Minecraft Pocket Edition (PE) is every bit as popular as the PC edition. Today we’re taking a look at how to run a lightweight Minecraft PE server to keep your worlds preserved and available (even when the device they were built with isn’t online).
Why Run a Minecraft PE Server
If you’ve spent any time playing Minecraft PE or have a gaggle of Minecraft PE players in your household, you know the primary frustration is similar to the PC experience: if player X isn’t active then all the work the other players have done on player X’s shared world is unavailable.
We were first inspired to investigate running a small private PE server after watching all the neighborhood kids get together for the umpteenth time to play Minecraft PE only to discover that the world they had spent the most time on was missing because the kid with the world wasn’t there that day. As a result there are dozens and dozens of cool buildings scattered across all the devices that come and go from our home network, but these structures never get left behind for the next players.
By sticking a small Minecraft PE server somewhere on your network — a desktop commonly left on, a media server, or a Raspberry Pi — you can enjoy a persistent world that players can easily hop in and out of, and remains available for everyone at all times.
With very little effort you can enjoy a persistent server with support for plugins that breaks the Minecraft PE experience free from the portable devices that typically constrain it.
Unlike the PC server world where there is an official and variety of unofficial solutions, the PE server world is a tad more limited. Right now the only viable game in town is a very-much-under-development project known as PocketMine.
We want to stress the development part. We’ve had a ton of fun playing with PocketMine and, for the most part, have had very few issues with it. However, compared to the absolute rock solid performance we’ve gotten out of both the official PC server and the third-party servers like Bukkit and Cauldron, the development aspect of Pocket Mine is pretty obvious. You should be fully braced to read logs, poke around forums when things don’t work quite the way you expect, etc. Further, it currently has no mob support. Although the things mobs give you (like wool and silk) are in the game the mobs don’t spawn and you can’t spawn them with spawn eggs.
All that said, if you’ve come this far and have been playing Minecraft with mods on the PC and were comfortable installing Minecraft servers, it’ll be a walk in the park.
To get started, visit the PocketMine website and grab a copy of the installer for your operating system. Unlike the universal java-based installation offered by the mods and servers we’ve looked at in previous lessons, PocketMine has pretty diverse installation needs based on your OS. We’re going to walk you through the Windows installation and encourage you to read the clear instructions on the PocketMine site for OS X and Linux.
Once the installer is downloaded, run it and select your installation directory (the same cautions from all previous lessons about good naming and directory placement apply).
When you run the server for the first time, regardless of the operating system you’ve installed it on, you’ll be prompted to run through the configuration wizard. If you chose not to, you can always edit the configuration files later, but we recommend you make some tweaks now. Here’s a breakdown of the questions the wizard asks.
How much RAM?
The default (and recommended amount) is 256MB. Raise the amount later if you find you need it.
Survival or Creative?
Default is Survival, change the value from 0 to 1 for Creative.
Max Online Players?
Default is 20; this setting is largely irrelevant for a private home server as you likely will never have enough players in your living room to max the server out.
Enable Spawn Protection?
This is a yes/no toggle that enables a default zone of 16×16 blocks around the world’s spawn point that is immune from damage or editing. If you want to edit the size of the zone you’ll need to use a text editor to edit the “spawn-protection” value in the server.properties file.
OP Player Name?
Whichever player you name here will be the primary admin of the server. You can add other operators later.
By default the whitelist is off, you can turn it on here. You’ll need to use server commands later to add or remove players from the whitelist. We left it off. It’s not worth the headache of adding in every new PE player that shows up.
RCON is short for “Remote Console”. It allows you to telnet into your server and control the server console. Unless you’re installing this on a machine in the corner of your basement or a headless server, you usually won’t need it.
After these brief questions, the installer will indicate what your external IP address is and what the internal IP address of PocketMine’s host is in case you wish to set up port forwarding for external access.
Note: If you’re following this tutorial shortly after publication it’s likely that the main release of PocketMine hasn’t caught up with the massive new Minecraft PE 0.9.5 release; you’ll need to download the development build from the PocketMine website. Installation is easy, you just need to copy a single *.PHAR file into your existing PocketMine installation folder.
Let’s join the server now. To get started on the server, just fire up a copy of Minecraft PE on a device connected to the Wi-Fi. The server will be automatically detected.
Fantastic, we’re on a world that isn’t hosted on our device (or the device of another player). We’re free to wander around, build, and perform any of the actions we could normally perform on a regular local Minecraft PE game.
Of course, part of the fun is playing around with the kind of enhancements that only a server can offer. Let’s take a look at the plugin system for PocketMine.
Adding Plugins to PocketMine
Just like the platforms that run large Minecraft servers, PocketMine supports plugins. Installing them follows the same straightforward plug and play protocol. Once you’ve found a plugin you want to use, shut the server down, copy the plugin file to the /plugins/ directory in the server directory, and restart the server.
The one and only place to find PocketMine plugins at the moment is the official directory. There you’ll find a wide range of plugins that mirror (albeit on a smaller scale) the functionality of many popular Bukkit plugins.
The first plugin we installed on our PocketMine server was the EssentialsTP plugin, which is a suite of teleportation/travel commands that adds in our absolute favorite multiplayer server feature: the home command.
After adding the EssentialsTP plugin to your /plugins/ directory and restarting, all players on your server will have access to a variety of useful travel commands including /sethome and /home which allows them to set multiple “homes” and move between them. No more getting lost or wasting time moving between in-game creative build sites. Home is just a /home command away.
With just a few minutes effort, you now have a permanent Minecraft PE server; long gone are the days of waiting on your creations for the owner of the device to arrive and load up the world.