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Orbit chain ownership

A chain owner of an Orbit chain is an entity that can carry out critical upgrades to the chain's core protocol; this includes upgrading protocol contracts, setting core system parameters, and adding & removing other chain owners.

An Orbit chain's initial chain owner is set by the chain's creator when the chain is deployed.

The chain-ownership architecture is designed to give Orbit chain creators flexibility in deciding how upgrades to their chain occur.


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Chain ownership affordance is handled via Upgrade Executor contracts.

Each Orbit chain is deployed with two Upgrade Executors — one on the Orbit chain itself, and one on its parent chain. At deployment, the chain's critical affordances are given to the Upgrade Executor contracts.

Some examples:

  • The parent chain's core protocol contracts are upgradeable proxies that are controlled by a proxy admin; the proxy admin is owned by the Upgrade Executor on the parent chain.
  • The core Rollup contract's admin role is given to the Upgrade Executor on the parent chain.
  • The affordance to call setters on the ArbOwner procompile — which allows for setting system gas parameters and scheduling ArbOS upgrades (among other things) — is given to the Upgrade Executor on the Orbit chain.

Calls to an Upgrade Executor can only be made by chain owners; e.g., entities granted the EXECUTOR_ROLE affordance on the Upgrade Executor. Upgrade executors also have the ADMIN_ROLE affordance granted to themselves, which lets chain owners add or remove chain owners.

With this architecture, the Upgrade Executor represents a single source of truth for affordances over critical upgradability of the chain.


Upgrades occur via a chain owner initiating a call to an Upgrade Executor, which in turns calls some chain-owned contract.

Chain owners can either call UpgradeExecutor.executeCall, which will in turn call the target contract directly, or UpgradeExecutor.execute, which will delegate-call to an "action contract" and use its code to call the target contract.

Ownership flexibility

A chain owner is simply an address; it is set by the Orbit chain's deployer and can represent any sort of governance scheme. I.e., it could be an EOA (as is set via the Orbit Quickstart), a Multisig, a governance token system, etc.

The Arbitrum DAO governed chains, while not Orbit chains themselves, use a similar architecture and upgrade pattern as Orbit chains, with both a governance token and a Multisig (aka, the "Security Council") as chain owners. For more info and best practices on action contracts, see "DAO Governance Action Contracts".

(NOTE: The DAO Governed chains' Upgrade Executor contracts don't have the .executeCall method; only the .execute method)