A DIY Linux Minecraft Server

Posted on 27 Oct 2015 by Sam Hewitt

Minecraft Grass Block

Since I have a local server already running, I’ve set it up to run Minecraft so I can play (usually with my nephew) at home and not worry about keeping the world on my laptop or another computer.

I’ve designed this instruction set for a modular setup, allowing for one or more instances of a Minecraft server to run on one machine without much duplication.

These instructions were written for a server running Ubuntu.

I’m assuming you are logged in as the root user on your server

Step 1. Prerequisites

Since Minecraft requires a Java runtime, you should install one. You can install the one available from the repositories:

apt install default-jre

Or, you can install Oracle Java from a PPA:

add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/java
apt update
apt install oracle-java8-installer

Step 2. Setting Up Your Minecraft Server

Create a minecraft user and group

groupadd -r minecraft
useradd -r -g minecraft -d "/var/minecraft" -s "/bin/bash" minecraft
# probably a good idea to give this user a password
passwd minecraft

Create the home directory for said user and assign ownership.

mkdir -p /var/minecraft
chown -R minecraft:minecraft /var/minecraft

Setup Directory Stucture

Next, switch to the newly created minecraft user and enter its home.

su - minecraft

Since I mentioned these instructions are for a modular setup, create a folder for the first Minecraft instance with a minecraft-[descriptor] naming scheme (for example, minecraft-vanilla) and enter it.

mkdir minecraft-vanilla && cd minecraft-vanilla

Download & Run Minecraft

Get the Minecraft server software by running the following (check the website to make sure you have latest version):

wget https://s3.amazonaws.com/Minecraft.Download/versions/1.12/minecraft_server.1.12.jar

Now we’ll do a quick first run of the server, to populate the server directory with any needed files for your server.

java -Xms1024M -Xmx2048M -jar minecraft_server.1.12.jar nogui

You may see a warning saying that you need to accept the terms of the EULA (by editing eula.txt):

nano eula.txt

Accept the terms and start the server again. Terminate the server process (with Ctrl+C) and you can move onto configuring your server.

Step 3. Configuring Your Server

Changing Server Properties

The default server properties configuration file looks something like the following:

# Minecraft server properties
# Timestamp
# The server gamemode, the default is 0 = survival, 1 = creative, 2 = adventure, 3 = spectator
# This is your server's name 
motd=A Minecraft Server

For a basic vanilla server, the only thing you really need to change to your preference is the motd and the gamemode but the Minecraft wiki has a far more in-depth article for further adjusting this configuration file.

Adding Server Operators (OPs)

Presumably, you’ll want to add yourself as a server operator, for that you’ll need to add yourself to the ops.json file.

nano ops.json

It will be empty (except for 2 square brackets), so you can add the following for each operator (replacing userUUID and username with your own).

		"uuid": "userUUID",
		"name": "username",
		"level": 4

If you don’t know what your UUID is or how to get it, I’ve a simple page here, that will grab it for you.

Step 4. Setting Up A System Service

First logout of the minecraft user.


To make starting & stopping your Minecraft server a little simpler, we’ll make use of a systemd service template. Open an editor to an empty file:

nano /etc/systemd/system/minecraft@.service

And enter the following:

Description=Minecraft Server


ExecStart=/usr/bin/java -Xms1024M -Xmx2048M -jar /var/minecraft/minecraft-%i/minecraft_server.1.12.jar nogui 
ExecReload=/bin/kill -HUP $MAINPID; /usr/bin/java -Xms1024M -Xmx2048M -jar /var/minecraft/minecraft-%i/minecraft_server.1.12.jar nogui 
ExecStop=/bin/kill -HUP $MAINPID



The @ in this template name means you can start/stop a service for each Minecraft instance you’ve created with a give descriptor (for example vanilla) and the %i within this service will read said descriptor.

  • When writing/modifying this service file, -Xms1024M and -Xmx2048M is the amount of RAM (initial and maximum, respectively) you’d like to assign to Minecraft in megabytes.
  • Be sure to put the current version of Minecraft you have in place of minecraft_server.1.12.jar, if this is out of date.

Now you can enable & start the newly created service to run your server, for the example minecraft-vanilla:

# enable the service
systemctl enable minecraft@vanilla.service
# start the service
systemctl start minecraft@vanilla.service

Multiple Servers

Each directory with a minecraft-* name in your server home can be recognized by the above service. For instance, if there were a minecraft-adventure folder, you could enable/start the systemd service for that with:

# enable
systemctl enable minecraft@adventure.service
# start
systemctl start minecraft@adventure.service

Basically, to run multiple servers simply create a new folder structure, repeat the steps to setup and configure the server, and enable/start it.


You may or may not see your server appear when “scanning for games on your local network”, this may be due to a variety of things –from routers to firewall issues. The sure-fire way is to add it or connect directly, especially if you know the server’s hostname or IP address.

Screenshot of Minecraft server connect screen

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