How To Join Fidonet?

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Joining Fidonet is actually a very simple process. The hard part is locating a net in your area and contacting them for your node number. I'll try to keep this as concise as possible so as to (hopefully) reduce any possible confusion.

  1. The first thing to do is to download a copy of the current Fidonet Policy document. Read it and decide if you agree to abide by it. You should note that the current Fidonet Policy document is P4 and is rather dated. Much of it still applies today but there are definitely areas that are out of sync with current practices and desprately need updating.

  2. Choose and download a fido mailer package, install and configure it. When asked about the address to use, you can put in 1:3634/999 for now. The mailer is what is used to send and receive message packages and files. It does the actual connecting, transmitting and receiving. Your mailer may be able to use POTS, IP - ie: telnet, vmodem, binkp) or both POTS and IP connection methods. You can choose a mailer package here. There are many others available. You are not limited to what I have available here on this system or those I discuss.

  3. Download a copy of the most recent Fidonet Nodelist and put it where you told your mailer it would be located. Run any nodelist utils you may need to to compile any indexes your mailer may need. The nodelist will likely be archived in ARC, ZIP, or maybe even LZH formats. If so, you will also need an unarchiver that can open the archive and extract the actual nodelist text file so that your mailer can use it.

  4. Download a fidonet mail tosser, install and configure it. For now, configure it with the same address as in the mailer. The mail tosser is the software that will take the messages and pack them up for sending to other systems and will take the message packages from other system and toss the messages into your message bases on your system. You can choose a mail tosser package here. There are others available. You are not limited to what I have available here on this system or those I discuss.

  5. You may also need to download a message reader/editor. Some mailer packages, FrontDoor for instance, already contain the mailer and a reader/editor. You generally only need a mail tosser for them. Other packages, like D'Bridge, contain everything (mailer, reader/editor, tosser) all in one package but you still need a few external utils like the archivers. Then there are packages where you build your system with all the components you want. For example, if I were to be installing a RADIUS mailer system today, I would get RADIUS (I believe that it is free to use), the NODELIST, the mailer tosser FMAIL (its free as I recall), and the reader/editor TimED (its free, too). RADIUS is a FTN mailer that does POTS and IP. You can choose a message editor/reader package here. There are others available. You are not limited to what I have available here on this system or those that I discuss.

  6. Using the nodelist, look for the net geographically nearest to your physical location.

  7. With your message reader/editor, write a NETMAIL message to the Net Coordinator of that net inquiring what you need to do to join. Since you are likely configured with 1:3634/999 as your address (if you followed these instructions), you can write to the net coordinator at 1:3634/0. Some nets have application forms that they may want you to download, fill out and send to the net coordinator. If so, they will let you know. You may have to make your system poll the Net Coordinator to get any replies they may have written back to you. Since you don't yet have a fullnode number and they don't have your information, they cannot poll you to drop off any mail that they may have written. Don't worry. This is all part of ensuring that you have your system set up properly to be able to send and receive NETMAIL as it is truely the most important part of Fidonet. Without NETMAIL, most systems can't send mail and files. ECHOMAIL is another type of Fidonet mail and that comes later.

  8. Once you have written the netmail message to the coordinator, your mailer should send it off. You will likely need to use POTS for your initial contact so that means that you may have to disconnect from the internet so your mailer can use your modem and the phone line. Some nets have systems that are dually connected. This means that they can do both, POTS and IP. If you don't want to use the phone line, it is possible that you can locate an IP capable net near you. Net3634 can do both and will assist you in getting a node number. This may mean putting you in touch with another coordinator but whatever is needed can be done.

  9. Once the Net Coordinator receives your netmail inquiry, he will take the necessary steps to assign you your very own Fidonet Node number. He will then use his mailer to send this info to your mailer so that you can read it and adjust your software configs for the new address. He will be able to send you your nodenumber in a message because he will have your information and have processed it and gotten you configured in his system.

There! Its actually easier than it looks. In many cases, the whole process is over and done with in several hours if one is lucky enough for the coordinator to be available at the time they send in their request or application. Probably the hardest part is the configuring of the software. The longest part is waiting on the coordinator. In Policy4, you will have read how long to allow for yous application to be "processed." This is mainly due to the fact that this is a hobby and the coordinator may simply not be available immediately. He may be at work, on a trip or even just vacationing. Please have patience and understanding. If you don't have any luck contacting one coordinator after several days or a week or so, then try contacting another. You have the nodelist there and thus have access to everyone in fidonet. Someone will assist you. No matter who they are.

last updated by MFL on
25-Feb-2017 09:47
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