Team Fortress 2 on Debian and Ubuntu

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Team Fortress 2 is a team-based, first-person shooter, where you and a team of fellow players can play a variety of game modes. From capture the flag, to a battle pitting your team against a robotic horde, there are numerous options to choose. Setting up a personal game server puts you in control of what game modes and maps you use, as well as a variety of other settings to customize your experience.

Before You Begin

  1. You will need a Steam account and a copy of Team Fortress 2.

  2. Complete our guide: Install SteamCMD for a Steam Game Server. This will get SteamCMD installed and running on your Linode and this guide will pick up where the SteamCMD page leaves off.

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.

Prerequisites for Team Fortress 2

From the SteamCMD guide, two additional steps are needed specifically for TF2.

  1. Add an iptables firewall rule. This command assumes that you have only the iptables rules in place from the SteamCMD guide. This inserts a rule after the pre-existing iptables rules for SteamCMD.

    sudo iptables -I INPUT 7 -p udp -m udp --dport 26900:27030 -j ACCEPT
  2. After entering the above rule, run iptables-persistent again. You’ll be asked if you want to save the current IPv4 and IPv6 rules. Answer yes for IPv4 and no for IPv6.

    sudo dpkg-reconfigure iptables-persistent
  3. Install an additional 32-bit package:

    sudo apt-get install lib32tinfo5

Install Team Fortress 2

  1. Be sure you are in the directory ~/Steam, then access the Steam> prompt.

    cd ~/Steam && ./
  2. From the SteamCMD prompt, login anonymously:

    login anonymous

    Or log in with your Steam username:

    login example_user
  3. Install TF2 to the Steam user’s home directory:

    force_install_dir ./tf2
    app_update 232250

    This can take some time. If the download looks as if it has frozen, be patient. Once the download is complete, you should see this output:

    Success! App '232250' fully installed.
  4. Quit SteamCMD:

    To update TF2, run the above 4 commands again.

Configure Team Fortress 2


You can select from a variety of maps on which you can play Team Fortress 2, a number of which are already installed to the server.

In order to create a custom list of maps for your server, create mapcycle.txt within the tf2/tf/cfg directory. The best way to do this is to copy the example file and edit it to include your chosen maps.

  1. Navigate to Steam/tf2/tf/cfg:

    cd ~/Steam/tf2/tf/cfg
  2. Copy mapcycle_default.txt:

    cp mapcycle_default.txt mapcycle.txt
  3. Open the file and add or remove maps as desired.

Message of the Day

The “Message of the Day” appears when joining a server. This can be a message to your normal group of players, a statement about the server’s settings, or anything else. Configure this by editing the files:

  • ~/Steam/tf2/tf/cfg/motd_default.txt
  • ~/Steam/tf2/tf/cfg/motd_text_default.txt

The motd_default.txt file can contain HTML and is displayed as a website upon loading the server in-game. The modt_text_default.txt file should be the text copy, with no additional code.


The file ~/Steam/tf2/tf/cfg/server.cfg is what contains all of the settings you need to customize the loadout of your game. A server.cfg file is not needed to run the game but we have a sample config file here which you can edit for your own use.

For the configuration of this file, 0 means off and 1 means on.

Startup Script

  1. Create a startup script for TF2 with the following contents:

    File: ~/
    cd ./Steam/tf2
    screen -S "Team Fortress 2 Server" ./srcds_run -game tf +map ctf_2fort.bsp

    When run, the script will change directories to ~/Steam/tf2 and execute TF2 in a Screen session.

    Optionally, replace cft_2fort.bsp with the name of your chosen map’s file, or replace +map ctf_2fort.bsp with +randommap for a randomized map selection.

  2. Make the script executable:

    chmod +x ~/

Using the Server

  1. Now that your server is installed and configured, it can be launched by running the script from your steam user’s home directory.

    cd ~/ && ./
    From this point, do not press the Control+C keys while in the console unless you want to stop TF2.
  2. To detach from the screen session running the server console, press these two key combinations in succession:


  3. To bring the console back, type the following command:

    screen -r
  4. To stop the server, bring back the TF2 console and press CONTROL + C.


RCON allows you to make changes to your server from inside of the game.

  1. To start using RCON, go to the Options setting in the game, and then select Advanced…

  2. From here, check Enable developer console and apply these settings.

  3. To make changes in-game, it is recommended that you switch to spectator mode, and then press the backtick button (`) to access the developer’s console.

  4. Log in to RCON by typing in rcon_password followed by your password.

RCON Commands

The commands for RCON are as follows:

  • rcon sv_password: Add a server password
  • rcon users: Display a list of users on the server
  • rcon kick: Boot user from server
  • rcon banid: Ban a user by their ID
  • rcon banip: Ban a user by their IP
  • rcon removeid: Remove a user from the ID ban list
  • rcon removeip: Remove a user from the IP ban list
  • rcon maps: Displays the maps available to your server
  • rcon changelevel [mapname]: Change to set map

Most server.cfg options can also be altered through RCON using the same values. For example, should you want to enable friendly fire, enter rcon mp_friendlyfire 1.

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