Friday Fun: Minecraft

This week's game is one that isn't free. In any sense. It is closed source, and requires payment to even try it out. Why would we mention such a game here at Linux Journal? 2 reasons:

1) It works quite well in Linux

2) It has a strange, cult-like following that makes absolutely no sense to me. I'm hoping our readers (some of which are likely fans) can explain the fascination to me.

3) The author claims once sales begin to dwindle, he will release the source code under some OSS friendly license.

First, in order to play Minecraft, you'll need to download the Java application. You can find it on the Minecraft website. If you have the proper dependencies installed (openjdk-6-jre, openjdk-6-jre-headless), you simply run the program as described on the website:

java -Xmx1024M -Xms512M -cp minecraft.jar net.minecraft.LauncherFrame

Once the game starts, you need to log in with your paid account, and the game will update itself to the latest version automatically. Then your top-of-the-line 3D accelerated video system will show you a 3D world with such low resolution graphics they make Mario look like he lives in Blu-ray world.

Q-Bert would be very comfortable in this world.

Once inside, the goal of the game is to build things. I think. By destroying certain blocks and adding different types of blocks together, new and complex blocks can be formed. If that sounds rather dumb and pointless, in some ways I agree with you. I think the only way a person can enjoy a "game" like Minecraft is to look at it like a bucket full of digital LEGOs.

When I was a kid, I played with LEGOs all the time. I loved them. In fact, I would spend hours and hours creating elaborate constructions for no other reason than I could. I think that's what Minecraft is. The differences of course are many, but the underlying desire to build I think is the point of Minecraft.

There are both single player and multi player modes for Minecraft, and the server (which also runs very well under Linux) can be downloaded for free so you can host your own multiplayer game.

I'll be honest, I don't understand the charm of Minecraft. Perhaps I'm too old to enjoy LEGOs, or perhaps I'm old enough that actual LEGOs seem more fun than digital blocks. Whatever its draw, however, Minecraft is a game with a huge following and devoted fan base. If you're a fan of Minecraft, please explain to the rest of us why you love it so much. And if you've never played it, but want to experiment, there is a Minecraft Classic version that is free to play. Check it out, maybe it's your cup of tea.

Oh, and if you do start playing Minecraft and get get hooked? Yeah, we're sorry. But at least it's Friday!


Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.


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friday night

smaile's picture

great article ..haha thanks

Great game

Samantha's picture

Nice game buddy.Yeah there are some pretty cool games on Linux.You should play OpenClonk.

RE: Better game than you might think

Frankie @ emanaged futures's picture

My friend is hooked on Minecraft. Too often we want graphics and visuals over substances. Some of the old emulated games are still insanely popular today because they have a good basis and were fun to play. It's a fairly unique platform that allows one to express their creativity.

Web Tasarım

web tasarım's picture

This game is good!Worth the price


cozumshop's picture

This game is very good!

General Electric Servisi

general electric servisi's picture

The biggest annoying downside is the online access needed for verification. It'd be nice if you could just get a license key.

one game that recommend to

car games's picture

one game that recommend to play, but it is a java game, or I will add one demo at my site

Free version

0xCAFEBABE's picture

You can play the outdated version for free (to try it out):

dungeons to explore

a sınıfı klima's picture

The biggest annoying downside is the online access needed for verification. It'd be nice if you could just get a license key.

A sınıfı klima

a sınıfı klima's picture

I don't think you've played it enough if your not hooked. Either that or you'd rather build something more tangible

I run a server...

air805ronin's picture

I just wanted to chime in and say that I run my own minecraft server on the latest Ubuntu server release. It has proven to be a fun way to learn a lot about administering a live server. Admittedly I have a low user count (roughly 4-5 online at a given time, max users would hit 15) but this is due to running it using a whitelist restricted to my friends.

In addition to the fun of actually playing the game and see this world I created populate with churches, towers, underwater bases, and a railway system (one of my additions). I also occasionally copy off the game data and run it through an isometric viewer and publish the developing world on facebook.

On the back side of things I also have developed my own starting script, backup script, and updating scripts. I don't use a one use fits all script because I don't really like them, and it allows for modularity. however they do let me revert back to older versions if needed, and I keep 3 weeks of backups on hand for emergencies (my world taps in at about 100 megs).

Great fun for all ages

Manicsparkle's picture

I got into minecraft about a year ago after seeing a mention of it on the Penny Arcade webcomic. I fell in love instantly. Then my 8 year old son wanted to play and it has set him off an adventure not only in the game, but in computing in general. He is now capable of tearing apart jar files and modding the game, is fluent with all sorts of computer skills that we all take for granted and even manages to school me, with nearly 20 years of Linux/UNIX sysadmin experience from time to time. Minecraft has set him on the path to Linux geekdom, and for that I will forever hold Notch, the creator of minecraft, in high regard.

He even used minecraft for a rather cool third grade science presentation via youtube and end up on boing boing:

So basically, you get from minecraft what you put into it. Kinda like life! :)


John Knight's picture

Hey, I bought this last month! :) After watching my mates play it endlessly (and not understanding the appeal myself), I finally bought the game when I saw the Linux specific instructions they had on the homepage. While cynical types disagree, I still consider this supporting Linux, so I shelled out my cash for it. Single player probably shows less appeal, but on multiplayer servers, you can collaborate on huge projects. The nature of the game engine allows all sorts of creations that the creators never anticipated either.

Here's an example of someone (crazy) starting to make his own CPU:

John Knight is the New Projects columnist for Linux Journal.

It's mostly about the

Jeremy's picture

It's mostly about the creative aspect. Particulary that it's your sandbox and it's extremely moldable, given that it's composed entirely of cubes. That and the procedural landscape generation turns out pretty realistic good-looking landscape. The game even has weather (rain, lightning, etc). The lightning is actually big enough to make one speculate on whether it is viable in the sense that you might be able to get struck.

I don't think you've played it enough if your not hooked. Either that or you'd rather build something more tangible.

I would recommend checking out the IndustrialCraft mod to anyone. It adds electricity, high voltage lines, electric furnaces, and more. Apparently the latest version v8.10 (I last used v6.00) has teleporters and force-fields...

The biggest annoying downside is the online access needed for verification. It'd be nice if you could just get a license key.


Yecruzsulla's picture

great bro

> java -Xmx1024M -Xms512M -cp

Mozai's picture

> java -Xmx1024M -Xms512M -cp minecraft.jar net.minecraft.LauncherFrame

What? heck no, I haven't had to use something like that in almost a year.

cd ~/.minecraft
java -jar ./Minecraft.jar

... and bob's your uncle. It will also fetch the latest updated classfiles when you authenticate, or you can skip authentication and play offline (the 'free as in beer' version).


atdt1991's picture

I think we're approaching a time in which games on computers are not easy to define. Just like in the real world, a game could be a solitary endeavor like solitaire, it could be a construction game like lincoln logs, it could be competitive, and it can be collaborative. Minecraft lets you do any of those things. It also lets you explore the randomly generated (or pseudo-random with a seed) worlds, which is more gratifying and beautiful than you might think.

I particularly enjoy the collaborative aspect of multiplayer minecrafting - I can accomplish something a little too large to do alone. It has its challenges, and some of them are resource related, some are physics related, and some are "that creature is about to go splodey and I'll need to rebuild" related.

In the next update, they are intending to create more objectives, add more npcs and biomes, create (semi-random) dungeons to explore, etc. This game is still in beta.

It's all about the

Jer_'s picture

It's all about the sandbox...I come up with an idea for a circuit I want to try (or, more recently, some mechanical structure using pistons), hop on to create it, and lose countless hours mucking about in tweaks and new ideas based on the original concept. I'm not a gamer, but that's okay, because time spent in there doesn't feel like gaming...