Synchronet v3.16c-Win32 (install) has been released (Aug-2015).

You can donate to the Synchronet project using PayPal.

This is an old revision of the document!


Miscellaneous

Deleted Msgs

:?: Question:
Why is it that deleted messages still appear in message bases?

:!: Answer:
In Synchronet, when a message is deleted, it is only flagged for deletion. The actual removal of “deleted messages” from message bases takes place during regularly scheduled message base maintenance (using the smbutil utility). Normally, messages flagged for deletion will have a DELETED attribute displayed in the message header, if/when the message is displayed to a user. Messages flagged for deletion may be “undeleted”, but only when they are visible to a user or sysop.

There is a Synchronet configuration option, SCFG→Message Options→Users Can View Deleted Messages, with three possible settings:

  1. Yes
  2. No
  3. Sysops Only

If the sysop wants deleted messages to appear to be immediately and permanently removed from the message base, they should set this option to “No”. When this option is set to “Yes”, all users with read-access to the message base will be able to view/read messages flagged for deletion. When set to “Sysops Only”, this option will only allow messages flagged for deletion to be visible to system operators (sysops) and sub-booard operations (sub-ops).

Note: Deleted messages may still be viewed and undeleted using the smbutil program and possibly other methods, until the deleted messages are actually removed from the message base during maintenance.

New User Feedback

:?: Question:
How do I eliminate the requirement that new users send feedback/mail to the sysop during sign-up?

:!: Answer:
In Synchronet for Windows, run the Configuration Wizard and un-check the “Require new user feedback” check-box.

Or, set SCFG→Nodes→Node 1→Advanced Options→Validation User to “0”. If you want your new user validation feedback (e-mail) to go to another user, enter that user's number here.

SBBSList

:?: Question:
How do I get my BBS listed on the Synchronet BBS List?

:!: Answer:
The best way is to first join DOVE-Net, then run the Synchronet BBS List (sbbslist) door on *your* BBS and add an entry for your BBS. This entry should be automatically exported to the DOVE-Net SYNCDATA echo which will then be propagated to Vertrauen and every other BBS on DOVE-Net. The sbbslist.html page is automatically generated on Vertrauen every night at midnight (Pacific time), so wait a day or so for your entry to appear on the list. If it doesn't appear, verify that that your BBS entry was properly exported (as a message) to the SYNCDATA message area. The timed events SMB2SBL and SBL2SMB that will import and export BBS entries should be configured by default. If they are not, see sbbslist for more details.

Time Stamp Error

:?: Question:
Why am I getting the following error when running SBBS?

source: logon.cpp
action: checking
object: Daily stats time stamp

:!: Answer:
Because your system's date/time has been adjusted backwards more than 24 hours.

  1. Shutdown the BBS
  2. Fix your system date/time
  3. Run exec/dstsedit in your Synchronet ctrl directory, change the “Date Stamp” to yesterday's date
  4. Restart the BBS

Migration

:?: Question:
How can I migrate my Synchronet configuration and data to a new computer?

:!: Answer:
You can simply copy the Synchronet directory tree (e.g. C:\SBBS), complete with all sub-directories, to the new computer.

Synchronet doesn't require installation on a computer, but if you wish to, you can install Synchronet on the new computer and then simply over-write the installed files with your migrated files.

If the target (new) computer is running Windows and you choose not to install, then you may want to create a shortcut to sbbsctrl.exe in your Windows Startup folder (so it will automatically run when you login) and/or install the Synchronet NT Services (which can run without logging-in as a user). If the target computer is running Windows Vista or later, then you'll also want to follow the solution to this FAQ as well. For 16-bit DOS program support, the Synchronet Windows NT FOSSIL driver (sbbsexec.dll) must also be copied to the Windows System32 folder. See the sbbsexec.dll FAQ for details.

If the source (old) computer was running Windows and you wish to preserve any changes you made to the Synchronet Control Panel settings (stored in the Windows registry), you can export those settings to a sbbsctrl.ini file (using the File→Export Settings menu option) and then import them into the Synchronet Control Panel running on the new computer (using the File→Import Settings menu option). These settings include some changes made via the File→Properties menu. Settings made in most other menus in the Synchronet Control Panel are stored in your ctrl/sbbs.ini file.

Configuration changes made via the SCFG utility are stored in the *.cnf files in your ctrl directory.

If you wish to only migrate configuration and data files (e.g. over an new installation of Synchronet), copy (recursively) the following Synchronet sub-directories to the new computer:

If you customized any of your filter (*.can) or menu (e.g. *.asc) files, you'll also want copy (recursively) the following directory:

If you customized any of your executable modules (e.g. *.js), you'll also want copy the following directory:

Note: Sysop-installed (e.g. not from CVS) or modified modules should not normally be stored in your exec directory, but if they were, then you'll want to copy those over as well.

Max Msgs

:?: Question:
Why are there more messages in my message base than the configured maximum number of messages for that sub-board in SCFG?

:!: Answer:
The maximum number of messages configured via SCFG→Message Areas … Sub-boards (and visible when using the smbutil s command as the max_msgs value) is enforced when the message maintenance (e.g. smbutil m command) is executed.

By default, Synchronet comes with a pre-configured Timed Event called MSGMAINT, set to run weekly, which will perform normal message base maintenance on all of the message bases in your data directory, including the deleting of old messages, if necessary, to meet the configured “Maximum Messages” value. Timed events may also be forced by the sysop to run immediately at any time, if desired.

QNET Tag

:?: Question:
Why doesn't my configured QWK networking tagline (or FidoNet Origin line) appear on my locally posted messages?

:!: Answer:
QWK network taglines (and FidoNet Origin lines) aren't added to messages until they are exported to a message network. The locally posted messages will not have QWKnet taglines (or FidoNet Origin lines).

Note: You can see what your configured QWKnet tagline (or FidoNet Origin line) looks like by using the I (sub-board information) command.

FTN MSGID

:?: Question:
Why do the FidoNet-style Message-IDs for messages created-by or posted-on Synchronet BBSes appear different than the Message-IDs of messages posted by other FidoNet-type nodes?

:!: Answer: (sorry this is a long and possibly contentious answer)
Because, for the message-IDs to be useful for any intended purpose (e.g. dupe-checking, reply-linking) they must be unique for every message created on a BBS.

When using Internet-standard message-IDs (defined in 1982), this is not a problem because the entire message identifier is basically free-form text (between < and > delimiters), leaving the entire data portion completely up to the implementer (e.g. programmer) to add whatever data they feel necessary to guarantee a unique ID for any particular message created at any given time. No data within an Internet-standard message-ID is expected to be interpreted or used in any way, other than to uniquely identify a particular message. The data could be a large number or just a string of meaningless symbols and so long as it is unique, it's doing its job rather perfectly. Usually, an Internet-standard message-ID will contain a globally unique addresses (e.g. public IP address or host name) so as to prevent random collisions with the IDs generated on a nearly unlimited number of other systems on the Internet, but there is no requirement that an address is included in the identifier.

However, for FidoNet, the de facto standard (defined in 1991) imposed some restraints on the contents of its message-IDs (the data between ^AMSGID: and CR delimiters): 2 fields separated by a single space: origaddr and serialno.

The definition of the serialno field is thus:

... may be any eight character hexadecimal number, as long as it is unique -
no two messages from a given system may have the same serial number within a three years.

My interpretation of this requirement is that the author of the specification was asserting that 32-bits (8 hex digits) of data (~4.2B unique numbers) was enough to uniquely identify every message generated on a single FidoNet node for at least 3 years. Even if that assertion were true, as an experienced BBS software developer, I have these issues with that concept:

  1. 3 years is not long enough. I have message threads on my BBS dating back 20 years or more and I certainly expect and my software depends on the message-IDs being unique so long as the messages are stored in the message bases. If the messages are stored for a 100 years, their identifiers should still be unique then. So forget the 3 year clause, that's no more valid a limitation than Bill Gates' 640 Kilobytes1).
  2. A pseudo-randomly chosen 32-bit number is obviously not a good choice, but it would probably work for the majority use case. I fear that some inexperienced or lazy programmers might have chosen this simple “solution” and no one would be the wiser until… someday there's a random ID collision and someone might notice and complain. But probably not.
  3. A 32-bit time_t (Unix time, in seconds since Jan-1-1970) would seem an obvious choice for the serialno field except for the fact that today's systems can generate many thousands of messages per second if they need to. Even the multinode systems of the 80's and 90's could easily generate multiple messages within the same second. Many FidoNet programmers fatally chose a time_t value as their serialno and only source of uniqueness and you can see the proof of this in the MSGIDs that show up in FidoNet messages to this day2). Again, nobody is wise to this design flaw until there is a “random” collision one day… and maybe someone notices. But usually not.
  4. A system to exclusively register monotonically-incrementing message serial numbers would be error prone (e.g. the sysop deletes the data file tracking the last assigned serial number) and unnecessarily bottle-neck message generation (e.g. importing thousands of messages from some other networking technology, which would need unique FidoNet-style message-IDs assigned to each).
  5. It's obviously still a problem if 2 different systems generate the same message-ID serialno value, unless there's some other source of “uniqueness” in the Message-ID…

Which brings us to the origaddr field which is defined in FTS-9 as:

... should be specified in a form that constitutes a valid return address for the originating network.

Now this identifier field has some promise:

  1. It's not limited to a specific number of characters or a specific character set.
  2. It's rather vague about what constitutes “a valid return address”.
  3. It's only a “should” clause, which in spec-lawyer-speak, means: “you don't have to” (in contrast to “shall” or “must”).

So the origaddr is where Synchronet and its utilities (e.g. SBBSecho) adds unique data to insure that all messages generated by a correctly-configured Synchronet system have unique FTN message-IDs… forever. The data we place in the origaddr is currently thus:

<msgnum>.<subcode>@<ftn_addr>

where

  • <msgnum> is the monotonically-incrementing message number for the message in this particular message database (echo area)
  • <subcode> identifies the system-local message database where the identified message is stored
  • <ftn_addr> is the 3D or 4D FTN-style address of the FidoNet-style node that created the message

Example:

73470.sync@1:103/705

The result is a “valid return address for the originating network”, in that a FidoNet NetMail sent to this address will normally reach the sysop of the originating node (in the example case, me). But the originating network might not be an FTN network. There is nothing in FTS-9 that specifies the form or content of the origaddr field. In fact, it mentions the use of “double-quotes” and how they must be escaped if part of the address. When is the last time you saw quotes of any kind in an FTN address? Clearly the author was leaving this definition open to non-FTN addresses. And again, it's only a “should” clause anyway. This field could only contain the GPS coordinates of my birthplace and would still be completely within the requirements of the specification.

The serial number (serialno) field generated by Synchronet and its utilities is a mathematical sum of the area-unique <msgnum> and a number derived from the date and time the message was created so as to maximize the use of the allocated 32-bits. The serial number will by unique among all the messages generated by a Synchronet-system in a single message area (echo), but is not guaranteed to be unique, by itself, among all the FTN-connected message areas of a single Synchronet-system. The serialno field alone does not constitute a unique message identifier, so don't try to use it as one!

But it doesn't look like other other FTN MSGID's!?!

This is true. But before I decided on the makeup of the Synchronet-generated FTN MSGID's I collected and collated many thousands of FidoNet messages from the Zone 1 backbone echoes and found that there was already a lot of variety in the look of the orginaddr field of the MSGIDs used over the last 20+ years: Most were simple 3D or 4D FTN-style addresses, but many had 5D-style addresses with @fidonet as the domain, sometimes @fidonet.org, and many others just had what appeared to be an Internet-style host name (no @ or FTN-style address at all). Others combined Internet-style host names with other seemingly random or incrementing numbers or symbols.

So Synchronet/SBBSecho did not introduced some “new thing” into FidoNet. Indeed, I would just be the next thoughtful programmer that has solved this problem in his or her own way because the original specification (FTS-9) was short-sighted3) and never fixed.

If you have or know of someone that has software that has a problem with the Synchronet-generated FTN MSGID's, I am truly sorry. That same software, if it exists, would have a similar problem, whatever that is, with many other unique FTN MSGID's which existed long before Synchronet and SBBSecho started sending messages with unique message-IDs into FidoNet-style networks.

But why don't you change it to look like other FTN MSGID's!?!

Because:

  1. That would defy the uniqueness of the FTN MSGID's generated by Synchronet, and that's the entire point of their existence.
  2. If I were motivated to change how the MSGIDs look, it would be to make them more unique, not less.
  3. The MSGIDs are already compliant with the requirements of the de facto standard specification (read it), so they don't need to be changed.
  4. The MSGIDs are not that dissimilar to unique MSGIDs that have been included in FidoNet messages posted by other compliant-software for over 20 years.
  5. You should fix or replace your software instead. :-P

Old Baja

:?: Question:
Why do I get the following error when compiling an old Baja source (*.src) file: !SYNTAX ERROR (expecting integer constant)?

:!: Answer:
Most likely, the Baja source file references numeric constants using symbolic names (e.g. UM_EXPERT) which *used* to be hard-coded in to the Baja compiler, but aren't any longer (since Baja v2, circa 1995). These numeric constants were moved to the Baja include file named sbbsdefs.inc. The solution is to add the following line near the beginning/top of the old Baja source file in question:

!include sbbsdefs.inc

Note: To see a complete list of changes in Baja v2, see baja2new.txt.

Spell

:?: Question:
How do I spell “Synchronet”?

:!: Answer:
With an 'h'. You can CamelCase the “Net” in “Synchronet” if you strongly prefer, but since there are a few companies/services which have trademarked that name (with a capitalized “Net”), it may be confusing. It's been just “Synchronet” (like “Internet”) for over 20 years now, so it should probably just stay that way.

Note: This isn't actually a frequently asked question, but it should be.

Abbreviate

:?: Question:
How do I abbreviate “Synchronet”?

:!: Answer:
Without an 'h'. :-) Seriously, the full name is “Synchronet BBS Software”, so we prefer to usually abbreviate that to either 'SBBS' or just 'Sync'. Since 'Sync' is pronounced with one syllable and 'SBBS' is four, sometimes that's a reason to prefer 'Sync' to 'SBBS'. 'Synch' looks like 'sinch' or 'cinch', so that abbreviation should be avoided.

Note: This isn't actually a frequently asked question, but it should be.

See Also

1)
supposedly a myth, but a good one
2)
If this is your software doing this, you should fix or replace it
3)
RFC-822… anyone, anyone?
Print/export
Languages
Translations of this page: