How to setup a headless Factorio server with Clear Linux

Why I’m doing this?
My friends and I play factorio and having a dedicated server makes that easier for us to play together. As well, I like having excuses to try new things. Originally I was doing this with Ubuntu, but once I heard that Clear Linux had a new installer (via Linux Unplugged), and after playing with it as my main OS on my laptop, I decided to also try and migrate over my server from Ubuntu to Clear Linux. I’m also fairly average at linux so if there are any recommendations on how to make this easier please let me know!

Hardware used
Some leftover hardware from other projects:
-Intel G4560
-8gb of ram
-120gb ssd
-Some random compatible mini ITX board
-A cheap powersupply I got off of amazon
-An old case from a build from years ago

Game Plan
-Install Clear Linux Server
-Create two accounts, one with admin rights and another without that will be used to run factorio (separate accounts help with security)
-Install the necessary bundles
-Install factorio
-Install a community made factorio updater
-Make two bash scripts. One to start the factorio server and another to update factorio when needed

Install Clear Linux
Follow the guide HERE to install Clear Linux. If you want to set a static IP you can do it here. The only thing I’d recommend is to create your user accounts here as well. For this project, I have two. One named kyle with admin rights and another called gamemaster that does not have admin rights.

Login as your admin account
Once the system reboots I usually do everything via SSH from here on out. I logged in as my admin account (kyle).

Install Factorio Headless

First install wget by doing the following command: sudo swupd bundle-add wget

Next we are going to get the tar package from factorio’s site HERE. I like to use the experimental version. Since we will be running this game under the gamemaster account, first get into gamemaster’s home directory by typing: cd /home/gamemaster

Once there, run the following command to download the factorio software: sudo wget -O factorio_headless.tar.gz

I’m installing the latest experiemental version of factorio (as of the time of writing this guide). If you want to use any other version, make sure you follow the same syntax above and replace the link with the version you will be downloading.

Once downloaded, run this command to unzip the package: sudo tar xf factorio_headless.tar.gz. This will unpack everything into a newly made folder called factorio. Jump into that directory by typing: cd factorio

Setup Factorio
We are going to need to adjust some settings in the data folder so cd into that by typing: cd data. If you ls you can see we have a file called server-settigns.example.json, go ahead and make a new copy of it by typing: sudo cp server-settings.example.json server-settings.json.

Next we are going to edit that newly copied file. I use vim as my text editor, so at this point I installed it by typing: sudo swupd bundle-add vim then I edited the file by typing: sudo vim server-settigns.json`

In this file, I only changed a few things. This is what I changed:
-name: The name of the server instance that your friends will search when looking for the game
-description: The description that will show up next to the name
-username: the username of your factorio account
-token: I use this instead of a plaintext password since it is more secure. You can find yours by logging into your factorio account and generating it from the profile page on their site.
-game_password: the password used to enter the game
-autosave_interval: I set this to 60. Once you hit end game, saving takes a while so it’s nice to not have your game paused for too long.

Save this file and exit the text editor.

Go ahead and go up a directory by typing: cd ..

Here is where I made two new directories. One called saves and the other called mods with the following command: sudo mkdir -p saves mods

The mods folder is where you’d put the .zip files of mods you can find online. Once the factorio server starts, it’ll check that folder and if there are any mods inside it, add them automatically. I add mods here via sftp. In Clear Linux that is disabled by default, so follow the guide HERE if you want to enable sftp.

Before you can start a game, you need to create a save file. You can do this by typing: sudo ./bin/x64/factorio --create saves/

At this point you can test your server. Go ahead and find your IP by the following command: ip a. For this guide, my IP is which is needed once the game is running. To run the server, type: sudo ./bin/x64/factorio --start-server //home/gamemaster/factorio/saves/ From here I can launch the Factorio game from my desktop, select Play, Connect to server, and type the IP of my server. If you set a password, here is where you’ll also enter that. You should see that you are able to play the game now. Go ahead and exit.

Setup Factorio Community Updater
Since I’m using the experiemental version of factorio, the game updates frequently. Doing it manually is annoying. Luckily, there is a community made guide HERE. This updater uses a non-standard library called Requests. If you install sudo swupd bundle-add python-extras, it contains Requests within the bundle by default (thanks @puneetse for this one).

We are going to use git to grab the project above. This needs to be installed by typing: sudo swupd bundle-add git. Once installed, go ahead and clone the project by typing: sudo git clone This will make a new folder in your factorio directory called factorio-updater that contains the python code that will update factorio for you.

Give gamemaster permissions to factorio
At this point we have been using the admin account to set everything up and one of the reasons why we needed to sudo a lot in the previous steps. However, once we are finished we want the user gamemaster to run these commands. We also want this game to run even if we are not ssh’d into the machine. You can do that with tmux (sudo swupd bundle-add tmux).

To give permission to gamemaster, type: sudo chmown gamemaster:gamemaster /home/gamemaster -R

Now lets swtich to the gamemaster account by typing: su gamemaster and typing the password you created when you installed the system.

Make bash scripts
I always forget how to run the scripts to start the server and update the software, so I made two files called and

Inside start_factorio, I have the following line: ./factorio/bin/x64/factorio --start-server-load-latest --server-settings ~/factorio/data/server-settings.json

Inside, I have the following line: python3 ~/factorio/factorio-updater/ -xDa ~/factorio/bin/x64/factorio

NOTE: If you do not want the experimental version of factorio, only use the flags -Da in that last command.

Once made, you need to set them to be executable by typing: chmod +x

Open Factorio port on your router

In your router settings, you need to open port 34197. I specifically made it so only the IP of my server has that port open, and not any other device on my network. As well, it JUST needs to be UDP 34197 that is open.

Run Factorio
You can now type ./ and it will run. If you used ssh like me, you can use tmux to have it be persistent once you log out. If it ever needs to be updated, you can stop the game server, call your updater script and start up the game again by calling your start script. If you have mods, sometimes they’ll need to be updated manually to have the game server start properly. Update them and try the start script again.

That’s it
Once it is running, you should be able to search for it in the public games list by the name you gave your sever in the server-settings.json. If you don’t see it, you either 1) need to update your factorio server since your client doesn’t match versions or 2) need to verify your factorio server settings are properly set.

There are cleaner ways to do this, but this is the way I have my server setup. Please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions. Thanks!

This is awesome! The level of detail is great and is the kind of content that helps people learn without prior knowledge so kudos! :slight_smile:

A couple notes:

You can also do swupd bundle-add python-extras which also includes requests. That way if you ever do a swupd repair or swupd diagnose that program won’t inadvertently get removed.

Look into making systemd units for something a bit more tied into the OS and automated. You can get some nice benefits from doing so like logging and monitoring/restarting from crashes…which happens with experimental software :upside_down_face:

Are you doing anything for periodic backups of any important data, like the map/saves?

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Thanks for the suggestion with python-extras. I’ve updated my post to add it and credited you for the suggestion.

And I’ve never really messed with systemd a ton. I’ll have to look into what it takes to make a systemd unit.

As for periodic backups. I also don’t have anything. At my work of employment, we have restic setup for our gentoo servers we run (I’m the windows admin there so my linux experience isn’t as good as my coworkers). Considering I change my homelab all the time to try and learn new stuff, it’d be hard to have a definite space to backup this server to at the moment. Do you have any suggestions?


I would strongly suggest making systemd unit files so you can make the server start persistently at boot, with the right uid.

Hints: Something like this is probably mostly right (from:

Description=Factorio Server

ExecStart=/opt/factorio/bin/x64/factorio --start-server /home/factorio/saves/ --server-settings /home/factorio/server-settings.json --rcon-port 25575 --rcon-password "your-rcon-password"

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@ahkok I spent a long time looking into this. I have never done a systemd unit file before. I have saved the following in /etc/systemd/system/ as file factorio.service:

Description=Factorio Headless Server

ExecStartPre=-python3 /home/gamemaster/factorio/factorio-updater/ -xDa /home/gamemaster/factorio/bin/x64/factorio
ExecStart=/home/gamemaster/factorio/bin/x64/factorio --start-server-load-latest --server-settings /home/gamemaster/factorio/data/server-settings.json --console-log /home/gamemaster/factorio/console.log


I figured this out via the github you attached, this video, this comment from reddit, using the “-” before the ExecStartPre call from this stackexchange and the man page for systemd.service.

What this does once enabled is at boot, call the script to update factorio, and once that is done, start the factorio server. So when an update occurs, I can either reboot my system, or run the command sudo systemctl restart factorio. Is that correct? In practice it seems to work. How do I verify that the systemd unit is being called by the gamemaster user? I can’t seem to find any evidence when I restart the service and type: journalctl -xe.

I think as well I might make it so you can’t ssh with the account gamemaster to increase security.

Any other tips/ideas?


Right. I’ve used this method for e.g. minetestserver myself to git pull mods that need updating. This allows you to restart-and-update a server.

You can use the ps tool to see what user id a process is running as. Or even htop. Try:

ps axfwu | grep factorio

I would strongly recommend it (set the shell of the user to /bin/false).

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@ahkok Thanks for your suggestions. This has been a fun learning experience. I’ll need to think up more projects to do with Clear Linux.