Singularity is a public test server for EVE Online that is used by both CCP developers and by EVE players to test changes and new features before they are released to the Tranquility server. Test servers have very strict set of rules.
Its primary function is to provide a test environment as close as possible to the live environment of Tranquility. For this purpose, the Tranquility database is "mirrored" (copied) over to the Singularity server once every few months, or depending on the QA's needs.
Another benefit of the test server is that it allows players to do some testing of their own, either by trying out yet unreleased features and items or by testing ships, modules, skills or structures - on their own or against other players.
The Singularity server runs on a cluster - that is a group of linked computers that work together. This makes it a multi-node server with multiple proxy servers. The number of nodes may vary, as the development team will add or remove hardware resources from the cluster depending on testing requirements. The setup is similar to Tranquility, but with lower numbers.
The Singularity database is distinct from the Tranquility database, although they are being synchronized periodically. Actions taken on the Singularity server will not affect your account or character on the Tranquility server.
The process of "mirroring" consists of taking an exact copy of the Tranquility database, including character and account data, like a snapshot. This copy is then processed by the CCP Deployment team and all starbases are removed, in order to prevent players from spying on their positions and then using this information on the live server. All moon minerals are available in all moons, to help testing and prevent moon scouting on the test server. All accounts are edited so they don't expire. Agent memory (both standing and loyalty points) are removed. S&I jobs are removed (because jobs in starbases would get stuck). The market is seeded so that all market items cost 100 ISK and are in plentiful supply. At least one station per constellation is market seeded like this. In addition there are some other internal adjustments. This entire process can take up to 3 days, then the Singularity server is open for public.
After a mirroring process, the Tranquility and Singularity databases are separate and distinct and no synchronization between them will occur until the next mirror is taken from Tranquility and deployed on Singularity. Character progression on Singularity will be independent of Tranquility - players can effectively train two different sets of skills on the same character, if they so wish.
In order to access the Singularity server you need to have an active account on Tranquility. The account needs to have been active at the time when the current mirror was taken, this date is usually mentioned in the Test Server Feedback forum.
For example, if your account expired on August 15th and the database mirror is taken 3 days later, your account will be inactive on Singularity, even if you reactivate it on Tranquility afterwards.
If your account is active on Tranquility but you find you are having login problems on Singularity, you can look for help in this forum-thread.
As Singularity is most of the time running a different code version than Tranquility, you will need to create a separate EVE folder to connect to Singularity.
If the test client tries to connect to Tranquility instead of Singularity (happens when Singularity runs the same build as Tranquility) please follow the steps to configure the Singularity client.
Updating the Singularity client
Note that both the autopatcher and the patching page are usually updated with some delay. The builds, that are not used by the autopatcher or listed in the official patching page, are not supported and might corrupt your client.
By using the server parameter you can usually use autopatching, in which case your client version will be detected and the appropriate patch will be downloaded and installed.
If autopatching is not working, then you will need to download and install the patch manually. To do this, go to the test server patch download page and select your client type (Windows or Mac). From there you can either download a patch from the Tranquility client version to the current Singularity version, or select your current client version from a drop-down menu.
The petition system is unavailable on Singularity and Game Masters will not be able to address issues related to Singularity.
There is an ingame channel named Singularity where players on the test server exchange information. You may also find volunteers and developers there.
If you want to be moved to FD-MLJ, which is the main testing-system on Singularity, you may want to join the in-game channel moveme. Just follow the rules in the MOTD of this channel.
Testers are also invited to join the #eve-chaos channel on the Coldfront IRC server. Visitors of #eve-chaos are asked not to use identifying tags, such as corporation tickers, though you will see some names in the user list that do include tags. These are EVE volunteers who can provide you with information or assistance, when you are on the Singularity server. [BH] tags identify the special group of volunteer bughunters, who are part of our volunteer program.
For several issues (like requests for account reactivation) it is also a good idea to check the Test Server Feedback Forum. There you can also discuss new changes on the test server or possible problems.