2020 07 24: Minecraft

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Any student in any computer science program, or anyone who asked nicely, was given a single rack mounted server to run whatever they wanted on it, assuming it wasn't illegal or inappropriate or something.

Currently, of the 500 or so students in a computer science program, 43 of them chose to get a server; 27 other students were granted a server, usually to host websites for the school paper or something.

The provided quad-core server with gigabit ethernet was enough to run a simple website or video game server or storage server, however I wanted to run a Minecraft minigame server. At the start of Sophomore year, I got permission to bring in my own server equipped with a Threadripper 1950x, 128GB of RAM, and 4TB of raid 0 NVME storage; and I got a spare 10 gigabit ethernet port. I am able to run up to 25 games at a time, and still have enough processing power left for a website, the server lobby, and system tasks.

around 1500 unique players have logged into the server. a quarter of the 6000 total students enrolled at any point in the 3 years the server has been running.

During spring break when the administrators decided to keep the school closed for the rest of the year, the network admins expanded the schoool's VPN system so that students would still be able to access the extensive amount of resources inside the school network. All students have to do is download the openvpn profile, and then log in with their student ID and password. I have the connection set up on my desktop and laptop, but have it set so that my internet traffic is not sent through the VPN, just direct connections to local school resources and the DNS server.

A lot of donors to the school, myself in the past, have wondered why the school pays for private servers for students - it almost seems like a waste of money, but at $10,000 a year, it is only a hundredth of a percent of the schools' budget. At least for me, and quite possibly 200 students that use the server weekly, it provides a better sense of a community; something that I believe other places unfortunately do not have now.

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