[bbs-revival] Plans for #36C3 / Status Report

Harald Welte laforge at gnumonks.org
Mon Oct 14 18:28:05 UTC 2019


Dear all,

sorry for the long absence.  I've been distracted during the past year by
too much work (both dayjob, as well as many FOSS projects) and by tons of
renovation related work in my house.

In any case, I finally found sime time to work on at least some of the TODO
items in thsi project.  I'll spare you the details (some are in the wiki and
related tickets).

The high level goals remain: Have a portable setup consisting of:
* a PBX and reasonable numer of both analog and ISDN ports
* a Livingston PM3 RAS to avoid tons of individual modems and multiport serial
  boards on the BBS side
* set up at least a few BBSs that users can explore
* a collection of physical modems, ISDN TA, and all related accessories (phone
  line cables, RS232 cables, adapters, etc.) that users can borrow

The idea then is that at the event (36C3 will be at least the first one) people
can come to the "retro BBS assembly" or whatever it will be called, and connect
using terminal programs and modems/TAs which they can borrow on-site, or of course
bring any old equipment they may still have.

My status is as follows:
* physical PBX setup (wiring, etc) is complete (16x analog,8x S0,8x Up0)
* PBX configuration is complete
* Livingston PM3 is configured
* Synchronet BBS (one of the few BBS packages that are both FOSS and actively
  maintained) has been set up in a lxc container
** telnet access works
** modem access via mgetty works
** modem access via SEXPOTS works

In parallel, a crew around the old BIONIC BBS has been reviving Zerberus from
the dead.  I'm not up to speed in terms of their detailed status, but at the very
least, there's a Zerberus VM Image based on FreeDOS which works, even with real
analog modems handed into the VM (I just tested it this weekend).

My current work areas are:
* Linux SoftPBX with multiple E1 interfaces (probably FreeSWITCH with one or
  two QuadE1 boards, as LCR doesn't support DAHDI boards, and HFC-E1 boards
  mostly only have one port per PCI slot).  This SoftPBX is going to be the
  switch between the Portmaster and the Auerswald PBX, as well as possibly more
  other PBXs in the future
* Get my Synchronet BBS connected to at least DOVE-Net, maybe even FidoNet
  to populate Message Arease with Echomail before 36C3
* Test PM3->telnet->SynchroNet
* If there's time, play with other current Linux BBS software such as Mystic BBS

If anyone wants to join this setup at 36C3, by all means, please do so.  I could
envision at least the following forms of contribution:

1) Run your own BBS.  If you want to set up another BBS (or revive and
   old one from a backup), by all means!  I can hook you up either via
   analog lines or S0-busses, or even only via telnet/rlogin from the
   Portmaster.

2) Bring client-side systems.  That could be anything from a serial
   terminal [which we can hook up to a modem], or some vintage computer
   (any flavor) with terminal software [which we can hook up to a
   modem]. 

3) Help on-site e.g. build-up and teardown, but also during the event to
   give support to users who show up and want to set up their Laptop
   with a terminal program and one of the modems and log onto the BBSs


Crazy future goals (beyond 36C3):
* I actually bought four STM-1 add/drop multiplexers with 16 E1 ports each.
  This would allow us to build a more distributed setup with PBXs at different
  sites and fiber connections between them.  Why not have a SDH backbone at
  future CCC events :)
* Get back to the idea of improving the FOSS VoIP-Softmodem situation to
  enable more people to use dial-up without any actual hardware
  requirement.


Looking forward to any feedback.

Regards,
	Harald
-- 
- Harald Welte <laforge at gnumonks.org>           http://laforge.gnumonks.org/
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