BBS in 2019!? Say What?

Or, why would I even want to do this.

It has been a long time since I have had the opportunity to use a BBS system, and never before have I been a SYSOP. With my current status of being underemployed, I have chosen to utilize the time unwisely and have a nostolgic flashback to the pre-internet days. I can still recall begging for a modem for my Tandy 1000 HX that I started out with on this journey, but the modem would not come until we upgraded to a 386 machine with Windows 3.1 and 4800 baud (sexy right?) Ahh, Windows 3.1 with your lack of a TCP/IP stack. That PC would eventually get an upgraded modem to 9600 then to 14400, but the hard drive would never come to being a 1 GB drive. On the plus side, it did have internal storage, unlike the Tandy.

The truth of the matter is, I long for the days of BBS door games like Legend of the Red Dragon, Pimpwars, TradeWars, and others. Also, with the internet existing as it does and both Mystic and Synchronet supporting telnet, ssh, and rlogin it should be simple to network everything (famous last words).

After a few false starts, trying both Mystic BBS and Synchronet BBS, running in a 64-bit Ubuntu VM and discovering that no matter how many times I read the instructions I could not get DOSEMU to function, I was on the verge of giving up. Luckily I chose to persist, and can now play Legend of the Red Dragon 2 on my own BBS!

First step in the process was setting up the VM. For this I chose to use Virtualbox. I know full well that I can accomplish the same thing with KVM, however I am more comfortable using VirtualBox for this since I’ve been using it longer, and when all you have is a hammer….

I installed a small 64-bit Ubuntu 16.04 server VM, and installed the SSH server only. Once installed, I did the required updates and installed unrar. Mystic BBS comes packaged in a rar file, so I guess we need it.

I downloaded the 64-bit release from and proceeded to unrar the files as instructed. Mystic wants to install itself to the root directory, as such we need to escalate our privilege to do so, “sudo su”. then “./install”.

Up next, we changed the ownership of the mystic folder to one with less privileges. I created a new user of “bbs” and then “chown bbs:bbs -R /mystic”. Next I left the root account, and switched to my default user which has sudo privileges, as the bbs user does not.

Next, I installed dosemu with “sudo apt install dosemu” and modified the file /etc/dosemu/dosemu.conf to reflect a us keyboard layout so dosemu would not pester me every time a door game was launched.

After this, I followed the instructions in to install cryptlib so I could enable logging into the bbs over ssh as well as telnet.

Coming soon….. Configuring Door Games!