All the things You Have to Construct a Sport Server on Linux

Playing with multiple players has always been more fun. It started with the Atari 2600 and the arcade cabinets. As the Internet age came, game servers made remote multiplayer action a reality.

Gaming server Linux feature

With the current generation of PC games, you can connect to servers or run one yourself. Minecraft, Counter-Strike and many other games support multiplayer on public and private servers.

The best results are achieved with Linux servers. Regardless of whether the game is running on Windows, MacOS or even Android, a Linux game server is ideal.

Here's what you need to know in order to create a game server on Linux.

Requirements for setting up a game server

There is a misconception that building a game server requires beefy hardware. On the contrary, you don't need high-end hardware. However, low-spec computers are unlikely to perform at their best.

It really depends on what games you want to host on your Linux game server. How can you start?

Well, you need to know a few things first. While creating a game server on Linux is not particularly difficult, it does require some networking and computer skills. What you don't know, look it up online.

Then there is the hardware. Basically, you have three options, all with restrictions:

  • A compact and affordable SBC (Single Board Computer) like the Raspberry Pi

  • Your PC with some advanced system specifications

  • A dedicated Linux game server that is hosted elsewhere

Let's look at the pros and cons of each.

Hosting a Linux game server on Raspberry Pi

Hosting a game server on a Raspberry Pi is straightforward, but you are limited to mostly older games. However, the computer is affordable, energy efficient, and has built-in wireless networks and ethernet.

This makes it ideal for hosting multiplayer game environments like Minecraft, QuakeWorld, Terraria, Windward, and even OpenTTD and FreeCiv.

Would you like to use a Linux game server with Raspberry Pi support? Please see our list of Raspberry Pi game servers for more information. Note that most of the games on the list can be hosted on a standard Linux PC as well.

Use your PC as a game server

Are you planning to use your PC to host network multiplayer games? Using your PC as a game server on Linux is a smart option if you have a powerful rig. It will be able to handle everything from Minecraft to Call of Duty: Black Ops.

However, this has some shortcomings. You must leave the PC turned on and be connected to your network all day. A dedicated IP address is also recommended, which increases the potential overhead.

There is also the challenge of keeping your server up to date, patching the Linux operating system, keeping it secure, and updating the hardware when necessary.

Rent a dedicated Linux game server

You can also rent a server that can be set up using the game server software.

This saves a lot of time and is a solution for hardcore multiplayer players. While dedicated Linux game servers are affordable (starting at around $ 10 a month for a basic Minecraft server), they are a regular exit that you might not want to commit to.

On the other hand, leasing a server saves time on maintenance and avoids the cost of a dedicated IP address. However, you can only host games that are supported by the Linux game server software you choose.

Host your Linux games on a leased GameServers server

GameServers.com offers a solid solution with high quality servers for network gaming. They also have free servers for popular older games.

Creating a game server on Linux

Once you've decided on a solution that fits your games, your group of players, and your budget, it's time to build the server. For a leased solution, you can click some buttons on a website. When using your PC there are a few things to check:

  • Is there a server available?

  • Is online multiplayer supported?

  • Does your PC meet the hardware requirements?

You should also check to see if your ISP requires a dedicated IP address. This way, players from all over the world can access your server. However, a dedicated IP address doesn't come cheap. Sticking to the local network game will prove to be much cheaper.

Do you need a game server manager?

Which Linux distribution is best for a game server?

Whichever way you proceed with your Linux game server, you need to choose the best distribution for the game.

For anyone new to the field, the most accessible Linux version, Ubuntu, is an excellent game server. With so much documentation, advice, and blogs about this operating system, and a wide variety of hardware supported, games should be easy to host.

Some of the alternatives you might consider include:

In short, you are looking for a distro that is easy to use, fits your hardware, and can support the game.

What game servers can you create with Linux?

So many popular games have online multiplayer support. When installed on systems on the same network as your game server, the games will recognize all multiplayer sessions.

Example games are:

  • Minecraft

  • Team Fortress 2 (above)

  • Counterstrike

However, the possibilities are far greater than with this trio. You can create a game server for each of these titles with relative ease. For other games, check to see if they support network multiplayer.

In some cases, you don't even need a full-sized PC. The Raspberry Pi, for example, is a lead candidate for Minecraft. For more information, see our detailed guide on setting up the Minecraft server on Raspberry Pi. For desktop information, see our guide on setting up a Minecraft server.

raspi-minecraft-server

Creating a Steam Game Server

For Counter-Strike and other Steam games, you need a Steam game server. Creating a Steam game server is a little different, however. For the greatest possible support for as many games as possible on Linux, it is best to use Ubuntu with Steam.

Steam's current list of dedicated game servers for Linux will help you decide. Some servers require the original game to be purchased (e.g. the Counter-Strike Global Offensive Dedicated Server). Others (e.g. Terraria) do not need the original.

What does that mean? Well, you could be hosting a game server for a game that you don't own on Linux but have on Windows.

Steam Game Server is not available with Steam by default. After installing the game client, you will need SteamCMD to manage your games. First, create a Steam user in your Linux terminal:

useradd -m steam

Create and enter the user's home folder:

CD / Home / Steam

To install on a 64-bit system, add the multiverse repository and update:

sudo add-apt-repository multiverse
sudo dpkg –add-architecture i386
sudo apt update

Finally, install Steamcmd:

sudo apt install lib32gcc1 steamcmd

If you are running a 32-bit system, you do not need the multiverse repository. Instead, use after creating the home folder

sudo apt install Steamcmd

Instructions for other Linux distributions can be found on the Steam support pages.

Run SteamCMD with the program installed:

cd ~
Steamcmd

As mentioned earlier, SteamCMD supports anonymous login for most game servers. Use

register anonymously

For dedicated servers that you plan to host outside of your home network, it is advisable to create a new Steam account. This should have different credentials than your usual Steam game client.

Setting up a Steam Game Server

Enter the name of the installation directory to install a game server on Steam:

force_install_dir

(Where leads to a directory that is named appropriately for the game).

Steam assigns AppIDs for both clients and servers. For example:

Counter Strike Source

  • Client AppID: 240

  • Server AppID: 232330

Team Fortress 2

  • Client AppID: 440

  • Server AppID: 232250

To install (and update) a Steam game server:

app_update

Use for Counter-Strike Source

app_update 232330

To connect to your Steam game server, simply run the game on your client PC. If the game server is not automatically detected, select the Multiplayer or Network Game option. The game server should be listed here, so log in and play.

Multiplayer with Linux game server managers

Finally, Linux Game Server Manager offers a nifty solution. It's a fantastic tool that is compatible with most of them. LGSM has more than 50 servers. It is also open source and can be integrated into SteamCMD. The command line tool enables quick deployment of game servers on Linux.

Visit linuxgsm.com for more information.

Time to build your Linux game server

Building a game server for Linux isn't easy, but there is enough good software out there to keep it from getting complex.

Whether you're setting up a Minecraft server or preparing for a Frag action in Counter-Strike Source, the tools are there. If your hardware is up to the task, your game server should be a fun and popular target for other gamers.

Since you'll likely want to chat with your opponents, this is where you can set up your own Discord server.

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About the author

Christian Cawley
(1414 articles published)

Deputy Editor for Security, Linux, DIY, Programming and Technology explains. He also produces The Really Useful Podcast and has extensive desktop and software support experience.

Christian is an employee of Linux Format Magazine and a Raspberry Pi hobbyist, Lego lover and retro gaming fan.

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