Excalibur's Sheath

Setting Up a BBS

Dec 31, 2015 • bbs,linux

I recently took the time to do a project, which I have wanted to do since I was a child, in the 1980s and 1990s. I have setup a Bulletin Board System, or BBS for short. I have the BBS software setup, but at this point its not finished, I am still working on it.

When I was a child I used to waste spend hours calling into many different boards. My two favorite, were called Third Rock From the Sun, and Colossus. Colossus was run by my High School, and I actually got to help with it durning lunch breaks.

By the time I was old enough to get a job to pay for a phone line, dial-up BBSes had been supplanted by the World Wide Web.

However, over the last 10 years or so I have seen that not all bbs died, and that there is a small revival of them. This time around they usually use Telnet, as their means of connecting.

Choosing the Software

I decided to use the Linux operating system to host my BBS on. I have found at least two examples of software, which runs on Linux:

  • Synchronet
  • Mystic BBS

I tried them both out, and settled on Synchronet. I wanted a software which was not abandoned, and still developed. Both of these are still developed, but do not expect frequent updates, as this kind of software is very well defined, and mature. These software packages have been in use for a long time. The rest of this article is about the steps I took to set up Synchronet.

First I read the Unix & Linux Installation Instructions and the Synchronet Unix & Linux Prerequesites guides.

Installation Steps

  1. SSH (I setup the BBS on a VPS server) into the system.
  2. mkdir /sbbs
  3. cd /sbbs
  4. I updated the system (The BBS runs Debian 8.1 jessie)
  5. I installed the following: * GNU Make * GNU C/C++ Compiler * Perl * Python * Concurrent Version System (CVS) * GNU Debugger * errno.h * libncurses.so * ncurses.h / curses.h * libspr4.so * nspr.h * libcap.so * capability.h * Xlib.so headers * libsdl.so * GTK+ libraries and headers * The prerequisite guide was very good about giving me specific package names.
  6. wget ‘http://cvs.synchro.net/cgi-bin/viewcvs.cgi/xheckout/install/GNUmakefile’
  7. make install SYMLINK=1 USE_DOSEMU=1
  8. useradd -d /bbs
  9. passwd bbs
  10. chown -R bbs /sbbs
  11. Edited the main configurzation file to run the bbs as the bbs user.

The basic setup went smoothly. Future articles in this series will cover configuring and customizing the BBS.