Setting up a Minecraft Server

If you're a minecraft enthusiast like myself you've probably spent countless hours building structures, spelunking, or just trying to survive a zombie raid through the night. If you're an avid fan and haven't already set up your own server to play with a couple of friends get on it.


Ubuntu is a great option for setting up and running a minecraft server. Feel free to set it up on any other Linux distribution or Mac OS X, but keep in mind that there will be differences in set up.

If you don't have an available computer or you prefer to set up an online server, you can check out Digital Ocean and sign up using the referral link. You're free to choose other hosting services though like Amazon EC2 or Rackspace.

Digital Ocean Droplet Setup (Recommended)

If you chose Digital Ocean, it's recommended that your Ubuntu droplet (server) has at least 1GB of RAM with 2GB being optimal, but you might be able to manage at 512MB if approximately 4 people or less including yourself are on the server at once. If you have money to spend, you'll benefit from 1GB or more. More RAM will allow the minecraft server to be more performant and experience less lag and crashes from running out of memory.

For the purpose of this tutorial we're writing about Ubuntu 14.04 (64bit) since choosing a newer version might introduce slight differences in setup. Also 14.04 is the current LTS version at the time of this post.

Once you've chosen your droplet, you'll want to connect to the server using SSH. On Mac/Linux you can do this using the Terminal.

ssh user@ip_address

Your ip_address is your Digital Ocean server IP Address, and user is most likely root if you haven't modified any of the default setup.

Typing this in every time you want to connect to the server is annoying though, so instead you'll want to modify your ssh config on your personal computer.

Edit the following file ~/.ssh/config by entering:

vim ~/.ssh/config

Add the droplet server to your config with your droplet IP Address (substitute

Host minecraft
    User root

Now you'll be able to enter your server by simply typing in:

ssh minecraft

OS Setup

You'll want to make sure Ubuntu is up to date:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

You'll also want to check that java is installed

java -version

If java is not installed do so by entering:

sudo apt-get install default-jdk

Minecraft Server Setup

You'll want to set up minecraft from the srv folder and make a minecraft folder there to store the minecraft server files. We'll do so by going into the srv folder

cd /srv

Make a minecraft directory:

mkdir minecraft

Now go into the Minecraft directory:

cd minecraft

You should now be in /srv/minecraft, check by entering pwd in the terminal.

Now that we've verified we're in the right folder, it's time to download the minecraft server software:

wget -O minecraft_server.jar

At the time of writing this post, the latest version of the Minecraft Server is 1.8.9 but check out to make sure you're downloading the most up to date version and modify the command above with the right version.

Daemonize the Minecraft Server

To make sure that your server recovers from crashes and is always running you'll need to daemonize it. You can do so by adding an upstart script.

Note: If you are using a newer version of Ubuntu 14.04 you can still choose to use upstart instead of systemd which is the default in 15.04 and above, but this is out of the scope of this post. More information on switching from systemd

Setting up an upstart script

To daemonize the minecraft server you can create an upstart script.

Go to the following directory:

cd /etc/init/

Create the upstart script:

sudo vim minecraft-server.conf

Paste the following:

# description "start/stop minecraft-server"

start on runlevel [2345]
stop on runlevel [^2345]

console log
chdir /srv/minecraft

respawn limit 20 5

exec /usr/bin/java -Xms768M -Xmx768M -jar minecraft_server.1.8.9.jar nogui

Important Note

The last line will vary based on how much RAM you've allocated for your server. The part that reads 768M dictates how much RAM to allocate to the minecraft server. This setup assumes you chose the 1GB option. Alternatively if you chose the 2GB option you would be able to allocate much more RAM. The first value, -Xms768M, is the minimum memory allocated, and the second, -Xmx768M, is the maximum allowed memory.

Now that your server upstart script is done reload the upstart configuration:

sudo initctl reload-configuration

And run your minecraft server

sudo start minecraft-server

Final steps for server configuration

The last thing you need to do is sign the Minecraft EULA in the eula.txt file

Stop the minecraft server:

sudo stop minecraft-server

Edit the EULA:

vim /srv/minecraft/eula.txt

Set eula=true, then save/exit.

Restart the minecraft server.

sudo start minecraft-server

Miscellaneous information

Congratulations, your server is now up and running. Go build some cool stuff.

Nabil Jamaleddine | 2015-12-19 #minecraft #digitalocean #ubuntu