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Starting a single-purpose server


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#1 John R

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 12:03 PM

My intention is to set up a server for Minecraft, capable of handling 6 players (all of them middle-school aged)
I'm not going to go into Minecraft at all, there's a completely different forum for that.

What I would like is to set up a Debain server to where I'm at the point where I can install Minecraft, then I can take it to the various different Minecraft forums.

What I have on order is (which should arrive this week):
HP Compaq dc5850 Desktop PC - AMD Athlon 64 X2 2.3GHz, 4GB DDR2, 750GB HDD, DVD-ROM, Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit, Mouse & Keyboard (Off-Lease)
Debian 6.0.6
Since I'm not going to put any emphasis on the monitor, I'm going to pick up a cheap one from Goodwill.

Okay, so now on to the questions that I would like help on:
1. My ISP is Comcast. Should I tell them about my intentions? Do ISPs offer deals for people setting up these kinds of servers?
2. Where do I set it up? (in the garage? bedroom? Do I want the coolest room in the house? Should I set up a low-power fan?)
3. This is on a WiFi network. Should I consider upgrading my WiFi router? What do I need at minimum? And for everything to work?
4. What kind of Wi-Fi modem should I get for the server?
5. Dual-boot or not to dual-boot? (for a single-purpose server, if anything should go wrong, do I need a Windows partition? Or is Debian 6 fully capable?)
6. This is going to be a private server (IE: password protected), so what needs to be done on the Debian side of things?
7. To my understanding, I will need to perform a periodical backup. How may that be accomplished through Debian?
8. Scenario: I'm on vacation and, oh <expletive> something happens on the server and I need to fix it, or reboot it. What do I do?
9. Are there any other considerations that I should think about?

Thanks a bunch. This is asking a lot. I would like to get it all right, so that the kids can have fun playing without me having to correct things all the time. Although, that's the nature of the beast. Something will always come up.

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#2 Andrew

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 01:20 PM

Let's see how many I can answer :)

1. Some ISPs may offer game server packages, but most only differentiate between residential and commercial customers. You don't need to alert Comcast (though check your subscriber agreement!) and a cable connection usually is good enough for a small MC server.

2. Set it up someplace dry, cool and away from pets/kids/dust. You don't necessarily need the coolest room in the house, but you should avoid small, enclosed areas (closets, e.g.) and areas with a lot of dust or particles that will get sucked into the internal fans.

3 & 4. Wifi should work, but don't expect spectacular performance. Devices certified against the latest revision to the wifi standard(802.11N) will likely provide the best experience, though earlier revisions like 802.11G will likely be comparable. Note that both the wifi card on the PC and the wifi router will use the oldest common standard between them (i.e. if a 802.11G and and 802.11N device are talking, they're talking in 802.11G)

5. OS choice in this case, I think, is more of a preference than anything else: Minecraft's server should run equally well under either OS. If you're already handy with Linux, then Debian would be my recommendation. If not, and if learning Linux is not on your agenda, then a Windows install will likely be best. Debian is fully featured, but don't expect to transfer much (if any) of your Windows experience to Debian.

6 & 7. These are somewhat outside my skillset. Googling for "debian hardening" will be fruitful, even if many of the suggestions aren't applicable in most cases. How you accomplish backups depends on what you're backing up: the whole server or just the game world. Something as simple as a shell script run by cron or as elaborate as a full-featured backup utility are equally viable candidates here.

8. The Linux server admin's little friend: SSH. SSH grants direct command-line access to authenticated remote users. If something goes wrong while you're in Bermuda, this is what you'd use to fix it. There is a high-quality SSH client for Windows as well, so you can login remotely to your Debian machine from a Windows machine (or Mac, since Mac OS X also supports SSH).

9. You may find it easier to forgo running a server locally. There are dedicated Minecraft server hosting companies and also cheap Linux and Windows VPS hosting which would be more than adequate for a modest MC server. The downside to hosting being that it isn't free. (ignore this point if all the players are in wifi range as the benefits of hosted servers are moot if the players are all on the same LAN) [/quote]

Edited by Andrew, 12 November 2012 - 01:28 PM.


#3 John R

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 08:42 PM

Okay...follow-up time:

2. I have a small room in the front that I just recently cleaned out. I have two dogs and a roommate, and none of us goes in there. I think cleaning out the dust fans (CPU and GPU) will be a fact of life, but that's fine)

3&4. At most I'll be expecting 7 people on at the same time. 8, if you were to include the parent/moderator/the-person-sent-in-when-kids-misbehave. My take away from this is for the best performance, make sure both the router and the PC wifi card on the router are both N. (technically, for the best performance, use Cat 6)

5. That answers my question. I'm going to do a straight Debian server. Later on, when I get the equipment, hooked up, booted and Debian installed, I would like to learn the steps of turning it into a server, getting more in depth with scripts, setting up diagnostic tools, and so on.

6 & 7. I'll get back to you on that one.

8. SSH, gotcha. I'll need to set that up, as well.

9. Noted. All of the players involved are in the same city. I'm going to go through the trouble anyway. In the end, it's for the kids!

#4 John R

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 01:49 PM

Lesson learned...never order anything from TigerDirect.

So I pitched the HP, and I went over to the Goodwill Computer store, juiced up the new setup, and everything works fine.

My instincts tells me that I should take a complete inventory to what I have before I install Debian, and to create a recovery disc (just to be on the safe side).

Would Speccy be the program for me to use?

#5 Andrew

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 04:01 PM

Speccy would do it, but bear in mind that it's Windows only.

#6 Dethadder

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 04:13 PM

Lesson learned...never order anything from TigerDirect.



New Egg for the WIN!!!!

#7 John R

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 03:58 PM

Speccy would do it, but bear in mind that it's Windows only.


That's alright.

My first thought about this process is to make sure all of the equipment is working together.

After it all works out, my thought then would to make a recovery and backup disk. And that's to test the DVD-RW. If it fails to write (which it did), I could clean it. However, chances are since I did get it through Goodwill, it's best to replace it with a new one (which I did). I want to be confident that I can make a DVD backup (or install) at any point, and recover without any errors happening.

After that, I want to catalog all the computer has (using Speccy).

Then, there's the issue of the DNS. I had thought of upgrading my Comcast account from Personal to Business. However, I'm not expecting more than 7 users on at any given time and probably average traffic of 3 people on at the same time. So I thought at the moment I would use a free DNS service, like DynDNS. If it does become too laggy, then I should consider upgrading my Comcast account.

Then is when I install Debian. I'd like to get all the groundwork laid out first!

#8 John R

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 02:45 AM

Well...this is a pickle.

I bought a Netgear A6200 802.11ac dual-band adapter, thinking that it would work on the server. Since the router is also 802.11ac dual band I was thinking "No problem".

Well, it is a problem as it seems the A6200 is new. As it happens, there's no Linux driver. Not even a work-around.

Is the A6200 completely worthless to me?


I have a Netgear WNDA3100(v1) which would do. (according to this)

Am I stuck with the WNDA? :huh:

#9 Andrew

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 03:26 AM

Have you looked at NdisWrapper? It's a tool for using Windows wifi drivers under Linux.

#10 John R

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 01:39 PM

I give Debian credit: They don't bloat the initial installation with a bunch of packages that they think you might not need right now. That said, I installed a few packages just to get "Make" running, and a few more to get NdisWrapper up and running. I'm at the end of this. And then it will be time to get the Minecraft server going. I've already registered a domain using no-ip.com, so I can get that out of the way.

Whew! How involved can you get! :busy:

#11 John R

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 05:32 PM

Have you looked at NdisWrapper? It's a tool for using Windows wifi drivers under Linux.


I did try!

No luck.

I'm not sure where to track down the driver file for the A6200. I even went as far as to install it on my Windows machine. I had thought that the correct .inf file was in the directory "Program Files (x86)/NETGEAR/A6200/Drivers" as bcmwlhigh6.inf. Ndiswrapper says that is the wrong file.

Until the fine Linux community cracks that puzzle, I'm going to continue on with the older hardware.

EDIT:
<_< I'm not getting anywhere. Using this, I got to here because this is out of date. The device shows up on lsusb. It shows up on a verbose lsusb command. So Debian does recognize its existence. For some strange reason, none of my USB devices shows up on hardinfo (Gnome). I'm not sure what that's about.

In short, the device is lit. Debian recognizes it somewhere. And I'm not connected online.

What do I do now?


I did it all wrong.

I attached an older Linksys WRT310N router, which works well. So now Debian can communicate with it just perfectly. I recognize at some point I will have to replace it with a 900 router. I'll worry about that later.

Now the important stuff! This is my physical setup:

Internet --> Cable modem --> NetGear R6200 --> PC, laptop, Wii, etc.

My server consists of:

Linux Server --> Linksys WRT310N

I would like to get an internet connection to the Linux Server by this route:

Linux Server --> Linksys WRT310N --> NetGear R6200 --> Cable modem --> Internet

What kind of settings should I use for the WRT310N?

Edited by John R, 27 November 2012 - 11:15 PM.


#12 John R

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 01:13 AM

It helps to know what to ask. After a Google search, it looks like I'm looking for a Bridge.

So once again, I'm doing it all wrong and am now looking for a Debian compliant wireless bridge.




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