hatestheinternet
post image is Old Modem Front by Rex Roof

Pick Your Poison

This is one of the most important parts of the process, one which I honestly thought I'd never experience again: Chosing BBS software.  In the end, I wound up going with Telegard because I couldn't get QEMM and DesqView working right in qemu and with dreams of a 4-node (RLFOSSIL will only allow 4 ports, or connections) PCBoard system in 1 instance dashed, I decided to go with what I knew best.  Renegade had issues hanging up the phone (and thus not closing the connection) and I don't mind as Telegard 3 is a nice system.  Besides, my first real BBS was powered by Telegard and it just seemed fitting.

Install Your Software

Install your software just as you would've ages ago on a fresh BBS machine.  There's a PCBoard installer floating around that works pretty well (minus some odd issues with character echoing), but I downloaded the latest version of Telegard (and extracted it into my dist/ subdirectory ages ago) and ran it's installer:


The Telegard installer. Ghetto, yet functional...

Remember while installing your software that everything must go on the C drive, QEMU machines aren't allowed to write to fat: virtual devices.

Make it automatic

I distrust starting DOS applications from directories they don't live in, so I usually create a quick batch file wrapper which is going to come in useful in the next step:

@echo off
rem c:\tg\tg.bat
c:
cd \tg
telegard

Now that we have our software installed and our wrapper written, we need to start the FOSSIL driver before we fire up our BBS for real.  We do that by adding the following to the end of our autoexec.bat:

rlfossil 0 1
c:\tg\tg.bat

After a quick hop over to the qemu console to reset our system, when it's rebooted we are greeted with the fruits of our labour:


The Telegard WFC screen. I preferred the old one.

Also, what would it be without a quick test (in this screen capture I was using the awesome mTelnet telnet client):


Connected via mTelnet

Conclusion

There you go, your very own MS-DOS powered virtualized telnetable BBS.  Since I'm moving out of my apartment and am going to have to start paying for power soon, this is a much better solution than hooking up the old Packard Bell Pentium 166 I have in the basement.  Running an 8 meg instance makes the qemu process use about 30mb RAM, but the machine that's running it has a gig and a half so it barely registers.  Throw in the fact that when it is on processor, it doesn't take very long to do what needs doing and I don't even realize it's running.

For more information on completely automating the starting and stopping of your bbs, check out the next section for a quick BASH script to start and stop qemu as well as configure your TAP interface.