Raspberry Pi Minecraft Server Setup Script w/ Startup Service

Minecraft 1.15 Buzzing Bees Update
Minecraft 1.15 “Buzzing Bees” Update

Minecraft 1.15.1 (Buzzing Bees) is here! This script and guide are written to help you get a great performing Raspberry Pi Minecraft server up and running in only a few minutes.

Features

  • Sets up fully operational Minecraft server in a couple of minutes
  • Raspbian / Ubuntu / Debian distributions supported
  • Installs and configures OpenJDK 11 (or higher if available)
  • Sets up Minecraft as a system service with option to autostart at boot
  • Automatic backups to minecraft/backups when server restarts
  • Updates automatically to the latest version when server is started
  • Easy control of server with start.sh, stop.sh and restart.sh scripts
  • Optional scheduled daily restart of Pi using cron
  • Optional configuration of video memory to 16MB (default 64MB) and overclocking MicroSD reader to 100Hz (default 50Hz) for maximum performance

Requirements

  • Raspberry Pi model with 1 GB of RAM or higher. Basically a Raspberry Pi 2B or higher. (No Zero unfortunately, 512MB is not enough RAM to do this, I’ve tried!)
  • Headless Linux distribution such as Raspbian Buster Lite, Ubuntu Server 18.04.2, or any Debian based distribution (GUI distros can be used at the expense of available RAM and server performance)
  • Solid state drive highly recommended but not required.
    You can get a SSD setup on a Pi for less than most Micro SD cards cost. See my article here for details
  • If using MicroSD you want to be using a high range card otherwise you will really be hurting on IO when the server is reading/writing chunks of terrain! Click here for MicroSD card benchmarks/recommendations.

Recommended Gear

Raspberry Pi 4 Model B 2GB

Raspberry Pi Minecraft Server Setup Script w/ Startup Service
Raspberry Pi Minecraft Server Setup Script w/ Startup Service

StarTech 2.5″ SATA to USB 3.0 Adapter -AND- Kingston A400 SSD 120GB SATA 3 2.5” Solid State Drive

Raspberry Pi Minecraft Server Setup Script w/ Startup Service

Or for a compact setup: SanDisk Extreme Pro 128GB USB Solid State Flash Drive

Raspberry Pi Minecraft Server Setup Script w/ Startup Service

Best benchmarking Micro SD card: SanDisk Extreme 64 GB MicroSD Card

Raspberry Pi Minecraft Server Setup Script w/ Startup Service

Choosing a Linux Distribution

The most important consideration when choosing which flavor of Linux to run the server on is simple: available RAM. Headless Linux distributions such as Raspbian Lite that don’t have a built in GUI have substantially more memory available for the Minecraft server.

Our biggest obstacle when running a Minecraft server on the Pi is available RAM since 1 GB is extremely low for this type of server. To have a playable experience you should not be running anything else on the Pi so all memory is available to be used.

After testing on many different distros I am finding Raspbian Lite and Ubuntu Server 18.04.2 32-bit to be the best choices. These distributions come with very few background processes and have rock solid support and performance.

64-bit vs 32-bit

There’s a lot of discussion in the Pi world about the up and coming aarch64 64-bit distributions vs. armhf 32-bit distributions. They have been and continue to improve dramatically. There are already use cases where 64-bit is far superior such as video encoding, advanced compression, etc.

So how about for running a Minecraft server? I have been testing extensively with Ubuntu Server 18.04 64-bit and the Debian Buster 64-bit. I have consistently had worse performance and stability than on 32-bit versions of the exact same distros.

But how can that be? It’s certainly true that Minecraft servers benefit in CPU performance from 64-bit versions of Java. The answer is actually incredibly simple: memory. The server running on a 64-bit Java Virtual Machine uses a minimum of about 100 MB more memory. This makes perfect sense because 64 bits > 32 bits by definition!

The Raspberry Pi’s 1 GB of memory has been the biggest obstacle for this project since the very beginning. Back when I first went into the Paper Minecraft developer IRC room and told them what I was trying to do I was practically laughed out of the chat room for even thinking of trying this. Most Minecraft server branches including vanilla can’t even start on the Pi because of the limited memory.

For a dedicated Minecraft server on the Pi I very highly recommend staying 32-bit. You will have more available memory which means it will be much faster and more stable. Since memory is our bottleneck the increased CPU throughput does not help us and losing *any* of our memory is disastrous!

If the Raspberry Pi 4 has more memory like we all expect it to this recommendation will change completely. Even 2 GB of memory would make the extra memory that 64-bit uses a non-issue and the CPU throughput performance gains very desirable. For now though stay 32-bit for a Minecraft server!

Tested Distributions

Raspbian Lite – It’s Raspbian. It has very low memory usage and is the official distribution of the Raspberry Pi. The server runs very well on this. It’s overall the best choice. The Buster release has made OpenJDK 11 available on it so it’s no longer behind the rest of the distros.

Ubuntu Server 18.04.3 – Ubuntu Server is my favorite Linux distro. I use it for nearly all of my projects. The performance of the 32-bit armhf version is on par with Raspbian. It’s a great choice! Click here for my Ubuntu setup guide for Raspberry Pi. The 64-bit version is not a fantastic choice and not recommended because of the higher memory usage. Stick with 32-bit and you’ll be a happy camper with Ubuntu Server.

Debian Buster 64-bit – Debian is the distribution Raspbian is based on. This version is a preview of Debian “Buster” which is the successor to Stretch and will be the next version of Raspbian when it is released. I like this distribution but it is currently still unofficial and unsupported. Performance and stability was less than Ubuntu and Raspbian.

Benchmark Your Storage

Make sure your storage is running fast enough to be an effective Minecraft server. I wrote a benchmark for this purpose to make this extremely easy. To get accurate results make sure nothing is running when the benchmarking is taking place.

Run the benchmark by pasting/typing:

sudo systemctl stop minecraft
sudo curl https://raw.githubusercontent.com/TheRemote/PiBenchmarks/master/Storage.sh | sudo bash 

Ideally you will score around 1000 for a good quality Micro SD card (and much higher for solid state storage). A low score (< 700) here indicates here that it is probably time to upgrade to a solid state drive or a faster Micro SD card. Click here to view all the existing benchmarks.

You can still run the server if you’d like with a low storage score but be advised when operations like saving the server’s blocks take place the people online may experience quite a big of lag!

Installation

SSH into your Raspberry Pi and paste the following commands:

wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/TheRemote/RaspberryPiMinecraft/master/SetupMinecraft.sh
chmod +x SetupMinecraft.sh
./SetupMinecraft.sh

The script will setup the Minecraft sever and ask you some questions on how to configure it. I’ll explain here what they mean.

“Enter amount of memory in megabytes to dedicate to the Minecraft server” – The amount of memory that will be dedicated to the Minecraft server. The more the better, but you must leave some room for the operating system background processes.

If you exceed the total available memory either the server will crash or the Pi will get incredibly slow to the point where your SSH session will start timing out. The setup script will make a recommendation to you which is your available memory – 10% for headroom. If you aren’t sure what to put just go with the recommended amount.

Note for Raspberry Pi 4: Currently on 32-bit Raspbian 2700 MB is the maximum that Linux will let us allocate in a 32 bit environment. The script has been updated to check for this as the server will not start if it is set over 2700M on a 32 bit server. 64 bit operating systems will be able to allocate all available memory as Pi 4 support rolls out for them.

“Start Minecraft server at startup automatically (y/n)?” – This will set the Minecraft service to start automatically when your Pi boots. This is great because whenever you want to play you can just plug it in and go without having to SSH in.

“Automatically reboot Pi and update server at 4am daily (y/n)?” – This will add a cron job to the server that reboots the Pi every day at 4am. This is great because every time the server restarts it backs up the server and updates to the latest version. See the “Scheduled Daily Reboots” section below for information on how to customize the time or remove the reboot.

That is it for the setup script. The server will finish configuring and start!

First Run

The first time you run the server it will take a little longer to start since it is generating all the server data. If you try to log in before it fully starts you will get a connection timeout error. Watch for the line: “Timings Reset”. This is the last line that prints when the server is ready to rock and roll. At this point you will be able to connect successfully.

The very first time you log into the server it will be slow for about 1-2 minutes. This is because since nobody has logged in before the server has to scramble to generate all the chunks within your view distance (10 by default) and send them to you/store them. During this time you may not be able to see very far and if you try to destroy blocks there will be noticeable lag from when they break to when they actually disappear.

Don’t panic! This will go away within a couple of minutes as the Pi catches up with all the first time login stuff it needs to do. Performance stabilizes and it will feel very much like the offline experience after that.

If you are hosting for a few friends I’d recommend logging in for the first time right after you set up the server instead of having several people nail a blank server at first startup. This gets it out of the way and when everyone is ready to log in the starting area chunks will be fully fleshed out and the Pi just has to read them. It’s an order of magnitude faster for the Pi to read chunks than to generate and store chunks.

In my experience after the initial login exploring new parts of the server doesn’t cause any lag even though new chunks are being generated. The reason for this is that when you’re walking it’s really only having to generate a new chunk as you get close to the border instead of a huge square area of chunks in all directions and all at the same time like during the first login.

Changing Minecraft Server Version

If you want to change which version your Minecraft server is running it can be changed by opening SetupMinecraft.sh with any text editor (example: nano SetupMinecraft.sh).

Change the line Version=”1.15.1″ to whichever Minecraft server version you want to run. Note that that version must already exist for Paper Minecraft. You can view all available versions at the following URL:

https://papermc.io/api/v1/paper/

Changing Minecraft Client Version

If you are wisely running the “stable” branch instead of the “development” branch there will be times where you need to select the version of Minecraft to run otherwise you will get an error message that your client is outdated when you try to log in.

Fortunately this is very easy. Open up the Minecraft launcher and instead of hitting “Play” choose “Launch Options” in the menu at the top of the window. It will look like this:

Raspberry Pi Minecraft Server Setup Script w/ Startup Service
Minecraft Launcher “Launch Options” Tab

Click the “Add new” button and pick which version you want to add. You can optionally gave it a name or just click save.

Now when you go back to the “News” tab you will see a dropdown arrow where you can select which version of Minecraft you want to play!

Start, Stop and Restart Server

The server can be started, stopped and restarted two different ways. You can use the provided scripts in the Minecraft folder or you can use systemctl. Here are the commands:

cd ~/minecraft
./start.sh
./stop.sh
./restart.sh

-OR-

sudo systemctl start minecraft
sudo systemctl stop minecraft
sudo systemctl restart minecraft

Automatic Backups

The server backs up each time it starts. This helps you recover easily if something goes wrong. This system works best if you configured the server to restart daily since it means you will have a backup every day.

To access these backups type:

cd ~/minecraft/backups
ls

When a backup is made the filename will be the date and time the backup was taken. If you need to restore a backup it’s very easy. Substitute the timestamp in my example to the backup you want to roll back to. Type:

cd ~/minecraft
./stop.sh
rm -rf world world_nether world_the_end
tar -xf backups/2019.02.15.22.06.30.tar.gz
./start.sh

Your world has now been restored! It’s a good idea to download these backups off the Pi periodically just in case the Pi’s storage fails.

Scheduled Daily Reboots

The daily reboots are scheduled using cron. It’s very easy to customize the time your server restarts.

To change the time that the server restarts type: crontab -e

This will open a window that will ask you to select a text editor (I find nano to be the easiest) and will show the cronjobs scheduled on the Pi. The Minecraft one will look like the following:

0 4 * * * /home/ubuntu/minecraft/restart.sh
Raspberry Pi Minecraft Server Setup Script w/ Startup Service

There are 5 fields here. The default restart time is set to reboot at 0 minutes of the 4th hour of the day (4 AM). The other 3 fields are left as * to represent every day of every month. Make any desired changes here and press Ctrl+X to exit nano and update the cronjob.

To remove the daily reboot simply delete the line and save.

Installing Plugins

The server supports plugins that are compatible with Bukkit / Spigot / Paper. A popular place that you can get plugins is at where there are thousands of them!

To install a plugin you simply download the .jar to the minecraft/plugins folder and restart the server. For example, WorldGuard is a very popular plugin that lets you add protection to different areas of your server.

To install this plugin on our Minecraft server we would use the following commands:

cd ~/minecraft/plugins
wget https://dev.bukkit.org/projects/worldguard/files/latest
sudo systemctl restart minecraft

The server will restart and the plugin will be installed. It’s that simple! To use the plugin refer to the documentation on the plugin download page to find out which commands you use to configure/interact with it.

Warning: be advised that plugins are the #1 issue for performance degradation on Minecraft servers. This isn’t because all plugins are bad. Some plugins are coded very inefficiently or perform features that require a lot of hooks in the code.

You should be careful about what plugins you install on the server and if you start having bad performance disable your plugins one by one until you find the culprit!

Reconfigure / Update Scripts

The scripts can always be reconfigured and updated by downloading the latest SetupMinecraft.sh and running the installer again. It will update all of the scripts in the Minecraft directory and reinstall the startup service for you.

Running SetupMinecraft.sh again will also give you a chance to reconfigure options such as the memory dedicated to the server, daily reboots, starting the server on boot, etc.

This will not overwrite your world or any other data so it is safe to run!

Port Forwarding

If everyone on your server is on the same LAN or WiFi network as you then you don’t need to do this. If you want people to connect from outside your local network then you need to set up port forwarding on your router.

The process for this is different for every router so the best thing to do is just look at your router and find the model # and put that in google with port forwarding for easy instructions on how to do it for your specific router.

You want to forward port 25565. The type of connection is TCP if your router asks. Once you do this people will be able to connect to your Minecraft server through your public IP address. This is different than your local IP which is usually a 192.x.x.x or 10.x.x.x. If you don’t know what that is just go to google and type “what’s my ip” and Google will kindly tell you!

Wired vs. Wireless

Going with an ethernet (wired) connection is going to be faster and more reliable. There’s so much wireless traffic and other interference in the air that running your server on WiFi is not recommended.

Even if it is working great 99% of the time it can ruin your experience very quickly if the WiFi drops for a couple of seconds and you get blown up by a creeper!

All that being said, the server works fine on wireless. The script will work fine as is with a wireless connection.

Version History

To view the version history check out the GitHub README here:

https://github.com/TheRemote/RaspberryPiMinecraft#update-history

375 thoughts on “Raspberry Pi Minecraft Server Setup Script w/ Startup Service”

  1. Avatar for Steve

    Will not let me run 1.14.3 always states paper 1.15.2 even after changing the server properties any help would be appreciated as I am trying to run a server for a pvm map called chunk defense.

  2. Avatar for Jason

    Hi, I am looking for some guidance. In setting up my Minecraft server on my Raspberry PI 4, I did a Google search that lead me to the MarcTV channel. I followed those instructions. Last night I ran into some issues that had me hard set the IP for the Raspberry PI. In doing so I mistyped the gateway, and the restart script from Marc Tönsing version overwrote Paperclip with a blank file when it could not resolve the wget address. I found your site as a result and realized quickly that you were the original author of the setup scripts.

    Mark’s setup is missing a great deal from your most recent update. Which makes me want to run your SetupMinecraft.sh script. The problem is that I don’t want to overwrite everything I’ve done in the server build. To prevent losing what I’ve done, my thoughts are the following:
    1. Run stop.sh
    2. Move the current Minecraft dir to be minecraft-orig
    3. Run the SetupMinecraft.sh scrip to put your configuration in place.
    4. Copy the world, world_nether world_the_end folders from minecraft-orig to the new minecraft dir.
    5. Run start.sh to ensure my original world ported over.

    Please let me know if that would keep all of the work I did in my Minecraft World. I’ll start over if comes down to it, but
    # V1.1 – Dec 15th 2019

    1. Avatar for Jason

      I went ahead and did it since my logic was sound and it worked. Now I am back up and running on your version with the world I started with.

      I can tell you know that the other version would tell me that I was behind X number of milliseconds, and I would have to deal with frequent stutters in the game. Minecraft is running much smoother and frankly faster.

      Interesting point. I only copied over the directory world at first. When I went to go back to the nether, it crashed. Then I realized I quit the game when I was in the nether. To fix this, I stopped the Minecraft server and copied over the other two folders, world_nether, and world_the_end. When I restarted the Minecraft server and rejoined, it put me back in the nether where I ended the other night.

      Thanks for all the great work around this build.

      Jason

  3. Avatar for Brandon Weynberg
    Brandon Weynberg

    I have not been able to get on the server. When I use the command “screen -r minecraft.” I get -There is no screen to be resumed matching minecraft..-

    What could I be doing wrong?

    1. Avatar for Harry Beards

      One issue I had was that the script needs sudo permissions to install stuff and configure systemd, but running sudo sets the $UserName field to “root”, instead of whatever your home directory is. So it kept installing stuff in /root/minecraft instead of /minecraft, and all of the systemd files that control starting and stopping the server (and, by extension, the screen sessions) are looking in your /root/minecraft directory. Storing those files there isn’t a super great idea, so i went into the SetupMinecraft.sh script and changed the UserName=$(whoami) variable to UserName=.

      Hope that helps!

  4. Avatar for steve

    hello would anyone be able to help with command lines on the raspberry pi i know how change directory to the minecraft folder but do not know how to get back to the root folder, as you probably can see i am new to this.
    would also appreciate any help being able to see who is on the server at any current time from the pi and also how to enable cheats or change difficulty and also adding a white list.
    basically any command lines for what i have asked for help with.

    1. Avatar for Nate

      you type cd again to go back a directory. Also look up linux commands. You can also type dir to see what files are in the directory. You edit the files with nano or vi….ex”nano start.sh”. Also, google nano commands and vi commands.. they are just two different text editors. you have to edit other files

      whitelist.json
      server.properties
      spigot.yml

  5. Avatar for Chris

    Hello! This is hugely helpful, many thanks for this!

    I think I’ve managed to get it working, and am able to join locally; however I’d like to change the game to a custom seed. I’ve been editing the server.properties file and changing the specific seed, saving it, and restarting the server using the commands listed above but it doesn’t seem to be pushing changes. Am I missing something here?

    Any help is appreciated! Very new to this stuff…

    1. Avatar for Kim

      In my experience, if a world is already generated, changing the seed in settings will not do anything. A simple way is to remove your existing world (rm -rf world world_nether world_the_end) and restart the server (sudo systemctl restart minecraft) to let it generate a new world with the new seed. This will of course resett your world. I’m not aware of any solutions where you can change an existing world to a new seed.

    2. Avatar for Sinorance

      It’s probably not working because it already generated the world. You’ll have to perform the following steps to delete the current world and generate the new one with your seed:
      1. stop the server
      2. exec command “rm -rf /home/pi/minecraft/world/;rm -rf /home/pi/minecraft/world_nether/;rm -rf /home/pi/minecraft/world_the_end/”
      3. start the server

  6. Avatar for TheRooster13

    Hey James, any update on using a 64-bit OS for those of us with 4GB Raspberry Pi 4s? I’d really like to take advantage of the 64-bit processor and the additional RAM. Is Ubuntu 64 a valid solution now?

    1. Avatar for TheRooster13

      FYI, I jumped in and tried with Ubuntu Server 19.10 64-bit for RPi 4. It’s running like a champ! I have a 4GB RPi 4 and I’m able to use 3GB of memory for the Minecraft Server and I think the 64-bit OS runs a bit faster as well. Timings is showing fewer TPS loss during normal play than before. Getting Ubuntu to use an SSD was as easy as changing one variable in one config file to root=/dev/sda2. (I don’t remember the exact file off-hand and I don’t remember what the variable was initially.)

      I’d highly recommend it.

  7. Avatar for lostarrow

    I am currently running Java 11, per the instructions of the guide, on both the Pi and all connected clients. The server runs for about 15 minutes on average then crashes, with no error message in the servers log file. However, all connected clients get this message:

    Internal Exception: java.io.IOException: An existing connection was forcibly closed by the remote host

    Should I roll back to Java 8 and try again? Doesn’t Java 8 fail to create a virtual machine with as much RAM as Java 11?

    1. Avatar for saloren

      I was having a similar issue, with running on a Pi4 with 32-bit OS and OpenJDK Java11. With the scripted Max memory setting of 2700MB (-Xmx2700m), java was running out of native memory because of the large heap.
      Decreasing to -Xmx2300m solved the problem (find the setting in the last line of start.sh).
      Hope it could be of some help.
      Otherwise, you should have hs_err_pidxxx.log files in your minecraft folder that gives more information on the cause of the crash.

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