***UPDATE 10/19/2020 – Minecraft 1.16.3 is here! PLEASE make sure you have full backups of your server before attempting to upgrade your server. If you read the older comments you will see that weird things can happen with version upgrades sometimes. 1.15 was an absolute mess at first and a few people without backups in the comments wanted to roll back and had some serious regrets.
1.16.3 has been a very stable experience and is working well. It’s safe to upgrade as long as you’ve made backups!
Minecraft 1.16.3 (Nether Update) 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.
- 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
- 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.
Or for a compact setup: SanDisk Extreme Pro 128GB USB Solid State Flash Drive
Best benchmarking Micro SD card: SanDisk Extreme 64 GB MicroSD Card
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
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 18.04.4 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!
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!
SSH into your Raspberry Pi and paste the following commands:
chmod +x 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!
Check Java Version
Sometimes if you have multiple versions of Java installed the wrong version of Java will be selected as the default. If the server didn’t start check that the right version of Java is selected with this command:
sudo update-alternatives --config java
If you get the message “update-alternatives: error: no alternatives for java” then you only have one version of Java installed and can skip to the next section.
If you are presented with a list of choices then your machine has multiple versions of Java installed. It will look like this:
update-alternatives: warning: /etc/alternatives/java has been changed (manually or by a script); switching to manual updates only There are 2 choices for the alternative java (providing /usr/bin/java). Selection Path Priority Status ------------------------------------------------------------ 0 /usr/lib/jvm/java-11-openjdk-amd64/bin/java 1101 auto mode 1 /usr/lib/jvm/java-11-openjdk-amd64/bin/java 1101 manual mode 2 /usr/lib/jvm/java-8-openjdk-amd64/jre/bin/java 1081 manual mode
You will usually want to just select the newest version of OpenJDK that is listed so you would type 0 and press enter. In some cases on some platforms you may want to switch to the official Oracle JDK although I strongly recommend sticking with OpenJDK!
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:
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:
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
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:
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
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.
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!
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.
PLEASE BACK UP YOUR SERVER FIRST! The server makes automated backups by default for you in the backups folder but I recommend you back up the entire server folder yourself (basically the entire minecraft folder) any time you attempt to upgrade or downgrade. If you need to roll back to older versions it won’t work without a backup from that version or older!
The easiest way to upgrade an installation is to download the latest SetupMinecraft.sh and run it. This will automatically upgrade you to the latest version.
Upgrading and downgrading to versions that aren’t the default the script chooses is pretty simple. Simply change the Version line at the top in the SetupMinecraft.sh script:
# Minecraft Server Installation Script - James A. Chambers - https://www.jamesachambers.com
# More information at https://jamesachambers.com/raspberry-pi-minecraft-server-script-with-startup-service/
# GitHub Repository: https://github.com/TheRemote/RaspberryPiMinecraft
# Minecraft server version
Edit this file in your favorite text editor (you can use nano or vi on the Pi like nano SetupMinecraft.sh) and change the Minecraft version to what you want.
PLEASE RESTORE USING A BACK UP FROM THE VERSION YOU ARE DOWNGRADING TO
If you are having problems on a newer version of Minecraft and want to downgrade you can do so using a complete backup of your server before you ran it on a newer version.
The reason you can’t take server data that has been touched by a version such as 1.16.1 and go back to 1.15 is that the new version adds all sorts of new data types/structures for the new content into your server data files. If you try to roll back the old versions of the Minecraft server will not understand these data types since they didn’t exist in that version and will crash.
As long as you use a backup for your server files from that version (or older) it’s as simple as changing the version in SetupMinecraft.sh just like I show in the “Upgrading” section.
You can upgrade any old version of Minecraft to any version, but again make sure you have a backup first as it is a one way street and you will need that backup if you want to roll back!
To view the version history check out the GitHub README here: