Why is my cycles wallet canister slowly losing cycles?

I just deployed a cycles wallet canister by 1) using the NNS UI to create a canister with some ICP, and 2) then running dfx identity --network=ic deploy-wallet <canister-id>.

I then added my local dfx principal as a controller for that newly created wallet canister (by default, it has the NNS UI Internet Identity principal as its sole controller). I confirmed that dfx wallet --network ic get-wallet returns the ID of the wallet canister.

Everything works… but for some reason, each time I call dfx wallet --network ic balance the # of cycles goes down. Not a lot but it definitely decreases.

Does the cycles wallet canister run a heartbeat or something? What’s draining the cycles? Querying for the balance of the cycles wallet shouldn’t cost any cycles since it’s a query and not an update method. To be clear, I just created this cycles wallet canister today so it’s running 0.10.0.

(As an aside, why are there two commands for creating a canister, i.e. dfx ledger create-canister and dfx canister create? Is the former just a more convenient way of doing the latter with the added benefit of converting ICP to cycles as well…?)

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BTW I also noticed that when I deposited 2 T cycles into the newly created cycles wallet canister (using the NNS UI), I didn’t actually pay 1 T cycles to create a canister.

I thought I would because I thought it cost 1 T cycles to create a canister, but apparently not. My cycles wallet canister has 1.89 T cycles, so I only paid ~0.11 T cycles.

Random fix: Update Authorize.tsx by jzxchiang1 · Pull Request #143 · dfinity/cycles-wallet · GitHub

Another observation:

dfx wallet --network ic controllers returns something different than the controller list in dfx canister --network ic status <wallet-canister-id>.

To be specific, the former is missing the NNS UI Internet Identity principal, whereas the latter has it. (The former lists 1 principal, whereas the latter lists 2.)

I believe it’s 0.1T to create a canister. This code works:

 let (create_result,): (CanisterIdRecord,) = match ic_cdk::api::call::call_with_payment(

where cycles is cycles: 100_000_000_000,

Isn’t this how it should be? It’s a canister that uses resources just by having its code and memory in the IC state.


This is correct. Cycles wallets are canisters… so they consume state and computation.

Gotcha thanks. Any idea about why the controllers differ between NNS and dfx? @Severin I wonder if you know.

I think there is a difference between the wallet canister controllers and the list of principals authorised to use the wallet (confusingly also called controllers), which is controlled by the wallet wasm. So a principal can be the controller of the canister, but still not be able to use the wallet for its functionality.

That is indeed puzzling. Is there any documentation on this distinction? I’ve never heard of it before. (I know there’s controller vs custodian, but I didn’t know the wallet wasm was involved???)

Looks like I failed to explain things well enough.

There’s two separate controllers:

  1. The controllers in the view of the IC (I’ll call those canister controllers): What you actually think about when you hear the term ‘controller’. A canister controller can request a canister’s status, start/stop/delete the canister, install new wasm modules, and so on. dfx canister info returns the list of canister controllers.
  2. The controllers in the _internal_view of the wallet (I’ll call those wallet controllers): Here is the definition of a wallet controller: [wallet code]. This is what the code running inside the wallet canister (what I called wallet wasm in my previous post) defines as its own notion of a controller. This is totally fine from a technical standpoint, but very confusing as shown by this thread. This wallet controller can NOT perform the tasks listed for the canister controller, but instead can transfer cycles, add/remove custodians, list the history of transactions in this wallet and so on. dfx wallet controllers returns the list of wallet controllers.

In the end, it’s just a name clash between two related, but distinct concepts, caused by an unfortunate name overlap. Does this clear up the confusion, @jzxchiang?


I think that makes sense. I’m assuming the NNS website was showing the wallet-internal controller list, while dfx was of course showing the canister controller list.