PBBS and Firewalls
We assume you will be running PBBS on a computer at your house. Be it a Raspberry Pi, a local VM, or dedicated server. You will have one common challenge - letting the outside world communicate to your BBS. Some of the features we offer to licensed PBBS customers are:
- You can select a domain machine name, and we will give you a password and ID for a script that will allow you to be publicly available as <your_bbs_name>.saltairbbs.com - this script automates updating your domain every 3 to 5 minutes. This way you do not have to purchase a domain, nor figure out how to point it to the dynamic IP at your house.
- We also host a tracker service, so when your BBS is accessible you are listed as one of the many BBSes online. This helps in getting your BBS noticed. In the tracker service, we publish the brief description you have supplied us about your BBS. So everyone will know what you are offering.
- And for a minimal monthly fee, we can also set your BBS as a reverse proxy off of one of our servers. This is mainly available to those who do not know how to change their Firewall, or in certain cases have no control over their Firewall. We found this to be useful for our customers who travel and run their BBS from a hotel room. Or for people running a BBS out of their office (with or without permission) - the reverse proxy connects to our server, and we push inbound traffic down this connection to your BBS. We charge extra for this as it doubles the bandwidth being consumed by our server for each customer doing this.
Now, setting up your Firewall. When you installed PBBS, you selected a port like (23, 1337, 2400, 2784, 6400, 9600, 19200, 28800, 31337, 38400) - you can also find this in the setup program under Communications -> Moden/TCP Configuration. This is the port number (like a PO Box #) that your computer is accepting connections on. Now, we need to let your Firewall(s) know that it is okay for the outside world to connect to this port.
If you are running on a Windows Operating System, you will need to go to your Control Panel -> Firewall, or Administrative Tools -> Firewall. If your keyboard has a Windows key, do Windows key + R, for Run and type in Windows Firewall and press Enter. If you have access rights, this will launch the Windows Firewall Monitoring Screen. It will look something like:
By click the Inbound Rules on the left, you will see a list of Applications (or Rule Names):
If you do not see CodeRunner or CodeRunner2 listed, then click "New Rule..." in the far right panel:
That will bring up the New Inbound Rule Wizard, change from (*) Program to (*) Port and click Next.
Enter to port number that your BBS is running on. Once you have the BBS tested, then you repeat these steps to add NNTP, IDENT, FTP, etc. (depending upon which plugins you plan to operate with your BBS).
The next screen, defaults to (*) Allow the connection ... that is correct, click Next.
The next screen, defaults to all 3 checkboxes on ... that is correct, click Next.
And the last screen asks you to name this and write a brief description (which will help you later if you forget). I usually just type BBS in both fields and click Finish.
Now you are 1/2 way finished. You should be able to download and install NetRunner, SyncTerm or just Windows Telnet and Telnet to 127.0.0.1 <port>. If you can, you will see your BBS negotiating with your terminal, telling you briefly about the Operating System, and prompting you for either Language (if you run multiple language packs), or the optional Login matrix (Apply, Login, Feedback, Disconnect), or the Graphics prompt. Either way, if you see one of these three - your machine is ready for connections.
Click on the Apple Icon on your top menu bar, and select System Preferences. If a specific screen comes up (like iCloud) click the 3rd button in the toolbar [#] Show All, click on the Security and Privacy icon:
Click on Firewall and you will see:
Click on the Lock, and log in with the Administrator Account and Password to Unlock this screen.
After doing so, the Firewall Options button will enable you to [+] add a new Application:
Clicking [+] brings up a Finder dialog - you will want to navigate to the folder where you installed the BBS. I find the quickest way is to click on the dropdown at the top (usually defaulting to Applications), by selecting the 2nd entry (usually your hard drive) you will be at the root of the drive - now simply navigate to where you installed the BBS
(on a Mac, I usually suggest /Users/<your_logon>/Applications/BBS/).
Clicking add, will now show:
At this point, you should be able to go to Finder, click on the Go menu, click on the Utilities Menu, find terminal and Double click to launch it then at the $ prompt type in telnet 127.0.0.1 <port>. If you can, you will see your BBS negotiating with your terminal, telling you briefly about the Operating System, and prompting you for either Language (if you run multiple language packs), or the optional Login matrix (Apply, Login, Feedback, Disconnect), or the Graphics prompt. Either way, if you see one of these three - your machine is ready for connections.
These three operating systems are similar, however, depending upon the distro they can be drastically different.
- If your distro uses iptables, then Google how to enable a port in iptables.
- If you are using ipcop, then Google how to enable a port in ipcop.
- If you are using firewalld, then Google how to enable a port in firewalld.
Once you have done so, then at the $ prompt type in telnet 127.0.0.1 <port>. If you can, you will see your BBS negotiating with your terminal, telling you briefly about the Operating System, and prompting you for either Language (if you run multiple language packs), or the optional Login matrix (Apply, Login, Feedback, Disconnect), or the Graphics prompt. Either way, if you see one of these three - your machine is ready for connections.
Now the real challenge can be enabling the port in your router. Again, if you have access to your router (logon and password), you can Google how to enable a port to your machine. This will require you to know your machine's IP. You will want to research for your operating system, how to set your current IP as a static IP instead of DHCP - otherwise, you will have to change the router destination IP to your machines IP almost every time it is rebooted.
Some Home Routers call this NAT (Network Address Translation), newer Routers call this PAT (Port Address Translation). Your goal is to allow inbound traffic on the same port you have your BBS running on. Sometimes, you have to access inbound traffic on a different port and point it to the internal port of your machine. (For example, some routers will not let you accept port 23 connections, so you could set your router to accept 8023, to the destination (your machines IP) on port 23.
We do not mind you sending us screenshots of your router, and we can step you through what to do. This will also benefit future PBBS sysops, as we can reference your archived photos. (Do not worry about security, we will blank anything that should be secure). Once finished, you will be able to go to our Tracker service, and see if it can reach your BBS - if it can, your BBS is instantly listed as an available BBS. And to help you test further if you are a registered customer, you will be able to go to www.saltair.bbs and click on the dropdown for the list of BBSes - scroll to find your BBS name - and click it - and via web browser log in to your BBS. We also offer special URLs that you can then post of facebook, twitter, emails, etc. that will automate that last step so your friends will be able to go to a web page that connects them directly to your BBS... at which point, you are a Sysop!!