>>>>> THE OFFICIAL BBS FAQ <<<<<
CHAPTER 1 -INTRODUCTION TO THE FAQ
1.01 - INTRODUCTION
Why was The Official BBS FAQ written?
Every day, I'd sign-on to local BBSes to download my e-mail and review
the Usenet newsgroups. After reading alt.bbs for a few months, I
noticed the same questions being asked over and over again. One day,
I read a message asking if there was a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
for the alt.bbs newsgroups. If not, the poster asked if someone would
be willing to write one. The idea appealed to me.
I've never run a BBS of my own; however, I've signed-on a wide variety
of bulletin board services all over the United States. I've helped
sysops setup their boards plus I've done computer tech support.
Additionally, as a consultant and writer, I was particularly
attracted to the idea of assisting computer users in their enjoyment
of BBSing. From all of this combined experience, I decided to develop
the much-needed FAQ.
To begin the project, I posted a message in March of 1994 to alt.bbs
newsgroups, calling for people to contribute to the BBS FAQ. The mail
started flowing-in immediately and continued for weeks. The overall
response was great! All sorts of people were willing to offer their
time and knowledge to the long-awaited FAQ.
I created a Table of Contents based on my own knowledge and on the
questions/suggestions I saw in the newsgroups. I then gathered
information from various sources to build the comprehensive guide
that follows. The end-product is intended to aid those who use
bulletin boards as well as to assist those who run them or want to
setup BBSes of their own.
The Official BBS FAQ was built BY the people of the Net, FOR the
people of the Net. Many thanks to all who contributed.
Where do I send e-mail regarding the BBS FAQ?
Any comments, corrections, deletions or additions for this FAQ
please send e-mail to the editor/author (Claire Walters) at:
Any corrections, additions, or deletions for Chapter 3
(Sysoping with Macintosh/Apple) please send e-mail to:
Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org (James Barry)
Refer to chapter 3 for further information on how to contact
1.02 - DISCLAIMERS
This article answers frequently asked questions (FAQ) for the
alt.bbs, alt.bbs.allsysop, and comp.bbs.misc Usenet newsgroups. It
is intended for those who want to start a BBS or for those sysops
already running a BBS who may be seeking further information.
All information in this article is believed to be correct at the
time of writing. However, please recognize that this is an evolving
document and that the information that follows may contain
inaccuracies. Please direct suggestions for improvement or
corrections to the editor/author at, BBSFAQ@AOL.COM or
The editor/author is not affiliated with any of the companies
1.03 COPYRIGHT NOTICE
The Official BBS FAQ is Copyright 1994, by Claire Walters. All
You are granted the following rights:
I. To make copies of this work in original form, so long as
(a) The copies are exact and complete.
(b) The copies include the copyright notice and these paragraphs in
(c) The copies give obvious credit to the author, Claire Walters.
(d) The copies are in electronic form only.
II. To distribute this work, or copies made under the provisions
above, so long as,
(a) this is the original work and not a derivative form.
(b) you do not charge a fee for copying or for distribution.
(c) you ensure that the distributed form includes the copyright
notice, this paragraph, the disclaimer of warranty in their
entirety and credit to the author. (Claire Walters)
(d) the distributed form is not in an electronic magazine or within
computer software (prior explicit permission may be obtained
from Claire Walters)
(e) the distributed form is the NEWEST version of the article to
the best of the knowledge of the distributor.
(f) the distributed form is electronic.
You may not distribute this work by any non-electronic
media, including but not limited to books, newsletters, magazines,
manuals, catalogs, and speech. You may not distribute this work in
electronic magazines, CD-ROMS or within computer software without
prior written explicit permission. These rights are temporary and
revocable upon written, oral, or other notice by Claire Walters.
This copyright notice shall be governed by the laws of the state of
If you would like additional rights beyond those granted above,
write to the author at, Internet: BBSFAQ@AOL.COM or
1.04 - TRADEMARK INFORMATION
The software & products mentioned in this FAQ is the properties and
trademark of their respective owners.
1.05 - WHERE CAN I DOWNLOAD THE BBS FAQ?
The Official BBS FAQ will be posted periodically in the, alt.bbs,
alt.bbs.allsysop, comp.bbs.misc, news.answers, and comp.answers
It is also available to download from America Online in the
PC Telecom forum as BBSFAQ01.ZIP
FTP to pluto.njcc.com
Requesting the BBS FAQ via e-mail:
To be announced
1.06 - MEET THE BBS FAQ WRITERS
About the author/editor
- Claire Walters, DBA Windsorware
Computer Consultant, Freelance Writer, Custom Windows HLP files
Internet: email@example.com or BBSFAQ@AOL.COM
Credits & Acknowledgments
My special thanks goes to:
- My family & JT
- Brian Kramer
Owner/Systems Administrator - firstname.lastname@example.org
New Jersey Computer Connection
Home of The Official BBS FAQ
Public Access Unix Site - pluto.njcc.com
Voice: 609-896-2799 - Fax: 609-896-2994 - Dialups: 609-896-3191
Dialup or Telnet to pluto.njcc.com and log in as,
guest for more information.
- Anssi Johansson
- Bill McDermott
- Bill Shefski
- Bjorn Hermans
- Carl J. Elitz,
Internet: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dan Birchall
- Dan D. Gutierrez
- David McGuire
- Derek Douville
- Dave Shaw
- Eric Hoffmann
- James Barry
- Mike Bryeans
- Prasad Golla
- Rikk Streng
- Scott Wiard
- Stan P. Barrack
- Tom Snider-Lotz
- Uri Hasson
- William Bell
- Zachary M. Loafman
- Hank Leukart
Thanks to those I might have missed who sent info or offered
CHAPTER 2 - THE WORLD OF BBSING INSIDE YOUR PC
COMMERCIAL BBS SOFTWARE
2.01 - EXCALIBUR BBS
- Info for Excalibur BBS will be available in future versions of
2.02 - MAJOR BBS
- Info for Major BBS will be available in future versions of the
2.03 - SEARCHLIGHT BBS
by, Tom Snider-Lotz
We (my co-conspirator Nancy, and I) operate a two-line BBS from
our office in order to provide files and other information to our
customers. We've been using Searchlight BBS (SLBBS) software
since the beginning, about 3 years ago, and have never regretted
Our boss conceived of the idea of having an office BBS, and he
tapped Nancy and I because we were computer literate and had some
experience online (I was a sysop on GEnie at the time). He had
some other requirements, too: it had to be done quickly, very
cheaply, and without diverting too much of our time from our
"real work." Though we had plenty of experience calling BBSs,
neither of us had ever had to program one, so that added one more
requirement: it had to be friendly to newbie sysops. And, since
most of our callers would also be new to BBSing, it had to be
user-friendly. We set about looking for software that was easy
to get running, full-featured, easy to use, and inexpensive.
What we chose was Searchlight.
IT'S EASY TO GET RUNNING
Setting up SLBBS is a snap. As it comes "out of the box," it's
ready to run with Mail, Bulletins, and a message area (SLBBS
calls them "subboards") already set up. Adding one or more File
Directories and additional Subboards is merely a matter of
filling in the blanks on the Setup menus. If you want to limit
access to Subboards and File Directories, that's easy. Users can
be assigned any combination of 24 "security attributes" as well
as one of 256 numerical access levels. You can then use these
attributes as requirements for entry into Subboards and File
Directories. You can also apply these requirements to any option
on the SLBBS menus.
The default SLBBS menus are pretty much like any other BBS I've
seen -- a couple of columns of commands, with a highlighted
letter for choosing each command (does "G" for "Goodbye" sound
familiar?). This is easy to change if you want something
different. For example, we changed the menus so the commands
were selected by a number instead of a letter. If you wish,
SLBBS will lay out the menu for you -- you tell SLBBS what the
choices are and what the access levels are for each choice, and
SLBBS will figure out how to display the menu. Users who don't
have proper access level for a menu choice won't even see that
If you want more creative menus, you can design your own menus
using a text editor -- including special effects like colors,
blinking, underlining, etc.
We haven't tried setting up RIP graphics menus, so I can't
comment too much on that. I gather from the manual that it's
very similar: SLBBS will do it for you, or you can customize.
One of the really nice features of SLBBS is its text editor. The
e-mail system and the message boards both use a full-screen
editor that allows full-screen cursor movement, scrolling, and
the use of function keys. The user can insert codes for colors
and other special effects, upload text, and insert text from
other files. For users without ANSI capability, there's also a
standard line editor.
SLBBS supports all the standard file transfer protocols,
including built-in ZMODEM. You can add external protocols as
well, such as YMODEM-Batch and HS/LINK. SLBBS can access CD-ROM
drives as well as the hard disk.
The message and the mail system allow uploaded messages and
attached files. Users also can download entire message threads.
QWK mail support is built in.
Other nice features include:
* the ability to be run from a LAN;
* the ability to connect with Fidonet and RIME/UTI-compatible
* inter-user chat;
* the ability to run many DOS programs as Doors without using
an intermediate Door program;
* accurate recognition of connect speeds up to 38.4 Kbps;
* name completion -- SLBBS will complete a user's name or file
name automatically if you type in partial information;
* single menu commands that can trigger execution of long
sequences of commands;
* easy setup of additional nodes (SLBBS is designed to use
DesqView as a multi-tasker when using multiple nodes; others
have used it successfully with OS/2 and Windows NT as well);
* the ability to tag files for future downloading.
IT'S EASY FOR CALLERS TO USE
As we discovered, whether a system is easy for callers to use is
mostly up to the sysops. The good news about SLBBS is that it's
so flexible, so adaptable, that we could modify it to fit our
conception of ease of use. Want to change the colors? No
problem. Want to nest the menus five deep? No problem. Want to
arrange the menu choices in a circle? No problem. Want to give
users a visual map of the entire BBS, available from each menu?
You guessed it.
One thing that kept bothering me as we were "interviewing"
potential software was why SLBBS was so inexpensive compared to
many of the big-name BBS programs? What did they have that SLBBS
didn't? We still haven't figured that one out!
As I write this, SLBBS comes in four versions, priced according
to how many lines (nodes) the software will support. For a
single line, the price is $99; one to three lines, $179; one to
ten lines, $299; and an unlimited number of lines, $399.
EXCELLENT PRODUCT SUPPORT
The people at Searchlight Software are very helpful. We've never
been disappointed. The primary source of support is the main
Searchlight BBS in Cleveland (numbers are given below). The
program's author, Frank LaRosa, is active on the BBS, and you can
also get input from the sysops of lots of other Searchlight
systems. If the BBS-based support isn't enough, you can talk to
real live people by telephone.
Everything I've described so far refers to SLBBS's standard text-
based interface. However, in the minds of the Searchlight
Software folks, their most impressive feature is their built-in
RIP graphical interface. RIP technology, if you aren't aware,
provides your BBS with an attractive graphical user interface
(GUI). Every SLBBS program sold, if called by RIP-capable
communications program, can provide a full GUI interface,
including scroll bars, push buttons, and dialog boxes. You can
also have eye-catching logon screens, mouse-able online games,
and even animation. Many BBS software programs are jumping on
the RIP bandwagon, but (I'm told) SLBBS offers more complete
built-in support for RIP graphics than any other BBS software.
We haven't activated the RIP interface feature on our BBS,
primarily because our most of our users don't use a mouse with
their computer, and don't use a communications program that
supports RIP. Also, my experience is that, at 2400 bps (our
maximum) and with a slow monitor, RIP graphics can be a bit slow.
To me, the current RIP technology is sort of like the early
versions of Windows -- the concept is there, but its time hasn't
come quite yet. (Others would disagree with me.)
The best introduction to Searchlight is first-hand experience.
If you call the main Searchlight BBS, you can;
* see SLBBS in action;
* see RIP graphics in action (if you've got RIP-capable
* get a freeware RIP-capable communications program (RIPterm,
* get a list of Searchlight BBSs in your geographical area;
* get a feel for the support available from Searchlight
* download a demo copy of Searchlight to try out on your own.
After you've seen SLBBS in action, and tried it out for yourself,
you can decide whether it's what you want. We're very happy with
6516 Detroit Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44102
voice: (216) 631-9290
fax: (216) 631-9289
BBS: (216) 631-9285
orders: (800) 780-LITE
2.04 - PC BOARD
- Packet switch support
- Full Internationalization of dates & code page
- FOSSIL support for virtually any intelligent serial card(/M code)
- File attachment to messages
- Multiple daily events
- Full support for 2 byte international character sets
- Built-in .QWK message packet support
- Jukebox & "slow" CD-ROM support
- Incoming Fax support
- Carbon-Copy list support
- Return Receipt message support
- Caller-ID support
- ALIAS support by conference area
- RIPscrip support for remote callers
- PPL (PCBoard Programming Language Compiler) (Optional)
- Automatic 16550 UART recognition & support
- Intelligent & non-intelligent multi-port serial card support
- Full screen text editor
- ANSI graphics support
- Full color operation
- Thread reading of messages
- Supports up to 65,535 conference (message base) areas
- 36 file transfer protocols supported
- Supports 37,767 DOORS per conference
- Real-Time 255 channel node chat (CB chat)
- Long message headers for all NetMail programs including
Internet, Usenet & others.
- Local network logins for in-house e-mail support
- Direct connect support for in-house serial networks & PADS
- Communicates directly with OS/2 COMM drivers to allow large
number of multiple nodes under OS/2
- Automatically detects OS/2 operation for time-slice control
- Full network support for any NetBIOS compatible network, including
Netware, LAN tastic, 3-Com, Vines & more.
- Full remote DOS access for SysOp if desired
- True & complete multi-lingual language support
IBM PC compatible
Minimum 320k RAM
DOS 3.1 or higher
Modem to support remote dial-in
Needs 80386 CPU or higher since code is written using 80386
instructions for maximum speed.
The PPL Compiler allows you to change or add features to your PCBoard
system. Simply write your code in a BASIC like language, compile, and
attach your results to PCBoard.
The PCBoard Toolkit allows you to write extensive DOOR programs in
either C or C++ (Borland or MS). Clark Development provides all the
communication, display and file routines needed to produce a truly
professional PCBoard DOOR program.
PCBoard (Version 15.1) PRICING - EFFECTIVE FEB. 16, 1994
PCBoard 2 User $ 150.00
PCBoard 5 User $ 250.00
PCBoard 10 User $ 350.00
PCBoard 25 User $ 550.00
PCBoard 50 User $ 750.00
PCBoard 100 User $ 950.00
PCBoard 250 User $2000.00
PCBoard 1000 User $7000.00
PCBoard Toolkit $ 180.00
($150 with PCBoard Purchase)
PPL Compiler $ 80.00
($50 with PCBoard Purchase)
Extended BBS Access $ 40.00
DESQview 386 $ 179.00
DOORWAY $ 40.00
Site License Pricing
Site Licenses are available.
(Call Clark Development for further information about pricing)
Competitive trade-in discounts are available. For more information
please call Clark Development.
Payments accepted by VISA, Mastercard, American Express, Checks by
Phone, Cashiers Check, Money Orders or Personal Checks.
School District and Government Agency Purchase Orders are accepted.
Clark Development Company, Inc.
3950 South 700 East, Ste 303
Murray, UT 84107-2173
800.356.1686 (Orders only)
Extended BBS Support Access
Extended Salt Air BBS access allows you to contact the Clark
Development support BBS in Salt Lake using special dedicated phone
lines which provide 2 hours of daily on-line time.
BRAZIL: Alexandar Mandic Voice: 55.11.816.3245
Mandic BBS LtDA Fax: 55.11.816.3245
Rua Jerico, 39 BBS: 55.11.816.3911
Sao Paulo, SP 05435-040
DENMARK: Morten Olsen Voice: 188.8.131.52.15
Danish Key Board BBS Fax: 184.108.40.206.16
International House BBS: 220.127.116.11.40
FRANCE: Lionel Bruno Voice: 18.104.22.168.35.35
Microtel Amiposte Fax: 22.214.171.124.43.33
71, rue Cheret BBS: 126.96.36.199.43.00
NETHERLANDS: Arthur Mol Voice: 31.2155.28631
The Owl's Nest Fax: 31.2155.26527
Hazepad 25 BBS: 31.2155.12571
3766 JL Soest
NORWAY: John Nordbo Voice: 47.52.717170
EuroNet Fax: 47.52.716071
Hasselgt 31 BBS: 47.52.716021
PORTUGAL: Luis Silva Voice: 351.61.313834
MSmac, Lda Fax: 351.61.314226
R.Princesa Benedita BBS: 351.51.312935
LT 7 1 Drt
2560 Torres Vedras
SAUDI ARABIA: Mohammed Albatati Voice: 966.1.478.8314
B.E.S.T PCBoard Info. Fax: 966.1.477.1908
P.O Box 2132 BBS: 966.1.478.6703
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
SINGAPORE: Tee Tong Chiew Voice: 65.337.6213
Comsertrac Computer Centre Fax: 65.337.2952
#1 Spohia Road BBS: 65.336.5351
#06-25 Peace Centre
SOUTH AFRICA: Ian Gerada Voice: 27.11.789.6192
Fincompt Technologies Fax: 27.11.789.6081
355 Kent Avenue BBS: 27.11.482.1277
Randburg, Transvaal 2125
SPAIN: David Llamas Gaberenet Voice: 34.3.589.1101
Abaforum Fax: 34.3.589.4483
Rambla del Cellar 65 BBS: 34.3.589.3888
SantCugat, Barcelona, 08190
SWEDEN: Peter Svensson Voice: 46.8.664.2557
CPS Sound & Vision Fax: 46.8.728.8430
Skeppargatan 102 BBS: 46.8.736.0410
S-115 30 Stockholm
SWITZERLAND: Ueli Maurer Voice: 41.64.562.233
Hitline Communications Fax: 41.64.561.133
Hintermaettistr. 5 BBS: 41.64.560.200
UK: Alastair Mclntyre Voice: 44.0324.482435
ALMAC Computer Services Fax: 44.0324.665155
141 Bo'ness Road BBS: 44.0324.665371
FK3 9BS, Scotland
SOLVENIJA: Boris Horvat Voice: 188.8.131.523
ABM d.o.o Fax: 184.108.40.2068
2.05 - TBBS-The Bread Board System
- Info for TBBS will be available in future versions of the FAQ.
2.06 - WILDCAT! BBS v3.9
Wildcat is a very powerful, secure, and friendly BBS software from
both a sysop's and user's point of view. It is very easy to set up
and maintain, with interactive install and configuration programs. If
security is important to you, Wildcat is the software you want. Since
the first release in 1986, Wildcat has never been hacked due to a
deficiency in the program code. Although much effort has been put
into maintaining compatibility with other systems, Wildcat has many
features that set it apart from other BBS systems, such as internal
file transfer protocols, and RIP graphics support. Wildcat is
commercial software. It is not shareware, although a test drive
version is available. You may not copy and distribute the software.
Wildcat is published by Mustang Software Inc., the makers of Qmodem,
and OffLine Xpress.
- IBM personal computer or true compatible
- PC-DOS or MS-DOS version 3.3 or later
(Note: Wildcat should NOT be ru under Windows or OS/2)
- Asynchronous communications adapter (serial port)
- RS-232 cable with 9 pins (some modem cable don't have all pins
- Intelligent AT command set modem (Hayes compatible)
- 80 column monochrome or color monitor
- Voice-grade telephone connection for modem
- 384K minimum RAM, 512K recommended
- Hard Disk Drive
- Free technical support by phone
Monday-Friday, 9 am-5pm Pacific Time
- Automatic notification of program updates
- Software upgrades at a reduced price
- 24-hour access to Support BBS
- BBS access to download utilities written by Mustang software
- PC Vendor Forum on CompuServe (GO PCVENA)
This section will point out some of Wildcat's features.
- Fast indexed access to all data files (Users, Messages, Files)
- Easy setup with install program and configuration program
- RIP graphics support
- Flexible security with up to 1000 security profiles
- Date of Birth and Phone as optional security checks
- Optional excluding 300, 1200, or 2400 baud
- Supports locked DTE rates up to 57,600 bps
- 100+ customizably display files with embedded code support for
insertion of user or system info, or ANSI codes
- Message features:
- Full-Screen editor with reply
- Return reciepts
- Carbon copies
- File attaching
- Up to 1000 conferences and Up to 1000 file areas
- ANSI graphics support, auto-detected at logon
- File descriptions as single line, 2-line, or full description
- Files can be marked for download while reading file lists, and time
indicated for each file is based on caller's baud rate
- Caller notification of bulletin updates based on date and time
- MAKEQUES.EXE, full screen questionaire editor
- Remote event timer allowing up to 65,535 external events
- Configurable screen pausing, based on callers screen length
- Help files available
- Fast login system to proceed directly to main menu or mail door
- Most sysop maintenance functions available from remote
- INTERNAL file transfer protocols for X/Y/Zmodem and Kermit
- Support for external doors for games, etc.
- Hot Key entry of single letter commands (no Enter required)
- Birthday message sent on users birthday
- Tomcat QWK-compatible mail door
Ordering Wildcat! BBS
To order Wildcat send a check or money order for the correct amount
plus $10 shipping to:
Mustang Software Inc.
P.O. Box 2264
Bakersfield, CA 93303-9943
For information on pricing or ordering, call (805) 873-2500.
Pricing and Availability
All of MSI's products are available through normal software outlets
such as Software Etc. and CompUSA, however all upgrade purchases are
only available through MSI direct.
Wildcat! Single Line $129.00 $50.00
Wildcat! MultiLine 10 $249.00 $50.00
Wildcat! MultiLine 250 $499.00 $50.00
Wildcat! MultiLine Platinum $799.00 $50.00
Wildcat! BBS Suite $999.00 ----
(includes MultiLine Platinum, wcPRO, wcGATE, and wcCODE)
wcPRO Utilities (with wcFAX) $99.00 $50.00
wcGATE Internet/MHS Messaging Gateway
$149.00 $50.00 *
wcCODE Custom Online Development Engine
$149.00 $50.00 **
* wcGATE is $50 for anyone upgrading from wcUUCP or wcMHS only. It is
$149 for all new orders.
** wcCODE is $50 through 8/31/94 for anyone upgrading from an older
copy of Wildcat! BBS. It is $149 for all new orders.
HOST PROGRAMS FOR WINDOWS
2.07 - FILEX
- Info for Filex will be available in future versions of the
2.08 - FREEMAIL
- Info for Freemail will be available in future versions of the
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