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SySop App: busyBBS

busyBBS is a telnet tunnel that allows one connection at a time. It is perfect for single user BBSs that do not already provide a "Busy" message to anyone who tries to connect to the BBS while another user is online. Normally, when a user logs on while the BBS is in use, the user will see a connection that times out without any output. Some users might think that the BBS is no longer active and move on. But when a BBS can provide a message such as "Someone else is using the BBS. Please try again later," they will more likely try to connect again later.


When a connection between a user and busyBBS is made, busyBBS will also establish a connection between the user  and the BBS. It also spawns a process that prints the "Busy" message to anyone else who attempts to connect. The busy message will get displayed for the lifetime of the first user's connection. You can also specify the number of seconds to display the busy signal after the user disconnects from the BBS. This is especially useful if a BBS needs a few seconds to reset itself after a user logs off.

Created by the Basement BBS Sysop, John Polka, Busy BBS is available for download here and Basement BBS. Truly a game changer in keeping BBS's from crashing around short telnet scan connections or bots, with an easy set up and maintenance free run environment. Download here 

Screen Shot 2022-11-26 at 10.17.22 AM.png

A few Files
Lightweight and Compact

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basement bbs.jpeg
Installation Instructions

busyBBS is shipped as a Windows .zip file. It is a 64-bit Windows console application that has been tested on Windows 10. It may also work on earlier versions of 64-bit Windows such as Windows 7 and 8. 32-bit versions are no longer supported. Below are the contents of the file:


busyBBS.exe - the main executable that provides the telnet tunnel

busyBBS2.exe - the executable that prints the "busy" message

startBusyBBS.bat - A batch script that starts the busy BBS application.

README.txt - This file.


Step 1 - Extract the contents of


Create a folder to store the contents of The folder can be anywhere including the desktop. You can also run busyBBS on the same machine as your BBS or on a different machine. If your BBS runs on a compatible Windows machine, then we recommend running busyBBS on the same machine.


Step 2 - Decide on the ports


bbsBBS requires a port that is accessible to the outside world. If you are adding busyBBS to an existing BBS, then this port should be the port for your BBS. Your BBS will also need a different port.  If you run busyBBS on the same machine as your BBS, then this port only needs to be accessible on the local machine. You do not have to open the port on your router. If your BBS lives on a separate machine, then you probably need to open the port on your router. Moreover, you will probably need to open busyBBS' port on the router. When your BBS runs on a separate machine


If you are creating a new BBS, then consider using a port number other than the standard 23 telnet port. Otherwise, you might notice an increase in bots trying to hack into your system. Although you might feel like there is not much to gain by hacking into your BBS, the increased bot traffic can make it difficult for legitimate users to log into your BBS.


Step 3 - Setting up startBusyBBS.bat


The startBusyBBS.bat file is a convenience batch file for starting busyBBS. To use this batch file, you need to first configure it. Open startBusyBBS.bat with a text editor, such as notepad. When you open it for the first time, you will see the following two lines:


REM usage: busyBBS bbs-telnet-address bbs-port my-port seconds-for-hangup-delay "BBS Busy Message" 


busyBBS localhost 8000 7777 30 "Sorry, someone else is currently logged into The Part-Time BBS. Please try again later."


The first line that begins with REM is ignored. It shows the usage for busyBBS. The second line is an example of a command line for busyBBS. The busyBBS application is invoked by entering busyBBS in a Windows command prompt or through this batch file. You can invoke busyBBS without any arguments and get the same usage message shown in the first line of the batch file. Each argument in the busyBBS command line is required. Below is a summary of each argument:


busyBBS - the name of the main busyBBS application


bbs-telnet-address  - the telnet address of the BBS. If you are running busyBBS on the same machine as the BBS, then this can be localhost or If you are running busyBBS on another machine then specify the numeric IP address or telnet address of the BBS machine (e.g.,,, etc.) 


bbs-port - This is the port number assigned to the BBS; not the port advertised to the outside world.

my-port - This is the port number assigned to busyBBS. This is the port that you advertise to the outside world.


seconds-for-hangup-delay - Specifies the number of seconds to keep the BBS busy after a user disconnects. Use 0 for no delay.


"BBS Busy Message" - The message you wish to display when a user tries to connect while your BBS is busy. The message must be surrounded by double quotes.


Change each argument in the second line to the appropriate values for your BBS. Save the batch file and exit the text editor.


Step 4 - Start busyBBS


To start busyBBS, you will want to open a Windows command prompt. The Windows command prompt is located under the "Windows System" folder in your start menu. After starting the command prompt, change your working directory to the busyBBS folder that you creared in step 1. Then run the busyBBS command. If you are using the provided startBusyBBS.bat script, then enter startupBBS at the command prompt. You will see the following screen when the application starts up successfully:






Busy BBS Version 1.1

Copyright 2021-2022 John Polka


BBSing in 2021 and beyond!


Busy BBS started at Fri Nov 25 21:29:31 2022

busyBBS: Waiting for next connection...


Running busyBBS


busyBBS will print informational messages when connections are established and closed. These messages include the BBS user's IP address and the time and date that they connect and disconnect. It will also print an error message if an error occurs. To stop busyBBS, press control C a couple times. If you stop busyBBS in the middle of a connection or during the delay after the user logs off, then you might have to manually stop the busyBBS2.exe process. See the next section, Troubleshooting busyBBS, for more details. Below is a sample run of busyBBS:





Busy BBS Version 1.0

Copyright 2021 John Polka


BBSing in 2021 and beyond!


Busy BBS started at Sat Jan 16 22:31:56 2021

busyBBS: Waiting for next connection...

busyBBS: Connection from on Sat Jan 16 22:32:05 2021

busyBBS2: Attempted Connection from on Sat Jan 16 22:33:15 2021

busyBBS: Connection from closed on Sat Jan 16 22:33:23 2021

busyBBS: Waiting 15 seconds before reset...

busyBBS: Waiting for next connection...


The messages with the "busyBBS" prefix come from the main application which connects a user to the BBS. These messages show you the IP address of who connected and the time stamp when they connected. The messages with the "busyBBS2" prefix show connection attempts while the BBS is being used. The users noted in the "busyBBS2" messages received the specified BBS "busy message". When the user logs off, busyBBS will wait the specified seconds before accepting a new connection. In this case, the delay is 15 seconds.


By default, these messages are displayed to the screen. If you want to log them to a file, then you can redirect the output to a file. For example,


startbusyBBS > bbs-connections.txt

Troubleshooting busyBBS


If an error occurs, you might get a zombie busyBBS2 process. This will cause your BBS to appear busy to callers even though your BBS is not. If you are getting a busy message when your BBS is not busy, then you should go into task manager and shutdown any busyBBS2 processes.


If this problem persists, then refer to the next section on how to file a bug with the author.


Help with busyBBS


You can report a bug or ask a question about busyBBS by contacting it author, John Polka.

You can contact John Polka at one of the BBSs that he runs:


"Basement BBS"

"Part-Time BBS"


Or you can email him at

Release Notes


busyBBS version 1.1 released on 11/25/2022 includes a minor security patch.



Special thanks to SysOp Amis for beta testing this release of busyBBS and for providing a place to download

busyBBS on his website, Be sure to check out his BBSs too:


"Amis XE"

"Nite Lite BBS"

"Southern Amis"  (Note: This BBS requires a term program that supports ATASCII)

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