How To Create a Minecraft Server on Ubuntu 20.04

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Minecraft is a popular sandbox video game. Originally released in 2009, it allows players to build, explore, craft, and survive in a block 3D generated world. As of late 2019, it was the second best-selling video game of all time. In this tutorial, you will create your own Minecraft server so that you and your friends can play together. Specifically, you will install the necessary software packages to run Minecraft, configure the server to run, and then deploy the game.

Alternately, you can explore DigitalOcean’s One-Click Minecraft: Java Edition Server as another installation path.

This tutorial uses the Java version of Minecraft. If you purchased your version of Minecraft through the Microsoft App Store, you will be unable to connect to this server. Most versions of Minecraft purchased on gaming consoles such as the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or Nintendo Switch are also the Microsoft version of Minecraft. These consoles are also unable to connect to the server built in this tutorial. You can obtain the Java version of Minecraft here.


In order to follow this guide, you’ll need:

Step 1 — Installing the Necessary Software Packages and Configure the Firewall

With your server initialized, your first step is to install Java; you’ll need it to run Minecraft.

Update the package index for the APT package manager:

  • sudo apt update

Next, install the OpenJDK version 8 of Java, specifically the headless JRE. This is a minimal version of Java that removes the support for GUI applications. This makes it ideal for running Java applications on a server:

  • sudo apt install openjdk-8-jre-headless

You also need to use a software called screen to create detachable server sessions. screen allows you to create a terminal session and detach from it, leaving the process started on it running. This is important because if you were to start your server and then close your terminal, this would kill the session and stop your server. Install screen now:

  • sudo apt install screen

Now that you have the packages installed we need to enable the firewall to allow traffic to come in to our Minecraft server. In the initial server setup that you performed you only allowed traffic from SSH. Now you need to allow for traffic to come in via port 25565, which is the default port that Minecraft uses to allow connections. Add the necessary firewall rule by running the following command:

  • sudo ufw allow 25565

Now that you have Java installed and your firewall properly configured, you will download the Minecraft server from the Minecraft website.

Step 2 — Downloading the Latest Version of Minecraft

Now you need to download the current version of the Minecraft server. You can do this by navigating to Minecraft’s Website and copying the link that says Download minecraft_server.X.X.X.jar, where the X’s are the latest version of the server.

You can now use wget and the copied link to download the server:

  • wget https://launcher.mojang.com/v1/objects/bb2b6b1aefcd70dfd1892149ac3a215f6c636b07/server.jar

If you intend to upgrade your Minecraft server, or if you want to run different versions of Minecraft, rename the downloaded server.jar to minecraft_server_1.15.2.jar, matching the highlighted version numbers to whatever version you just downloaded:

  • mv server.jar minecraft_server_1.15.2.jar

If you want to download an older version of Minecraft, you can find them archived at mcversions.net. But this tutorial will focus on the current latest release. Now that you have your download let’s start configuring your Minecraft server.

Step 3 — Configuring and Running the Minecraft Server

Now that you have the Minecraft jar downloaded, you are ready to run it.

First, start a screen session by running the screen command:

  • screen

Once you have read the banner that has appeared, press the SPACE bar. screen will present you with a terminal session like normal. This session is now detachable, which means that you’ll be able to start a command here and leave it running.

You can now perform your initial configuration. Do not be alarmed when this next command throws an error. Minecraft has designed its installation this way so that users must first consent to the company’s licensing agreement. You will do this next:

  • java -Xms1024M -Xmx1024M -jar minecraft_server_1.15.2.jar nogui

Before examining this command’s output, let’s take a closer look at all these command-line arguments, which are tuning your server:

  • Xms1024M - This configures the server to start running with 1024MB or 1GB of RAM running. You can raise this limit if you want your server to start with more RAM. Both M for megabytes and G for gigabytes are supported options. For example: Xms2G will start the server with 2 gigabytes of RAM.

  • Xmx1024M - This configures the server to use, at most, 1024M of RAM. You can raise this limit if you want your server to run at a larger size, allow for more players, or if you feel that your server is running slowly.

  • jar - This flag specifies which server jar file to run.

  • nogui - This tells the server not to launch a GUI since this is a server, and you don’t have a graphical user interface.

The first time you run this command, which normally starts your server, it will instead generate the following error:

[22:05:31] [22:05:31] [main/ERROR]: Failed to load properties from file: server.properties [22:05:31] [main/WARN]: Failed to load eula.txt [22:05:31] [main/INFO]: You need to agree to the EULA in order to run the server. Go to eula.txt for more info.

These errors were generated because the server could not find two necessary files required for execution: the EULA (End User License Agreement), found in eula.txt, and the configuration file server.properties. Fortunately, since the server was unable to find these files, it created them in your current working directory.

First, open eula.txt in nano or your favorite text editor:

  • nano eula.txt

Inside this file, you will see a link to the Minecraft EULA. Copy the URL:

#By changing the setting below to TRUE you are indicating your agreement to our EULA (https://account.mojang.com/documents/minecraft_eula).
#Tue Mar 24 22:05:31 UTC 2020

Open the URL in your web browser and read the agreement. Then return to your text editor and find the last line in eula.txt. Here, change eula=false to eula=true. Now save and close the file.

Now that you’ve accepted the EULA, it is time to configure the server to your specifications.

In your current working directory, you will also find the newly created server.properties file. This file contains all of the configuration options for your Minecraft server. You can find a detailed list of all server properties on the Official Minecraft Wiki. You will modify this file with your preferred settings before starting your server. This tutorial will cover the fundamental properties:

  • nano server.properties

Your file will appear like this:

#Minecraft server properties
#Thu Apr 30 23:42:29 UTC 2020
motd=A Minecraft Server

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most important properties in this list:

  • difficulty (default easy) - This sets the difficulty of the game, such as how much damage is dealt and how the elements affect your player. The options are peaceful, easy, normal, and hard.

  • gamemode (default survival) - This sets the gameplay mode. The options are survival, creative,adventure, and spectator.

  • level-name (default world) - This sets the name of your server that will appear in the client. Characters such as the apostrophe may need to be escaped with a backslash.

  • motd (default A Minecraft Server) - The message that is displayed in the server list of the Minecraft client.

  • pvp (default true) - Enables Player versus Player combat. If set to true, players will be able to engage in combat and damage each other.

Once you have set the options that you want, save and close the file.

Now that you have changed EULA to true and configured your settings, you can successfully start your server.

Like last time, let’s start your server with 1024M of RAM. Only now, let’s also grant Minecraft the ability to use up to 4G of RAM if it needs it. Remember, you are welcome to adjust this number to fit your server limitations or user needs:

  • java -Xms1024M -Xmx4G -jar minecraft_server_1.15.2.jar nogui

Give the initialization a few moments. Soon your new Minecraft server will start producing an output similar to this:

[21:08:14] [Server thread/INFO]: Starting minecraft server version 1.15.2 [21:08:14] [Server thread/INFO]: Loading properties [21:08:14] [Server thread/INFO]: Default game type: SURVIVAL [21:08:14] [Server thread/INFO]: Generating keypair [21:08:15] [Server thread/INFO]: Starting minecraft server on *:25565

Once the server is up and running, you will see the following output:

[21:15:37] [Server thread/INFO]: Done (30.762s)! For help, type "help"

Your server is now running, and you have been dropped into the server administrator control panel. Now type help:

  • help

An output like this will appear:

[21:15:37] [Server thread/INFO]: /advancement (grant|revoke) [21:15:37] [Server thread/INFO]: /ban <targets> [<reason>] [21:15:37] [Server thread/INFO]: /ban-ip <target> [<reason>] [21:15:37] [Server thread/INFO]: /banlist [ips|players] ...

From this terminal you can execute administrator commands and control your Minecraft server. Now let’s use screen to keep your new server running, even after you log out. Then you can connect to your Minecraft client and start a new game.

Step 4 — Keeping the Server Running

Now that you have your server up, you want it to remain running even after you disconnect from your SSH session. Since you used screen earlier, you can detach from this session by pressing Ctrl + A + D. Now you’re back in your original shell.

Run this command to see all of your screen sessions:

  • screen -list

You’ll get an output with the ID of your session, which you’ll need to resume that session:

There is a screen on: 26653.pts-0.minecraft (03/25/20 21:18:31) (Detached) 1 Socket in /run/screen/S-root.

To resume your session, pass the -r flag to the screen command and then enter your session ID:

  • screen -r 26653

When you are ready to log out of your server, be sure to detach from the session with Ctrl + A + D and then log out.

Step 5 — Connecting to Your Server from the Minecraft Client

Now that your server is up and running, let’s connect to it through the Minecraft client. Then you can play!

Launch your copy of Minecraft Java Edition and select Multiplayer in the menu.

Select Multiplayer in the menu

Next, you will need to add a server to connect to, so click on the Add Server button.

Click the Add Server button

In the Edit Server Info screen that shows up, give your server a name and type in the IP address of your server. This is the same IP address that you used to connect through SSH.

Name your server and type in the IP address

Once you have entered your server name and IP address, you’ll be taken back to the Multiplayer screen where your server will now be listed.

Select your server and click Join Server

From now on, your server will always appear in this list. Select it and click Join Server.

Enjoy the game!

You are in your server and ready to play!


You now have a Minecraft server running on Ubuntu 20.04 for you and all of your friends to play on! Have fun exploring, crafting, and surviving in a crude 3D world. And remember: watch out for griefers.

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