase a Trezor hardware wallet.

If you are using Metamask, the address you're looking for looks like this:


Please note that you will not be able to receive Urbit ids on exchanges or exchange wallets. If someone sends you an Urbit id to an Ethereum address on an exchange you will not be able to claim it.

Step 2: Purchase or acquire an urbit id

It is advisable to trying to buy a planet underneath a star and a galaxy that are currently running. You can find your parent star and galaxy here: https://urbit.live/. Right now, though, there is no easy way to see if a star or galaxy is active without being on urbit.  You can ask someone on the network to ping it though and see if it's up.

If you do purchase a planet underneath a non-running star, it's not the end of the world. You can transfer to another. You will find one to accept you and then some gas to run the transaction. Or you can run a command to get updates from another star (temporarily)

I sell Urbit planets and stars for USD and various crypto currencies.

If you purchase a star from me, I can either do it directly (I send it directly to you), or we can use escrow at opensea. I prefer direct, of course, because escrow requires an additional gas fee.

If you choose to use escrow, I will set up the private transfer and I will restrict payment to your Ethereum address. I will then send you a link to the item, and the process is very easy from there. I've never had anyone have a problem understanding the escrow transaction.

Step 3: Accept the transfer

Ethereum points are ERC-721 non fungible tokens, and they can be held in Ethereum addresses, but most (all?) Ethereum wallets cannot see these tokens. You will need to use Urbit bridge as a user interface to your Ethereum address. Log on to Bridge using either Metamask, or Trezor, or your ethereum private key (or whatever wallet you have). You do not have a master ticket if you are buying a planet or star. If you are reading this guide there is a 99% chance you do not have a master ticket.

Once you are logged in, it should be obvious that there is an id waiting to be claimed. Follow the instructions to claim the point. This will require that you have some Ethereum in the same address where you want to accept the point.

During these times of high gas prices you will need to click "Advanced" on the transfer page and also the little "I" next to the ETH value of gas to get it to display "Gwei + Gas Limit".  

Here is how Ethereum gas fees work: There are two components that you can set: gas price and gas limit.

  • Gas Limit - You tell your wallet what gas limit to use, which is basically how much gas you are willing to let the transaction use. It is recommended that you set the gas limit to 550,000, but the actual amount of gas used may be less...often it is much less. I have spawned planets using only 240,000 gas before. Do not set your gas limit to 240,000, your transaction will have about a 90% chance of failing and you will lose your gas fee.
  • Gas Price - This is your "bid" to get the miners to put your transaction in a block. It is an auction. If you offer a gas fee that is too low, the miners will not take your transaction because they can make more money taking someone else's. Use Gasnow.org to estimate what you can get away with for a gas price.

If gas prices are around 100, and your transaction uses about 300,000 gas, the final transaction fee should be around $40.

NOTE: Metamask, and perhaps other wallets, will quote you an incorrect gas fee that is much too high. It is almost certain that your actual fee will be about half, or less.

About the author

Jeremy Tunnell
I study Integral Theory and Zen Buddhism at Integral Zen.

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You can reach Jeremy at [email protected]