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Minecraft on a Mac Mini: an interview with a Minecraft admin

2011-05-10 by . 0 comments

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Amiantos, tells us a little bit about yourself:

I’m a 26 year old internet addict from Los Angeles. In addition to the server I run a music blog at http://staires.org and occasionally review iOS apps at http://apps.staires.org/apps. I’ve been playing Minecraft since August of last year, but didn’t really play multiplayer until about the time I started up the server a month ago. The server also has it’s own reddit thread. I’ve never built anything cool, but I like to dig big holes…

What kind of computer is the Minecraft server running on?

The 2.4ghz lower end unibody Mac mini, with a total of 4gb of RAM. I run a Subsonic server (for streaming my music collection) off of it, along with seeding various totally legal torrents (nothing but linux iso’s, promise). Aside from that I just use it to sync my various iOS devices, and it seems to handle the load alright. It was kind of an impulse buy, but now it serves a real use.

Does the server get overworked or is Minecraft pretty lightweight?

The only time I’ve ran into a situation where the server seemed to lag a little was when I was doing a lot of other stuff on the Mac mini at the same time, like downloading and transferring music around. I think the Minecraft server is probably pretty light weight memory wise, and possibly heavier on the bandwidth end since it has to send all that block data over and over again to everyone. Luckily I’m on a 30mbit FiOS line…

If the server had the original 2GB of RAM it came with, I don’t think it would have such an easy time. I couldn’t even run the Subsonic server by itself without it stuttering and lagging. It wasn’t until I put in a total of 4GB that the Mac mini was actually useful as a server. It is a surprise to me that the mini handles it all with such grace. It doesn’t even put out any heat!

How many users can the server handle?

Currently I have the max player limit set to 12, but we have yet to hit it. At 10 people on at once, the server was keeping up just fine. We even have a player from the UK and he says he hardly has any lag at all, so I must say my FiOS is pretty impressive.

What inspired you to start your own Minecraft server?

I was curious about how the MC experience differs when playing online on a big server, previously I’d only played single player or with two other friends. I joined up on the reddit PvE server, but after being repeatedly stabbed in the back by people while building I decided maybe I should just start up my own server, and not let people on it who think that stabbing people in the back is a cool thing to do.

What has been the funnest part about running your own Minecraft server?

It’s cool seeing what everyone else builds. I’ve never built anything too epic, but almost immediately people on the server are building these gigantic castles and minecart railway systems, things I’ve only seen in screenshots and not in-game before. That’s definitely the coolest/funnest part.

What has been the worst part about running your own Minecraft server?

Sometimes when people stop logging in after a while I almost feel like “What did I do wrong!?” but then I know it’s just because MC can get a little stale after a while. I look forward to the 1.6 update bringing people back in since we’ll have the whole Nether to try to conquer together. There aren’t really any downsides.

On a scale of 1 to 10 how hard is it to setup a Minecraft server?

On OSX it was tricky for a second because McMyAdmin—jeez that was loud lightning on the server right now–needs Mono to be installed. But that aside, it’s a pretty simple process to start with, and McMyAdmin makes it even easier. Figuring out what plugins you want to run in Bukkit and getting Permissions set up is the trickiest part, but most things are documented so as long as you RTFM it doesn’t take long. From impulse to complete set up I think it took me an hour.

How do you deal with cheating/griefing?

So far I don’t think I’ve had a cheating/griefing situation to deal with. I tried to only let people on the server who seem like they wanted basically a single player experience, but with other people around to be cool with. I think that generally discourages people from griefing, but who knows it may happen as I let more people in. Don’t know what I’ll do when it happens, guess it’d depend on what was done.

Why did you choose to use a modded version of the Minecraft server software over vanilla Minecraft?

Mostly so that when random people join the server they can’t build or destroy anything unless I give them permission (using LWC), but also for simple features for users like the mail system built into Essentials, or how ColorMe allows players to pick their name color so chat is less confusing. Game play is basically vanilla for all users, but with Bukkit you can extend the game in subtle ways that make it more fun.

What made you choose Bukkit?

I’m using McMyAdmin, which has built in bukkit support, so it was easy for me. It also seems like what everyone is using, and the developers are totally on top of keeping it up-to-date.

Does administering the server ever seem like it gets in the way of playing?

If anything administering the server is more fun than playing sometimes. I’m not a super creative player, so when I get bored it’s fun to fiddle with the server, and think of ways to make the game  more fun for everyone else. Adding the spleef arenas lately with the nSpleef plugin has recently been a blast, quite a few people have played.

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