NGminecraft, Heartbleed and You

If you haven’t heard, there’s a pretty big flaw in the encryption software that protects us on the internet. Simply put, a bug in OpenSSL meant that anybody (yes, anybody) could send a request to a server, and have the server reply with chunks of RAM that should never be accessible to the public. Even worse, those accesses never show up in logs.

It works pretty much like this:

The Heartbleed bug in a nutshell. (from XKCD http://xkcd.com/1354/ )

Mashable has a list of sites that are vulnerable, and Minecraft was one of them.

Change your Minecraft account password. Now. Seriously. Mojang even posted a notice on their blog about this flaw; it’s been patched but nobody knows what sort of account data could have been stolen.

That said, NGminecraft’s systems were never affected by this bug. I don’t have any sites that use SSL that can be accessed from the Internet, and Dynmap doesn’t even support encryption (why should it, it’s a map :) ). Even if I did, I use Microsoft IIS which doesn’t rely on OpenSSL anyway.

NGminecraft is merging!

In the absence of any recent news, I’ve got an exciting new announcement!

NGminecraft is teaming up with FoxBlocks, the server that I mentioned in a previous blog post. Their admin team and I will be combining our strengths to create NGmineFoxCraftBlocks(tm)(r)(c)(tm)!

However, in order to save on resource costs, I will be moving the server to their admin’s network connection (a super-speedy 500 kilobit-per-second DSL line), and storing the files on a high-quality DVD-RW disk; none of that CD-R crap that we see too much of nowadays. All of this will be run on the latest Intel Atom-based Eee PC (the three Es means Eeexcellent performance :D ) to provide both speed and low power consumption.

I’m thrilled that the server has lasted for so long, as I’ve seen many other servers pop up only to wither soon after their creation. But now, with more hands on the poop deck, it’s nothing but smooth sailing from here.

-ginbot86

…april fools :3

The State of NGminecraft: 1.7 or bust?

As many of you know, it’s taking waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too damn long for SimpleServer to update to 1.7. It’s been over 4 months now, and although there is a version of SimpleServer for 1.7, it’s not even close to being usable.

ss (2014-01-19 at 11.43.05)Color codes aren’t implemented, and any commands sent to Bukkit cause the connection to freeze up and disconnect the client. The last commit to SS was over 3 weeks ago and no further progress has been achieved.

I am loath to say it, but I’m planning to take SimpleServer out of NGminecraft. SS has been a part of NGminecraft for a very long time and both the community and I have grown very fond of it. However, the advent of the new protocols in 1.7 have turned things upside-down and it appears that full support for 1.7 in SimpleServer isn’t feasible within a reasonable time frame.

The removal of SS from the server means that:

  1. The entire user ranking and permission system will have to be rebuilt, and any credentials in SimpleServer will need to be manually moved over to whatever permissions system will be put into place.
  2. All our scripts will be unusable. CommandBook seems to be a viable replacement script host but it will require rewriting all of the scripts in JS which would be a bit of a learning curve for myself.
  3. Chest locks would have to be done via plugins and the security features that SS brought with chest locking will be lost. Additionally, any chests locked in SS on the main port will become vulnerable.
  4. Offline logins are pretty much moot. xAuth is a plugin often used in Bukkit for this purpose but a 1.7 version doesn’t seem to be available.

However, this also means that we won’t have to wait for SS to update alongside Bukkit. This would enhance compatibility in terms of plugin compatibility (SS could run Bukkit commands but not vice-versa) and the lack of overhead due to a server wrapper can somewhat improve performance.

I apologize for the agonizingly long wait for the server to catch up; it’s no better for me since my servers don’t show up in 1.7 clients at all (no ‘server out of date’ message) and many players have likely removed my servers from their Minecraft lists by now. For those that have been pulling through all this, I thank you. Just remember, I still care about this server and I’m not about to let it die with a whimper.

Minecraft 1.7 was called ‘The Update that Changed the World’. I think it’s about time it changed ours too.

Editorial: Minecraft Server Administration 101

So, another Minecraft server admin (note that I have no affiliation with him) had some issues when he was unable to continue running his Beastnode (a third-party host) based server. He said he would be unable to retrieve the map files for a few weeks after he cut off the service, but Beastnode deleted all the map data before he had a chance to retrieve it. Having offered my condolences and also advice about proper data backups, he (derisively) requested that I tell him ‘how to be a good server admin’. As such, I have obliged to provide some advice when it comes to administrating a Minecraft (or really any) server.

ss (2014-01-31 at 02.23.03)

I’m glad you asked! Classes are now in session.

1. Backup regularly. Like, for real. It sounds like old advice but it’s still true as ever. It may sound tedious to back up files on a regular basis (perhaps daily…) you can always automate the process. This doesn’t only apply to anyone running a server, but it’s applicable to basically anyone who uses a computer. Even if you don’t run a server on your own platform, many utilities can do scheduled FTP transfers to your own computer for safekeeping. Take WinSCP for an example.

Set-and-forget backups. So easy a caveman can do it.

Set-and-forget backups. So easy a caveman can do it.

2. Backup the backup. It may seem like a task suited for the Department of Redundancy Department, but one backup may prove to be insufficient. External drives, just like any hard drive, can have a head crash and take out any data that was stored on it. DVDs or Blu-Ray disks can have their dye layers degrade and lose information, and even cloud storage isn’t infallible. I use an external hard drive that I keep separate from the server, and gets put away after the backup is completed.

Did you backup the backup?

Did you backup the backup? It’d be a sssssssshame if sssssssomething were to happen to it…

3. Respect your user base; I cannot stress this enough. I’m not one to make personal attacks, but the aforementioned admin does have a tendency to be a ‘shoot first, optionally ask questions later’ technique to administration. This is bad. If you are running a Minecraft server (or any kind of public server, paid or otherwise) then, believe it or not, you are in a role of customer service. Although I’m not one for the phrase ‘the customer is always right’, you cannot treat your patrons like trash. You just don’t. Not only does it reflect badly on yourself, but it also casts a bad public image on the server that you run. Don’t expect a repeat customer if you decide to bash them around during their stay, and I bet their friends won’t be coming in either! However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t stand your ground if you need to. This doesn’t mean that you have no choice but to be a softie to everyone who joins your server. Much like a rowdy customer causing a ruckus, a griefer or other disruptive player should be given disciplinary action as needed, be it suspensions, kicks or bans.

Now now, there's no need for strong words...

Now now, there’s no need for strong words…

4. Practice what you preach (and for that one, don’t be a dick!). Follow the same rules that you require others to follow. It’s that easy. Nobody likes a figure of authority who abuses their power at the detriment of others.

That rule sounds familiar on here...

That rule sounds familiar on here…

5. It’s not “just a game”. As I’ve said before, as an admin you are doing customer service. Running a server is serious business, and it should be treated as such. As I’ve said before, professionalism is important.

This, on the other hand, is not an example of professionalism.

This, on the other hand, is not an example of professionalism. Bear in mind this is at that server admin’s spawn!

In conclusion, my advice is to backup often, backup your backups, and show some respect for your players. It’s not difficult. Class is dismissed.

Merry Christmas and/or a Happy New Year, NGminecraft!

As a gift to the server community, I’ve installed a new 240 GB Intel SSD to hold the Minecraft server files. This will dramatically increase server performance and substantially reduce world loading times. Enjoy!

As for SimpleServer, as of today 4 more small updates have been made to the code. It’s not ready yet but the fact that progress is happening is reassuring.

NGminecraft Limbo

It’s been a while since I’ve put any updates on this blog, and looking at the site stats, people are rather curious as to whether the server even exists now (given how 1.7 clients won’t see that my server is even up). My last post described how I ran into network issues, but those have been resolved with a new Cisco business-class router.

So, yes. NGminecraft is very much alive. It’s just that SimpleServer isn’t available for 1.7, but CraftBukkit is. However, because much of NGminecraft’s functionality revolves around SimpleServer, I’m not planning to migrate away from it. But until things get going with SS, we’re going to sit at 1.6 for a while.

The main (‘creative’) map will not change. I have no plans to reset the main port’s map. As for the survival port, it will see a map reset, with the old map will be put up for download. The survival port’s replacement map will either be a standard or a large biome type, but definitely not the amplified map; the terrain is too rough to be navigated easily.

We’ve got trouble!

Yesterday (that is, October 22nd), my router went down for unknown reasons, but unlike previous times, I was unable to get the network going again; it seems like my router has bit the dust. I have given up trying to get this one working and will have to go shopping to buy a new one.

Also, for the survival port, the map will be replaced when 1.7 comes out and the server is ready to upgrade. I will put up the old map for download, but keep in mind, the world map is absolutely huge. As 1.7 changes even more than 1.6, it’s likely that updates can take weeks, maybe even months depending on how much stuff breaks on the update.