Mandatory McMyAdmin Update

October 27, 2012 at 10:25 PMPhonicUK

The SSL certificate that McMyAdmin uses to securely communicate with the McMyAdmin licencing and management servers has been changed (as it has been recently renewed). McMyAdmin verifies the certificate used to ensure communications aren't intercepted and to prevent a man-in-the-middle-attack.

Versions of McMyAdmin older than 2.2.4.4 do not have information about the new certificate, and as such will not be able to communicate with the management servers.

Because of this, all versions of McMyAdmin prior to 2.2.4.4 will be forcibly updated on the 1st of December 2012 to the latest version at that time.

It is strongly advised that you update to 2.2.4.4 (or newer as applicable) as soon as possible to avoid being caught short by the update.

Apologies for any inconvenience caused.

Posted in: McMyAdmin

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Why the official modding API will be the best thing to ever happen to the Minecraft community.

October 25, 2012 at 10:13 AMPhonicUK

"Minecraft Community" is a slight misnomer, in practice Minecraft players are fragmented into a large number of different communities.

While there are lots of splits between different play styles (RP, PvP, PvE, etc) - the real point of division is between those using the Official server, CraftBukkit, Spout, Forge, and any other number of 3rd party modifications and servers. And this causes a number of problems:

Keeping up-to-date

First is the issue that all server administrators are familiar with whereby mods can take considerable time to be updated after the release of the official server. This means frustrated players who want to use new features or see other improvements and bug fixes. The demand from players pushes server admins to use buggy and unstable versions of mods that aren't ready yet. Worse yet, the demand from server admins on the mod developers to get things done quickly runs a higher risk of lower quality code.

Having the large majority of people using a single, stable, and centrally managed API sidesteps all of this. Of course 3rd party mods are pretty unlikely to disappear entirely, but with any luck they will be the exception - not the norm.

Being locked into a single mod

If you've set up a server and a community around a particular mod, switching from that is a lot of effort. At the very least you've got to find equivalent plugins to keep all of your existing functionality, and at the worst you end up with less than you started off with. Having all extra functionality implemented as plugins instead of as a completely different flavor of the server prevents this entirely, allowing you to swap out functionality much more easily.

Fragmentation of skill

The fragmentation within the community means that the skill pool available for interesting new plugins is divided, since developers on the large prefer to write plugins for a single mod. By having everyone on the same book, there will hopefully be a greater number of high quality plugins available.

Dwindling interest in the game

It's been a long time since Minecraft has had any kind of 'major' development - and while the modding community has managed to largely keep the ball rolling, it only has so much momentum but its effectiveness is dimished by a fragmented community. If you're starting a new public server, building up a decent sized and regular community is a challenge. Major new functionality with lots of potential rekindles interest and gets people playing again.

 

It's not all sunshine and roses though, the community is going to have a set of interesting challenges in its way, which I shall detail in a separate article.

Posted in: Minecraft

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Debunking Common McMyAdmin Myths

October 6, 2012 at 6:38 PMPhonicUK

I'd like to take a few moments just to talk about some common comments I see regarding McMyAdmin on my travels, ranging from the outdated, to the misinformed.

It is only really made for Windows

While the first versions of McMyAdmin (2 years ago when Minecraft was still in Alpha) were originally built for Windows, it is no longer at all true that McMyAdmin treats Linux as second class.

Once it became apparent that McMyAdmin was going to be a hit, I started focusing on Linux support. First this was just getting McMyAdmin to run in Mono, then dealing with some of the Linux-specific issues that came with this. And while this worked very well there were a number of issues:

  • Server administrators were not happy installing the large Mono framework to use a single application (and with the source weighing in at over 500MB uncompressed, I don't blame them either)
  • Many distributions had outdated versions of Mono in their repositories, resulting in bugs, performance issues and other headaches
  • Compiling a 'modern' version of mono was a long and complicated process
  • McMyAdmin still 'looked' like a Windows application (having a .exe file extension), adding to the feel that Linux was an afterthought
  • It was difficult to track down and debug issues with such a large variety of libraries and configurations

So with these issues in mind and since McMyAdmin was being rewritten for McMyAdmin 2 - a native Linux version was developed for 64 bit systems on Linux systems using Linux development tools. It doesn't require the Mono runtime to be installed and is just a single binary that only depends on the standard Linux libraries.

There's no point using McMyAdmin if you know how to use the command line

McMyAdmin makes it possible to automate a great deal of tasks that would be very difficult to achieve using the command line alone, at the very least you'd end up writing some persistent scripts and at that point you're more or less reinventing the wheel.

A few examples of things that would be non-trivial without McMyAdmin or similar:

  • Being able to restart the server at the same time each day, but only do so if there aren't currently any players online.
  • Changing the type of whitelisting currently applied to the server on a schedule.
  • Restarting the server based on its RAM usage.
  • Safely taking a backup (requires sending save-off before copying and save-on afterwards, and waiting until the save-off had completed before actually performing the backup)

In addition to the above, McMyAdmin also makes it much faster to perform day-to-day administration tasks.

So I present a selection of tasks that would be slower to perform on the command line:

  • Updating the server (a single button click safely stops the server and fetches the latest version)
  • Swapping from one permissions plugin to another (McMyAdmin writes out its permission data in whatever format you'd like)
  • Setting up a regular scheduled event (which ordinarily would require editing your crontab, McMyAdmin just takes care of the schedule for you)
It doesn't matter if you're an experienced user or a novice, McMyAdmin has features that will benefit you. And if you don't want to use a particular feature, it's not forced upon you.

It stops you from being able to do things on the command line if you prefer to do it that way

Not at all true, when the Minecraft server is running - what you see on the command line is the same as you would without McMyAdmin. You see the output of the Minecraft server, and anything you enter is sent to the Minecraft server same as normal. McMyAdmin even has some of its own commands to make life easier, for example /restart to quickly restart the server, or /setconfig [key] [value] which allows you to change settings of either McMyAdmin or the Minecraft server.

It isn't extensible / you can't add your own features to it

Since McMyAdmin 2.1, it has been possible to write your own extensions for McMyAdmin. They allow you to add your own tabs to McMyAdmin's main web interface to extend its functionality. Some people use them to integrate DynMap into their panel, and many hosting companies use it to integrate their support page or other functionality into the panel to deliver a seamless experience for their users.

In addition McMyAdmin has a powerful JSON based API which makes it easy to integrate McMyAdmin with your own software, or leverage its functionality in new ways. Anything that can be done from the panel can be done from the API (since the panel uses that same API!) - Have a peek at the API reference.

McMyAdmin also has a branding mechanism which allows hosts to alter its appearance so that it matches their corporate image.

It has to be updated every time a new version of Minecraft is released

It is very rare that a new release of Minecraft requires McMyAdmin to be updated to keep its current functionality. Generally speaking an update is only required in order to take advantage of any new functionality/settings added to the Minecraft server since the previous release.

The only major exception to this has been when Minecraft 1.3 came out as the format of some messages was changed. Much of McMyAdmin still worked if it wasn't updated and only the chat was affected.

It's heavy on resources

A typical running McMyAdmin instance with 50 online players consumes roughly 45-55MB of RAM (With no activity it can consume as little as 15MB) and too little CPU usage to measure. Compared to the hundreds of megabytes a Minecraft server of that size would need, it's a drop in the ocean.

The Windows version is shown for ease of grabbing a quick screenshot with everything in (The numbers are very similar with the Linux version), showing several running McMyAdmin instances and their CPU/Memory usage after 12 days of uptime (the amount of time my main test server had been online when I took this)

It has an outdated, ugly user interface

What?

Just one of the themes that McMyAdmin 2 ships with.

 

If you have any other myths or things you've heard that you'd like me to comment on, feel free just to leave them as comments and I'll update this post.

Posted in: Linux | McMyAdmin

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