I want to host a Minecraft server on a VPS, but what software will I need on the server side?
closed as off topic by slhck♦, grawity, Nifle, RedGrittyBrick, Chris W. Rea Apr 28 '12 at 23:49
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The Minecraft server and its open source derviates (Bukkit, I think) are all Java applications. So really, the operating system does not matter as long as there is a JRE for it - and there are Java JRE's for Windows, Linux, Mac OS, and may other operating systems.
Although you will probably find the most online support if you run a Linux or FreeBSD OS in your VPS - I could be wrong about this though.
So on the VPS you will need the running OS, a way to remote into that OS (for Linux/BSD you would need to install and configure
I'm not familiar with Minecraft but I found a link that I think can help get you get started.
As for a free VPS I would recommend amazons EC2 service. As long as you stay within the Free Usage Tier's limits you can host a server for free up to 1 year after signing up. Also, you have a choice between running a Windows server or a Linux server. Grant it YMMV depending on how many people you want on your server. This site(http://canihostaminecraftserver.com/) can take your server specs and guess what the max amount of players per server should be.
Hope this helps get you off in the right direction.