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Connecting to modern telnet BBSs
#1
I thought I'd post some info on how to connect to modern telnet BBSs. They are the ones running the same text/ANSI interfaces that we used to dial up to, except now it's all available over the net without having to dial any numbers. This makes calling international boards great on the budget! Big Grin

"Telnet" is an Internet protocol that allows us to connect to remote servers and login to them. BBSs listen and answer "calls" on the telnet port, and you use terminal software to connect. Same as you did in the old days, the terminal software is your "dialler" and maintains your directory listing.

There are two common programs that are fully ANSI compatible and do ANSI colours and ASCII graphics. You can get a terminal program for Windows, OS-X, and Linux, but they don't run on phones. A lot of people have tried to connect using standard telnet programs like Putty, and while that does ANSI colours, it doesn't do extended ASCII graphics (known as Codepage 437 font that came from DOS machines).

First up is a great program called NETRUNNER, written by a guy called g00r00, who also writes what is possibly the most actively maintained BBS software on the planet, Mystic BBS. It's the software I use on my board.

Grab it http://mysticbbs.com/downloads.html.

   
Here's a screenshot of what the interface looks like. It is available for Windows and Linux.

The other program is called SYNCTERM, and is available for a lot of operating systems, but the most actively maintained ones are for Windows, OS-X, and Linux.

Get it at http://syncterm.bbsdev.net/. the source code is available if you want to compile it for an OS not listed. Big Grin

   
Here's a screenshot of SyncTERM's dialler.

If you want to connect using your phone, then you're probably going to have a bad time. At the time of writing this, I don't know of any phone/tablet BBS terminal program, and I daresay the interface would suck given you're using an older DOS style interface.

But if you're feeling masochistic, or you just want to try out a BBS without downloading a terminal program, then some boards have web based interfaces that connect to telnet in the background.

Our friend @Avon has one for his BBS Agency, available at http://www.bbs.geek.nz/ and I have one for my BBS available at http://www.oldschool.geek.nz/bbs/.


OK, so you've got a way to connect, now where do you connect to?

Telnet BBS Guide (http://telnetbbsguide.com/) is the primary place to go for an updated list. I also upload the brief version to my board (the Shadow Dominion), and it's accessible by just connecting and choosing BBS List. Here's a screen shot of my login menu:

   

A few BBSs that I am completely unbiased about recommending are:
  • The Shadow Dominion (tsd.oldschool.geek.nz) - This is mine and it's the best BBS in the world*.
  • Agency (agency.bbs.geek.nz) - Run by @Avon and based in Dunedin. He is NZ's Fidonet coordinator, or wizard, or whatever Fidonet call their important peeps.
  • Pharcyde (bbs.pharcyde.org) - Run by an excellent chap by the name of Accession. He runs a fidonet-style network called AgoraNet, which has a far higher ratio of polite people than Fidonet does.


* as determined by a completely proprietary metric which is not being made available to the public.
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