The BBS Corner - Virtual Modems & FOSSIL Drivers

Virtual Modems & FOSSIL Drivers provide the ability to connect a legacy DOS or early Windows based BBS that communicates with an analog dial-up modem to the Internet. These are meant for BBS software packages that do not have their own built-in Telnet server. A Virtual Modem or Virtual Fossil driver provides a ?go-between? between your BBS and the Internet. Here are descriptions of Virtual Modems and Virtual FOSSIL drivers and listings of several to choose from for your BBS.

Overview on Virtual Modems & Fossil Drivers

A "Virtual Modem " is just that. It does not physically exist - it is just a piece of software that acts like a modem to software that normally communicates with a COM port. What makes the Virtual Modem unique is that programs that normally connect to a modem via a computer serial COM port can communicate to a Virtual Modem. For example, if your computer normally has two serial ports (a COM 1 and a COM 2), set up the Virtual Modem on COM 3. It does not physically exist - it SIMULATES a modem and COM port for your computer and BBS. As long as the Virtual Modem software is installed and running in the background, software that communicates with COM ports will work.

Most Virtual Modems take standard ?AT? modem command strings (like ATDT for example) and some have special AT parameters used for Telnet BBS purposes. Each one has its own set of rules but the more common AT commands are allowed in all of them.

Virtual Modems come in two flavors, true COM port emulation and FOSSIL driver . COM port emulation is just that - acts and reponds exactly like a physical COM port with a modem attached would. (Remember the old days of COM1, COM2, etc.) FOSSIL driver style Virtual Modems operate like a FOSSIL driver (like BNU, ADF, X00, WinFossil, etc) or other programs that perform communictions functions externally from the main BBS program. An example of a BBS package that requires a FOSSIL driver is Renegade and the latest versions of WWIV BBS (4.3 and 5.0). The disadvantage with FOSSIL Virtual Modems will ONLY work with those BBS programs that can work with a FOSSIL and not with a BBS package that needs to communicate directly with a COM port.

Virtual FOSSIL drivers (which are related to Virtual Modems) are programs that allow DOS based programs that can connect with FOSSIL drivers to provide Telnet connections. They are NOT virtual modems or provide virtual COM ports. They will work with a number of BBS programs and DOS based BBS doors to allow them to run via Telnet.

Further Info: FOSSIL Driver definition (Wikipedia Article)

Overview on Virtual Modems & Fossil Drivers

Virtual Modem software (Windows)

Here is a list of Virtual Modem and/or Virtual COM Port redirection software.

Further Info: COM Port Redirector (Wikipedia)

Commodore Telnet BBS Server

Commodore Telnet BBS Server is a small Windows program that provides Internet connectivity for Commodore (or other 8-bit) computers. Essentially, it performs these two functions - Provides incoming Telnet access to 8-bit BBSes and provides outgoing Telnet functionality for 8-bit Terminal programs. BBS Server acts as a modem emulator , appearing as a modem to either end of the connection. This means that the BBS or Terminal program can run without modification. It runs as a background task and uses negligible CPU time.

COM/IP COM Port Redirector

The COM/IP? COM Port Redirector creates virtual COM ports and software modems for modem applications to use TCP/IP networks (including the Internet) instead of modem hardware and telephone connections. The COM/IP Redirector can originate or answer TCP connections with any other device, including computers running another copy of the COM/IP Redirector or serial servers. Price: $100 (1 port). Trial version available.

GameSrv - R & M Software

GameSrv is a game server meant for people who want to run door games without setting up a full-fledged BBS system. It supports both modern 32bit Windows games (which there are few of) as well as old 16bit DOS games with the aid of either NetFoss or mSyncFos under WindowsNT, or mSyncFos under Windows 9x. GameSrv can also act as a telnet server to run as a front-end for a BBS software that doesnt have one of it's ownx. Again, this includes either 32bit Windows BBS software (Mystic/EleBBS), or old 16bit DOS BBS software (far too many to list) with the aid of either NetFoss or mSyncFos.

NetSerial (PC Micro)

The NetSerial software creates Virtual COM ports on a Windows PC, which can redirect to remote Serial Servers, Modem Servers, and other serial devices located on any TCP/IP network or over the Internet. NetSerial's Virtual COM port allows application software to access remote devices as if they were connected to the local PC, without needing any changes to the application software. NetSerial can also be used to create a Virtual COM Port on both the client and the Server PC's, allowing the 2 computers to communicate over these ports just as if they were connected by a serial cable.

Virtual Modem Mode - In addition to standard Inbound and Outbound TCP connection modes, Netserial can also emulate a modem connected to its Virtual COM ports, allowing modem-based applications to redirect to TCP/Telnet servers instead of using a modem.
NetSerial also supports Modem Server applications (such as BBS Software) designed to answer inbound modem calls, allowing them to be used as a Telnet server over a network or the Internet.

Price: $90 per PC (unlimited virtual COM ports). BBS SYSOP DISCOUNT - If you are a BBS Sysop - you can get a discount! Price: $25 per PC.

Virtual Modem (FabulaTech)

Virtual Modem allows any modem communications applications to interact via LAN or the Internet. Application "dials" remote IP address instead of making a dial-direct call using hardware modem. Moreover, it looks as if the application worked with hardware modem. But in fact, a hardware modem is not used.
Price: $269. Trial version available.

Virtual Modem Pro (Eltima Software)

Virtual Modem PRO creates software virtual IP-modems using Eltima's branded virtual serial ports technology. All created virtual modems are mapped to virtual serial ports in your operating system. Virtual modems fully emulate real hardware modems and duplicate their functionality. However, virtual modems can do more, as they use Ethernet network, including Internet, VLAN and VPN instead of conventional telephone line. Price: $100 (1 node). Trial version available.

Virtual FOSSIL Drivers (Windows)

NetFoss - PC Micro Systems

NetFoss is a freeware Telnet FOSSIL driver for Windows, that works with all DOS BBS software that is FOSSIL aware to be used across a Telnet aconnection. NetFoss is not a virtual modem or a virtual COM port. NetFoss will only work with DOS based programs which were designed to support a FOSSIL driver. (ie: BBS programs and doors). It can also be used with native Win32 BBS programs, to allow DOS based doors to be run via telnet. Designed for Windows 2003/XP/2000/NT4 workstations and servers. Supports up to 65000 nodes. Allows DOS applications designed only for COM1-COM4 to run on any node. Changes FOSSIL-based applications to network-based without modifications to software.

NetFoss includes the Net2BBS Telnet server, and NetFoss is also compatible with  several third-paty Telnet servers. NetFoss is also compatible with our NetSerial COM port redirector and virtual modem software. This allows BBS software to answer Telnet connections on their own without a Telnet server, and allows outbound "calls" to be made, so that Fidonet Technology Mailers like FrontDoor and D'Bridge can be used via Telnet or raw TCP/IP instead of a dialup modem.

Using Linux and DOSEMU to perform Telnet redirection

An interesting method of performing the same thing but on a much simpler level is using shell scripts in Linux to perform the same thing as above. Mike Trelinski has a blog called Satori Code that shows that it is relatively easy to run a DOS based BBS system in Linux and DOSEMU.

Check out the blog entry for February 24, 2010 Running a DOS-based BBS through Linux and Telnet for details. It doesn't matter what flavor of Linux you use, but the example listed assumes the user is using Ubuntu.