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Install and Configure LinBPQ BBS Packet Node on Debian Ubuntu and Raspbian

Install and Configure LinBPQ BBS Packet Node on Debian Ubuntu and Raspbian

Video that follows along the post for those who are more visual.

We’ve already covered the windows counterpart to LinBPQ, BPQ32 here. We will basically go over the same concepts, as the configuration side is not too different. The LinBPQ software is much more convenient, as it can run on low powered computers like the raspberry pi LinBPQ is a software created by a fellow ham, John Wiseman G8BPQ. If you’re not following this is part of an all encompassing guide to reintroduce packet radio. This is an effort consolidate documentation for various packet radio systems and present it in a modern way for modern operating systems.

If you do not yet have direwolf configured, and do not have an existing packet TNC, check this out first to configure direwolf for your radio. I will also provide an example of using a serial TNC.

Prerequisites:

  • A computer/server capable of running Debian/Ubuntu or Raspbian OS.
  • A radio with a digital soundcard and PTT interface (Like the Digirig).
  • Direwolf is installed and configured for your radio/soundcard or you have your own serial TNC.
    See here if you do not yet have Dire Wolf configured and need a TNC

Create Our User

This part is not required if you already have a user to use that is part of the sudo group (you should if you have direwolf installed as part of the Ultimate Dire wolf Installation Guide.). I’ve added it here for linux newbies who are starting fresh.

We’ll create a user and add it to the sudo group, and give it permissions to use COM ports. I’ve included the sudo install command just in case. Run the following commands as root:

apt install sudo 
adduser linbpq
usermod -aG sudo linbpq
usermod -a -G dialout linbpq
su linbpq

From now on, everything will be done under the context of the linbpq user. Do not use root, and do not use sudo unless the command requires it.

Downloading LinBPQ

Install some packages we need for downloading and installing linbpq, and then make a new folder for it, and move into it.

sudo apt update
sudo apt-get install wget unzip libcap2-bin screen
sudo apt install libpcap0.8-dev libasound2-dev libz3-4 zlib1g libminiupnpc17
mkdir ~/linbpq
cd ~/linbpq

If using 64bit Debian/Ubuntu issue the following command to download linbpq32, add 32bit packages, and install the ones we need.

sudo dpkg --add-architecture i386
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt install libpcap0.8-dev:i386 libasound2-dev:i386 libz3-4:i386
sudo apt install zlib1g:i386 libminiupnpc17:i386
wget http://www.cantab.net/users/john.wiseman/Downloads/Beta/linbpq

If using a Raspberry Pi, use the following command instead:

sudo apt install libpcap0.8-dev:armhf libasound2-dev:armhf libz3-4:armhf
sudo apt install zlib1g:armhf libminiupnpc17:armhf
wget http://www.cantab.net/users/john.wiseman/Downloads/Beta/pilinbpq
mv pilinbpq linbpq

If using a Raspberry Pi 5, you must also add the following to the bottom of your /boot/firmware/config.txt and then reboot before starting linbpq.

kernel=kernel8.img

Next, mark the file as executable:

sudo chmod +x linbpq

Next, run the following command to allow linbpq to use ports below 1024.

sudo setcap "CAP_NET_ADMIN=ep CAP_NET_RAW=ep CAP_NET_BIND_SERVICE=ep" linbpq

Downloading the WebInterface

Create a new folder within our current working folder (linbpq) called HTML move into it, and then download the webfiles zip with wget and unzip them.

mkdir HTML
cd HTML
wget http://www.cantab.net/users/john.wiseman/Downloads/Beta/HTMLPages.zip
unzip HTMLPages.zip

You’ll send up with your HTML folder containing the following:

linbpq web httml files

Configuring LinBPQ

The configuration for LinBPQ is all done via a text file. This text file is named “bpq32.cfg” which needs to be located right beside of the “linbpq” file we downloaded earlier. We will go ahead and create that now, and setup a basic linbpq node.

Go ahead and start direwolf in another terminal window, we will need it soon.
(If you are using a serial TNC, make sure it is connected, and you have the serial device path)

First move back up to the linbpq folder, and use “nano” to create a new file, bpq32.cfg

cd ~/linbpq
nano bpq32.cfg

Great, we have a black slate. Lets slowly start adding in the required lines to get our node up and running. We will walk through these slowly so that you understand what is going into the file as opposed to the regular wall of text template websites tend to just have you paste in.

Configuring Basic Node Settings and Information

First, paste in the following section, modifying as needed.
SIMPLE: This line simply sets some reasonable defaults for the config file for items that are not mentioned.
LOCATOR is your 6 digit grid/LAT/LON for reporting to the BBS packet Node Map.
You can also get more accurate by using a LAT/LON Like so:
LOCATOR=37.710893,-85.886211
MAPCOMMENT is a short message displayed on the online BPQ Node Map here.
NODECALL is the callsign of your Node, you should include an SSID at the end.
NODEALIAS is an alternate way for users to refer to your node.
CTEXT is the message that is displayed when users connect to your node.
FULL_CTEXT: If 0, send CTEXT to L2 connects to NODEALIAS only
IDMSG: is a short UI broadcast text. Just replace the line below it with your own.
BTEXT is the actual Text within the beacon sent from your node. This can include an APRS formatted location string.
INFOMSG is the text that is displayed when a user enters the “INFO” command while connected to your node.
MAPCOMMENT is a short message displayed on the online BPQ Node Map here.
IDINTERVAL is how often we broadcast our ID Message in minutes.
BTINTERVAL is a the amount of time between beacons are sent from your node.
NODESINTERVAL: Nodes broadcast interval in minutes.

SIMPLE
LOCATOR=EM77BQ
NODECALL=KN4MKB-7
NODEALIAS=MHNDE

CTEXT:
Welcome to the KN4MKB-7 LinBPQ Node.
HMNDE> BBS CHAT CONNECT BYE INFO NODES ROUTES PORTS USERS MHEARD
***
FULL_CTEXT=0

IDMSG:
TMH LinBPQ Node E-Town KY KN4MKB-11 BBS KN4MKB-12 CHAT KN4MKB-13 MUD
***

BTEXT:
!3742.65N/08553.17W#KN4MKB LinBPQ BBS/CHAT/MUD @ 144.930 and 14.105LSB.
***

INFOMSG:
Sysop KN4MKB.
MoreInfo: TheModernHam.com
BBS to connect to the BBS.
CHAT to connect to CHAT server.
MUD to connect to Multiplayer Game.
***

MAPCOMMENT=ModernHam LinBPQ Node, Elizabethtown KY<br>KN4MKB-7:144.93<br><a href="https://themodernham.com">TheModernHam</a>

IDINTERVAL=15
BTINTERVAL=15
NODESINTERVAL=25

Now that we have some basics out of the way, directly under we will add some more settings:

Adding some Required Network Configuration Settings

These are actually not required because of the “SIMPLE” line above, but we will override some of them in case you need to change something.

PACLEN determines how much data goes into our AX25 frame. This setting is overridden in the Ports section individually.
BBS can be 1 or 0 depending if you want to include BBS support or not.
What the really means if if you want to allow users to use applications on your node.
I’m not sure why this is called BBS, but I assume the reason is before my time.
NODE can be 1 or 0 depending if you want to include switch support or not.
This is a security concern. If 1 (default) users can use your node to connect out to others.
HIDENODES can be a 1 or 0 depending if you want to hide nodes that begin with a “#”

For the rest of the explanations, I will refer you to the official documentation over at:
https://www.cantab.net/users/john.wiseman/Documents/BPQ32.html

PACLEN=236
BBS=1
NODE=1
HIDENODES=1

Configuring the Ports

With BPQ, the ports are what allows us to setup data streams in and out of the application in various ways. Although this guide assumes you are using direwolf, I will also provide and example of a serial port KISS TNC for those of you using that.

TNC Port:

If you are using direwolf, we are going to assume you have setup default settings for AX25 packet as outlined in the ultimate direwolf guide. If FX25 is enabled, you may want to disable it for the time being, as it doubles your transmission time, I will leave mine enabled. For example, the settings below should be in your direwolf.conf file adjusted for your radios needs:

FX25TX 1
#For VHF:
MODEM 1200
#For HF
#MODEM 300 1600:1800 7@30 /4 D
PERSIST 63
SLOTTIME 12
RETRY 10
FRACK 5
#FRACK 8 for HF
MAXFRAME 4
#For HF
#MAXFRAME 1
PACLEN 128
#For HF
#PACLEN 64
DWAIT 0
TXDELAY 50
TXTAIL 40

With that said, our first port configuration for LinBPQ will be added at the bottom of your bpq32.cfg file if you are using direwolf as your TNC. Take care to replace the “IPADDR” with a different one if direwolf is running elsewhere.

The following is a good start for VHF Packet , for HF just change the ID Freq.:

PORT
   PORTNUM=1
   ID=144.930 MHz 1200 bps
   TYPE=ASYNC
   SPEED=19200
   PROTOCOL=KISS
   IPADDR=127.0.0.1
   TCPPORT=8001
   RESPTIME=1500
   MHEARD=Y
   BCALL=KN4MKB-7
   MINQUAL=100
   KISSOPTIONS=NOPARAMS
   CHANNEL=A
   FULLDUP=0
   NOKEEPALIVES=1
ENDPORT

If you are using a KISS SERIAL OR TNC, you will INSTEAD use the following:
Take care to replace the COM PORT with the serial port path for your TNC.
FOR HF, Set PACLEN to 64, and Change the “ID” Freq/Speed.

PORT
   PORTNUM=1
   ID=144.930 MHz 1200 bps
   TYPE=ASYNC
   COMPORT=/dev/ttyAMA0
   ;COMPORT=COM1 For windows
   SPEED=19200
   PROTOCOL=KISS
   KISSOPTIONS=ACKMODE
   ;KISSOPTIONS=PITNC,NOPARAMS (FOR PITNC)
   CHANNEL=A
   FRACK=7000
   RESPTIME=1000
   SLOTTIME=100
   TXDELAY=200; Needs adjusted for your radio
   PERSIST=64
   RETRIES=10; may want to adjust as needed
   DIGIFLAG=1; Set to 0 for HF
   TXTAIL=40; Needs adjusted for your radio
   PACLEN=128 ; Set to 64 for HF
   MAXFRAME=4; Set to 1 for HF
   FULLDUP=0
   NOKEEPALIVES=1
ENDPORT

TELNET and HTTP Port

The second port we will create will be for TELNET access, as well as HTTP node management. This will go right under your TCP port above. You will want to replace a few things:
TCPPORT is the Port where the telnet server is listening.
HTTPPORT is the port where the HTTP sever is listening
SECURETELNET Without this option, users can use your telnet port to connect out other places via IP/Host.
CTEXT, which is the text that displayed when a user connects via telnet.
USER: I have two lines with USER here. One creates a SYSOP (admin) with the username ‘ModernHam’, password ‘PASSWORD’ and callsign ‘KN4MKB’. You will want to replace that username/password with your own. I also create a user with the username ‘ANON’ and password ‘pass’ with no special access. You may wish to remove that if you do not want anonymous access.

PORT
   PORTNUM=2
   ID=Telnet
   DRIVER=Telnet
   QUALITY=0
   CONFIG
   RELAYAPPL=BBS
   SECURETELNET=1
   LOGGING=1
   DisconnectOnClose=0
   TCPPORT=8010
   HTTPPORT=8012
   LOGINPROMPT=user:
   PASSWORDPROMPT=password:
   MAXSESSIONS=15
   CTEXT=Welcome to KN4MKB's Telnet Server\nEnter ? for list of commands\n\n
 USER=ModernHam,PASSWORD,KN4MKB,"",sysop
 USER=ANON,pass
ENDPORT

APRS-IS Connection

The following can go right below your telnet port if you wish, and enables APRS-IS communication. Make sure to replace the APRSCALL, LAT/LON DigiCalls with your own information. LAT/LON must be in the standard APRS format, (ddmm.mmN/S), and make sure to replace it within the OBJECT PATH line as well.
The Symbol and Symset can be found here. You can grab your own APRS passcode here.

APRSDIGI
    APRSCALL=KN4MKB-10
    APRSPATH 1=APRS,WIDE1-1,WIDE2-1
    STATUSMSG=LinBPQ BBS Node E-Town KY
    Symbol=&
    Symset=\
    LAT=3742.39N
    LON=08553.10W
    BeaconInterval=30
    TraceCalls=WIDE,TRACE
    FloodCalls=USA
    DigiCalls=KN4MKB
    MaxTraceHops=2
    MaxFloodHops=2
    ISHost=noam.aprs2.net
    ISPort=14580
    ISPasscode=555555
***

Configuring the Applications

The very last bit on configuration, which will go at the end of the file will enable the BBS and CHAT and NODE applications.
The format is as follows:
APPLICATION <NUMBER>,<COMMAND TO START>,,<APPLICATION CALL>,<APPLICATION ALIAS>,<QUALITY>
Notice that each application callsign has it’s own distinct SSID. These need to be different than the node alias.
Afterwards LINMAIL and LINCHAT wil lactually make them start.

APPLICATION 1,BBS,,KN4MKB-11,MHBBS,255
APPLICATION 2,CHAT,,KN4MKB-12,MHCHT,255
LINMAIL
LINCHAT

Finishing Up

Great, so all together, you should have something that resembles the below:
(This is my complete configuration file)

SIMPLE
LOCATOR=EM77BQ
NODECALL=KN4MKB-7
NODEALIAS=MHNDE

CTEXT:
Welcome to the KN4MKB-7 LinBPQ Node.
HMNDE> BBS CHAT CONNECT BYE INFO NODES ROUTES PORTS USERS MHEARD
***
FULL_CTEXT=0

IDMSG:
TMH LinBPQ Node E-Town KY KN4MKB-11 BBS KN4MKB-12 CHAT KN4MKB-13 MUD
***

BTEXT:
!3742.65N/08553.17W#KN4MKB LinBPQ BBS/CHAT/MUD @ 144.930 and 14.105LSB.
***

INFOMSG:
Sysop KN4MKB.
MoreInfo: TheModernHam.com
BBS to connect to the BBS.
CHAT to connect to CHAT server.
MUD to connect to Multiplayer Game.
***

MAPCOMMENT=ModernHam LinBPQ Node, Elizabethtown KY<br>KN4MKB-7:144.93<br><a href="https://themodernham.com">TheModernHam</a>

IDINTERVAL=15
BTINTERVAL=15
NODESINTERVAL=25

PACLEN=236
BBS=1
NODE=1
HIDENODES=1

PORT
   PORTNUM=1
   ID=144.930 MHz 1200 bps
   TYPE=ASYNC
   SPEED=19200
   PROTOCOL=KISS
   IPADDR=127.0.0.1
   TCPPORT=8001
   RESPTIME=1500
   MHEARD=Y
   BCALL=KN4MKB-7
   MINQUAL=100
   KISSOPTIONS=NOPARAMS
   CHANNEL=A
   FULLDUP=0
   NOKEEPALIVES=1
ENDPORT
PORT
   PORTNUM=2
   ID=Telnet
   DRIVER=Telnet
   QUALITY=0
   CONFIG
   RELAYAPPL=BBS
   SECURETELNET=1
   LOGGING=1
   DisconnectOnClose=1
   TCPPORT=8010
   HTTPPORT=8012
   LOGINPROMPT=user:
   PASSWORDPROMPT=password:
   MAXSESSIONS=15
   CTEXT=Welcome to KN4MKB's Telnet Server\nEnter ? for list of commands\n\n
 USER=ModernHam,PASSWORD,KN4MKB,"",sysop
 USER=ANON,pass
ENDPORT


APRSDIGI
    APRSCALL=KN4MKB-10
    APRSPATH 1=APRS,WIDE1-1,WIDE2-1
    STATUSMSG=LinBPQ BBS Node E-Town KY
    Symbol=&
    Symset=\
    LAT=3742.39N
    LON=08553.10W
    BeaconInterval=30
    TraceCalls=WIDE,TRACE
    FloodCalls=USA
    MaxTraceHops=2
    MaxFloodHops=2
    ISHost=noam.aprs2.net
    ISPort=14580
    ISPasscode=55555
***
APPLICATION 1,BBS,,KN4MKB-11,MHBBS,255
APPLICATION 2,CHAT,,KN4MKB-12,MHCHT,255
LINMAIL
LINCHAT

You can now save the file, and start LinBPQ with the following command:

sudo ./linbpq

You should see the following:

linbpq startup

Managing your Node

Now that our node is running, we can interface with it in 3 different ways.

Connect via TELNET

Please keep in mind TELNET is not secure over untrusted lines. If reaching out via Telnet over the internet, everyone will see your login credentials.

With any telnet client, windows or linux we can connect to our bbs on the port configured (8010) unless you’ve changed it. Doing so will allow us to login with our SYSOP username and password we configured in the TLENET section. We can use the “?” command to see options, and run CHAT/BBS applications.

conencting to a linbbq bbs node with telnet

Managing via HTTP

Please keep in mind HTTP is not secure over untrusted lines. If reaching out via HTTP over the internet, everyone will see your login credentials.

We can also open a web browser, and connect to the http servers configured port (8012 by default) to manage settings and configuration. This will be where you do most of your additional configuration.

http://10.10.20.81:8012 For me

LinBPQ html Web interface Administration

Using your Node to Connect to other BBS Nodes

Now that you have your own node, you may also use it to connect to others. Simply connect to your own via the web temrinal, or telnet interface, and issue the PORTS command to view how you may connect out. You can use the MHEARD <PORT_NUM_HERE> command to view what stations you have heard on a specific ports for ideas.

You can then issue a command like:

CONNECT PORT_NUM STATIONCALL

Start your Node at Boot

Create a new service file using the following command:
sudo nano /etc/systemd/system/bpq.service

Paste the following into the new file:

[Unit]
Description=BPQ
After=network.target

[Service]
WorkingDirectory=/home/<YOUR_USER_HERE>/linbpq
ExecStart=/home/<YOUR_USER_HERE>/linbpq/linbpq
Restart=always
SyslogIdentifier=BPQ

[Install]
WantedBy=multi-user.target

Make sure to replace <YOUR_USER_HERE> with your username (without the brackets).

Use the following commands to enable and start and see status of linbpq:

sudo systemctl start bpq
sudo systemctl enable bpq
sudo systemctl status bpq

Conclusion

You now have your very own LinBPQ node configured as a BBS as well as a chat server. You can access it via radio, telnet or html. A lot could have gone wrong on this guide. If you run into issues, let me know in the comments below. BBS systems are not easy to configure. Try to be patient as you add functionality.

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