Terms You Should Know:
Bulletin Board System.  A bbs is much like an internet site where people who want to read messages, chat, download files or play games, are able to log in as a bbs user, with a password and username.  The person who owns the bbs site is called a SysOp (System Operator).
Fidonet Compatibile BBS
A Fidonet compatible bbs system is one which uses one of the many Fidonet compatible message area types in it's message areas.  When looking for a bbs program that you can run on your system, if a bbs program uses Fidonet-compatiblemessage areas, it will usually say so in the documention.  Some examples of Fidonet compatible message types are Squish, Hudson, Jam, and MSG. You will find these types of message formats in bbs programs such as Maximus, and Mystic bbs.  Some bbs software programs use their own proprietary format which are also Fidonet comptatible, such as PCBoard,  WildCat, and BBBS.
The mailer  is a program that may run on top of a BBS program, or 'stand-alone' by itself with no BBS program. When it is run on top of a BBS program (called a "front-end"),  it is able to determine whether a caller to the system is another BBS mailer, or a user who wants to  log onto your BBS system.
The mailer is also used to call out to other FidoNet systems.  You can  use your mailer to call  another system to pickup or receive FidoNet traffic (mail, etc.),  or to request a particular file (File Request or 'freq.' ).   When you use a modem to dial up other fidonet members, you use mailers such as FrontDoor, or Binkley Terminal.  Some BBS programs come with a modem capable mailer already (BBBS, WildCat WinServer, for example.   If you have an internet connection that you will use to contact other Fidonet members, you can use one of the many available IP mailers, such as BINKD, or InternetRex, or Argus, or any mailer or BBS program that uses the BINKP protocol.
Geographic sections of Zone 1 (North America) are divided into sections called Regions.
When you apply for a FidoNet node number, you will be assigned to a network (net) in the region where you operate your BBS.  Each network is coordinated by an individual called  the NC (Network Coordinator).  Your NC is responsible for the smooth operation of your network.  You can read policy 4  where all the duties of the net coordinator are explained.
The list of all nodes which exist in FidoNet.  Each week you will receive a difference file which should be applied to your current nodelist.  The difference file is called a nodediff.   Some BBS software programs include a nodelist compiler to apply the difference file to your current nodelist.  If your BBS software does not include a nodelist compiler, then you should run a stand-alone nodelist compiler (read more about the nodelist)
Node Number
In Fidonet, each system is given a node number, not unlike an IP address in some respects.  This node number will tell you in the first digit followed by colon, where in the world the system is located.  1:, for Zone 1 North America, or 2:  for Zone 2 Europe, or 3: for Zone 3 Australia/New Zealand, or 4: Zone 4 South America, 5: for Zone 5 Africa, or 6: for Zone 6 Asia.
The next digits, before the "/" in the address, tell you the network within the zone.  I  am in Zone 1, network 261.   My address is 1:261/38, indicating that I am node 38 in network 261 in North America.

The  Fidonet nodelist lists my bbs/mailer telephone number, along with some flags to indicate that my system is also reachable via telnet and binkp, and ftp on the internet.

Normally, your network coordinator will assign your node number to you, and also apply the correct flags to your listing, if you let him know about your system capabilities.

All node numbers are listed in the Fidonet nodelist.  These node numbers, flags, phone numbers and other information are read by your front-end mailer before your system tries to connect to another system.

The system  you receive your echomail and file feed from.
A system who receives files or echomail from you.


A HUB is large system where netmail, echomail and files are distributed from.

Routing File

The Routing file contains a list of how you would like your mail handled as it leaves your system.  You can forward all your netmail to your echomail uplink, or your NC in your network, and he or she will make sure that your mail moves on to it's destination.   The instructions for this would go in your routing file.  Your routing file will depend on the type of software you use for your mailer and/or BBS.  Here is an example of routings given a FrontDoor style mailer (this type mailer is called an ArcMail attach Mailer).
Route-to 1:261/0   1:* 2:* 3:* 4:* 5:* 6:*
This routing statement tells your mailer to route any netmail traffic you write for sysops in zones 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 through 1:261/0.  Once 1:261/0 gets your mail for Zone 2, for instance,   1:261/0  sends it on to his uplink who then moves the mail to his uplink until your mail is delivered.


Netmail is a type of message between yourself and another individual in FidoNet, and in that respect it is similar to e-mail.  Netmail can only be considered private if it is sent directly to the receiver (your modem -> receiver's modem, or your internet-mailer -> receiver's internet-mailer).


Crash mail is sent directly from your system to another system  immediately after you finish writing it.   In order to send Crash mail, your system must have a mailer of one of two types on your system: or
  • an ION  (internet only) mailer.

    For normal landline (modem to modem) crash mail, you can use mailers such as FrontDoor, Binkley, or T-MAIL, etc.   If your system is available only on the internet, you can use one of the internet-style mailers such as  BINKD, ARGUS, or IREX which use the BINKP  protocol.

    Direct NetMail

    Direct NetMail is sent directly from your system to another, without going through any other systems. You normally set an event to send this mail at a particular time of day or night.  With Internet technology so prevalent in FidoNet today, the concerns of setting events to send direct mail only during the wee hours of the night when rates are cheap, have essentially disappeared.

    Routed Netmail    

    Routed Netmail is sent from your system to other systems, called HUBs , who then move your message on to it's destination.   Routed Netmail delivery is slower than crash netmail,  since it must arrive at each location and be forwarded to the next system before it arrives at its destination.
    You should also remember that in general you should not attach a file to a netmail message that is being routed to it's destination.  This is because unless you have the agreement of every node that your attachment must pass through, your file will most likely be dumped along the way - no one is required to continue an attachment to it destination unless they have agreed to do so.

    File Attachment

    You may have a great bbs utility, batch-file, script or program that you'd like to share with a friend.  In that caseyou can write your friend a netmail message, and 'attach' that file to the netmail you write.  It works the same way an internet e-mail attach works, though in general you should only attach files to message that are going directly to your friends' system.  To send a file attachment, generally you address your message to the system who should receive the file, and you normally place the path to your file and the filename on the subject line.  Different mailers have different methods of then setting the attach flag on your message.  With the FrontDoor Mailer, you press Ctrl+F to set it, with BBBS you include  the  less-than "<" symbol before the nodelist address.

    File Request (freq)

    As mentioned earlier,  a file request is used when you know that a certain system has a particular file available for download by mailer.   In your netmail message, you address your mail to the system that has the file, and normally you put the name of the file you'd like to request in the subject line.   Once connected to the system, your mailer will pass the request to the system you are calling, and the system you are calling will allow your mailer to 'take' a copy of the program.  Again, different mailers have different methods of setting the freq bit in your netmail message (marking it as a file request, i.e.).  If you are using the FrontDoor Mailer, you press Ctrl+R to select freq, with BBBS, you include the greater-than ">" symbol before the nodelist address.


    Mail and archives which are distributed in FidoNet may be delivered or picked up from a number of Backbone distribution systems.  There are a number of backbone distribution systems in FidoNet, such as the original NAB system, and another which uses the web to facilitate connections.


    Like newsgroup articles, an echomail message is a broadcast type message that anyone may reply to, unless the rules of the echo state that the echo is 'read-only'.  In that case, you may read the messages in the echomail area, but you may not reply, or post any messages.

    Message Echo

    Message echos are like newsgroups in that anyone may reply to messages in that echo area.  When you post a reply to a message in an echo area, your message is transported to all BBS systems which carry that message echo area.


    Each message echo  has a TAG name which identifies that area, such as PDNECHO.  This  tag name is read by your BBS software when importing echomail.  The list of Backbone message echo tag names is located in BACKBONE.NA (NAB backbone).

    File Echo

    A file echo is like a message echo in that a file (generally shareware or freeware software)  sent out from one system can be received by anyone who subscribes to that file echo.   Like message echos, each file echo also has a unique tag name.  The File Echo tag names are listed in a file called FILEGATE.ZXX, which is distributed weekly in the FG_WORF file echo.


    An FDN (File Distribution Network) groups files of like interest or category for distribution to members of FidoNet.  File echos are distributed by FDN Coordinators, and are freely available to all members of FidoNet from various sites,  often called File Hubs, in your net.  Each FDN is unique, and deals with one  category, or type of file (games are distributed by theGamesnet FDN), or anti-virus software (Anti-Virus FDN), or programming files (PDN), or files that run under Linux or OS/2).  You can see the entire list of file echo areas that are currently available in the filegate.zxx file.

    TIC s and TICK Technology

    The  File Hub in your net, or the uplink you select to download files from uses TICK technology to distribute archives to your system.

    TICK technology uses a small file  (xxxxxxxx.tic) to describe the archive it accompanies to your system.  The xxxxxxxx.tic file has a unique file name, and contains information such as the archive's file name, description of the archive, the crc of the archive, and who has already received the archive (seen-by lines).

    The tic file looks something like this:

    Area       PDNASM
    Origin    1:261/38
    From      1:249/100
    To            1:249/0
    File          80XX0301.ZIP
    Desc        Sample code from the Fidonet 80XXX , Assembly language programming echo.
    Crc           80456
    Path         1:261/38 1042351435 SUN JAN 12 12:03:55 2003 UTC+0600  49E340AC
    Path         1:245/100 @030112130427 EST+5
    Seenby 1:261/38
    Seenby 1:249/100
    Seenby 1:249/0
    Seenby 1:3634/12
    Seenby 2:201/505
    Pw  Password

    When this file is received with archive, 80XX0301.ZIP,  your file tosser  reads  the information in the tic.  It then  looks  for the corresponding information it needs in your configuration file.  Finally, it move the archive from your inbound  to the place on your hard drive where you've chose to store this file area.

    After the file is placed in your file base by your tick-compatible software ,  the .tic file is deleted by your system.


    A FileTosser is a program that looks in your mailer's inbound directory for .tic information files and the archive associated with that .tic file.  The FileTosser program reads the archive's .tic file  and your configuration file, and moves the archive to the place on your hard drive specified in your tic configuration.  The tick program also updates the archive's file description on your BBS so your users know  the purpose of the file.
    There are a number of file tossing programs - a number of BBS programs include their own, as a matter of fact.  If you BBS software doesn't include one, you can select from the original freeware TICK program, or from any number of shareware programs, like ALLFIX .