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Bulletin Board System -- BBS

The G8BPQ BBS is an implementation of the W0RLI system.
Link to the W0RLI specification.
This page is old.
There are now instructions for setting up the G8BPQ BBS under the TARPN BUILDER page.
In days of old (many buffalo ago) there were computers hooked up to phone modems. People would dial in and leave messages for each other or store files that other stations could download. Later editions of bulletin boards could converse with each other, again via telephone, and would enable people to send messages via remote cities and such.

The packet radio bulletin board has some of that capability but is accessed via ham radio. The bulletin boards share public messages (bulletins) and take care of forwarding messages between one another. A ham can connect to one bulletin board, leave a message for a friend at a distant board, and have that message moved to the bulletin board of the friend. It is pretty easy to check the local bulletin board and see if you have any incoming messages.

As of September 2017, the TARPN management scripts enable any node op to turn on a bulletin board on their node. The G8BPQ package includes a system which is pretty easy to administer.

What is it?

Much like the Chat service, a BBS is an application which accepts connects from stations. It presents command prompts and has many commands available to the user. The major purpose of a bulletin board is to enable bulletins to be entered into memory, and to have those bulletins available to future visitors. Secondary purposes might include indefinite storage of data for later retrieval, and forwarding of data, including bulletins, to other BBS systems.

Here is an old session from the 90s

WNDHM2:K1TR-2} Connected to BBSDSW:WB1DSW-1
WB1DSW - 2 Users>
Msg# Stat Size  To    From   Where  Date/Time Subject
12508 P     868 KA2DEW WB1DSW        1101/1019 re: 386
WB1DSW - 2 Users>
r 12508
Date: Sun, 01 Nov 98 10:19:51 EST
Message-ID: <12508@WB1DSW> (12508@WB1DSW)
From: [email protected]
Subject: re: 386
Path: WB1DSW

KA2DEW wrote to WB1DSW on Sat Oct 31 23:30:32 1998:

> Yes,
>   the machine with the mono monitor will work perfectly.  2 serial ports
> is good.  One will run to the 9600 baud port and the other backbone RF, the
> other to the BBS TNC and to the user port, or something like that.
> Are any of your TNCs capable of 38.4Kbaud on the serial port?

No - all TNC's here off the matrix are at 9K6.  Never bothered to upgrade -
didn't make any sense.
> We still need another computer for Ed.  I will call him on the phone tomorrow.
> He's going to need 2 or 3 serial ports.
>     Tadd

I'm pretty sure he's got at least one '386 over there - perhaps from the
contest station prior to my purch of the '486...

73 de Herb WB1DSW.FN42LV.NH.USA.NOAM (NEGate)
        or [email protected]
WB1DSW - 2 Users>
*** Timeout.
WNDHM2:K1TR-2} Reconnected to WNDHM2:K1TR-2
*** DISCONNECTED [11/01/98  12:05:27]
cmd:c wndhm2
*** CONNECTED to WNDHM2 [11/01/98  12:31:37]
c bbsdsw
WNDHM2:K1TR-2} Connected to BBSDSW:WB1DSW-1
WB1DSW - 4 Users>
sp wb1dsw
Ed FlexNet on old 8088 PC
Enter message. Control-z (or /EX) to end, it will be message 12535
I talked to Ed.  I'm going to see him later in the week and I'm going to 
give him what he needs to put FlexNET on his old 8088.  He's going to run
that at his user station with one 6pack TNC.  We're going to look for an
additional serial port card for that PC so it can have 4 serial ports.

There is a computer show at Rockingham park later this month.
I think it's Nov 21.     www.ncshows.com    has the latest scoop.

More later
Message to WB1DSW accepted.
WB1DSW - 3 Users>
WNDHM2:K1TR-2} Reconnected to WNDHM2:K1TR-2
*** DISCONNECTED [11/01/98  12:48:38]

Bulletin Forwarding in a W0RLI system

Each bulletin entered into a BBS is assigned a BID (Bulletin ID). The BID symbol consists of the callsign of the G8BPQ node, and a decimal-number that wraps every some number (1000s?) of BIDs. The purpose of the BID is to make sure some remote system doesn't get two copies of the same bulletin.

Each bulletin has a topic, and an AT address.
The topic is a six character specifier to show who should read the bulletin. Topics could be, for instance, AMSAT, HUMOR, WEATHR, a club name, or anything else the sender wants to enter. The topic is for the viewers information and does not affect the BBS operation regarding the specific bulletin message.
The AT address is used to direct bulletins to a region. AT addresses can be counties, states, networks. Usually, I think, the AT address region will include the local BBS, but I don't think it has to be that way. The local BBS needs to specify how to send bulletins for each AT address.
Bulletins are entered into the local BBS with a specifid topic and an AT address.

The BBS has a separate form for each neighbor BBS the BBS exchanges messages with. This is called a Forwarding Config page or Forwarding Table. The Forwarding table specifies what @ addresses for bulletins will get sent to the neighbor BBS.

When a regular personal, type "P", message is entered into a bulletin board, it is sent to the specified callsign. In a TARPN network, that means it gets forwarded to a specific bulletin board. Notionally the message is not available or is quickly deleted from a BBS after that BBS sends the message along to the messages's next forwarding stop. A bulletin, which is a type "B" message, is still available at every BBS the message passes through. It may also be forwarded to multiple neighbors an a form of flood.

The forwarding tables are supposed to be set up so bulletins only go to immediate neighbors, where personal messages may be moved directly to a destination address, or to a specific BBS on the way to the destination address. By sending a bulletin only to immediate neighbors, the bulletin is made to only go across any link once, instead of being sent to a distant BBS, only to have that BBS send it back across some of its local links to a BBS that is in between your BBS and the distant BBS.

© Tadd Torborg, 2014↝2022 -- all rights reserved