Minecraft Server on Debian 6+

Debian Installation

Most of this guide will suit other GNU/Linux distributions, especially Debian/Ubuntu. I chose Debian because it is most stable and secure. I won't go into much detail with OS setup itself, but start with downloading an ISO image. If you're planning to host a server with more than 4GB of RAM go with amd64 version of the operating system, otherwise choose i386. From the large file list pick 'debian-*-CD1.iso.torrent', burn it/flash it, boot it. Installation is pretty straight forward, keep reading and choose what is best for your location and server setup. If you have no idea what you're doing, refer to this guide, just don't forget during package selection to tick 'OpenSSH Server' and untick 'Graphical Desktop Environment', you don't need a GUI, really. Wait for installation to complete.

Minecraft Installation

Go root, update 'apt-get', install 'screen' and 'Java'. It weighs over 100MB, give it some time to finish.

As a security precaution, you need to add a new user to run Minecraft service. Choose any name you want instead of 'minecraft_username'.

Use WinSCP to transfer files to your server if you have any saved Minecraft worlds. Log in as minecraft_username, transfer the files to "/home/minecraft_username/mc_server". If you are starting a new map, use 'wget' to download a new 'minecraft_server.jar' from offical Minecraft page:

There are two ways of starting Minecraft, either as service on system startup or manually.

Manual Minecraft Start

These simple lines will start Minecraft:

-Xms and -Xmx are start and end points of how much RAM you are willing to dedicate for your Minecraft server. Don't go under 512M if you want to run stably.

Another option is to enter the following:

Where '/mc_server' is a directory where you keep 'minecraft_server.jar' and 'minecraft_username' with whatever you thought of earlier. You can also use different screen name for 'minecraft_console'.

If you're lazy you can just put this script inside your '/mc_server' directory and execute it, or just like this:

'Screen' command will conveniently place all Minecraft logs in another console window. To switch to that window use command:

and to go back to your previous screen press CTRL+A and then D to detach.

Running Minecraft as System Service

You can use 'mc_start.sh' script, described in a previous chapter, and run it as service if you want. Just download this script. Run:

Edit fourth line. Set path to your 'mc_start.sh' script based on your previous entries. Save and exit. Enter:

Now Minecraft server starts with system boot. You can also start/stop the server with:

Next, there is a little bit more sophisticated script. You can find its configuration here, though I made my version of the script with one additional variable to support multiple servers. Copy the script to a file and transfer via WinSCP (run dos2unix to convert text files if you edited them on Windows machine), or copy to PuTTY window (right click) with 'vi' or 'nano' editor open, or download from here or just:

You want to edit few lines based on your created directories during the process of this guide. Like 'minecraft_username' or 'mc_server'.

Press CTRL + x to save the file. Now you need to copy the file to its directory, set proper permissions and apply it:

Finished. Now you can just run:

and server starts! Instead of 'start' you can also append update, status, stop, restart or backup. Like this:

Setting Up Periodic Backups


Editor window pops up. Add this line:

This will back up your Minecraft server files every day at 3AM. Basically every star [*] represents timestamp [min][hours][day_of_month][month][weekday]. So if you want to back up only once a week, let's say every Thursday at 5:35PM, you enter this:

Or if you prefer to back up every 30 minutes:

/dev/null part of the command stops cron email notifications everytime backup task ends.

Setting Up NTP

Network Time Protocol is a great way of keeping servers in sync. If you have a couple of machines dependent on each other, it's always a good idea to match the clocks.

Default configuration works just fine, but it's a good practice to find a reliable NTP server closest to your location, it's even better if you possess a server with NTPd on your network. Find four lines starting with 'server', comment them out and insert your own:

Or, for example, if you live in U.K.:

If you changed anything, restart NTP.

Log Management

Minecraft server keeps a log of traffic, chat, commands and server events. If you have a busy server, log file could get quite large and difficult to manage. Use logrotate, to periodically cycle the log file. Debian should have logrotate installed with default services, but in case it's not, use apt-get to get it.

Now at the end of configuration file append new block of settings.

It is self-explanatory, what all of this does:

These are enough to keep your logs under control, though depending on your server setup you can also add some of the following lines.

So these settings are most common ones, refer to manpages if you need more tweaking.

Securing the Server

Nowadays most of Debian/Ubuntu distributions come with firewall, though without any restriction rules. I followed a guide on iptables (firewall) here. Again, copy the basic set of rules from that guide into a file, transfer it with WinSCP, or copy to PuTTY window or download it here and copy it to "/etc/iptables.test.rules". Don't trust random person on the internet, though if you are editing iptables yourself, crucial line you want to add to your configuration is:

It opens up a 25565 port, you guessed it, its a default Minecraft server port. Anyway if you already cross-checked my iptables file and decided that I haven't fiddled with it, run:

Check printed list of rules and decide if you accept them. Before you apply these rules, make sure you can access your server physically, i.e. you can plug your monitor into a server and log in directly, otherwise you should make an antilockout script, in case firewall blocks you out. Make a simple script:


Set permissions and make a cronjob:

Paste this at the end:

Now, every 15 minutes firewall will be reset. If you want to disable this precaution, either delete this whole cron line or just comment it out (insert '#' in the beginning of the line). Alright, back to the firewall. Apply the rules on system startup:


Save and exit. Make the file executable:

Change configuration permissions:

Now you have port 22 and 25565 open for SSH and Minecraft only. Also, you don't want to allow straight access to root user via SSH. Edit one sshd_config line:

Find the line 'PermitRootLogin yes' and change 'yes' to 'no'. Save and exit. Done. Check out my other guide, if you want to improve server security furthermore.