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Optimizing server performance

[Disclaimer: This is a fairly technical post about the management of this server. It does not affect gameplay, so no need to read this for your game experience]

I have been working the last 2 days on optimizing the server performance. I installed some months ago a server monitoring tool to better understand how the resources of the server work. This mostly is balanced between Memory, processor capacity and hard disk read/write speed. There are some settings I can change to shift load on the server between memory and hard disk writes for example.

Then, on Monday, I investigated the above tool and found that I can add specific reports for our database system (MySQL). On top of this, I am now observing a more detailed status report provided my the server and observe if I can weed out any poor performance. This showed me that the basic configuration that the server was installed with by default was quite bad for the current usage that we have and that some of the queries that we are doing on the database might not be optimized properly. So here is the monitor tool chart during the last 24 hours when I started to adjust the configuration of the database server:

mysql02z.1day

What you can see on the left end of the chart is that the red and pink line (Buffer usage) were at 100% and the cyan line (cache usage) was at zero. So that means that I did not use at all or completely exhausted some of the resources that the server provides to reduce its work load. If there is no available cache for example, each query that is performed several times needs to be re-executed from scratch instead of simple remembering the result somewhere and re-using that.

So since the first time when the chart starts changing (around 10:00 am yesterday) I re-configured the database config several times (each with a restart of the database and minecraft server) and tried to apply generous cache and other resource settings. Once I am happy with the result based on the detailed status report, I can again reduce the memory and so on provided to give more to other processes (like the web server, the minecraft server etc).

For example, originally I had a maximum number of connections to the server of 300 (green line), a quota which was utilized most of the time around 70% and sometimes even fully exhausted (which basically stopped the minecraft server from working) to 600, which might be too many (now the usage is only around 10%). So I avoided the server rejecting connections because of the limit. The usage of connections might be reduced or increased by the change of other config settings however. So I rather run with excess resources until I removed all the alerts the server is giving me, and once I am happy with the result, I can reduce that limit to a reasonable amount.

The biggest work however will be to find out the most inefficient queries to the database that the server is doing and fix those.

So I hope you understand if I need to restart the server in the coming days a couple of times since every time I change the database config, I need to shutdown the minecraft server, too.

Scheduled Server disconnect between 1:00 AM and 2:00 AM CST

The provider informed me that there will be a scheduled disconnect of the server from the network for maintenance reasons today on 4.21.2015 between 1:00 AM and 2:00 AM CST. The update will improve stability and security.

Since this is only the server being disconnected from the network, there is no risk at all for your stuff on the server. Just please wait until it gets reconnected again. No need to notify my unless the disconnect takes longer than one hour.

DDOS attack summary

So I got the confirmation from the provider that we were, in fact hit by a DDOS attack on Tuesday. Despite all the (more or less hilarious) attempts to be hacked over the last years, this was the first time something like this happened. Since I had no idea what was going on and since it happened 4:00 am in my time, it took me quite a while until I woke up and was able to call the provider regarding the issue after I tried several things to fix it myself since I had to go to the office and was quite busy there.

The provider realized the issue and started filtering the attack successfully. Here is a graph of the network traffic during that time:

net01z.1week

So you can see it was quite heavy compared to what normally happens on the server. The daily bigger spikes that you can see early in the morning are by the way the off-site backups that are done every day.

Pistons fixed

The /find piston command should work now again. The pistons are very weird because normally they would have a data value of zero, but sometimes they have a value of 7 and I have no idea so far why and when. I have removed the data value 7 now from the database, we will have to see if something weird pops up now.

So we are officially now rated fit for 11-12 year olds!

I have found this website through reddit which rates a websites reading level and ran it through our front page and our rules page and we got level 6 on both of them:

Capture

So next time someone says the test is too complicated, ask them about their age. If it’s below 11, they are right. Not that we should change anything, it just means they probably might be better off on another server.

 

End reset fixed

So it turns out that the plugin which resets our end world does not completely wipe it. It seems that someone has been abusing this by building a base outside the reset radius that the plugin applies and maintaining farms there to make the dragon fight easier.

So I was forced now to install a manual end reset process that once a day wipes the world completely. Please do not exploit bugs in the game. If I catch someone doing this it’s an insta-ban.

Some photos from my last trip

When I was away the last 2 weeks, I went diving and saw some really cool stuff. Here are some of the highlight photos:

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These are eagle rays. I have not seen them before so well. They are cool but have a really weird face

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This is a porcelain crab. They live on the same anemone as the clown fish (above it). They have a fan-like thing that they open up and hold up in to the water (the two inside-pointing arms between the claws), then use smaller brushes (the smaller arms inside of that) to clean out whatever they caught.

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Sting ray, this one was quite big (about a meter across)

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Sail Fish. Never seen those before. They are huge (like 3 meters) and aparently one of the fastest fish. They have a extendable fin on the back, looks very cool.

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Here you can see the face of the eagle ray. As I wrote above, very weird.

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Green see turtle. They are stuck to the ground eating most of the time, it’s not so easy to get a photo of them against a blue background.

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Fixes

  • I just fixed the /who command. It now shows correctly all information for users which changed their usernames.
  • Nether Bricks and nether brick blocks are fixed in the shop and /search
  • quartz and quartz blocks are fixed in the shop and /search
  • Melon and melon slices are fixed in the shop and /search
  • Slime Blocks are fixed in the shop
  • We now update spigot daily. Since spigot does not work on a version-based release cycle anymore but rather just update the code daily, it makes sense to get that code daily. Previously I just downloaded a new version once a month, now this happens daily and the new version is activated with the daily restart.
  • Fixed an issue with Depot offers
  • Skulls are fixed in shop

What to do if you changed your minecraft username

This is just a quick draft between getting up and getting breakfast. I will convert this into a page later.

IMPORTANT: If you can, empty your inventories and Enderchests in all survival worlds before changing the username, otherwise there is a risk that the contents will be gone.

  1. If you changed your minecraft username, your uncovery website account does not change. Do not make a new account. Keep your old one and use the same username/password to log in. If you delete your account, all your comments and forum posts will be gone.
  2. Try to logon to the game. If that does not work, please be patient. It’s a waiting game with Mojang. They need to update all their systems to be aware about the change. Once they are done with that, you will be able to login to the game. Once that is done, our server here will make all the necessary changes to the system. Your userlogon and password for the website will stay the same, but your posts will be displayed as your new username automatically.

On vacation….

So FYI, I am on vacation. Since I had to cancel Christmas and New year as well as Chinese New year (Which is a major deal around here), I finally took the chance to go for 2 weeks on vacation, something that I do only every 2-3 years. I will still have some telephone calls on several days for business, but I am sure I will be able to relax a lot during this time.

What does this mean for the server? Not too much. If there is ANY problem or question, just email me as usual. My reply just might take a bit longer and you most likely won’t see me on IRC at all, and I most likely won’t be making any non-urgent fixes for the time.

So this whole post is more to tell you that I did not fall off the edge of the world in case you don’t see me in-game. Have fun minecrafting!

GMail Issue

GMail is currently blocking our emails. If you are registering a new account, please use an alternative email if possible. We are working to fix the issue.

[Update] I managed to resolve this a couple of days ago. [/Update]

Work in progress…

There are several things that I am working right now and others that I re-discovered as to-dos:

  • I have enabled the base process of lot resets. So every day all lots which are up for reset, will be processed as before. The completely re-written process seems to work fine. What is not running yet are lots that have dibs on them. I will work on this process on the coming days to make sure that the dibs process works properly.
  • Additional blocks in the lottery – I have made changes to the code that allow additional blocks in the lottery. If you want to see some of the newer blocks in the lottery, please comment below together with the category (See the lottery webpage).
  • Fixing blocks, sustainable: I have recurring issues of some blocks not properly working in the shop or deposit. I am trying to build a tool that iterates all the blocks in the system and checks if they are properly configured. This should make the whole thing future-proof when new blocks come out. It’s a bit tricky however.
  • Karma & Hunger games: Those two modules have been disabled some time ago and I need to work on them to re-enable them.

Getting out of the end

It’s not a bug, it’s a feature!

So we used to have an end world that was connected to our main world, which is the city. However, the issue was, that despite the fact taht your inventory would be cleared, people could drop weapons etc from a creative world city through the portal into the end and then fight the dragon.

So I had to create an end world which is not connected through a standard End portal to the city. Instead it’s the same portal tech as used in the spawn house to get to the other worlds.

The result of this however is that you cannot get out of the end throug the standard portal either. In order for you to get your stuff out, I allowed people to deposit things in the end.

So next time you kill the dragon or want to get your stuff out of the end, simply deposit it and kill yourself.