Minecraft is one of the biggest games in the world, with a massive following. While there is a version available for the Raspberry Pi, you probably thought that this stripped-down take on the explore-and-build game was as good as it gets on Linux.
In fact, you can run the full version of Minecraft on Linux, thanks to the cross-platform Java software platform.
Want to take Steve on some new adventures on your Linux PC? Here’s how.
Why Run Minecraft on Linux
Mojang’s Minecraft is an incredibly popular, and addictive, gaming experience. But finding it runs on every other platform except the one you’re using is quite frustrating. Minecraft is widely available, with versions available on everything from the Xbox 360 to the Nintendo Switch — even the Apple TV.
So, what about Linux?
Well, it’s actually not as bad as you may believe. Minecraft will run on Linux, in the right conditions. It’s certainly possible to set up a local Minecraft server on a Raspberry Pi, and it’s not too difficult to install the full game on your Linux PC.
To do this, you’ll need the right graphics drivers, a Java runtime, and of course, a suitable copy of Minecraft.
Get Started: Install Graphics Drivers
As you may have noticed, Minecraft utilizes 3D graphics.
For the best results with this, you’ll need to have the right graphic drivers installed on your system. Most Linux distributions install open source graphics drivers, but in most cases, proprietary alternatives (drivers produced by the graphic card’s developers) are available. Which drivers you need depends on your GPU:
- Intel Graphics: You’ll already have the best driver installed.
- Nvidia Graphics: Swap from the open source driver to the proprietary version.
- AMD Graphics: Again, you’ll need to overlook the open source driver in favor of the proprietary option.
To change the driver in Ubuntu (and similar) Linux operating systems, open Software & Updates, select the Additional Drivers tab, and select the proprietary option. Click Apply Changes when done, and wait. Once complete, you’ll need to click Restart… to reboot your computer for the changes to take effect.
In most cases, the proprietary driver isn’t selected by default, but you can switch to it here. See our guide to installing proprietary drivers in Linux for further details.
Decision Time: Java vs. OpenJDK
Next, you’ll need to choose a suitable Java runtime. This is a software platform upon which the Minecraft software will run.
You have two options available. First is the open source OpenJDK, which you can find and install via your distro’s software center. If you’re keen on keeping your Linux machine as open source as possible, this is the best option. However, if you want to ensure Minecraft runs at its most optimum, you might prefer to employ the official Java runtime from Oracle.
This is available in RPM format from the Oracle website, and easily installed using your package manager. Alternatively, you can install the files by adding a PPA.
Open your terminal emulator and add
sudo apt-add-repository ppa:webupd8team/java
Wait for this to install, then update your system.
sudo apt-get update
Finally, install Java.
sudo apt-get install oracle-java8-installer
Meanwhile, if you need more detailed instructions, Oracle provides a guide for installing Java on other Linux operating systems.
Java Security Concerns
Java has a bad reputation when it comes to security. It was once declared the most vulnerable software on Windows computers, and these weaknesses are not absent on Linux. The only difference is that the underlying operating system is more secure, and has fewer hackers trying to break it.
Installing Java on your Linux computer will, therefore, make it less secure. This isn’t a case of what is most secure (OpenJDK or Java). Rather, you need to know that any form of Java installed on your computer introduces vulnerabilities. Whichever version you choose, we would recommend keeping it updated.
This way, you’ll ensure that any vulnerabilities are immediately patched.
Download Minecraft and Start Playing!
Okay, you now have everything you need to install Minecraft — except the game itself. To download the Java edition, head to the Minecraft download page and select the Linux version. Save the Minecraft.jar file to your computer.
Once downloaded, all you need to do is browse to the directory where the Minecraft.jar file is saved, and right-click. Select Open with… > Java Runtime, and wait while the game starts and checks for updates. You now have two options. The first is to play a free, time-limited demo version of Minecraft.
Alternatively, you can sign into the game with your existing Minecraft credentials, and start a game. The Linux version of Minecraft is the main desktop version, as opposed to the Pocket Edition (also known as PE) for mobiles. As such, you’ll be able to host your own Minecraft server, perhaps on a Raspberry Pi (as noted above) or on your own PC. And if you’re new to the game, take a look at our beginner’s guide to Minecraft.
Is There Another Way?
As of 2017, you can install Minecraft on Linux with a dedicated installer… but it’s a bit unstable, and doesn’t work across all distros. Eventually, the intention is that this will replace everything above, but until it’s ready for the big time, you can carry on with the Java installation.
If you want to try out the new method, check the Debian package or the Arch Linux package. In time, the Java version of Minecraft will fade away, forcing Linux users to employ this new launcher. As of October 2017, the new launcher isn’t for mainstream use, but this will change in the future.
Make sure you’re ready!
Did you know it was possible to play Minecraft on Linux? Has a perceived lack of Minecraft support on Linux put you off migrating from Windows? Or have you been playing Minecraft on Linux for a while? Tell us in the comments!