Install SteamCMD for a Steam Game Server

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SteamCMD

SteamCMD is a command-line version of the Steam client which works with games that use SteamPipe. If you intend to host a Steam title on your own game server, installing SteamCMD is a prerequisite.

This guide is intended to get you quickly up and running with SteamCMD on your Linode. See Valve’s SteamCMD wiki page for more information and advanced setups.

Note
This guide is written for a non-root user. Commands that require elevated privileges are prefixed with sudo. If you’re not familiar with the sudo command, you can check our Users and Groups guide.

Before You Begin

  1. Familiarize yourself with our Getting Started guide and complete the steps for setting your Linode’s hostname and timezone.

  2. Update Your Operating System:

    CentOS

    sudo yum update
    

    Debian, Ubuntu

    sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade
    
  3. Install the screen utility, which will be used later when running SteamCMD. For more information about how screen works, review the rest of our Using GNU Screen to Manage Persistent Terminal Sessions guide.

Secure Your Game Server

Game servers and clients are an especially ripe target for attack. Use our Securing Your Server guide to:

  1. Add a limited Linux user to your server. Make the username steam to coincide with the rest of Linode’s Steam guides, as well as Valve’s official documentation. Be sure to give the steam user sudo privileges.

  2. Harden SSH access.

  3. Remove unused network-facing services.

  4. If you are using iptables (which is set in Linode’s Ubuntu and Debian images by default), follow the Configure your Firewall Using IPTables section.

  5. If instead you are using firewalld (as in Linode’s CentOS 7 and Fedora images), follow the Configure your Firewall Using FirewallD section.

Configure your Firewall Using IPTables

  1. Create two files named v4 and v6 in your home directory to record your IPv4 and IPv6 firewall rules:

    ~/v4
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    *filter
    
    # Allow all loopback (lo0) traffic and reject traffic
    # to localhost that does not originate from lo0.
    -A INPUT -i lo -j ACCEPT
    -A INPUT ! -i lo -s 127.0.0.0/8 -j REJECT
    
    # Allow ping.
    -A INPUT -p icmp -m state --state NEW --icmp-type 8 -j ACCEPT
    
    # Allow SSH connections.
    -A INPUT -p tcp -m state --state NEW --dport 22 -j ACCEPT
    
    # Allow the Steam client.
    -A INPUT -p udp -m udp --dport 27000:27030 -j ACCEPT
    -A INPUT -p udp -m udp --dport 4380 -j ACCEPT
    
    # Allow inbound traffic from established connections.
    # This includes ICMP error returns.
    -A INPUT -m state --state ESTABLISHED,RELATED -j ACCEPT
    
    # Log what was incoming but denied (optional but useful).
    -A INPUT -m limit --limit 3/min -j LOG --log-prefix "iptables_INPUT_denied: " --log-level 7
    -A FORWARD -m limit --limit 3/min -j LOG --log-prefix "iptables_FORWARD_denied: " --log-level 7
    
    # Reject all other inbound.
    -A INPUT -j REJECT
    -A FORWARD -j REJECT
    
    COMMIT
    v6
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    *filter
    
    # Allow all loopback (lo0) traffic and reject traffic
    # to localhost that does not originate from lo0.
    -A INPUT -i lo -j ACCEPT
    -A INPUT ! -i lo -s ::1/128 -j REJECT
    
    # Allow ICMP.
    -A INPUT -p icmpv6 -j ACCEPT
    
    # Allow inbound traffic from established connections.
    -A INPUT -m state --state ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
    
    # Reject all other inbound.
    -A INPUT -j REJECT
    -A FORWARD -j REJECT
    
    COMMIT
    Note

    Some Steam games require a few additional rules which can be found in our Steam game guides. Steam can also use multiple port ranges for various purposes, but they should only be allowed if your game(s) make use of those services. See this Steam Support page for more information.

    Steam currently supports multiplayer play over IPv4 only, so a Steam server only needs basic IPv6 firewall rules, shown below.

  2. Import the rulesets into your firewall to activate them:

    sudo iptables-restore < ~/v4
    sudo ip6tables-restore < ~/v6
    
  3. Install iptables-persistent. If you don’t install this software, your firewall rules will not persist through reboots of your Linode.

  4. If iptables-persistent was already installed, reconfigure the package so that it recognizes your new rulesets:

    sudo dpkg-reconfigure iptables-persistent
    
  5. Confirm that your firewall rules are active:

    sudo iptables -vL
    

    The output should look similar to:

    Chain INPUT (policy ACCEPT 0 packets, 0 bytes)
    pkts bytes target     prot opt in     out     source               destination
        0     0 ACCEPT     all  --  lo     any     anywhere             anywhere
        0     0 REJECT     all  --  !lo    any     localhost/8          anywhere             reject-with icmp-port-unreachable
        0     0 ACCEPT     icmp --  any    any     anywhere             anywhere             state NEW icmp echo-request
        0     0 ACCEPT     tcp  --  any    any     anywhere             anywhere             state NEW tcp dpt:ssh
        0     0 ACCEPT     udp  --  any    any     anywhere             anywhere             udp dpts:27000:27030
        0     0 ACCEPT     udp  --  any    any     anywhere             anywhere             udp dpt:4380
        0     0 ACCEPT     all  --  any    any     anywhere             anywhere             state RELATED,ESTABLISHED
        0     0 LOG        all  --  any    any     anywhere             anywhere             limit: avg 3/min burst 5 LOG level debug prefix "iptables_INPUT_denied: "
        0     0 REJECT     all  --  any    any     anywhere             anywhere             reject-with icmp-port-unreachable
    
    Chain FORWARD (policy ACCEPT 0 packets, 0 bytes)
    pkts bytes target     prot opt in     out     source               destination
        0     0 LOG        all  --  any    any     anywhere             anywhere             limit: avg 3/min burst 5 LOG level debug prefix "iptables_FORWARD_denied: "
        0     0 REJECT     all  --  any    any     anywhere             anywhere             reject-with icmp-port-unreachable
    
    Chain OUTPUT (policy ACCEPT 60 packets, 8304 bytes)
    pkts bytes target     prot opt in     out     source               destination
    
  6. If you ever import new rules into your firewall in the future, be sure to reconfigure iptables-persistent again afterward:

    sudo dpkg-reconfigure iptables-persistent
    

Configure your Firewall Using FirewallD

  1. Set up your ruleset:

    sudo firewall-cmd --zone="public" --add-service=ssh --permanent
    sudo firewall-cmd --zone="public" --add-forward-port=port=27000-27030:proto=udp:toport=1025-65355 --permanent
    sudo firewall-cmd --zone="public" --add-forward-port=port=4380:proto=udp:toport=1025-65355 --permanent
    sudo firewall-cmd --reload
    
  2. Switch on firewalld and verify your ruleset:

    sudo systemctl start firewalld
    sudo systemctl enable firewalld
    sudo firewall-cmd --zone="public" --list-all
    

Install SteamCMD

SteamCMD can be installed via your distribution’s package manager, or through a manual method.

Installing via the package manager allows you to more easily download updates and security patches, so we strongly recommend using this method if your distribution includes the SteamCMD package. The package is available for Ubuntu and Debian deployments.

  • Ubuntu

    1. Install the package:

      sudo apt-get install steamcmd
      
    2. Create a symlink to the steamcmd executable in a convenient place, such as your home directory:

      cd ~
      ln -s /usr/games/steamcmd steamcmd
      
  • Debian

    1. Add the non-free area to the repositories in your sources list, because the steamcmd package is only available from this area. To do so, edit your /etc/apt/sources.list file and include non-free at the end of each deb and deb-src line, as in this snippet:

      /etc/apt/sources.list
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      deb http://mirrors.linode.com/debian stretch main non-free
      deb-src http://mirrors.linode.com/debian stretch main non-free
      ...
    2. Add the i386 architecture, update your package list, and install steamcmd:

      sudo dpkg --add-architecture i386
      sudo apt update
      sudo apt-get install steamcmd
      
    3. Create a symlink to the steamcmd executable in a convenient place, such as your home directory:

      cd ~
      ln -s /usr/games/steamcmd steamcmd
      

Install Manually

If your package manager does not include the steamcmd package, install it manually:

  1. Newly created Linodes use 64-bit Linux operating systems. Since Steam is compiled for i386, install the appropriate libraries. For CentOS, also install wget.

    • CentOS 7, Fedora

      sudo yum install glibc.i686 libstdc++.i686 wget
      
    • Debian, Ubuntu

      sudo apt-get install lib32gcc1
      
    Note
    Running dpkg --add-architecture i386 is not necessary at this point. Our Steam game guides add multiarch support only when a game requires it.
  2. Create the directory for SteamCMD and change to it:

    mkdir ~/Steam && cd ~/Steam
    
  3. Download the SteamCMD tarball:

    wget https://steamcdn-a.akamaihd.net/client/installer/steamcmd_linux.tar.gz
    
  4. Extract the installation and runtime files:

    tar -xvzf steamcmd_linux.tar.gz
    
Note

When running a Steam game, you may encounter the following error:

/home/steam/.steam/sdk32/libsteam.so: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

The game server will still operate despite this error, and it should be something fixed in a later release of SteamCMD. The temporary fix is to create the directory and symlink to libsteam.so.

mkdir -p ~/.steam/sdk32/
ln -s ~/Steam/linux32/steamclient.so ~/.steam/sdk32/steamclient.so

Run SteamCMD

  1. Run the executable in a screen session:

    If you have installed SteamCMD from repositories:

    screen ~/.steam/steamcmd
    

    If you have installed SteamCMD manually:

    screen ~/Steam/steamcmd.sh
    

    That will return an output similar to below and leave you at the Steam> prompt:

    Redirecting stderr to '/home/steam/Steam/logs/stderr.txt'
    [  0%] Checking for available updates...
    [----] Downloading update (0 of 7,013 KB)...
    [  0%] Downloading update (1,300 of 7,013 KB)...
    [ 18%] Downloading update (3,412 of 7,013 KB)...
    [ 48%] Downloading update (5,131 of 7,013 KB)...
    [ 73%] Downloading update (6,397 of 7,013 KB)...
    [ 91%] Downloading update (7,013 of 7,013 KB)...
    [100%] Download complete.
    [----] Installing update...
    [----] Extracting package...
            . . .
    [----] Cleaning up...
    [----] Update complete, launching Steam...
    Redirecting stderr to '/home/steam/Steam/logs/stderr.txt'
    [  0%] Checking for available updates...
    [----] Verifying installation...
    Steam Console Client (c) Valve Corporation
    -- type 'quit' to exit --
    Loading Steam API...OK.
    
    Steam>
    
  2. Most Steam game servers allow anonymous logins. You can verify this for your title with Valve’s list of dedicated Linux servers.

    To log in anonymously:

    login anonymous
    

    To log in with your Steam username:

    login example_user
    
    Caution
    Some versions of the Steam CLI do not obfuscate passwords. If you’re signing in with your Steam account, be aware of your local screen’s security.

Exit SteamCMD

Detach from the Screen Session

To exit the screen session which contains the Steam process without disrupting the Steam process, enter Control+A followed by Control+D on your keyboard. You can later return to the screen session by entering:

screen -r

For more information on managing your screen sessions, review our Using GNU Screen to Manage Persistent Terminal Sessions guide.

Stop SteamCMD

To stop the Steam process and remove your screen session, enter quit at the Steam> command prompt, or enter Control+C on your keyboard.

Next Steps

You’re ready to install your first Steam game server. From here, certain games may need a few more i386 libraries or firewall rules, and most will need their configuration settings to be modified. The game server should allow easy administrative access with as little interruption to players as possible. Its software should frequently be updated, and players’ progress should be saved when the server is properly shut down.

Our game server guides cover these requirements for specific games and contain various Steam tutorials which will pick you up exactly where this page leaves off.

More Information

You may wish to consult the following resources for additional information on this topic. While these are provided in the hope that they will be useful, please note that we cannot vouch for the accuracy or timeliness of externally hosted materials.

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This guide is published under a CC BY-ND 4.0 license.