CHAOS are graciously going to fund a server for use by the community for Game On! and LPing purposes. (Please note they really don't have to do this, so don't try pushing for the extra bandwidth/RAM.)

They are only funding this, so we need to decide how we are going to manage this.

First we need to decide what we want the server for. Whether it is going to be a dedicated server for a single game or whether it's going to have greater access and other requirements such as the technical things I don't understand (see: VPN, RAM-disk) once we have these decided we can begin looking for places to host it from.

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This is super cool, thanks CHAOS! My only suggestion is this: hostnames are a lot easier to remember than IP addresses. We should definitely use subdomains of stackgaming (or maybe site's future domain?) as aliases for the server –  Dave McClelland Apr 3 '12 at 17:19
    
@DaveMcClelland We already have a domain of stackgaming.com that Marco owns that we can use to redirect to any IP we want. –  Ronan Forman Apr 3 '12 at 17:21
    
I figured, just thought I should mention it. No one likes remembering IPs, except maybe certain robots... –  Dave McClelland Apr 3 '12 at 17:23
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I can point mine.stackgaming.com to whatever address/hostname is created for this –  Marco Ceppi Apr 3 '12 at 17:57
    
@MarcoCeppi This can be done for other domains so *.stackgaming.com, not just mine right? –  Ronan Forman Apr 3 '12 at 18:05
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@RonanForman Correct, the entire stackgaming.com domain is for use by the GSE community –  Marco Ceppi Apr 3 '12 at 18:09
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Suspicious quotes in the title. –  Resorath Apr 3 '12 at 20:08
    
@BenBrocka Is there such a thing? –  Matthew Read Apr 3 '12 at 21:22
    
We could use it when we play Xonotic, perhaps. –  DwarfSlice Apr 4 '12 at 0:56
    
I noticed a few mentions of pre-existing servers in the answers below. Probably a good idea to link to this Server List. –  raveturned Apr 4 '12 at 9:06

5 Answers 5

For those unaware, I'm a Systems Administrator at Stack Exchange. See my serverfault profile for verification.

I've discussed with the management and here's the deal. We've got a limited budget for this project, but within the bounds of that budget I can procure for us a single VPS with the following specs:

  • 2 cores
  • 2gb ram
  • 50gb disk
  • a small number of static IPs
  • Ubuntu Server

Now, given this machine, I can say for certain we could easily run a single minecraft server very well in an instance this size, as this is the exact size of the server I use to run the blocktown.org minecraft server.

This is my assumption as to how we would run it. I'm going to pay for the vps out of my pocket and expense back to the company. This will make it easier for the community as we won't need to ask anyone whose not an employee to trust that we'll reimburse them. I already know Stack Exchange pays their bills on time and am not afraid to trust them on this :)

Nobody will have root; we will have a very tightly controlled sudo environment for people who need escalated privileges, otherwise the individual servers/projects will run as normal, separate user accounts. We will need to create some method of coordinating in the Game On! community as to what tasks we wish to run on the VPS. Login access for the user accounts will be tightly controlled to minimize any accidental downtimes.

KEEP IN MIND: Minecraft is an extremely bloated program. It's a memory and cpu hog, which means that with it running we won't have juice available for much else. I'm pretty certain we could run a mumble/ventrilo/teamspeak server on it without issue, but having two minecraft instances at the same time would be almost impossible without heavy lag.

I will mostly pay for the vps and be willing to help during my free time, but it's not part of my normal Stack Exchange job to maintain the VPS 24/7. For this task, I will be relying on the community members that have already proven they're capable of maintaining minecraft and other servers.

Please vote on this and we'll see where it lands.

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Any inclination as to how the VPS might run a Nuclear-Dawn or the like server? –  James Apr 7 '12 at 1:52
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@James, I've had pretty good luck with similar setups running Source-based servers (ND is a Source engine mod). Running it at the same time as Minecraft is probably not a great idea, and we'll probably need to test to see exactly how much we can do without it getting laggy. –  agent86 Apr 7 '12 at 13:54
    
Lag really is my only concern at this point in time, I know other games are most everyone else's concern :) –  James Apr 7 '12 at 19:10
    
I'm impressed a minecraft server runs on that. Single player barely runs on that :) –  Ben Brocka Apr 7 '12 at 21:10
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Single payer adds a whole graphical layer on top of that and takes away client-side logic, @BenBrocka, a server could considered to be more dumb than a client. –  Tom Wijsman Apr 8 '12 at 17:55

As Peter has laid down the initial groundwork for this, I'd like to offer another alternative.

Ubuntu has a new product called Juju which makes deploying to the cloud super easy. I've written a "Charm" (a service you deploy to the Cloud) for Minecraft to use with Juju. In addition we have a Terraria server charm in the works and one for all Steam servers. While I'm not sure the budget or guidelines it might be another alternative to a single machine. So someone with access to a cloud service, say AWS, could run the following commands to create a Minecraft instance

juju bootstrap
juju deploy minecraft
juju set minecraft motd="Gaming Stack Exchange Minecraft!" allow-nether=true max-players=15
juju expose minecraft

This would spin up an instance, set some parameters (though it comes with "sane" defaults), and expose it to the world for access. When you're done using the server:

juju destroy-service minecraft

This removes the minecraft service from Juju and if you're done with Juju altogether

juju destroy-environment

In the same vein, someone could deploy steam and do a juju set steam game=tf2 and there's a TF2 server running. There's a list of charms in the Charm Store as well as several still awaiting approval for the store.

Depending on how much is being allotted for this venture would really impact how feasible an option like this is. While it's advantage is clear (flexibility in server deployments) it's major draw back is the additional cost and burden of "management" since these servers likely won't be 24/7 servers. As such there would likely need to be a small core of people who have access to create these environments (to avoid abuse and ensure servers don't accidentally get left on). However, using something like the Amazon IAM tools new users can be added with privileges and others removed if need be.

I know Peter has mentioned he has a super tuned setup he uses for Minecraft, we can capture that in the Minecraft charm and make it easy to deploy that super tuned hot-rod Minecraft server whenever it was needed. In addition, if there was a game that the community wanted to run I could help author a charm for that game. Of course this would produce a different price a month for an AWS account but would allow for some flexibility in what and when games are run for the community.

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I don't see the problem with this approach, we would need to investigate how much that would cost since rapid provisioning of cloud servers could introduce a significant cost if they were left running. What would be the process for assuring that only certain servers were running at certain times? Otherwise, it'd be like running multiple VPS's 24/7 for a significant cost overhead. –  Peter Grace Apr 11 '12 at 12:31
    
@PeterGrace There really wouldn't be a way to force servers to run only X amount of time. Ideally we would find a small group of people who were responsible for ensuring that after a server is done being used it was destroyed/removed. There's another project called "juju-jitsu" which is meant to bolt on to Juju and does things like provision on the cheapest cloud, and other additions that could be modified to include forced runtimes. I'd have to look in to that though. –  Marco Ceppi Apr 11 '12 at 12:35

First of all I think it's important to note we already have a server run by MarcoCeppi for our 24/7 things, such as mumble and TF2, so we only need this for the more back end things (such as changing maps/mods in minecraft). Anything that can be run entirely in game is not what we need this server for.

Secondly will we ever need to store files on the server (such as commonly used video bits for our channel, or the mods/free game we are playing) if so we will need some way of uploading/downloading from the server.

Thirdly who will be the maintainer of this server? Once we figure out what access it requires we need someone we trust (and knows what they are doing) to sort things out.

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Umm, you? (in response to the 3rd question) :) –  Oak Apr 3 '12 at 17:20
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@Oak I know nothing of any of this, so I'll set something on fire eventually. –  Ronan Forman Apr 3 '12 at 17:22
    
I'll gladly help get the server set up if it's needed. I've got a fair amount of experience running servers (all source games, minecraft, mumble). I probably can't do the day-to-day administration though, my clan's servers already keep my occupied enough –  Dave McClelland Apr 3 '12 at 17:27
    
I do have some experience with servers, so I'd be happy to lend a hand with the day-to-day things if required. –  Wipqozn Apr 3 '12 at 17:44
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Hey guys, keep in mind we are not sure this server is even going to be run 24/7... There may not be any day-to-day activities to worry about, just event to event :) –  James Apr 3 '12 at 17:53
    
I've administered many a game server over the course of my career, (as well as authoring tools to make administration easier for gamers) so feel free to ask me if you'd like any administrator assistance. –  agent86 Apr 3 '12 at 18:51
    
I've a bit of experience running Minecraft servers over SSH. –  John the Green Apr 3 '12 at 20:02

Having a service of some kind where we can give/trade items between various games we play would be handy.

For instance I have a lot of old dungeon defenders and guild wars stuff I don't need anymore

The Steam thread became useless real fast

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How would a server help with that? –  Ronan Forman Apr 4 '12 at 14:33
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@RonanForman servers can host webservices too, not just games :p –  z ' Apr 4 '12 at 14:44
    
@yx. We are trying to Not take advantage of them offering to pay for a server for us as noted in the original post. I think this should be its own meta topic and one of the answers may be a link back to this post as a location to host such a thing. –  James Apr 4 '12 at 16:14

First of all, awesome that they are willing to do this for us. And with that out of the way, onward.

They are only funding this, so we need to decide how we are going to manage this.

First we need to decide what we want the server for.

I believe the goal of this server is to be used for Game On! events first and foremost (correct me if I am wrong). So we should get a good idea of which games fit this bill where it makes sense for us to have a server. Now I know there is no way to predict every game we will ever want to try out in a Game On! event. But we need to take a stab at getting some sort of a base line down to pick out a server for this.

Another thing we should consider is availability of public servers for games. Forgetting the fact that Marco Ceppi is already providing us a server capable of hosting L4D1/2 servers, Steam's server's are actually up to snuff and I think would suffice well enough. TF2 on the other hand would be a bit harder to get it to ourselves. Then there is Minecraft and Terraria and games of that ilk, where there is nothing provided to us.

[...] we need to decide how we are going to manage this

The management of the server will really come down to what the server runs. At the end of the day if the server is only used for hosting scheduled events like Game On! or a Let's Play then management becomes fairly simple. We would need some sort of way to reserve time on the system for the event and management could fall to someone leading the event itself.

If we utilize the system for a 24/7 minus event times, then there may be a bit more management depending on which game is decided to be the one that is hosted during the non-event usage of the server.

Now I think it worth noting that I am completely on the side of getting a dedicated minecraft server simply because it was the minecraft Ultra Hardcore event that kind of tipped off the forward motion on this topic. It seems to be a fairly popular game among those of us who partake of the community aspects of the site. The problem being with this that minecraft server requirements do not really match most other games, even ones like Terraria. So yeah, we really do need to see what it is we want to host on the server.

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Next time you do something like this, know that you can delete your answer and then undelete it when you're ready to edit it, so that we don't have to look at your placeholder. :P –  LessPop_MoreFizz Apr 4 '12 at 4:09
    
Thanks for the info –  James Apr 4 '12 at 15:54
    
So within the last 4 hours someone read this answer, saw LPMF's answer and instead of commenting on it, clicked the Edited 4 hours ago link, saw what I did and +1'd the comment about a better way to not lose half a post... Oddness indeed. Cause that +1 is really going to make me more aware of a way to do things than it was at a rating of 2 Oh yeah.. definitely :) –  James Apr 4 '12 at 20:28
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Maybe they just up voted it because it's a generally useful tip? –  LessPop_MoreFizz Apr 4 '12 at 20:31
    
@LessPop_MoreFizz Very possible I suppose! I honestly find out something new about this site's capabilities easily on a weekly basis despite using it for a year now. –  James Apr 4 '12 at 20:33

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