Pterodactyl - A veritable management tool

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Game panels have been a touchy topic for server owners for a few years, some considering them a must-have, either for ease of use or other features the panels provided, while others consider they are useless bulk for the underlying game-servers. In this article, I'll discuss the benefits of using pterodactyl, a few less known features of it, along with my personal experience with the panel.

What is Pterodactyl Panel

Pterodactyl Panel is an open-source game panel that has become extremely popular with the Minecraft community recently. Unlike panels like multicraft, pterodactyl uses docker to secure each server in its own container. This improves security, performance and adds configurability for the server owner.

Docker, what?

Docker is a tool that provides OS-level virtualization to deliver software using containers. Containers are isolated from each other, and work as simpler and lightweight virtual machines. This makes the process of hosting game servers more secure, as clients are unable to access containers, not in their possession. This is extremely useful on Minecraft servers, as the large surface of attack (tens of plugins, bugs surfacing each day) make it harder to secure your server. With docker, if an attacker gains access to one of your containers, he will be mostly isolated there. While docker doesn't replace proper security policies, it definitely strengthens them and gives you more time to mitigate a potential security breach than not using it at all.

Optimizing Pterodactyl

One important note for pterodactyl users is the necessity to disable userland-proxy. While userland proxy may be useful for legacy software, it is often bloat for networking intensive Minecraft servers. You can disable userland-proxy by creating a file named /etc/docker/daemon.json and inputting the following code:

{
    "userland-proxy": false
}

Better Management

Unlike running Minecraft directly in Linux, pterodactyl means you can give people privileges based on their usage requirements. Your admins may need to run console commands, but not access files. This is now possible with pterodactyl panel. This means faster development times for you, and less worry about potential abuse.

Schedules

Schedules mean you can automatically do backups remotely, restart at night, and do more without too much hassle. Even the basic fact that backups are so easy to do is a huge preventive measure about potential information loss.

Disadvantages

Pterodactyl is often a slower way of managing your servers. You need a different SFTP session for each server, which is bothersome and often takes a lot of time that could be spent elsewhere. For many experienced sysadmins, the slowdown is enough to drive them away. Additionally, pterodactyl takes time to install, manage and maintain. It is just another thing that can go wrong. There is also a minor, yet noticeable performance loss when using pterodactyl. By disabling userland-proxy, you can minimize it, but it still exists.

Personal Opinion I personally prefer using pterodactyl for ease of use and the ability for me to invite others to contribute to the project, without too many risks on my end. Additionally, it is a lifesaver to less technically able users that may be brought onboard to help with management, etc.

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