Monday, 14 May 2012

What's Left to Do?

What exactly do we have left to do now that the server is operational?

We want to get an SFTP (secure file transfer protocol) server set up to make it easier to transfer files onto and off of the server - plugins especially, though this could easily be done with the use of a flash drive.

We want to make sure that the server starts automatically on boot without interaction by using either the init daemon or by scheduling it on boot with the cron scheduler. Either of these methods makes use of the screen virtual terminal emulator, which basically lets us make a program run in the background, but allows us to view it's output at any time and interact with it without forcing a restart of the server.

We also wanted to get nightly automatic updates working through the YUM package manager and the above mentioned cron scheduling daemon. We use a very similar technique to schedule automatic reboots every 3 months to ensure that the server's Kernel has a chance to update. This is crucial to the continued security of the server.

What does all this mean for the users and administrators? It means that their jobs will be very very easy. This server is more of an appliance than an actual server. Many servers are very needy - they require lots of attention to updates, loads, memory and disk usage, and tons of other stuff besides that. This server is more of an appliance. It has been designed to be plugged in and forgotten as it works nearly silently in a corner.

The final thing that we wanted to do was install a large library of plugins that the user can enable and disable whenever they need, to make changing the configuration easy.

Shortcuts have been placed on the desktop of the server so that when the local admin logs in, they can easily get to where they need to go without having to dig through the file system. TeamViewer is also installed so that if an issue should arise, the users can open up TeamTiewer and have either Joel or I fix anything that does go wrong software wise. Normally this could be done over SSH (Secure Shell) with less network usage and a lot less lag, but since we don't know if we will have access to the network in this way, using TeamViewer gives us a tried and true method for remote administration that is also very easy to both set up and use.

The server is still up at the previously stated address in case anyone still wants to play on the server before it is officially installed later this month.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012


Please log into to test the minecraft server. We need your help to get a feeling as to how much it can handle. The server will be located at the standard port.

Back From Exams, and Back To Working on the Server

We Are Back!

Once again we are working to get the server fully operational :)

Exams have finished and now we can finally get serious with the server. Tonight is a testing night, we are working at getting Centos and McMyAdmin to work together. Due to the design of the software MyMcAdmin we needed to run a 64bit java to use all the ram installed due to a limitation in java. this also meant reverting back to the 64bit version of CentOS again. Since we knew that Sun java had issues, we decided to try IBM java.

The test are being run in a Virtual Box on Kienan's main desktop. Tonight we finished the tests and are reinstalling the 64bit Centos. The system is now running with IBM Java instead of Sun Java.

Why exactly did we flip-flop on the choice of 32 versus 64 bit operating systems? Partially because we wanted to use the more recommended Sun java which only worked properly with the 32 bit version of the OS we are using, but 32bit java only allows for 2gb of ram to be used - even though our linux OS could see all 16gb of ram. In the end we switched over to IBM java (64 bit) and a 64bit version of CentOS once again (the 32bit version of IBM java still has the 2gb ram limit on 32bit machines) - which turned out to be a better choice since the IBM version of java actually runs McMyAdmin much faster and much more reliably than the standard Sun java.

UPDATE: as of now the server is in testing and stress testing stages, and fully installed. you can log in to help us stress test the server by logging in at on the standard minecraft ports. there is a limit of 100 users at the moment - which should be more than sufficient to stress test for the intended environment.