NOSintro – TCP/IP over Packet Radio

An Introduction to the KA9Q Network Operating System

by Ian Wade, G3NRW



Before using the NOS BBS, you have to set up a number of control files. In this chapter we look at two of the files which you need for simple mail handling via the AMPRnet (using SMTP):




Examples of these files are included in Appendix 3.


The areas file

The file /spool/areas (page 311) lets you set up public message areas in your BBS. The first character of each area name must be the first character on the line. Any other lines containing descriptive information must start with a space.

all ........ General chit-chat.
tcpip ........ General TCP/IP and NOS messages.
sysop ........ Messages for Bob (NS9BOB).

Users logging in to the BBS can list this file by giving the A command by itself. Or they can select a particular area with a command like A TCPIP, and then access public bulletins in that area.


The autoexec.nos file

The NOS BBS requires several parameters to be defined in autoexec.nos (pages 312–317). The first of these is ifconfig description:

ifconfig tnc0 description "144.625 MHz port"

This description appears on the screen in response to the BBS P (Ports) command. Note that you need to enclose the description text with inverted commas (" ").


Starting the Servers

Autoexec.nos contains several commands to start the servers required for mail handling:

start ax25 # allow AX.25 users to log in to my BBS
start finger # allow people to finger me
start pop2 # allow my BBS to reverse-forward mail
start pop3 #
start remote # allow people to control my station
start smtp # turn on SMTP mail forwarding
start ttylink # allow people to chat to me

These start commands turn on the network servers which the BBS uses. If you don’t want people to use some of these services, you can comment them out with the hash character; e.g.

# start ax25
# start finger
# start pop2
# start pop3
# start remote
# start ttylink


Third-Party Traffic

If you are permitted to handle third-party traffic, include this in autoexec.nos:

third-party on


Configuring the SMTP Client and Server

To configure the SMTP client and server, include the following commands in autoexec.nos:


Fig 19-1: The smtp mode command specifies which queue will hold incoming mail. When the mode is set to route (the default), the mail goes into /spool/mail, from where the NOS mailer can read it. If the mode is set to queue, the mail goes into /spool/rqueue. Special software (not supplied with NOS) is then required to handle the mail in this queue.


smtp timer 600
smtp gateway ns9sgw
smtp usemx on
smtp mode route
smtp kick

The smtp timer value is the time interval, in seconds, between automatic attempts at forwarding mail. Thus in this example the BBS will attempt to forward any outstanding mail every 600 seconds (10 minutes).

The smtp gateway (ns9sgw) is the name of the station to which the BBS will forward mail for destinations which do not appear in domain.txt.

The smtp usemx command specifies that SMTP is to use MX entries in domain.txt for forwarding mail. Chapter 23 describes this in more detail.

The smtp mode route command states that SMTP is to place incoming mail in the M: directory (/spool/mail), ready for the mailer to read it. This is the usual setting — see Fig 19-1.

As an alternative, you can change the command to:

smtp mode queue

In this case all incoming mail goes into the directory /spool/rqueue instead. This directory is intended for use by different mail handling programs (not supplied with NOS), to allow you to experiment with alternative mailing strategies. You cannot read mail in this directory with the BBS mailer.


Configuring the Mailbox Client

Finally, you need to set up a number of parameters for the mailbox client (see the box opposite).

When mbox attend is set to on, users can start chat sessions with you using the O (Operator) command. If set to off, the BBS tells the user that the box is unattended.


mbox attend on
mbox maxmsg 100
mbox motd "Please use SP NS9BOB to leave a message"
mbox expert on
mbox nrid on
mbox password "Maximum 30-character password."
mbox secure off

mbox qth "[London]"
mbox utc 0
mbox zipcode "1234567"
mbox fwdinfo "BOBBBS"
mbox haddress "BB7BBS.#41.GBR.EU"
mbox smtptoo off
mbox kick

The mbox maxmsg parameter lets you specifiy the maximum number of messages per mailbox area. Be aware that you should keep this number (and the number of areas) reasonably low, as the BBS reserves a corresponding amount of memory for the maximum number of messages.

The mbox motd is a short "message-of-the-day" that appears as a welcome message when a user logs into the BBS. Note that the text of the message must be enclosed in inverted commas (" ").

When mbox expert is on, the BBS will display a short prompt by default when a user logs in. When set to off, the prompt contains a list of all the command letters. The user can change the expert state with the BBS X command.

When mbox nrid (NET/ROM ID) is on, your callsign appears in the BBS prompt instead of the simple > prompt:


If you are running a NET/ROM node, your NET/ROM alias appears in the prompt as well:


The mbox password is contained within inverted commas, and can be up to 30 characters long. The BBS uses this password to authenticate a user who wishes to control the station remotely; how to do this is described in detail in Chapter 22.

The mbox secure command controls access to the BBS gateway commands. When set to on, users are not allowed to use the gateways.

The remaining mbox commands (qth, utc, zipcode, fwdinfo, haddress, smtptoo and kick) are to do with AX.25 PBBS forwarding, and are described in detail in Chapter 25. If you are not using PBBS forwarding, you can omit these commands from autoexec.nos.


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[Copyright 1992-2009 Dowermain Ltd. All Rights Reserved. This page last modified: 21 May 2009]