Administering A Craftbukkit Server
This tutorial is for current Craftbukkit Server admins and aspiring server admins. Wether you own the place, or are simply running the show (or even a little of both) this tutorial is meant to provide you with a set list of guidelines and valuable resources to running a successful server. Everything from the grits and gravy, to the day to day handling of yourself and your server.
Alright Let’s get into it from ground Zero!
Section 1: Ground Breaking
This section is meant to introduce you to the differences between a few simple, but need to know basics:
- The difference between “Vanilla” and “Modified” Servers.
- What is the Bukkit Project?
- The differences between a Game Hosting Plan and a Freeform Plan (VDS, VPS, or Dedicated Hardware)
Really this section is the gritty “Where do I want to start my adventure?” portion!
“Vanilla” Minecraft and “Modified” Minecraft Servers
The first bit you need to realize is the difference between “Vanilla” Flavored Minecraft Servers and “Modified” Minecraft Servers, such as CraftBukkit. Really, these terms can be applied to any video game and can simply confuse someone who is brand new to the scene so it’s imperative that we talk about it first. A “Vanilla” Minecraft Server is the minecraft_server.jar file you download from http://www.minecraft.net/ without any modifications, tampering, or additions on in any way. In a sense, it’s Minecraft SMP in it’s purest form: Unaltered and Vulnerable; and thats what most server owners are afraid of. Thanks to the additon of “griefers” to the Minecraft community, and a load of other issues, Vanilla servers are seen as gaping targets for every type of mischief and discord to happen, and it really gets under the skin of anyone who runs one because you have to constantly keep an eye on it to make sure nothing goes wrong. This is where “Modified” servers come into play. Not just CraftBukkit, but hundreds of Minecraft players feel the need to modify the original code to better suit servers and the growing concerns of the Administators running them. Modified servers mix it up to better secure or improve on the current gameplay mechanics of the Minecraft Multiplayer server.
The main difference between “Vanilla” and “Modified” is that Mojang only supports Vanilla servers... as of this article. Currently Mojang is developing a Mod API for modification makers to use, but aside from that the Communities built around the Modified servers are the only official support for their mods. For example, Bukkit. Bukkit answers questions about Bukkit and Craftbukkit Mods, not CanaryMod.
The Bukkit Project
The Bukkit project is seen to many as the Successor of the Hey0 Server mod as started by Hey0, however Bukkit is an independent project which seeks to improve Minecraft like any mod would, but at a different level that offers convenience and ease to the people running it. Normally there is only one instance of the modification, but the Bukkit project releases two versions: One is called Bukkit, like the project, and is the “Missing API” of a Vanilla Server; Normally, server owners would not use Bukkit, as it is only an API for Bukkit (The platform in which plugins are created). CraftBukkit is the sealed up Bukkit .jar file in an easy-to-use environment for server Administrators, made specifically for running the Minecraft server. This tutorial primarily works with CraftBukkit over Bukkit seeing as CraftBukkit is used by the Bukkit Project for Server Admins rather than for Developers.
The Hosting Plans
There are two primary paid hosting plans, or at-least two categories: Game Hosting Plans and Freeform Plans (VDS, VPS, Dedicated Hardware, etc.)
Game Hosting Plans. You are given a web panel and a FTP access (or something along these lines) and are very user friendly. However, the downside to this is that some plans are too restrictive and proprietary software gets into conflicts with the Modifications.
Freeform Plans. These plans are, in the basic sense, a computer in a datacenter with a permanent internet connection and an Operating System. Virtual Dedicated Servers, Virtual Private Servers, and Dedicated Servers all fall under this category. You are given complete control of the system and are free to do as you please with your allowance within the host’s terms of service. This is the most favored type of plan because you have total control of your server and what is put in it, but you also lose the convenience of a simple user interface. However, in the end, this tutorial believes that it’s the best choice for server hosting due to the fact that there are no restrictions. (Note: Make sure your host allows port 25565, which is Minecraft's port). This tutorial will work under both interfaces for convenience.
CraftBukkit or Bukkit?
As explained in the previous sections, CraftBukkit is the recommended modification for server administrators, as opposed to Bukkit which is aimed towards developers. This tutorial will focus only on CraftBukkit as there are many tutorials on the Wiki about running Bukkit Servers.
Pick your Operating System, Memory, and RAM!
Seeing as this tutorial will help you run a Craftbukkit Server, here are some quick tips to look at when choosing a plan. Firstly: More Plugins for Craftbukkit Support Linux and Linux derivatives only, so it’s recommended that you get a Linux plan. That being said if you are a new user, Windows will be more useful for you because it has a clean GUI (Graphical User Interface) and is easy for server hosting.
When you come across the fabled 32-bit versus 64-bit decision; it’s recommended that you choose a 64-bit plan as it will allow you to have more RAM than a 32-bit plan will. If you're not sure, or simply don’t care, choose what you fancy.
Note: 32-bit may be displayed as x86, this isn't more!
When choosing RAM amounts, it is HIGHLY recommended to run a Craftbukkit Server 1024MB (1GB) of RAM per 10 Player Slots. If your player slot amount is below 10, we recommend a 768MB plan at minimum. Due to Java's high memory consumption of the server and plugins you can (and will) never have enough RAM.
Likewise, pricing is a huge issue for server admins because the money is coming out of your pocket! If you want to run a successful community: Have a lot of money to burn, or setup a donation system with rewards for members to entice continuous play on your server and to help pay for it. That being said, if you’re just starting out a small package should do you just fine. Don’t start big and go small! A large community of players always starts from a small one.
Section 2: The Community
Like the pricing and the specs of the machine, the community itself and who runs it is extremely crucial to your community’s success. If you run it “half-assed” and don’t really care to learn about or keep your users happy... you won’t do too well at all. Yes! Running a Minecraft Server is a Job! And if you can’t commit to it then you should exit your browser right now and go back to whatever it is you do.
This section will show you:
- How to successfuly advertise your server
- As an Administrator, how you should act while with players
- Hire Moderators, know when to lay down the ban-hammer!
- Keep the community involved
- Choose correct plugins and abilities your players will love!
Section 3: Keeping it Rolling
A community is like a garden, it grows from a small community into a big one. But that doesn’t happen overnight! You need to keep it rolling so everyone is happy!
This section will show you:
- Useful sites to bookmark and keep your eye on
- How to update your plugins
- Updating your server/Recommended Builds
Help! Minecraft Updated!
It’s that time again! Craftbukkit is updating and so are your plugins! Unfortunately this means that most of the time updating your server will not be enough and most if not all of your plugins will break. Keeping this in mind, here are some useful places to keep bookmarked as you expand your Craftbukkit Server.
Firstly: http://www.bukkit.org/ should be kept a close eye on. The homepage of the Bukkit Project always tells you the recommended build of Craftbukkit and when it’s time to update.
Secondly: http://plugins.bukkit.org/ is THE website to bookmark to look up documentation of your plugins or help expand on the plugins you currently have. With that being said...
Third: EVERY TOPIC FOR ANY PLUGIN ON YOUR SERVER. These should be bookmarked indefinitely so you can return to check for updates and how to work out the documentation and commands.
Fourth: http://dev.bukkit.org/ BukkitDev Is swiftly replacing the old forum system(linked above) for interaction between plugin developers and the community(you) and your users. Bukkit dev has many strengths including the ability to subscribe to alerts by email when your plugins are updated
Fifth: http://wiki.bukkit.org/ always has a counter for the current Craftbukkit build and tons of tutorials on how to run servers.
Are my plugins updated? How can I tell
Normally, you can’t tell what version your plugin or server is... without a little searching that is! If you login to your server and type /version you can immediately find out what version is your Craftbukkit server and immediately compare it to the Recommended Build. Additionally, /version [pluginName] can tell you the version of your Plugin and the Recommended Build it was Built for.
There are also plugins that can be used as a guiding resource that an admin can use as a helping hand to keep plugins as well as craftbukkit itself up to date. These resources however are not a full replacement for doing the research on your own as blindly updating can often cause more trouble than it saves.
Updating your plugins
To update your plugins, simply stop your server, delete the Jar file, and replace it with the new one. If the changelog for the plugin (usually displayed on the plugin’s forum post) says there is a change in the config files, make the appropriate changes before finishing and restarting your server.
People who have already been there done that are extremely valuable resources for you to use. Never EVER be afraid to ask others for help! Most of the time ex-server admins or current server admins will try to assist you as much as they know, or try to refer you to someone who does know. If you don't know anyone, the Bukkit IRC Channel is a plethora of Admins, Plugin Developers, and other people who know how to do what you may not!
(This tutorial is a work in progress, message resba for any questions.)
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