** THE BIG DUMMY'S GUIDE TO FIDONET **
(c) 1992 by Michael Schuyler
Version 1.0 - November, 1992
Preface and Thanks
This document reflects a collective effort on the part of Sysops in
FidoNet Network 350 to provide information to prospective new Sysops to
the Network. As you will read below, FidoNet is not so much an organization
to which you belong, but a collaborative effort on the part of Sysops to
make this Network, and all networks in FidoNet, happen. In a very real sense,
Sysops *are* FidoNet.
I would like to thank the following for their help in this endeavor.
These people contributed comments, suggestions, and filenames which have
been incorporated herein. They contributed their thoughts to help me understand
some of the issues involved. In many cases they have offered their own help
to new people to get them
started. And for that, you should thank them as well.
They are: Brad Boyce from The Monitor (350/40), Paul Wolfe from Magnetic
North (350/70), Al Tuttle from The Pyramid BBS (350/33), Bill Hippe, from
My Electronic Dungeon (350/24), Adolph Weidanz from The Gold Pegasus (350/35).
I would like to reserve a special share of thanks to Sheldon Koehler from
Ten Forward (350/401), who spent a lot of time on reviewing the first draft
and commenting on its contents. I appreciate it.
Although this document would be severely diminished without the contributions
of those listed above, any deficiencies in its presentation and content
must remain my responsibility alone. They tried to help, and I just didn't
listen. Corrections of fact may be NetMailed to 1:350/201. Differences of
opinion may be sent to
Device = NUL.
Welcome to the Big Dummy's Guide to FidoNet. Don't take offense. I'm
the Big Dummy. It's my guide. You just get to read it and shake your head,
wondering how this Big Dummy ever learned a word processor. I certainly
do not claim to be a FidoNet guru by any stretch of the imagination. In
fact, I'm relatively new to this particular game. I wrote my first program
in 1972, and I've been heavily involved in computers since 1979. I run a
mini-computer wide area network and am
responsible for about 150 CPUs. I'm the "computer guy" at work.
I also have commercial programs on the market for both IBM and Apple computers,
and I write a column on computers for a national rag -er- mag.
But FidoNet taught me how little I really knew. It has been, shall we
say, a learning experience. In DP parlance you often hear the phrase "steep
learning curve" for programs or procedures that present problems of understanding.
FidoNet has a steep learning curve.
It is not the intent of this document to get your BBS running. I assume
you have already done that. This document is not about BBS systems per
se; it's about FidoNet. It's about the specific requirements and problems
you may run across when attempting to get your working BBS system compatible
with the FidoNet network.
The other documents in this packet provide lots of information on FidoNet,
but new Sysops often complain that the files are too cryptic. They assume
knowledge. I had one Sysop call me not long ago and say, "I read the docs,
and I am clueless!" Well, maybe for good reason. This fellow was too hard
on himself. There's a lot to learn all at once. I don't know any FidoNet
Sysop who has NOT been overwhelmed at first.
I certainly was. It took me two days just to decipher a series of batch
files Jim Barth gave to me to help me set up my board; and batch files
weren't exactly new to me at the time. Of course, he WAS running and old
non-compatible version of Wildcat with QuickBBS running as a door off the
main system just for the message files. But hey! What are batches for?
Specifically to confuse me, is what I thought initially.
So the purpose of this file is to explain FidoNet--again. There may
be some repetition to the other docs. No apologies. The idea is to try
to explain what is happening and what is expected, with reference to our
local network in Kitsap County, that is: it has a local spin to it. One
word of warning: It's difficult to explain FidoNet concepts without using
OTHER FidoNet concepts which may not have been explained yet! It's a terribly
circular explanation. But please bear with us. We shall attempt to get the
elementary definitions out of the way first, then move on to more detail.
Be patient! We'll get to everything before we're through here. If not, there's
always version 2.
With that, we begin!
2.0 What is FidoNet?
FidoNet is a loose confederation of bulletin board systems which stretches
around the entire world. Each BBS belongs to a local NETWORK. Each Network
handles its own operations more or less independently of other networks
in the world. Each Network belongs to a larger REGION, and each Region belongs
to a ZONE. A ZONE is as large as a continent. Zone 1 is North America. A
Region can be part of a continent, or an individual country. The Regions
in North America are divided geographically and often cross the US-Canadian
border. In Europe, Regions tend to be defined by national borders.
FidoNet is able to grow because it has a dynamic structure. There is
no centralized authority. When one Network gets too big, some folks can split
off and start another Network. It's that easy. One thing to remember, though,
is that FidoNet is organized by GEOGRAPHY, not by interest. That means if
you start a BBS in one geographic area, you probably have no choice of which
network you join. You join the local network. If you don't like the local
network, move. If you don't like
the local Region, move further.
That's a key point. Networks are based on calling areas. You don't form
FidoNet networks based on interest, ever. Instead, you can deal with your
interests through EchoMail, which is topic oriented.
The real key to joining the local Net is in finding the Network coordinator.
How do you do that? Well, you find ANY FidoNet board in the area and ask.
I met Jim at a King's Table restaurant at a Sysop meeting totally by accident.
I just happened to say to Jim that I wondered what this Fido business was
all about, and he said,
"Well, I'm the coordinator for everything West of Puget Sound."
Once he made that statement, things got a whole lot easier for me. If
you don't frequent King's Table restaurants or Pizza parlors, then if you
sign onto a BBS and it says, "Press [Escape] to continue," you are probably
getting pretty warm. Ask around. Besides, if you read this document clear
through, the answer is obvious.
2.1 What does FidoNet Cost?
I've run into this idea several times lately. Apparently some folks
think it costs money to join FidoNet. That's just not true at all. It is
very possible to join FidoNet without ANY cost involved for the network
itself. Providing you have a computer and a modem in the first place, you
can use freeware programs to construct the BBS itself easily.
If you want to avail yourself of some of the benefits of FidoNet, such
as EchoMail (explained below) local networks usually have some provisions
for cost-sharing to get the conferences from one of the backbone hubs. And,
of course, once you're on FidoNet the temptation to call long distance to
get your favorite new hot file will be very strong, indeed. But even here,
you just pay for the long distance call, which you don't make without conscious
effort on your part.
3.0 What is a Network Coordinator?
That's the "NC" He's the HOST of the network. The word "host" was carefully
chosen in the beginnings of FidoNet to get away from authoritarian overtones.
His responsibilities are to coordinate FidoNet within the network. NC's
often do lots of things that are beyond what they have to do. But they only
are required to do a few things. Here's what they are:
The NC is supposed to make the Nodelist available to you. We'll talk
about the Nodelist below. He's supposed to provide you with copies of "The
Snooze," which is the slang name of the weekly FidoNet newsletter. He's
supposed to provide FidoNet information to you. And he's supposed to take
you in and out of the Nodelist, as appropriate. He's also supposed to promote
FidoNet, but that's a responsibility of all Sysops.
That's just about all, period. Further, he has to make this stuff available,
but he doesn't have to send it to you. You have to go get it unless he decides
it would be easier to send it to you instead. You shouldn't be costing
your NC any extra money. If you need access to FidoNet services, it's on
your dime. You get to make the call. That way, you don't have to be rich
to serve in a HOST capacity.
But frankly, NC's spend a lot of money on your behalf anyway. That's
just how this whole thing works. You can't expect, really, to run a BBS
without spending some money. It's the same with a NC. He will never break
even unless, perhaps, a big Net incorporates and gets very official about
the whole thing. There are "Sugar Daddies" in FidoNet who will provide free
services to a network. These guys are either independently wealthy or they
can somehow write it off, but this is very rare, as you might expect. It's
Now: Who appoints the NC? The Regional Coordinator. Who appoints the
Regional Coordinator? The Zone Coordinator. Who appoints the Zone Coordinator?
The Regional Coordinators themselves. That's how it works. Some Networks
hold elections. They are NOT REQUIRED TO DO SO. Go read the Policy 4 document
if you want more legalese.
The reason I bring this up is because it comes up all the time around
FidoNet. Lots of people think they live "in a democracy, therefore..."
Right. We do. Lots of FidoNet Sysops don't, by the way. But we do. So go
elect the President. The Constitution is about the Federal Government of
the country. It isn't about FidoNet. You don't have the right to elect
people in FidoNet to any position unless the policy documents spell out
that right. Currently, they don't. Unless it's changed, they won't.
Now, that doesn't mean the local Network can't set up an official elections
process at the network level. Many do; and the practice is spreading. But
it isn't required. All those people who keep whining about the right to
elections just don't get it. They ARE clueless.
Ideally, a network operates in a "collegial" atmosphere with everyone
in the network contributing to its smooth operation. It's like a college
department. No professors really want to be the Chair of the Department.
So they grumble a lot, and one of them will take it for a couple of years
and "do his time" fighting with the Dean. Then he says he wants to resign
and just teach, and some other professor grumbles, but finally takes his
turn for awhile so the rest of them will leave him alone. Sometimes you'll
get someone who grooves on the power, then everyone hates him and either
drives him out or waits for him to retire, when the cycle begins anew.
The NC may need to appoint a "NEC" a "Network EchoMail Coordinator"
to help with the mail. There may be other "positions" as well, just to
help out. Lots of Networks have several "HUBS" that take on the responsibility
of hauling in the mail. Lots of arrangements are possible. We get to use
our imaginations on this.
Ideally, costs are shared. It costs money to haul in echo mail, for
example. A Network can require Nodes to pay a share of the costs. Sometimes
it's a flat rate. Sometime's it's "per echo." All this cost sharing is perfectly
legal and proper. Be prepared to pay your fair share. It's usually not much.
There's more than one way to do it. You get a lot more than you pay for.
3.1 What is a Regional Coordinator?
Well, since we mentioned this earlier, we'd better explain it a little
further. The original purpose of the Regional Coordinator was to be a catch-all
network for those nodes which were not close to a network of their own.
That's all. But as FidoNet grew, so did the Nodelist, and so did the PIECES
of the Nodelist. Since these were all being sent to the Zone Coordinator
for incorporation into the master list, this began to be an overwhelming
job for the Zone Coordinator.
So someone noticed that the Regional Coordinators didn't have much to
do, so why couldn't they coordinate the Nodelist segments from within their
region, then send the larger segments to the Zone Coordinator? That way
the ZC would have fewer segments to patch together. This would lessen the
load, spread it out amongst the regions, and everything would be better.
According to Tom Jennings, founder of FidoNet: "Bad mistake. Sorry."
(I heard him say this at the first ONE BBSCON convention in Denver.) Why
was it a mistake? Because it inadvertently created a hierarchical power structure.
The Regional Coordinators suddenly had a whole lot to do with everyone
in their regions, not just the folks in their little catch-all network
intended to mop up remote nodes. When EchoMail began to take off, Regional
Coordinators were selected to choose which echoes got on the backbone. It
was only a vote, but the requirement of two Regional Coordinator's affirmative
votes gave more power to them.
Understand that at that time there was severe pressure to keep the backbone
echoes down to a dull roar. This was because lots of software couldn't handle
more than 256, then 512 conferences. So this was done, it looks like from
here, with perfectly legitimate technical reasons in mind. These reasons
have largely evaporated, but that's how it all started. Technology was driving
Regional Coordinators are now responsible for appointing Network Coordinators.
They are also responsible for the smooth operations of networks within their
region. They are responsible for assigning numbers to new networks being
formed, and for ensuring that new nodes belong to the right geographic networks.
They also are part of the appeal process when a node has problems with a
Network Coordinator. You can see from this description that Regional Coordinators
far more than the original job of taking care of the odd node not belonging
to a network.
Regional Coordinators now play an important role in FidoNet. Many of
them are elected these days, and their contribution is not trivial. It's
just that Fido lost some of it's "Band of networks united for a common purpose"
philosophy when this structure grew into place. There is some sentiment within
FidoNet currently to reduce the size of Regions, for the same reason Regions
were created in the first place. They've all grown huge, and it's a big
responsibility in FidoLand today.
4.0 What is a FidoNet Address?
A FidoNet Address is a key concept: Every BBS which is a member of FidoNet
has an address. The full address consists of the following:
Zone: Zone 1 is
Region: Part of a Zone (NOT
part of the addressing scheme)
Network: A group of local Nodes
(unique number in a zone)
Node: An individual
BBS (unique number in a net)
Point: A User who is
set up like a BBS off your Node
A Typical FidoNet address: 1:350/201
Note: There is no mention of the REGION in the Network address. The
REGION is for administrative purposes only.
Your address, then, consists of your zone, your network, and your node
numbers. In practice, you often can leave the zone number off the address.
So when you see an address like: 350/201 you know the zone number is implicitly
"1" unless stated otherwise. If you were located in Europe, you'd know the
"2" was assumed because Zone 2 is Europe. Much of the Fido-compatible software
will allow similar shorthand addressing.
4.1 Domain Addressing
A Typical FidoNet address: 1:firstname.lastname@example.org
It's getting worse! This is called "domain addressing." It reflects
the fact that FidoNet is only one of many large-scale networks in the world
today. The "@fidonet.org" denotes that this Node is a member of FidoNet
as opposed to TrekNet or Usenet. Domain addressing is currently optional,
but you do see it from time to time, especially in messages from other boards.
If you are familiar with "The Internet," you may have seen domain addressing
before. This makes FidoNet
compatible with Internet addressing--sort of.
Your address is assigned by your NC. He chooses the address, not you.
If you want a special number, you can ask, but it's not required you be
given your favorite magic number. The scheme for numbering is up to the
NC. In Net 350 Jim has a pattern of numbering that includes three digit numbers
for Nodes that are remote from the Central Kitsap Area. That's why I'm "201"
and Evin is "501." The "five hundreds" are the Gig Harbor area. The "two
hundreds" are on Bainbridge. Just accept whatever number you're given. It
doesn't matter that much. It's just like a phone number.
Once you get your address, however, you don't want to change it. If
you do, your HUB will have to change all your echo feeds to a new address.
Also, some of the software you may use is keyed off your address. You pay
money, they send you a key. If you change your address, you pay more money,
or at least hassle with getting your key changed. Obviously, we all want
to avoid such things.
5.0 What's a Point?
Good point. A Point is usually a sophisticated user of a FidoNet BBS
who does not wish to be an official FidoNet Node. Instead, he sets himself
up with a mailer and polls his BOSSNODE for mail. The BOSSNODE is
a legitimate FidoNet Node in the Nodelist. A Node with many Points is actually
running a local mini-network.
5.1 Advantages of being a Point
There are several advantages of being a Point.
First, you don't need as much disk space because all you have to have
is a working mailer. If you use Front Door, you don't even need a BBS behind
the mailer. You can just read messages from there.
Secondly, you maintain privacy. No one will be calling your number at
all hours expecting to see a BBS. Your BOSSNODE is responsible for hiding
your phone number and origin from the rest of the FidoNet world. IF YOU
WANT TO BE AN UNLISTED NODE, a better way would be to Point off an existing
Node instead. PRIVATE Nodes are discouraged in FidoNet. They take up space
in the Nodelist, and no one can get to you. The purpose of FidoNet is to
promote communication, so an unlisted Node is a contradiction.
Thirdly, it's a nice way to get running on FidoNet without pressure
as you get used to the system. When you're ready and everything actually
works, you can always apply for your own Node number. Many people start
out in FidoNet this way just to learn the ropes. All you have to do is
find a Node that wants to learn the ropes of running a Point and you're
all set, to your mutual benefit.
Fourth, you don't need to be up 24 hours or during Zone Mail Hour. You
can call your BOSSNODE at any time you both agree on.
Right now I run a Point system off my own BBS. At work I run Front Door
without a BBS. It's address is as a Point. This means I can use the mailer
to mail out files to local boards, but by doing so I won't automatically
pick up mail destined for my own board. When I first started this I had
the same address: 350/201. But after I received a couple of Nodediff files
on hold for me at the wrong location I changed to a Point to prevent this
from happening. I was circumventing my own autopilot-mode every time I had
to cart a Nodediff home on a disk and put the thing in manually.
As a Point to myself, I don't run a BBS on this address--just a mailer.
And I only run up Front Door when I have some business to transact. It's
very convenient for me to do it this way.
5.2 Disadvantages of being a Point
As a hidden Point, you cannot really participate in FidoNet activities
as easily or directly as a real Node. There are many FidoNet Nodes, for
example, which refuse to accept mail or file requests from "unlisted" Nodes,
though many do. (In fact, I'll make a blanket statement and say that most
do.) As a Point, you are an "unlisted Node" because you aren't in the Nodelist.
One of the exciting things about FidoNet is the ability to get files from
any Node on the system. You will run into roadblocks doing this as a Point.
Your alternative is to get your BOSSNODE to do it for you.
In the case of any elections in FidoNet (they do happen) you have no
standing as a Point. You don't get a vote or a say in how the network is
Points are supposed to remain INVISIBLE to FidoNet. As a Point you may
not have access to echo conferences that are for Sysops Only because you're
not an official FidoNet Sysop if you run only a Point. You also are not
supposed to interact with FidoNet in any other way EXCEPT through your Bossnode.
So I guess I'm violating that provision myself right now by not going through
my own node. But I only do so within the Net, and everybody knows what I'm
doing and why.
5.3 Point Addressing
A Point is designated as a number past the Node number in a FidoNet
A typical FidoNet Point address: 1:350/201.1
Here you see the "Point One" off the normal FidoNet Node address. The
assignment of Point numbers is strictly under the control of the Node,
just as Node numbers are under control of the Network Coordinator.
6.0 What is Zone Mail Hour?
Zone Mail Hour (ZMH) is a common hour in a zone where all boards are
available for sending and receiving NetMail, and they refuse to accept human
callers or file requests or echo mail transfers during that time. Because
Zone 1 is North America, there are probably eight different zones, from
the eastern tip of Canada clear to Alaska and Hawaii.
Obviously, the local mail hour is different for each time zone. And
also, it changes every time we go on or off Daylight Savings Time, thus
messing up our carefully scheduled events.
ZMH is 02:00-03:00 Pacific Daylight Time, or 01:00-02:00 Pacific Standard
Time. As we head East, it's later in the day. Mountain Standard would be
02:00-03:00. Eastern would 04:00-05:00. That way all boards in the zone are
"open" at once for NetMail, the original intention.
In some sense ZMH is an anachronistic remnant of a time when continuous
mailers were not yet invented. At that time all Mail events had to be precisely
coordinated in time slots where you had to kick callers off your board
and receive mail during your slot from your hub. A minute's deviation and
you would run over into someone else's time, creating havoc, not to mention
angry Sysops. FidoNet was a precisely engineered clock until CM Mailers
made the whole idea obsolete. Everyone had clock programs that would automatically
call the Naval Observatory and set the system clock to the hundredth of
Nevertheless, one of the requirements of FidoNet membership is that
your board be available for NetMail during ZMH, whether it is a full or
a part-time board. In other words, if you're part-time, one of your "UP"
times will be ZMH. You donate one hour to NetMail exclusively. This means
you don't send or receive EchoMail during this time. You don't send or receive
files during this time. And your users can't use your board at this time.
Zone Mail Hour is for NetMail only. Can you
get away with not being up during ZMH? Oh, probably.
7.0 What's a DOWN Board?
If you are NOT up during ZMH, then you can be taken off the Nodelist,
or at least marked DOWN until you again comply with the requirement. It's
not that your NC will check your board every day during ZMH. That won't
happen. But "flaky" boards are not appreciated in FidoNet. That ensures
the Nodelist is fairly accurate. In my experience keeping the BBS list for
Kitsap, there is usually a 20% change per month on boards. I think Fido
boards are more stable than others, but they still go up and down all the
DOWN in the Nodelist is supposed to be a temporary affliction not to
last for more than two weeks. If you're still DOWN after two weeks of Nodediff
entries, you get taken off the Nodelist altogether. In practice, this might
not happen so quickly, but if it does, you really have no cause to complain.
Some NC's are more strict about this than others.
FidoNet Sysops really do have to make an attempt to be up, if for nothing
else then to accept mail packets. Your HUB has to store copies of your mail
until those packets can be sent to you. I don't know what the average board
takes in the way of mail. Everyone seems to think they haul in "only a
few" echoes. But if your feed is a megabyte a day, that's not at all unusual.
Your HUB stores that on a daily basis, as well as everyone else he feeds.
If the next board gets the same batch of messages you do, he stores duplicate
copies, taking up twice as much space. If all 20 nodes get a megabyte a
day, that means 20 MB of storage needs to be available. He CANNOT store your
mail on his hard disk indefinitely. It MUST get off his disk so he has more
room for the next round of mail coming from the Regional Hub. If you are
DOWN, you're causing your Hub a problem. It probably won't last for long
because he'll take you "off distribution" so your mail won't build up. Then
you miss all your feeds.
So, the bottom line is that if you are going to be gone away from your
BBS for an extended period of time, let your Hub know in advance. If your
board DOES crash, he'll know why the mail can't get through. At least he'll
be more tolerant of the situation because he knows you're not around to fix
8.0 What is Freqing?
FREQ = "File Request" When you "freq" a file, you request it from another
Node. This is the basic way you get files across the country in a few minutes.
It's why a shareware package released in Australia makes it to the East
Coast of America the same day. To many Sysops, "freqing" is the single most
advantageous thing about FidoNet.
You can usually freq a file through your mailer software, which sends
the appropriate request to the Node in question. Sometimes you can do it
from within your BBS software. Also, third party utilities enable freqing.
BONK, for example, is used in conjunction with BINKley for this purpose.
You can usually freq a list of files on another BBS by requesting FILES.
This is a "magic name" that will get you whatever list is appropriate of
files available on the board you called. That way you'll get the file names
correct the next time you call.
"Magic Names" can be used for some files, depending on how a Sysop has
set them up. This is particularly useful when versions of filenames change
quite often. A good example is Nodediff files. If I set up the "magic name"
of "Nodediff," then if you request a file by that name, you'll always get
the latest version, no matter what the actual filename is. Magic names are
unique to each individual board and will be most useful to you when you request
files from the same board often.
The opposite of freqing is sending, of course, which you may also find
occasion to do. I send the BBS list to all FidoNet Nodes this way, usually
by one command. This sends the same file to all Nodes. It surely makes that
process easier for me. You may get the Nodelist and the Snooze in the same
It is considered common courtesy to inform the Sysop of the BBS where
you are freqing that you did request a file. Some software will write a
courtesy packet automatically so you don't have to. When you request files
with Front Door, it will send an empty NetMail letter with the file requested
as the subject.
9.0 What is The Nodelist?
The "Nodelist" is a very large file which consists of one line for each
FidoNet Node in the world. As of this writing it is about 700K compressed.
An un-compressed Nodelist and its various indexes can take two or three
megabytes easily, depending on the variety of indexes you create. Currently
the Nodelist contains about 19,000 Nodes (November, 1992). It has been doubling
every eighteen months. That means you'd better have some serious disk space
The Nodelist is like a phone book. It is the basic way you communicate
with other FidoNet boards. Your software will allow you to write messages
to these boards using your FidoNet address. The Nodelist will contain all
the pertinent information on your board: Address, name of your BBS, your
name, your phone number, the speed of your modem, and various codes (called
"flags") which denote how your board operates.
The Nodelist is arranged by Network. All the Network 350 Nodes are listed
together. Networks are listed more or less geographically by region. And
zones, of course, list their segments together.
Every week your NC sends Nodelist updates to his Regional Coordinator,
who then sends the Regional updates to the Zone Coordinator. These segments
are then combined into the weekly Nodelist. The changes are made available
in the Nodediff files, which then trickle back the other way to each Node
in the system. Obviously, everything in this scenario must happen ON TIME
or the changes will not be reflected in the Nodediff files.
The obvious problem with the Nodelist is its increasing size. There
are Zone-specific Nodelists available, though we don't run with such lists
in Net 350. There will come a time when the Nodelist gets so unwieldy that
we'll probably have to change the way this whole thing works. It won't be
the first time. The first Nodelist was restricted to 256 Nodes, total. That
was before there were regions, zones, or even networks.
The Nodelist would take you almost an hour to download at 2400 baud.
You have to have one before you can do much of anything with FidoNet. Perhaps
you can find a kind soul who will run a disk off for you and mail it to
you. I've been known to do that sometimes, if someone sends me a formatted
disk and a return disk mailer, complete with an address affixed to it along
with sufficient stamps. In other words, all I have to do is copy the Nodelist
onto your disk and throw it in the mail. And, no, I don't care what kind
of disk it is.
Or perhaps this one point alone is enough to convince you of a 9600
bps modem. With an HST or v32bis connection you can download a Nodelist
in about eight minutes. Quite a difference when you can travel at 14.4!
Here's an (old) example of the Network 350 portion of the Nodelist just
to give you an idea of what it looks like. Multiply this segment by about
a thousand and you get an idea of the size of the Nodelist in real life.
You'll notice the first entry is the Host of Network 350. It has a Node
address of 00 (even though it doesn't say so). This has its own name, but
is the same number as Node 21. Yes, they are the same person. Jim is the
NC, the Host of 350. But his board is also online for other people, so it
gets a separate listing. You can send mail to Jim either to his HOST address,
or to his NODE address. It will still get to him just fine. I always use
the Node address myself.
HUB entries also get an extra listing and number by virtue of their
extra responsibilities. Sometimes it looks like the Nodelist is full of
lots of duplicate entries, but overall that's not really true. Your Nodelist
compiler will probably report to you how many individual Nodes there really
are in FidoNet. The duplicate entries are a small portion of the total.
Other things to notice? There are no spaces. Underscores substitute
for them. And there are flags at the end of each line. "CM," for example,
means "Continuous Mail," a board that can accept NetMail 24 hours a day.
Most flags have to do with modem types. V32 means a standard 9600 baud connection
can be made with this modem. HST means, of course, that the Sysop is running
some sort of US Robotics HST modem (There are at least three varieties these
You don't have to worry about any of this. The NC will fill out your
listing depending on the information you have given him. But it is this
raw data that is used by your BBS software and your mailer software to actually
make outgoing calls from your board.
9.1 The Nodediff files
The "Nodediff" files are smaller weekly updates to the Nodelist made
available by your Network Coordinator. They erase Nodes which have left
FidoNet, and add new ones. They contain the weekly changes.
Every time you receive a NODEDIFF file, you must merge it into your
existing Nodelist file. Because of internal error checking, you can't skip
any Nodediff files when you "recompile" your Nodelist. They must be done
in order. This is your responsibility.
You perform this task by using a NODELIST COMPILER, a special program
designed for this purpose. A few of the names out there are: XlaxNode,
Parselst, QNode, or FDNC. Each of these compilers can be used under different
circumstances, and it may depend on which "mailer" you choose to run which
compiler you will use.
Both d'Bridge and Front Door come with their own compilers. It's just
part of the package. Binkley doesn't, so you have to go hunt one up.
The compiler not only merges the NODEDIFF into the NODELIST, it also
sets up lots of other information from the list. For example, it writes
all the various indexes you may need to use the Nodelist effectively. It
also sets up "cost tables" to help your BBS software determine how much
it will cost you to make a long distance call. You input your local exchange
numbers, and everything else is long distance! You may also set up password
files through this Nodelist compiler. This may be necessary when connecting
to your hub to ensure no one else calls and gets your mail.
A key point: You may need TWO programs, depending on what compiler you
use, because there are TWO tasks to perform. The FIRST task is to merge
the Nodediff into the Nodelist. All the updates are moved into the new Nodelist,
which is renamed to a larger Julian date. For example, NODEDIFF.290 is merged
with NODELIST.283 to form NODELIST.290, seven days later. The new nodelist
is a human-readable file.
The SECOND task is to actually compile the NEW Nodelist, and perhaps
automatically erase the old one. This part of the process is what writes
the indexes so your mailer will work. It may write different indexes depending
on your mailer and your BBS software. QuickBBS needs a different set of indexes
Nodediff files arrive in compressed format, usually ARC or ZIP, and
are named by Julian Date, that is: The first day of the year is number
1; the last day is number 365. So a Nodediff file for the 91st day of the
year would be named NODEDIFF.091. It would arrive at your board as NODEDIFF.A91.
The "A" means it is in "ARC" format. If it were named NODEDIFF.Z91, you'd
know it was in PKZIP format. You just un-arc (or un-zip) it, then run your
Nodediff files are used for one obvious reason: They are only 50K or
so in length and take no time at all to download. It's a whole lot easier
than trying to download a new Nodelist every week. Currently, Nodediff files
are published on Saturdays. They should be made available as soon thereafter
as is practical, but may depend on proper "feeds" being in place for your
Host to get them.
But...Doodoo happens! USUALLY you can expect a Nodediff the same time
every week. Robot software takes care of it automatically. As long as its
consistent, no one notices. But sometimes there is a major feed problem
at a Regional level. Computers break, after all, and the computers used
for regional feeds are usually big ones with expensive hard disks. You don't
just plug in a replacement 500MB drive. There are secondary feeds available
just in case this kind of thing happens, but they may take a little while
to get going. A burp is likely to be felt throughout the system.
Recently we had a Nodediff come through with a single character flaw
caused by two programs treating a carriage return, line feed combination
differently. This particular circumstance had never happened before. It
was a very obscure and rare incompatibility--not even a bug, legally. It
wasn't noticed until the deed was done. Some Nodelist Compilers didn't care.
Others did. The result was a flawed Nodelist that didn't make itself apparent
until the NEXT Nodediff showed up the following week, at which point all
hell broke loose all over FidoNet. Nearly every Sysop had to import a COMPLETE
new Nodelist and start over. We had a couple of weeks of disarray there.
It caused a lot of problems. That particular flaw will NEVER happen again!
It upset 19,000 people (mostly fairly aggressive males) all at once. I'm
glad I wasn't responsible! That's not the kind of attention you want to
draw on yourself.
So plan on problems.
The most important thing to remember about NODEDIFF files is that they
MUST BE USED and merged into your Nodelist in sequential order. You can
NEVER SKIP a Nodediff. If you do, the checking values will never be right,
and you'll have to start over with a newer Nodelist. Since this thing is so
huge, you don't really want to do that if you can help it.
EXCEPT when you're first starting up a board you'll be doing a lot of
experimenting. The Nodediff compiling is just one more hassle to worry
about. Therefore my suggestion, particularly if you have a fast modem, is
to get yourself a Nodelist one time and not worry about updating it initially.
Maybe get a couple of Nodediff files to merge into it, but don't use excess
energy worrying about it. Your task at that point is to make the rest of
the board work. The older Nodelist will work just fine for experimentation.
Not all boards will suddenly change telephone numbers. That's the only reason
you need new ones, to take care of the changes and keep the list up to date.
When everything works right and you are ready to get serious, THEN get
another full Nodelist and start updating it weekly, on time. That's when
you have to start paying attention. But by that time, you're board may be
on auto-pilot anyway, particularly in reference to the Nodelist compiling,
which can easily be done by a batch file.
9.2 Nodelist Summary to Further Confuse the Issue
The Nodelist is used as a phone book for your mailer. Since the mailer
is your interface to FidoLand, this is important. But you also have a BBS.
As we stated above, the mailer and the BBS can be entirely different. You
can use any of the three popular mailers with any of the BBS programs.
When you actually send out NetMail, you do so from within your BBS,
usually, though some mailers allow you to "do it" there as well. If you
send mail from within the BBS, that software must also know about the nodelist.
And it will usually do it through a separate set of indexes from your mailer.
Your BBS software may also have "cost tables" so it can deduct money from
users' accounts when they use NetMail. This is all set up either by your
nodelist compiler itself when you tell it to produce indexes for the BBS software,
or sometimes through a separate nodelist compiler for the BBS software.
THIS MEANS that you may wind up with more than one set of indexes. You
will have the RAW NODELIST which is what you start with. You'll have the
compiled nodelist for your MAILER program. AND you may have a compiled nodelist
for your BBS software.
This is no big deal, really. It can be a little confusing because sometimes
you have to do this compile-thing twice. But once you set it up it's on
autopilot anyway, so you don't have to worry about the complication. Just
remember: The Mailer is SEPARATE from the BBS. That little fact has consequences.
10.0 What is a Fossil?
FOSSIL stands for "Fido Opus SeaDog Serial Interface Layer." It is a
small program normally loaded in the CONFIG.SYS file that takes over your
serial ports in a standard way. Most (but not all) FidoNet compatible BBS
software requires use of a Fossil or it won't run. The same is true of many
mailers. The reason Fossils exist is because in the early days of IBM-type
machines, the various clone manufacturers did not treat COM1: in quite
the same way. The Fossil acts as a buffer between the BBS program and the
port, making it possible to address the Fossil itself instead of the differences
in the COM ports.
If we were designing BBS systems from scratch today, we wouldn't need
Fossils, but we used to, and they are a remnant of that earlier era. Fido
was the first FidoNet BBS system. Opus was the second. SeaDog was the first
mailer program. That's where the name came from.
Modern systems are moving away from fossils. d'Bridge doesn't use one.
Neither does Wildcat. Fossil requirements are more often found in shareware
systems. I would guess newer versions of everything will gradually do away
with the need for them. Meanwhile, if you do need one and don't have it,
nothing will work.
Fossils are a little strange in that some work with some configurations,
and others work with other configurations. Two of the most common are X00
and BNU. If one doesn't work, try the other. Many of the Fido boards in
our net carry fossils or would be willing to "put one up" (means: make it
available) for you.
11.0 What About Compression Programs?
The "official" FidoNet standard is ARC. That's what EchoMail usually
comes in. Sometimes you can get Zipped packets if your HUB cooperates. Most
mail packer programs allow the option. FidoNews itself comes in LZH format,
so you need LHA to decompress it, unless, once again, your HUB cooperates
by re-packing it into ZIP format. At any given time you are likely to be
faced with a number of different files in different formats.
Our suggestion is to get all the decompressors you can so that you have
access to all files no matter what someone does to you. Nothing is really
guaranteed. Just recently Tom Jennings, the founder of FidoNet and editor
of the weekly FidoNews, took a trip to Seattle and was faced with getting
out his newsletter on time. He had an old portable computer with him instead
of his console. He switched from LHA to PKZIP, and suddenly all 19,000
Nodes that had LHA as part of
their batch file had a problem when FidoNews came in.
There are ways around this by using something like "SHEZ," a program
that figures out what compression format is used by a file and calls the
appropriate decompressor. A smart Sysop will use one of these programs just
in case something like this happens. But you still have to have the compressors
around. Be prepared and get them all. Otherwise we take away your Sysop merit
12.0 What is a Mailer?
How many hundred pages do we have to explain this? Not many. This is
a thumbnail sketch. But it's important. Read the whole section before you
Most FidoNet boards operate in "continuous mail" mode. That means that
you can accept NetMail and EchoMail 24 hours a day. But there's a problem
here. How does your BBS know if a person calls or if another computer calls?
Signing on your board and leaving a message is far different from a robot
computer automatically throwing hundreds of echo mail messages at you.
This is done by putting in place a "front-end." They are called "mailers"
or "front end mailers." These are programs that answer the phone for you.
If they detect another computer, they do one thing. If they detect a human
caller, they pass control to the BBS via a batch file. Any board that tells
you "Press Escape to continue" is running a front end mailer. The Escape
character tells the Mailer there's a human on the line. If nothing happens,
it will also exit to the BBS. Escape just hastens the process.
The most popular mailers in the MS-DOS world are: Binkleyterm, Front
Door, and d'Bridge. Binkley is the hardest to learn, but the most versatile
mailer around. There are always half a dozen ways to do anything. Front
Door is easy to learn, and it has lots of built-in features. d'Bridge costs
real money, therefore it is the most
expensive. Because it requires a "key" to run, it is also the most strict.
Most people I've talked with who switched to it think it's the best of the
three, but a few people call it d'Broken. With the Amiga, StarNet is the
Which is best? I don't know. I believe that our opinions as humans are
formed by what we use first in nearly any endeavor. For example, because
I first learned CP/M on an Apple II, I think MS-DOS is an advanced operating
system. I have a problem with Windows-type environments because my feeling
is that they place ten feet of cotton between the computer and me. Because
my job is to handle all the computers for my organization, I must consciously
stop myself from judging Windows too harshly. It doesn't matter what I think
personally if the world is going in that direction regardless. Now don't
come back at me with OS/2. If it looks like Windows and smells like Windows,
it is Windows. All GUIs look the same to me.
I use both Binkley and Front Door. My OPINION is that Front Door is
easier and more complete, but Binkley is more versatile. I haven't used
d'Bridge yet. I run Binkley on my BBS and Front Door on my "Point." Both
of them work for me, even though I'm a little more familiar with Binkley
at the moment. Pick your own poison. There's a list of who in the Net runs
what at the end of this article.
The real point here is that to participate in Fido you must put up a
mailer. Some people don't want to do that. They'd rather install a BBS like
Microsoft Word. Just stick Disk #1 in Drive A: and type "SETUP," then accept
callers. If you want to do that, go run PCBoard without modifications. Of
course, your board will look exactly like every other board, but then you
can say, "I are a Sysop" and some people will believe you.
If you want to learn about batch files, really, and want to discover
things about your computer you never knew existed, then continue with FidoNet.
Install a front end mailer. Put the whole thing together and have a sense
of accomplishment at the end when everything works right. I'll return to
this theme a little later. This is supposed to be about mailers.
What else does a mailer do? Besides answering the phone, it mails your
EchoMail and NetMail to other boards. That's what this Nodelist and addressing
scheme is all about. Once you enter a message, it is packed up in a way
that is recognized by the mailer. The mailer will then mail out those packets
according to directions you have given it. You can tell the mailer to mail
packets to certain Nodes at given times of day or days of the week. When it's
ready, it just calls the Fido board you have designated, packs up the mail
and sends it out, probably using a Z-Modem protocol, which is built-in.
The Mailer keeps trying to send the mail until it goes through. Or it
keeps mail to designated Nodes on hold for someone else to pick up. It
keeps a few statistics, but basically just sits on your phone line and waits
until someone calls.
A Mailer can be every bit as complex as your BBS itself. In fact, in
my opinion, a BBS run "barefoot" (without a mailer) is a piece of cake compared
to running with a mailer.
12.1 Passing Control
So far we have a BBS on one side and a mailer on the other. The mailer
answers the phone. But how does a caller actually get to the BBS itself?
How does the mailer know what to do with calls from another BBS? Both programs
do their job, but so far there doesn't appear to be a connection between
The way is through batch files! You think you know about batch files,
right? After all, you designed your own autoexec.bat. You put Prompt $p$g
in there. You may even sign up to a few sub-directories or whatever. Good
for you. Now get out your DOS manual and go over errorlevels, the "if exist"
statement, labels, and the use of "%" variables. Then come back here.
When a mailer answers the phone it determines if the caller is human
or if the call is from another BBS. If the caller is human, it records the
speed of the caller and exits from itself with an errorlevel related to
the speed of the caller. Then your batch file takes over, the same one that
runs the mailer in the first place. Depending on the errorlevel, it then
passes control to the BBS, giving the BBS the relevant information on the
speed of the call and perhaps the port the call came in on.
How it does this depends on what your BBS software needs. You'll have
to customize this part to run your BBS from a batch file, giving it the
parameters it needs to work with a caller as if the caller had attached
to the board directly.
That's all it does. The BBS takes over, and all your menus appear to
the caller just like normal. The caller may download files, read bulletins,
use doors, or enter messages. If the caller enters messages in the echo message
areas, your BBS software takes note of that small fact. When the caller
is all done, the BBS software ends, and IT exits with an errorlevel related
to what the caller did. Let's just take an EchoMail message to make it simple.
EchoMail messages must be sent to a HUB for distribution around the
net or around the world. So The BBS exits with, say, and errorlevel of
4. The batch that runs your BBS takes note of this fact and moves to whatever
label an errorlevel of 4 tells it to and invokes a "Scanner" program that
looks for that just-entered EchoMail message in your BBS message base.
When it finds it, it exports the message to a packet and throws it into
a sub-directory, complete with the relevant address, that your mailer recognizes.
If there is ALREADY mail to that address, it just adds to the existing
packet, making sure to keep the echo mail areas separate. Then, when it
is all done, it passes control back to the mailer, which again takes over
and sits around waiting for a call.
There may be one or more small programs involved in this process. The
SCANNER finds the EchoMail in your BBS message base. A second program may
be called a ROUTER that makes sure the message gets to the right location.
Further, if NetMail (as opposed to EchoMail) has been entered, it may take
yet another program to take care of the slight variation in NetMail messages.
The configuration just depends on what system you're using. One important
point is that the SCANNER must be specifically for the BBS software you
use. A SCANNER for Opus is not going to work for a QuickBBS system. The message
base structures are far different. YOU HAVE TO GET A SCANNER FOR YOUR BBS
OK, let's take the opposite approach. What happens when EchoMail comes
from your HUB into your BBS? Same thing, sort of. The mailer answers the
phone and recognizes this is a BBS calling, so it accepts the downloaded
packet(s) of mail. If anything is waiting "on hold" for that address, it
sends your packets (placed there by the Scanner-Router combination) to your
HUB. Then the mailer hangs up the phone.
But the Mailer recognizes it has received either EchoMail that has been
compressed or EchoMail that has not been compressed. It exits itself with
yet another errorlevel denoting what it has received.
Now your batch file takes over again, but THIS TIME it invokes a TOSSER
program. The TOSSER will first unpack the compressed packets if it needs
to, then snoop inside the packets and break them down into their component
parts: individual messages. Since each message has an Echo TAG attached,
your Tosser is smart enough to TOSS these messages into the relevant areas
of your BBS message base.
Once the TOSSER does its thing, it deletes the original packets, then
returns control to your batch, which runs the Mailer again. End of story.
How much of this is done by separate programs depends on your mailer
and your BBS software. Front Door has a lot of stuff built in; Binkleyterm
doesn't. d'Bridge looks to me like it needs the least complicated batch
files ever, since it does so much all by itself.
Here's where it can get really interesting. Let's say you were sent
a file instead of a mail packet. In this case you can let the mailer recognize
this fact and exit with another errorlevel, or, if your mailer can't do
such things, you just place an IF EXIST statement at the top of your batch
file. IF EXIST NODEDIFF.* then go to such and such a label and perform the
subsequent batch commands.
This is how you can automate such things as the receipt of Nodediff
files, the FidoNews files, or even plain files from other boards. In fact,
there are programs which accept received files and toss them into a file
base instead of a message base. The most famous are the TICK and HATCH programs.
A *.TIC file is prepared by the HATCH program to be sent along with a file.
The IF EXIST finds the *.TIC file and invokes the TICK program to toss the
resulting file into the file base
and then append FILES.BBS with a description of the new file--all on
For the Nodediff, you just pass control to the correct area of your
batch file and batch-control the compilation process. I just recently found
out that several boards use this technique with the Kitsap BBS List. I
was asking if I should change the compression program and received several
"You're dead meat if you do!" answers from local Sysops who have automated
the decompression and changing of their bulletins. Gulp! I didn't change
a thing. All you have to do is make sure everything works right. This part
is easy, really!
12.2 Mailer Summary
So, what have we learned? First, you need to set up a mailer that answers
the phone. Next, you need a complex batch file that works on errorlevels
to pass control to whatever it needs to depending on how the Mailer released
control. If it released control to a user who pressed [Escape] you exit
to the BBS. If you received something from a BBS, you exit to the relevant
labels in your batch file to perform some work.
A SCANNER scans your message base for mail that has been entered. It
pulls a copy of that message from your message base and makes it available
to your mailer or to a ROUTER program that does some further preparation
A TOSSER takes incoming mail from another BBS, usually your HUB, and
tosses the incoming messages to the relevant message areas in your BBS message
BOTH the Tosser and the Scanner must be specifically designed for your
BBS software. Some will work on more than one kind, but the point still
holds. Many BBS programs come with this combination. QuickBBS, for example,
comes with its own "suite" of tosser/scanner programs. The Mailer, on the
other hand, doesn't care what BBS software you run. It doesn't even know
if you do run a BBS.
The MAILER itself may do more or less work for you, depending on which
one you have chosen. There are lots of BBS/Mailer combinations which will
work. Some BBS systems may require a certain Mailer. Most Mailers don't
care what kind of BBS software you run. Some are "integrated" packages. StarNet
for the Amiga is a good example.
The BATCH FILES are the key to the success of your Mailer/BBS combination.
They sit in the middle and direct the flow. You WILL learn more about batch
files to get all this working.
13.0 What is NetMail?
NetMail IS FidoNet. NetMail is why FidoNet was started in the first
place. The whole idea was to send messages back and forth, in the dead
of night, from one computer to another. At Midnight the telephone costs
are at their cheapest. Even with slow modems you can transmit a fair sized
letter in less than a minute. At AT&T Reach Out America rates, that's
less than twelve cents. Compare that to a postage stamp, the cost of envelopes
and paper, and a trip to the Post Office. Of
course, you don't have to have a thousand dollar computer to mail a
letter, but the idea is you already have one anyway, so why not put it
to good use?
Because every FidoNet BBS has an address, you can send NetMail directly
to that board. Your BBS calls another BBS long distance, transmits the
mail packet, and hangs up. Neat, fast, easy! Your electronic letter is
just like a real one. It is to a specific person, and only that person
will probably see it. Because NetMail was
developed by Sysops for Sysops, most senders of NetMail are Sysops anyway.
NetMail can be made available to users of your BBS. That's your choice.
You'll probably want to charge them for it, at least a few cents, because
they are using your telephone number to make a long distance call. That's
all between you and your users. No one else cares all that much how you
spend your money. But it is like a
stranger walking into your house, picking up the telephone, and making
a long distance call. BBS systems that are "Fido aware" allow you to give
credit to your users in their own accounts. When they enter a NetMail message,
the BBS software deducts the cost of the call, as set up in a cost table
for that purpose. In these cases you would normally charge your users a couple
of dollars in advance, then ask for additional dollars when the account was
depleted. If you run a subscription board, you may give your users a certain
amount of NetMail credits as part of their purchase.
Let's take a moment to cover this possibility. Let's say you wanted
to allow your users access to NetMail. Why would they want to? How would
you do it?
A user might want to send NetMail to a regular correspondent somewhere
else. That person would need to have access to NetMail on the board he called.
So a couple of logistical details would have to be worked out in advance.
If your correspondent were in Boston, you would have to find the FidoNet
address of the board in Boston (as opposed to the banned in Boston. Ouch!)
and make sure your local user understood how to enter the correct address
in his letters. The Boston
correspondent would have to make similar arrangements with the board
he called. All this is perfectly possible to set up, at your discretion.
So what are the characteristics of NetMail? It is sent DIRECTLY from
one board to another using the FidoNet addressing scheme. It is usually
a private message from one person to another. It is a long distance call,
usually, done late at night to take advantage of cheap rates. That's NetMail.
14.0 What is EchoMail?
It's NetMail with a few differences. The technology is (pretty much) the
same. But this time your messages are related to a single subject and placed
in a subject-message area on your BBS along with lots of other people's messages.
All the messages on this subject are then bundled up and sent out of your
BBS to a HUB which bundles your messages with others entered on other BBS
systems in the area and re-transmits all these messages to another HUB,
which then reverses the process.
Eventually all the messages on a given topic are transmitted (echoed)
to ALL the BBS systems that carry this topic on their own boards. Someone
on one of those other BBS systems may choose to answer your message. Eventually
you, and every other BBS, will receive this answer. Although it may be addressed
to you, everyone else will see it. These messages are public (not private)
and they are seen by everyone. This is sort of like extending a conversation
on a given
topic all across the world so everyone can participate, a huge party
In this case you probably would not charge your users for entering messages.
The only practical way to do that would be to charge a subscription fee for
access to the EchoMail areas of your board. EchoMail will cost you money
to haul in, though usually not a lot. But your users probably won't pay for
that. That's one of your many contributions to being a FidoNet Sysop.
There is some compensation in that most EchoMail conferences allow PUBLIC
messages only, not private ones. And this is something you can force on your
board. That means your users will not be able to send private mail through
the echoes. The idea is that everyone benefits from postings, even though
they may be addressed to an individual.
You will find that the "signal to noise ratio" on some conferences is
higher than others. Some are designed for "chatting" rather than substance.
But even the most strictly managed conferences can have quite a lot of noise
for every bit of hard information gleaned from the postings.
EchoMail forms the bulk of activity in FidoNet. Since it's invention it
has eclipsed NetMail by magnitudes! In fact, it is impossible to know how
many EchoMail areas exist on FidoNet. There are several sources:
The "BackBone" is a series of approximately 500 echo conferences that
are carried all over North America. Other zones have their own backbones,
and some of the echoes are "gated" between zones so they appear all over.
Most of the busy message areas are backbone echoes. The file that lists
these echoes is usually called FIDONET.NA (North America). We can USUALLY
get backbone echoes into this Network through the normal feed system. Sometimes
we can't, but it is fair to say that by far the largest majority of backbone
conferences (echoes: same thing) are available.
To be on the "backbone" is a bit of an undertaking. The echo must first
be on the "E-List," an official list of conferences with all the relevant
information. You have to send information on a new echo in a specific format
compatible with the E-list robot software, yet something else to learn. Secondly,
it must be requested by at least
two Regional Coordinators. That means some lobbying to convince them
the echo is important. Then, as slots become available, and echo may be listed
on the backbone and carried all over the country. Backbone echoes tend to
have a lot of traffic. They're busy.
If you ever get to the point where you want to start your own Echo, we
can talk more about that. At this point the task is to get an echo, not
start one up.
Important Point! The E-List is NOT just a list of Backbone echoes. It's
a list of any old echoes someone wants to put into the E-List and keep updated
every six months (or they get dropped). That's all. Backbone echoes MUST
be in the E-List, but E-List echoes aren't all on the Backbone! One of the
reasons the E-List is important is because it holds the name of the official
Moderator of the conference, and you can only change the Moderator name if
you know the password.
14.2 The Moderator
The Moderator is a key concept with echo conferences. Basically the Moderator
"owns" the conference and is the only one that knows the E-List password.
He or she can make up any rules he or she wants to with reference to behavior
on echoes. Most moderators have a standard suite of rules: No swearing, no
flaming. Be nice, stay on topic, etc. But some may be more stringent than
The "on topic" rule is particularly important. "On topic" means what the
moderator says it means. As a general rule it means you talk about dogs on
the dog conference and talk about cats on the cat conference. If you don't,
the moderator will step in and correct you. But he could also rule that
Pomeranians were off-topic in the dog echo. And no matter how much you wanted
to talk about Pomeranians, you can't do it on the dog echo.
Not long ago "Cyberpunk" science fiction was ruled off-topic in the Science
Fiction Echo. Religion was ruled off topic in the UFO echo, as was Faster-than-light
travel. Why? Mostly because these topics caused so much hate and discontent
that the echoes became overwhelmed in controversy. It's the moderator's job
to keep the echo functioning.
If you seek controversy, there are echoes for that purpose. In FLAME,
for example, there are no rules. Enter that arena with your swords drawn
and have at it. That's its purpose.
One more thing: The Moderator can cut your access to an echo. If he doesn't
like your messages, you can be barred from a conference, period, though this
is very rare. The Moderator may warn you directly, via NetMail what the
problem is and ask you to stop. Or the Moderator may tell you to stop on
the echo itself. Or the Moderator will write to your NC and ask to have your
access cut to an echo.
The person barred can be a user of your BBS. In which case, you get to
cut access to this person. That's only happened one time in a year in Network
350. If you don't and the behavior continues, the Moderator will ask to have
the BBS feed cut. If your NC doesn't cut you off then HIS feed can be cut,
and so on down the line. HUBS will pretty much follow Moderator request
on this issue, since their feeds are at stake and they may have several
nodes carrying a given conference. Why
should they get a feed cut to several nodes just because of one problem
USUALLY people are barred from an echo for perfectly legitimate reasons.
They are being unreasonable and causing a problem. We've all had problems
with users from time to time. It's the same thing on a national scale.
Here's another example. On an echo I frequent a Canadian posted a message
critical of the US Government and Americans in particular. It was an unwarranted
attack. Someone responded about the Canucks and told them to go hunt moose.
Another Canadian saw THAT message and became rightly outraged. He didn't
see the ORIGINAL message which started it all. You can see what was about
to happen. So the Moderator stepped in and said "No cross-border talk, period."
That ended the controversy. Thank goodness.
But sometimes someone may be barred for no good reason at all. Someone
doesn't like the rules and questions them, or there is a severe difference
of opinion. Or someone dominates the echo to the point where other people
are shouted down. Is this fair? No. Do you have recourse? No. Does it happen
often? No. Do you need to concern yourself with this? No.
Just be aware that the Moderator rules. He chooses his own successor.
If you can't live with that, start your own echo. Make it popular. Get it
on the backbone. That's how all the echoes started.
This Moderator thing causes a lot of problems with some people. (They
live in a democracy and they have free speech rights, and, and....). FidoNet
Sysops tend to be aggressive individualists rather than cooperative peacemakers.
That's true; it's the nature of the beast. So we like to think no one can
tell us what to do. That's a
very American point of view, too, isn't it?
If you've participated in Echo Mail conferences before, you know what
it's like out there. To put it bluntly: The signal to noise ratio is very
high. You get a lot of noise for every useful piece of information you can
glean from a conference. A lot of people are pretty impressed with themselves,
at the expense of everyone else. You
have to endure to gain in this situation.
The Moderator's job is really to get the signal to noise ratio as low
as possible, so that useful information gets transmitted, not just someone's
unruly opinions. It's sort of like being in a big party and having someone
continually remind us to keep the noise level down.
FidoNet Sysops pretty quickly develop a low tolerance for junk on echoes.
The reason is simple: It costs real money to cart messages around. If we
all cut our verbiage by 20%, the cost of transmitting echo mail would drop
Now: One additional problem. Lots of people seem to feel moderators *censor*
messages. That isn't true at all. If you stop and think about it, it is technologically
impossible anyway. If you are participating in an echo conference, your
message enters the "echo stream" through your hub. So do everyone else's.
So do the Moderator's. The Moderator can certainly react to an existing message,
but he can't control the flow of traffic. Anyone who suggests otherwise isn't
intelligent about this issue. I've seen people suggest this in conferences,
and the hoots of derisive laughter are overwhelming in response.
So although we all tend to get our backs up at the mention of the control
of Moderators, the only people who really have a problem on echoes are those
people who are basically impolite. So if you stay on topic in a conference
and contribute meaningfully, you'll earn the gratitude of the Moderator,
and the rest of the participants as well. It would be a shame if you decided
not to participate in FidoNet just because you heard there is a problem with
"moderators who play God." Such behavior is no more or less prevalent than
any other area of life.
We were originally talking about the sources of echo traffic here.
We were talking about the "backbone" before we got sidetracked by Moderators.
Back on topic: Another source of conferences is Regional Echoes. Our Region
is 17. I think it is the largest. It covers the Northwest as well as Western
Canada. Personally, I like it that way. I don't want the Region to split
at the border. I enjoy and look forward to the Canadian perspective on our
local issues. Economically we have lots more in common with Western Canada
than either of us do to the
RGN17 is a Regional Echo that covers regional topics. There are also
quite a few "PNW" (Pacific Northwest) conferences on various topics available.
It's another source of fairly wide-ranging conferences.
Frequently new conferences are offered to a Region before they "go national."
A new echo on the Supra v.32/fax modem was just started by a fellow in Vancouver,
B.C. Although now those interested call him directly, I predict this will
soon be a Regional Echo available to us locally. If it takes off, it will
probably make it to the backbone eventually.
We have a couple of local conferences: BREM-AIRE is for everyone. CHAFF
is for Sysops only. This is where we keep in touch with each other. We could
start additional echoes on any topic we wanted. This is a local Net decision.
It might be a nice way to "test the waters" for an echo concept in preparation
for launching it regionally or nationwide.
It's easy to get carried away with echo ideas, but the bottom line of
these ideas is participation. That's the ultimate test. There are quite a
few "local" echoes around the county, mostly outside of FidoNet. They get
very little participation. I try to keep tabs on some of them because I
keep the BBS list for the county. I use an
offline mail reader for this, and week after week after week there are
zero new messages. Just having a slot for messages doesn't mean anyone's
going to fill it.
Probably the best way to start an "echo" is to start a local conference
on your own BBS. If participation builds at that level, talk about the possibility
of carrying the conference with other FidoNet Sysops locally. If a few of
them take it on, you can begin promoting it outside the local net to the
14.5 Other Nets
FidoNet technology is used for lots of networks other than FidoNet. Over
the years there have been many splinter groups which charge off to start
their own network, either because they have a topic they want to explore in
more depth, or because they're mad at FidoNet politics. There are lots of
reasons. When they do this they choose a new zone number and make up their
own Nodelist and their own set of conferences and their own set of rules and
Here are a few of the Fido-compatible networks: TrekNet is for the Starfleet
fan club organization. MufoNet is part of the Mutual UFO Network. SBBSNet
is for the users of Super BBS. SLNet is for users of SearchLight software.
WorldNet is a FidoNet offshoot which, if memory serves, comes out of the
remnants of EggNet. There are over a hundred Fido-compatible networks out
there. You may want to join one of them. Somewhere around here is a file of
"Other Nets" with contact addresses. As a matter of fact, Fido even has an
echo conference devoted to other nets.
You can usually merge the Nodelists from other networks into the FidoNet
Nodelist via the Nodelist Compiler, if they are done according to FidoNet
specifications. That way your board can send mail to addresses in these other
zones. It really depends a lot on the software you use. Being "Zone Aware"
in FidoNet is a concept that not all software handles very well. It will
probably take some work on your part to handle more than one network smoothly.
I'm a member of four supposedly FidoNet compatible networks, but only
one of them uses its own addressing scheme. All the others use FidoNet node
numbers to arrange transfer of EchoMail. It's as if I have several different
"FidoNet" hubs. One just happens to be in Colorado, and another in Tennessee.
There are also lots of networks that are NOT FidoNet compatible. The biggest
example is RelayNet International (RIME). These folks do not use FidoNet
technology. There are no front-end mailers. There are no Nodelists. Instead,
they operate very much like offline mail readers to transfer conference information.
Sports Complex is the NorthWest Hub for RelayNet, so we have some expertise
and lots of activity right here in Kitsap County. There's some more information
RelayNet at the end of this document.
Now, the reason Fido versus non-Fido is important is because it might
affect the type of software you use to start your BBS. See the section on
BBS software for more information on this topic.
14.6 Private Echoes
There may also be private conferences, that is: ones being promoted by
an individual Sysop. You may have to call that Sysop directly to pick up
a feed for the special echo. There's one on Native American religions that
I'm trying to get from Olympia, for example. It's a local echo being promoted
on one board. I'm having difficulty getting it because of some technical
problems between our two modems. But the idea is that you certainly aren't
restricted to just the Backbone feed for echo conferences. You can haul in
anything you want if you're willing to pay the freight and go after it.
High-ascii characters are those above ascii 127, i.e.: 128-255 inclusive.
These represent cute little boxes and other symbols on IBM machines. But
to other computers they can represent gibberish. That's because where the
codes for characters are fairly standard below 128, they are divergent above
128. There are many, many high-ascii character sets.
FidoNet has a policy of "NO HIGH-ASCII" on the echoes. So if you have
a habit of writing messages with cute boxes, barcodes, and other fanciness,
prepare to stop doing it on any echoed conference. Offline mail readers are
particularly prone to using this kind of stuff to offset quotes. MegaMail,
This is a courtesy to those of us who DO NOT USE IBM-type computers. There
are lots of Mac's, Amigas, and Commodores out there used by people as users,
and often as host machines for BBS's themselves. We have three FidoNet members
in Network 350 who use Amigas, for example. Macs are equally proficient in
High-ascii can also be a problem for some mailer software. Apparently
high-ascii is used as screen writing codes on some operating systems (OS9
has often been mentioned) which, if you think about it, would create absolute
havoc on the machine that had to process such messages.
If you do happen to let high-ascii characters creep into EchoMail, you're
likely to get a note back from the Moderator, and lots of other users, telling
you they are not appropriate.
For your users there are often special programs they can run to see high-ascii
on their screens. I have lots of high-ascii used on my menus, and I don't
want to remove them. I have some Mac users who use a special program that
can run as a TSR over the communications program to allow them to see the
"beauty of the board." This last has nothing to do with EchoMail, of course.
It's local to my board and doesn't get sent out anywhere. But high-Ascii
is not a trivial problem, and you shouldn't ignore it or be ethnocentric about
14.8 Host Routed NetMail
Yes, there is such an animal. It is NetMail that is treated like EchoMail.
You can set up your mailer to send NetMail not directly to the receiving
Node, but via your own host, which sends the NetMail to his HUB, which sends
it to another HUB, etc, until it gets to the receiving BBS.
The advantage of such Host Routing is that it cuts the cost to the local
sending BBS. You no longer have to make a direct long distance call to send
a NetMail message (unless, of course, your Hub is long distance from you
The disadvantage is that it can take much longer for a routed NetMail
message to get to its destination. Since expediency is one of the hallmarks
of NetMail, you just lost a big reason to send NetMail at all. It's still
electronic, and it's still cheaper than a letter, but that's all. It's no
A second disadvantage may be that your HOST doesn't like it. Basically
you are piggy-backing off EchoMail distributions by attaching a NetMail message
into the same packet. Because EchoMail tends to be so huge in size, an occasional
NetMail message will not add appreciably to the cost. That's the usual justification
only reason I see Hosts allowing it to happen at all.
Sometimes you will receive Host-Routed messages that you did not choose
to get in that manner. If it becomes a problem, discuss it with the sender
and your host. Your host is obligated to make such messages available to
you, it just doesn't work the other way around.
There is no RIGHT to use host-routed NetMail in FidoNet. You can't demand
that your NetMail be sent through your host. Your host is perfectly justified
in requiring you to send NetMail directly on your own dime. This is probably
one area of FidoNet that will receive more attention in the future. The idea
is expanding, and as more and more NetMail gets sent in this manner, it
is bound to cause some controversy.
Also be aware that NetMail probably should be sent during ZMH, because
the receiving board may wish to use the other hours for his own users, not
you. After all, that's what ZMH is for. Many Sysops don't care one way or
another, but on the chance some do, it might be a good idea to at least shoot
for using ZMH for its intended purpose.
14.9 Aliases, Taglines, and Quotes
Oh, yes. Aliases. Lots of people like to use them. Most (but not all)
FidoNet Echo mail requires real names. You can't be "The Ninja Turtle" and
post messages in most conferences. It depends on the conference. You'll have
to check the rules for each one. If you can't tell, prevent alias use until
you know for sure.
Multi-line taglines will often cause a little controversy. A single line
is sufficient. Sometimes controversy over tag lines gets downright silly,
but multiple-lines will get you a beef, mostly because Sysops hate to cart
around advertising for some joker with a big ego.
Quotes are another issue. You've all seen someone quote an entire long
message, then at the bottom type "I agree." What a waste of bandwidth! Some
echoes have a "rule" of no more than four lines quoted. This is hard to enforce,
and it usually isn't. It's just representative of the kinds of things that
can be a nuisance on echoed
15.0 What is Policy 4?
Policy 4 is the current set of operating rules in place for FidoNet. A
copy is included with this packet of documents. You better read it through.
There's a lot of controversy over this document. There are lots of people
who want to change it. Some people want to change it by making it looser.
Other people want to change it to make it more restrictive. Doesn't matter.
At this point Policy 4 Rules! If you don't like it, start your own network.
Don't you just love anarchy?
One little smidgen of advice, though. Don't make up your mind about policy
issues until you examine both sides carefully. If you read one side by itself
it always sounds so reasonable that no one could disagree. Then you read
the other side and it sounds the same way. Sometimes there's a lot of stuff
behind the scenes. You probably should reserve judgement and not jump on the
first bandwagon that jingles. Be your own person. Ask around. You'll be glad
A current copy of Policy 4 is normally archived with this document.
16.0 How to Get Help
You want to join FidoNet. You don't know how to start. You want help.
You ask for help. Sometimes you get a little bit. That's great. Lucky you.
Sometimes you don't get as much as you think you deserve. Then you get upset.
That's too bad. The question becomes: How much help can you reasonably expect?
It's a reasonable question, particularly since to become a member of FidoNet
you have to have a working system already. That sounds like a Catch-22 situation.
A working system implies membership. How can you become a member without
being a member already?
Well, it's not quite that bad, but there is a certain element of truth
to the situation. In fact, there is a certain conspiracy afoot that you
should know about. It's not a written conspiracy or one that is nefarious
and evil in its design, mostly because no one intentionally designed it.
It's just sort of a feeling among lots of existing FidoNet Sysops. The feeling
can be summarized as follows:
You can expect only so much help.
That doesn't seem fair! What do you mean, "so much help?" Why won't you
help me get started? What does "so much" mean?
The answer is: "Because if I give you ALL the help, then the accomplishment
in setting up your board will be mine, not yours." Existing Sysops in FidoNet
have learned this lesson the hard way. Many of them have given freely of
their time and energies to another prospective Sysop, only to have that Sysop
treat the considerable amount of time and energy in what can only be termed
a cavalier fashion. Since the new Sysop has little of his time and energy
invested, his commitment to keeping a FidoNet board up and running is less.
As a result, he is likely to go down sooner, be less active as a FidoNet board,
and to treat membership as some sort of God-given right instead of a badge
of accomplishment. "So much" is how much help I'm willing to give, not how
much help you want.
Surely many people have been "set up" in FidoNet in such a fashion. And
some of them are still on the Net, but the point is that it is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY
as a prospective FidoNet Sysop to get your own act together and get up and
running, not anyone else's. This is a hobby. Other Sysops have their own
lives to lead which may not include extensive time helping you.
Once you finally realize this and begin to take a pro-active stance on
your own behalf, things will go much easier and faster for you, just as
it did for me when I finally had this realization. There's nothing stopping
you from putting together a perfectly working FidoNet-compatible BBS. Over
19,000 people have done it. All the
programs are available. They all work (usually). Most of them are free.
Follow directions, Read The Fine Manuals (RTFM), and just go do it. If you
do come to a point where you feel you're not getting any help, channel that
energy your spending getting angry into some work on your board. It'll get
working faster that way.
If you do this. If you put together your own system. If you work through
your difficulties enough to know why they were initially difficulties at
all, then you'll be a much stronger Sysop for having done this. Then you'll
know why some of us who see someone type INSTALL and get a working system
in a few minutes using commercial software are not impressed. It's like someone
learning a word processor and then calling himself a computer expert. Right.
17.0 How To Get An Address
You will not be assigned a FidoNet address until two things happen:
One: You must ask for a FidoNet address VIA NETMAIL! In other words, you
must successfully send a NetMail message to your NC asking for a Node number.
Further, you must send him the correct file with all the relevant information
he's asked for. This includes really hard stuff like what kind of modem you
have and what your voice phone is. You use the temporary address of 1:350/999
to get started. Then everyone knows what you're trying to do.
Two: You must receive your Network Coordinator's answer VIA NETMAIL! That
is, you must be capable of accepting a NetMail letter from your NC during
Net Mail Hour and have your system let you read that message, which will
include your assigned Node number.
If you can't do both these things, then you don't have a working system,
therefore you are not eligible for a FidoNet address. End of story. No exceptions.
That's how it works. If it doesn't work that way, go fix it!
I know this sounds harsh. It is harsh. There are a lot of Sysop "Wannabes"
out there, and lots of them think they ought to get a Fido number just by
asking. In my opinion, Wannabes and talking about it don't count. We know
you by the fruits of your labor. Show us your stuff. This requirement of
having a working board ensures a certain level of expertise, and a certain
level of function. It's not a perfect determining factor, of course. But the
fact is the FidoNet Nodelist is one of the most accurate BBS lists, especially
for its size, that exists. If you can manage to get a working FidoNet board,
you passed the test. Welcome!
18.0 Here's some Help
Okay. We've already told you how much help to expect. Here's some help
up front. This is all important, so pay attention. If you do all this, you
will save yourself, and probably lots of other people, a lot of trouble.
18.1 Get a fast modem
Get yourself a 9600 bps modem. Make it a v.32bis and you can connect at
14,400 bps. Don't argue about it being too costly. It's not. You can get
a 9600 bps modem for $200 if you shop around. No one wants to hear how you
spent twice that amount for a 300 baud modem in 1976. Throw it away. We all
did that. No one wants to hear how you have the right to 300 baud access.
You don't. Use that argument for dialing in somewhere as a user, where it
won't fly very far either.
We're talking Sysop here, not User. You're not just a user anymore!
Act like it.
Besides, no one is saying you CAN'T use a slower modem. 2400 bps is still
popular. But this is ADVICE. If you want to be a Sysop on FidoNet it is to
YOUR ADVANTAGE to get a 9600 bps modem. That will make YOUR life easier (Mine,
too, but I don't count.) I started with FidoNet with a 1200
baud modem. What a laugh! It quickly became obvious that 1200 baud wasn't
going to cut it. A Nodelist took two hours to download. What's the chances
of the connection holding for that period of time? Nil. You can't expect
to be a serious FidoNet Sysop these days without a fast modem.
Now, there are Sysop deals with the major manufacturers who will sell
you a modem at a discount. But these fellows want to see you have a board
up for six months before they'll sell you the modem at that discount. Talk
about Catch-22! Now there's a real one!
Wanna know why? Because over a third of all new boards fail within the
first year, and about 90% of the boards that do fail, do so within the first
five months of their lives (Average is 3.7 months). Over fifty percent of
all the boards now in Kitsap County started within the last year, 75% within
the last two years.
It may be that you need to do a little elementary arithmetic, particularly
if some of your feeds are long distance. It may be that buying a fast modem
without a Sysop discount will actually save you money if you use it for the
six months you had to wait. Figure it out. Do what is necessary, but get
a 9600 bps modem. That's Point One.
18.2 Get a phone line
Point Two: Get a dedicated phone line. Don't expect to run FidoNet on
your home voice line. It will be a big hassle for you and anyone who wants
to contact you. Most FidoNet systems are "CM" or Continuous Mail systems.
It is possible to be a part-time board, but if you want to do that, you might
consider becoming a "Point" instead of a full-fledged Node.
A second phone line will cost you approximately $40.00 to install, and
about $20.00 per month, plus long distance. The phone company does not care
if you have a BBS running. They won't charge you extra for it. They won't
charge you a business rate from your home. Don't worry about that part of
it, at least not yet. We'll let you know in the echoes if this will be a
problem. Some of this has already been settled in other states. There is
a precedent. Unless you are a multi-line board with several numbers, you
won't have to pay a business rate.
All houses have four wires going to the house. Your phone is using only
two of them: red and green. You have a black and a yellow wire just waiting
to hook up a second phone. You don't need to dig a trench. There are some
apartment houses that only have two wires per apartment, but that is rare.
All new houses have at least TEN wires to the home, enough for five lines.
It only takes two wires to hook up. You're all set. Just go do it.
18.3 Get a fast computer
Point Three: Dedicate a reasonably powerful computer for the BBS. Once
again, don't expect to place that old 8088 in the closet into service as
a BBS. That's what I thought at first. But it's too slow, not so much as
a BBS, but for you to work on it. You won't be happy without at least a computer
equivalent to a 286. In the MS-DOS world a 386/SX would work great. Anything
faster is gravy. If you use a multi-tasker or Windows, you'll want something
as fast as you can afford.
You don't have to use an MS-DOS computer. As stated previously, we have
three Amigas on Fido in 350. There are programs for the Macintosh as well.
There certainly are more program options in the MS-DOS world. That's a fact
of life none of us who run MS-DOS are responsible for. But it is not the
only game in town. FidoNet is a GREAT EQUALIZER in this regard. If you love
Macs, you can still be an active part of FidoNet. In fact, because of the
NO-HIGH-ASCII rule, FidoNet takes pains NOT TO DISCRIMINATE against a certain
kind of computer. Personally, I would love to see a Unix-based FidoNet compatible
software package. Anybody know of any? Let me know.
Along these lines (of a fast computer), make sure you have a sufficiently
large and fast disk. I use a 105MB disk which has a 9ms access time. I don't
have lots of files, so this is plenty for me. But the days of a 20MB hard
disk on FidoNet are rapidly disappearing. The Nodelist and indexes take a
few megabytes just by themselves. The bigger and faster the better.
18.4 Find a similar board
Point Four: Find someone willing to help that runs the same stuff you
do. This includes the same type of modem, the same BBS software, and the
same Mailer. If you run RBBS, you can't expect someone like me, who runs
QuickBBS, to be able to help you completely. I just don't have the knowledge
to figure out the esoteric little tricks to make RBBS work. Also, I don't
keep up with successive releases of software other than my own. Neither does
On the other hand, if you just happen to choose QuickBBS and Binkley,
I have a file on my board called QSILVER.ZIP that contains all the batch
files, the configuration files for the various programs, and even the modem
initialization strings and EPROM settings for my HST/Dual. It's all laid
out for you--if you can use it.
A goal of the help effort that includes this file will be a listing of
such files on other boards as well, all of which run different software.
That way you'll be able to pick and choose depending on your own needs.
18.5 Choose software carefully
Point 5: Choose your BBS Software carefully. NOT ALL BBS SOFTWARE IS EASILY
FIDONET COMPATIBLE! It's not always that you CAN'T do it, but that the software
more easily works with another type of network. PC Board is a good example.
It works most easily with RelayNet. The Gap also works like PC Board. Programs
like Wildcat now can go either way. TBBS now works with FidoNet, but only
if you use their auxiliary packages.
FidoNet compatible software includes StarNet for the Amiga, Maximus, QuickBBS,
Remote Access, Super BBS, Opus, Fido itself (though that's rare), SearchLight,
and many others. An appendix to this document will list all the local BBS
programs used within FidoNet and where they are used. That should help you
considerably. We don't have everything running in Net 350, but there still
is a fair amount of diversity.
If you have some doubt as to whether your favorite software will run
with FidoNet, you'd better ask around first. It would be a shame to spend
considerable effort on a BBS software package only to discover it won't
work with FidoNet. Major bummer.
18.6 Patience is a virtue!
Be patient! This stuff can take awhile. Be patient with other FidoNet
boards, surely. They won't take much abuse without fighting back anyway
(You have been warned!) There are no FidoNet Sysops who are not aggressive
people. You have to be or you'll never get it running in the first place.
Non-aggressive people self-select out. Call this the Wimp Factor if you
want. When I have a discussion with another FidoNet Sysop, I can assume
a certain level of knowledge. It
can really be somewhat refreshing. You can usually talk at a higher
But be patient with yourself, too. If you're having trouble with something,
take a step back and give it a rest. Come back to it later and it will be
easier. That's true! Try it. It works every time. I have clinical evidence
that this is true. :-)
19.0 Your Responsibilities
As a FidoNet Sysop, you have some, though they are hardly onerous. Some
are tied to policy, but most are simply "ethical," if you will, and are
not binding in any contractual or legal sense. The policy responsibilities
are simple: You must be up when you say you're going to be up. You must
be up during Zone Mail Hour. You must not be excessively annoying to others,
nor too easily annoyed by others. That's about it. That's all.
By the same token, you can't demand a lot of other Sysops either, or your
Network Coordinator, or the rest of FidoLand. You can expect to have FidoNews
made available to you. You can expect to have Nodelists and Nodediff updates
available to you. You can expect to get your information changed in the Nodelist
in a reasonably timely fashion. You can expect to get FidoNet information
from your Network Coordinator. That's about it. That's all.
Now, if you get into some sort of hassle, you have some appeal rights.
Check out Policy 4 for the procedure. Just remember that you had better follow
that Policy 4 procedure, or you won't get anywhere. An illiterate and emotional
harangue is not going to win you any support. If you can't get your act
together well enough to state your case clearly, then you don't have one.
Basically, you must give each level a chance to respond before you go
to the next level. If you have a hassle with a fellow Sysop, writing to the
Zone Coordinator won't get you anywhere. Write to the Sysop instead. If you
have a problem with the Net Coordinator, talk about it with him first. Give
him a reasonable time to respond and fix the problem--or to tell you you're
out of line and being unreasonable. The responsibility, then, is to follow
the channels set up for this sort of thing.
Personally, I believe two weeks is a reasonable response time for something
that is not a life-threatening emergency. I have a sign in my office. It
says: "A failure to plan ahead on your part does not constitute an emergency
on my part."
Here's some things you don't have rights to. You don't have the right
to elect your NC. He is appointed by the RC. He also appoints any assistant
positions. You don't have the right to cause someone else to spend money on
your behalf. You don't have the right to tell someone else how to run their
board, what the contents or subject matter are, etc. You don't have the right
to have certain files made available to you.
Get the idea? This is not hard. If you don't want to be put upon, you
have little right to put upon others. That's all.
Anything else that happens in FidoLand, anything else that you want, is
really a matter of cooperative effort between you and other local Sysops
to pull together. This includes EchoMail. EchoMail can be expensive. No one
should expect a free ride. Our Network is really low-key compared to some
of the others, but as we get bigger costs will rise before they lower again
with economies of scale.
Here's an example. Right now your NC pulls in all the EchoMail for the
Network in addition to his duties as NC. That's a big job. Why is he doing
it? There is as yet no one else who has volunteered to take part of the
EchoMail load. We've also tripled in size in the last year. When I first
joined FidoNet 350 I think there were five other boards. Now there are 19.
We are just beginning to get files into the network. There are such things
as "File Backbones" just as there is an EchoMail Backbone. The slang for
file backbones is "File 'bones" and there are several. There is a "Shareware
Distribution Network (SDS)," a "Programmers Distribution Network (PDN)", and
several for such things as Windows or Unix or whatever. Currently Adolph at
350/35 is pulling in SDSMAX, some Amiga utilities, and a couple of 'bones
on OS/2. His standing
offer is to simply split the cost by the number of Sysops taking advantage
of the deal. And believe me: This is a GOOD deal!
This is an informal way to handle the problem. At some point, we may
want to provide a HUB for the entire Net that brought in selected files
and make that a part of the network distribution system available to all.
Many structures are possible, and it is up to the Sysops of the Net to be
creative and come up with whatever works, as Adolph has done with the file
'bones he's bringing in now.
There's more and more demand for EchoMail as well. It's not like we're
getting all 500 backbone conferences. But we can't get more with just one
machine which is not dedicated to the network. There's not enough time in
the day nor money in the coffers to do this.
What I would like to see happen is that every Net 350 Sysop take on some
responsibility for the Net. That is, every one of us should do something
to help out. In some sense it doesn't even matter what. If you have a specialty
or some sort of expertise, maybe you could make yourself available for that.
Do you know all about viruses? Maybe we could depend on you to get the latest
McAfee files. Who knows? Do what you are best suited to do. You are the best
judge of that. Do what you are interested in doing. That way you will stick
19.1 The Seattle Experience
Net 343 is Seattle. Here's how they do it. I know because I'm in sort
of a quasi-state because of my Bainbridge address. I get my Mail feeds from
Seattle and pay them directly. I really should be a member of Net 343 instead
of 350. But since I work in Kitsap County, I'd prefer to stick around.
They have an NC, Sue Crocker, who runs the show. There are several Regional
Hubs: North, South, East, and West. They take on file and echo distribution.
I believe the West HUB now has two machines dedicated exclusively to mail
distribution (343/300). There are two HST/Dual modems hauling mail in from
all over the Zone and sending it back out again. Many megabytes per day haul
into this system.
The cost for joining Net 343 is $45.00 to start out. $15.00 of that goes
into a hardware fund to buy modems and hard drive space. The other $30.00
is for six months dues in the network. This pays for all the EchoMail. Each
Node pays $30.00 every six months for EchoMail. There are enough Nodes here
that this is enough dollars to get any backbone echo there is. The Net keep
three month's phone bills in the bank (about $750.00) to guard against sudden
changes of feeds.
The Net recently incorporated. They are a legal non-profit organization.
With money collected they pay for the dedicated phone lines and for some
of the equipment used to run the network. They didn't have to ask all the
Sysops if that was okay. They just did it. They formed a corporation to handle
the finances of the organization. I suspect one of the reasons was that they
were hauling in too much money and the bank asked them to incorporate and
get official status as a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation. That way none of
the members had to cycle lots of money through a personal account just to
pay the phone bill (thus drawing the attention of the IRS).
One key point I've noticed about the Network is that there are at least
a dozen people who take an active role in it. They either act as officers
in the corporation, or they act as hubs to get mail and so forth flowing.
It's not just one person. So the bottom line is that you get out of FidoNet
what you put into it. More energy means more services available.
That's not to say they haven't had problems. There is a certain amount
of Xenophobia over there, and there has been a recent controversy over the
changing of the network coordinator. Lots of sysops got all huffy because
they "live in a democracy, and they got rights..." They wanted the chance
to elect the Network Coordinator. There also appear to be a couple of sysops
who like to stir the pot, no matter what is done. Sounds pretty much like
real life, doesn't it? I've never seen that level of controversy happen
in Net 350. We certainly don't see eye-to-eye on some issues, but we DO
seem to be able to cooperate for the good of the Net.
20.0 FidoNet Compatible BBS Systems
As mentioned above, some software is easier to use than others with FidoNet.
But basically anything will work that has a SCANNER to find new messages
in the BBS and make them compatible with your mailer software. And it must
have the companion TOSSER software that will take new mail from the mailer
and toss it into a format acceptable by your BBS software. This is true of
software that is not normally used with FidoNet. PCBoard is my favorite example.
FidoNet compatible software, then, is that software that "knows about"
FidoNet in that it has built-in places for Fido-style addresses. It's echo
areas may assume Fido-style messaging and allow NetMail, public, private,
and echoed conferences. It's message base may be designed with FidoNet specifications
Now, there are three basic styles of software used with FidoNet. The style
is related to the message base structure. The oldest style is the *.MSG style
(Pronounced: Star-dot-em-es-gee). The second oldest style is called the
"Hudson" style. The most recent is called "Squish" style. We'll talk about
The *.MSG style is the most straightforward of all message base styles.
It consists of one message per file. All messages are numbered. All messages
for one echo area are stored in a separate sub-directory. This is the original
FidoNet standard. Most messages, one way or another, still use this style
at sometime in their lives,
usually when being transmitted via the mailers.
If they stay in this format they will take up quite a lot of space. As
you probably know, DOS stores each file with a minimum number of sectors/clusters.
Some versions of DOS require a minimum of 8192 bytes per file. Ten thousand
messages in *.MSG format would eat up a lot of disk space (Um, like 82MB
if you're using the wrong DOS version). Opus and Fido itself use this format.
The second kind of message storage format is the "Hudson" message base,
named after Adam Hudson, writer of the first few versions of QuickBBS. The
idea here is that all messages are stored in a common MSGTXT.BBS file which
has four other auxiliary files that hold indexes and pointers to the single
This is a lot easier to manage because there are only five files for the
messages instead of thousands. The drawback is that the structure is limited
to a message base size of 16K. (That's size, not number of messages, which
itself has a limitation of approximately 32K.) It doesn't take much to push
up against this limit. You can't
have a really large message base with the Hudson format. On the other
hand, the 10,000 messages above would take only about 10-11MB to store.)
Adam wrote this program while he was in high school. He sold it to a
fellow in Florida who hired a couple of programmers to improve upon it.
For a long while it didn't get much support. But the basic idea was sound,
so a couple of other programmers cloned the software and began marketing
it with improved features. Meanwhile the buyer and programmers got into
a court battle which took awhile to resolve.
Out of the dust of all this have come several Hudson-based programs. QuickBBS
is one. It's now stable and is going through successive releases. Remote
Access (from Australia) is another, and SuperBBS (from Finland) is a third.
We have boards running both Remote Access and QuickBBS in Net 350.
A third kind of message structure is called "Squish." It's a hybrid because
it stores messages in one file per conference. So if you have thirty conferences,
you have thirty files of messages. It's a good compromise because it means
you have essentially unlimited space for messages, but you don't have thousands
of individual files. The program making this format popular is Maximus, which
is also used in Net 350 by several Sysops.
21.0 What is the difference between Fido and RIME?
RelayNet International Mail Exchange (RIME) is another large network very
much like FidoNet in the end result to BBS systems. It uses much different
technology to get the same job done, and its structure is much different.
Therefore it might do us well to compare the two systems to highlight the
differences so you better understand what FidoNet is about.
As we do this, please bear in mind that the intent of this document is
not to claim that one network is better than another. RIME is every bit as
"good" as FidoNet. FidoNet is every bit as "good" as RIME. To those who wish
to play the "My network is better than yours" routine, have at it on the
playground. That's juvenile behavior at best. It has no place here.
21.1 Technical Differences
As you can tell from the above, most FidoNet Sysops put up a 24-hour "mailer"
program ahead of the BBS. This allows you to receive mail calls any time
of day. Your Hub can call any time to send you mail. You can call out any
time to send mail. Because of the nature of mailers, if they don't get through
on the first call, they keep trying until they do.
RIME does not use mailer software. Instead, RIME uses a special program
called "PostLink" which works very similar to an offline mail reader. If
you've ever used MegaMail, PostLink will be familiar. Kip Compton wrote both
programs. The local Sysop writes a batch file to hook to his hub, sign onto
the BBS, enter a special door, and perform mail transfers through the door.
In most cases there are time slots assigned when a given BBS can hook to
a hub, or when a hub can hook to a regional hub. Each local RIME board must
use PostLink (or the earlier PC Relay), and each board must also pay for
it. Hooking to one hub doesn't mean you can hook to another hub or even another
RIME board, ever. Batch files tend to be unique to each board.
You can see that the basic difference here is one of time. RIME boards
either have a dedicated line or a time-slot on a caller line where and when
these mail events take place. This means no callers can be on the board (or
the line) when a mail event is scheduled. Fido boards are a little more lenient
in this regard because mail events can take place any old time, in between
Also, RIME boards can only connect to designated other boards. Fido Boards
can connect to each other, no matter what, via the mailers.
Is one way better than the other? Doesn't matter to talk that way. RIME
resembles the way Fido used to schedule events a long time ago. Both methods
get the job done.
I think it is fair to say that RIME is easier to run than FidoNet. There
is only one way to do things. There are fewer parts. PostLink as a mailer
does everything a mailer, tosser, scanner, and router would do in FidoNet.
It's very fancy with pull-down menus. It is usually (though not exclusively)
used with commercial software where you type "SETUP" and Enter to come up
with a working board. RIME is an automatic transmission.
FidoNet is a manual transmission. You have to learn how to use a clutch.
There are more pieces to put together. You are not going to get away with
not knowing how your system operates to make it work. There are no Install
programs to make it easy for you. But when you get done, you will have accomplished
22.2 Administrative Differences
Fido has a very broad-based hierarchy. No one "owns" the system. In fact,
"FidoNet" is a collective noun which does not refer to a legal organization.
Local Networks band together for a common purpose to distribute EchoMail
and files. Some are incorporated; some aren't. Lots of things are possible.
In Fido, moderators of conferences absolutely own them. They can pretty much
do what they want. The Policy document for Fido is fairly small, all things
With FidoNet anyone can be a member if they have the technical competence
to put up a board. Unless they become "excessively annoying," they can stay
a member. No one can tell you you can't. The latest Nodelist from FidoNet
(October, 1992) shows about 19,000 nodes.
RIME is a little different. It has a "top down" hierarchy, a headquarters
board (Running Board A) and someone who runs the show (Bonnie Anthony is
CEO as of this writing.) It is similar to a typical corporate hierarchy in
the way it operates. You must use the PostLink software (or PC Relay) to do
mail transfers. You must pay for this program, and there is a yearly (though
nominal) fee to be a part of the network.
With RIME you petition to join the network, and you do so as a probationary
member until the hierarchy decides to vote you into permanent status. The
latest BBS list I have from RIME (April, 1992) shows about 1,000 nodes, but
it is growing rapidly.
RIME moderators still rule the conferences, but they don't have as much
absolute authority as Fido moderators. There are levels of appeal for people
who feel they have been mis-treated within a conference. The system can
still control what kind of messages get posted on the network and where.
In terms of a quotient of "nasty messages from the boss," both FidoNet and
RIME have them, in probably equal amounts. The rules within RIME conferences
are more uniform, mostly because they
are controlled from the top. Uniform rules make it easier, of course,
for a user to know what is likely to be allowed.
The way conferences are started is also quite different. With RIME an
idea for a conference must past muster with the Conference Coordinator. You
are issued a prospecting number which you MUST USE when prospecting for
boards which may wish to carry your conference. You are allowed to prospect
only in five other RIME conferences, and you must solicit support in a particular
manner. This is the way you get other boards to commit to carrying a conference,
and if this is done, you are allowed to start the conference on what amounts
to the RIME backbone, even though they don't call it that.
With FidoNet, anyone can start a conference for any reason. You can promote
it any way you want to. If you've done the bureaucratic work of getting it
listed, and easy process, you need convince only two Regional Coordinators
to get it placed on the backbone. Even if you don't succeed in reaching this
status, you can promote the conference locally or regionally. There is a
lot more freedom to promote within FidoNet. No one is going to tell you you
didn't post your prospecting
number when asking for support.
Fido has roots in anarchism. That probably doesn't mean what you think
it does. We tend to define "anarchy" as disarray, but what it really means
is "without order." Translated to the vernacular, anarchism means that no
one gets to tell you what to do, period. Government is unnecessary because
it is intrusive and authoritarian.
The founder of FidoNet doesn't have a job.
RIME looks like corporate America. It is much more tightly organized in
the way it feels to operate, and in the structure of the organization. There
is a Steering Committee which rules the network like a Board of Trustees
does to a large corporation. The CEO of RIME is a medical doctor.
So, what do we have? Actually a broad spectrum of boards with varied interests.
If you were to place one type of board against another on a scale, FidoNet
would be left of center; RIME would be right of center. Fido boards tend
to be more individualistic and resentful of authority. RIME boards tend to
be more subscription-
oriented and commercial. These aren't hard and fast rules; you may find
either type of board at either extreme. It's just that if you drew two curves
to measure these tendencies, this is what you would find as a statistical
Once again, which is better? The one you feel most comfortable with. But
just because you personally feel more comfortable with one, does not mean
the other is bad. To believe otherwise is terribly ethnocentric.
22.3 Functional Differences
Some of these attitudinal differences show themselves in what services
are offered by either network. Fido is a loose association of Sysops running
boards that usually are subscription-free, usually for the benefit of the
Sysop alone, and incidentally to users.
This can be seen especially in the area of Host-routed NetMail. RIME does
it; Fido would prefer not to. That is, if you send a NetMail message in Fido,
you are expected to call direct unless other arrangements have been made.
On RIME, all mail is host-routed by definition, and travels along with the
echo conferences and file
The tradeoff here is probably one of time, insofar as that is important.
FidoNet Netmail arrives instantly. RIME mail takes the host-route and gets
there eventually. If you call direct, Fido boards will pay the long distance.
With RIME, costs are absorbed because the EchoMail transfers are such a huge
percentage of the transfer.
Now, having said that, the fact is that Fido boards are increasingly taking
advantage of host-routing techniques, so I would expect this difference to
fade over time.
22.4 Board differences
RIME boards tend to be PC Board or Gap systems, and, as far as I know,
they all are MS-DOS machines. They both are commercial products. PC Board,
in particular, can be used in multi-line setups fairly easily. As I understand
it, the RIME technical methods were developed in conjunction with PC Board.
That doesn't make it a PC Board network. Use of the "UTI" (Universal Text
Interface) means that RIME messages can be imported into and exported from
lots of different board types, including many which were designed more with
FidoNet in mind.
FidoNet boards tend to use shareware software. Maximus, QuickBBS, Remote
Access, Opus--these are some of the names usually associated with FidoNet.
On the whole, they have roots in the hacker community rather than in the
commercial software industry. Yet as long as the tosser/scanner combination
exists, any board can run FidoNet technology messages as well. PC Board can
be used with FidoNet. So can Wildcat! and tbbs (The Bread Board System), both
So, you see, either kind of board can run either kind of network. They
just TEND to run one or another because of historical reasons and easy availability
of interface software.
22.5 Local RIME Hub
We are fortunate in Kitsap County to have the major Northwest HUB for
RIME right here at home. Al Charpentier's Sports Complex is the Hub not only
for Kitsap County, but the entire Puget Sound region. He has 98% of the
RIME conferences on his board and, of course, much more information on RelayNet.
Other boards that echo RIME conferences include Vox Populi and Wings.
There may be others as well. Check with Al for details.
23.0 Net 350 programs
Here's a list of what Net 350 Sysops are running currently, subject to
change, of course.
BBS Software Mailer
350/10 Ground Zero
350/21 The Jimby BBS
350/24 My Electronic Dungeon Maximus
350/30 Cloud's Corner
StarNet (Amiga) StarNet
350/31 Kitt's Korner
StarNet (Amiga) StarNet
350/32 USS Enterprise
StarNet (Amiga) StarNet
350/33 The Pyramid
350/34 Full Armor of God
Remote Access Front Door
350/35 Gold Pegasus
350/40 The Monitor
350/50 Magnetic North
Searchlight 3.00 d'Bridge
350/75 Molokai Express
QuickBBS 2.75 Front Door
350/77 The Armor of God
Remote Access Binkley
350/90 The Wolf Pack
Remote Access Front Door
QuickBBS 2.75 Binkley
350/301 The Metal Shop
350/401 Ten Forward
23.1 Filenames, etc.
This section shows filenames and other information from Sysops who have
contributed to this effort and are willing to make their files easily available.
If under filename is listed "request" you can probably get the needed files
just by asking. BBS and related software can take some disk space to store.
Some Sysops may keep the files offline until asked for. "freq" names are
magic names and will give you the latest versions available.
Sysop: Paul Wolfe
Mailer: d'Bridge 1.50
Tossers: d'Bridge internal
Sysop: Michael Schuyler
Mailer: Binkleyterm 2.50
Tossers: QEcho, toss, scan
Fossil: X00 1.24
Name: The Monitor
Sysop: Brad Boyce
RBBSSEXE.ZIP (small mem)
Mailer: Front Door 2.02
Tossers: Msgtoss 2.2
Name: Ten Forward
Sysop: Sheldon Koehler
3.55 WILDCAT1.EXE (testdrive)
Mailer: d'Bridge 1.50
Tosser: Wildmail 2.04
Name: The Pyramid
Sysop: Al Tuttle
Mailer: Front Door 2.02
Name: My Electronic
Sysop: Bill Hippe
Mailer: Binkley (OS/2)
Name: The Gold
Sysop: Adolph Weidanz
2.56 (OS2 Version)
Mailer Binkley (OS2
23.2 BBS Software Testimonials
This section is devoted to thumbnail sketches of different BBS systems
Sysops in Net 350. They'll each devote a paragraph or two about the software
they have chosen to run and tell you why it is the best choice for their
application. All the systems listed here have been successfully interfaced
with FidoNet and, as of this writing, are working in the net currently.
23.2.1 Why I chose QuickBBS (Michael Schuyler: 350/201)
Besides built-in FidoNet compatibility, the major reason I chose QuickBBS
was not the Hudson message base, but the configurable menus. The system works
so that each menu item gets one line. The lines will appear or not depending
on security level and "flags" attached to each record. That means that the
same exact menu can be used for all security levels. The individual lines
of the menu will appear depending on what you have set for each person.
QuickBBS also allows you to customize each menu with ascii or ansi drawings.
The way I do it is to customize the top half of the menus and allow the menu
appearances on the bottom half. This means I get the best of both worlds.
I can also make the system work any way I want to as far as what kinds of
choices are available at each menu. In fact, I can effectively have two BBS
systems in one just by having the user choose which menus to have available.
Super BBS and Remote Access are clones of QuickBBS, but each one of them
has its own strengths. They work fundamentally the same way as QuickBBS.
The biggest disadvantage is the 16K message base limitation. The next major
release of QuickBBS will be 4.0, and at that time this problem should be fixed.
You can run QuickBBS in evaluation mode. Registration costs $45.00. You
can run so-called "Gamma" versions for an additional $25.00 per year. This
entitles you to run pre-release software versions that have already run through
a beta test cycle. There are two support echoes for QuickBBS on the FidoNet
backbone. There is also a separate QuickBBS network with several echoes
that uses Fido technology.
23.2.2 Why I chose RBBS (Brad Boyce: 350/40)
I chose RBBS-PC BBS software to run because it was the first I was exposed
to as a new user. I decided to start a BBS because I wanted and needed a
way to learn more about the computer. I feel fortunate that RBBS was there.
I liked the philosophy and have learned a bit in the two years I have been
running my board. I have put together a file for freq called HLP4U2UN.ZIP
This file contains a series of files for RBBS, MSGTOSS, FRONTDOOR, and the
other related files to operate RBBS with a Front end mailer and mail tosser.
I also include my autoexec and config.sys files as well as the necessary files
for the tosser and other utilities necessary to get it together. I did this
to help other Sysops who need help setting up RBBS with Frontdoor and Msgtoss.
As soon as I can get it all together all the files listed will be available
for D/L or FREQ at 1:350/40.
23.2.3 Why I chose Wildcat (Sheldon Koehler: 350/401)
I chose Wildcat for the simple reason that I liked it as a user. It was
friendly and straight forward to use. I have found it to be almost as simple
to run as a Sysop as well. I especially like the flexibility I have in its
configuration and security. I could even have several sets of menus, one
for each security level. The documentation was
wonderful and laid out very professionally.
When I wanted to run a Fido node, I downloaded several packages and couldn't
believe the docs on any of them. D'Bridge had the largest doc file, but was
organized the best for me. It was also very easy to set up with no batch
files to write since everything is run from pull down menus. Ease of use and
customer support were the deciding factors in my choices of software.
23.2.4 Why I chose RyBBS (Al Tuttle: 350/33)
Why RyBBS: When I first started this, I just wanted to see what
it was like "on the other side of the connect". So, I looked around for some
small, easy to set up, cheap shareware examples. At a size that fit on one
360k floppy, instant/easy setup, and a $50 registration fee....RyBBS ended
up the winner. It took a lot of work to groom the menus and get the board
the way I like it, but the author (who lives in Wisconsin and provides personal
support) is helpful, and now a year later, it's not so small. In fact I
think it's becoming a monster :-).
I've gathered that the RyBBS Software is a little different than most,
and there aren't all that many people running it.....but I've found that
Rybbs works well with Fido, and has several utilities that are made just
for Fido. So, with its configurability, Fido compatibility and uniqueness;
overall, I'm pretty well satisfied with the choice.
I have built a little Help file to help setup FD/RyBBS for Fido (Boy could
I have used one <whew!>). Along with some text and copies of several
configuration and batch files. I made screen grabs of each of the important
FD setup screens. I hope that will help you all out. It's available for freq
on my bbs under the MAGIC name FDHELP; or it's available on the bbs under
the name RYFDFIDO.ZIP. All the needed files (except registered versions)
are available for freq or d/l.
23.2.5 Why I chose Maximus (Bill Hippe: 350/24)
The BBS software that I run is Maximus with BinkleyTerm as a front end
mailer. I chose these programs after looking at many of the different BBS
programs available. Some of the reasons for my choices are listed below.
OPERATING SYSTEM OS/2
Allows for easy multitasking. Will allow me to run the board and
not loose use of the computer. I am able to perform maintenance on the board,
read messages, format disks, or play games with no loss of performance for
myself or the user. I can support a high speed file transfer (1600
+ cps) while playing Falcon 3.0, having the computer play itself a game of
solitaire (windows variety) and also play itself a game of chess (OS/2 variety)
with only a 6 cps drop in performance for 14400+ users and no drop for 2400
BBS - Maximus v2.01b OS/2
This is a wide area beta of Maximus the last release was v2.00. Maximus
is free for non-commercial use and is being actively supported by its author
Scott Dudley. Maximus is extremely configurable and will run well "out of
the box". Maximus will accept the standard *.msg message base or a new style
call SQUISH also written by Scott Dudley. Both Maximus and Squish are available
in DOS and OS/2 variety.
MAILER - BinkleyTerm BTPEE_BE 32 bit Hack OS/2
This a 32 bit hack of the popular BinkleyTerm v2.50. BinkleyTerm is again
a copyrighted program for use free.
All of the files are available on my BBS as well as a sample Bink/Squish/Max
setup called BINKMAXP. I am more than willing to help the new Sysop setup
a BBS, my experience is with Maximus and Binkley but have also tried RBBS,
Omega, Wildcat, Opus, Fido and some others. Most of the above are available
for DL. I have an extensive collection of Maximus and Wildcat Utilities.
23.2.6 Why I chose Maximus (Adolph Weidanz: 350/35)
Why do I run Maximus. Couple of reasons. 1. It is FREE 2. It runs under
OS2... Tried windows to multitask and it sucked after using an Amiga for
5 years. The BOSS (read WIFE) said I could run a BBS on HER <grin> computer
only if she could run WordPerfect whenever she wanted, so no multitasking
no BBS....P.S. I am looking at Searchlight BUT refer to #1 3. their are 2
VERY knowledgeable Sysops running OS2 Max and when I run into problem they
let me call them.....
(PS Thanks guys) Why do I run a BBS? I love MAIL... The idea of the Matrix
gives me goose bumps. When they ask for volunteers to hook into computers
(Datajacking) I will beat my way to first <grin>.