Installing Synchronet on EC2

I’ve had several requests on the Facebook BBS group to write a tutorial about how to set up Synchronet on EC2. Fortunately this is relatively simple to do, and Amazon will even give you a free tier microinstance for one year just so you can give EC2 a shot!

Besides a general knowledge of BBSs, Windows, and the Internet, the open real prerequisites for this tutorial is to have an Amazon Web Services Account. If you don’t already have one, head over to amazon.com/aws to sign up.

Now let’s get started.

First, we need to create a new microinstance on EC2. To do this, navigate to https://console.aws.amazon.com/ec2/home, and then click on the link marked ‘Instances’ from the left navigation. This will take you the Instances Dashboard. You should see something similar to this:

Now click on the ‘Launch Instance’ button. This will launch the new instance modal. Select “Quick Launch Wizard” from the navigation on the left and give your instance a name. Under the Key Pair section, select “Create New”. Give your new Key Pair a name, and click download. Save this file somewhere safe, as it will be the key for accessing your new EC2 instance. Finally, choose “Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Base” from the list of images, and select 32-bit. Your config screen should look similar to this:

Now click next and review your settings on the following screen. Once everything looks good, click “Launch” and then close out of the modal window.

Your instance is now initializing, and it will take a few minutes to completely load. Once your instance has loaded, you will be ready to log into your new instance. Once the instance has fully initialized, the “Check Status” field should be marked with a green checkmark, like so:

Now right click on the instance and choose the “Connect” option from the menu. This is where we will find our credentials for accessing our new instance. Click on the retrieve password button, and click “choose file” under the Private Key section. (Note, it usually takes 15 minutes before a password is created for an instance). Point the file browser towards the file you saved earlier when creating the instance. Write down your Public DNS, Username, and Password from this screen.

Now let’s open port 23 for the new instance so it can receive incoming Telnet connections. Click on the instance from the list. In the details panel at the bottom of the screen you’ll see a header marked “Security Groups”. Take note of the name of the group. Now click on “Security Groups” on the left side navigation. Select your security group from the list. In the bottom panel create a new custom TCP rule for port 23. Click “Add rule”, and then “Apply changes”. This will open port 23 for Telnet clients.

Now open up Remote Desktop Connection. I’m on a Mac, so this comes installed by default with OSx. I’m not entirely sure how this works on a Windows machine, but I’m sure the basic steps are pretty much the same.

Type in your Public DNS into the connect field and click connect. If everything has been successful, you should be prompted for your login credits for your new Window machine! After logging in, you will see the Desktop of your new machine. It should look a little something like this:

Now we’ll want to open up port 23 on the Windows box. Go to Start->Administrative Tools->Windows Firewall And Advanced Security. Select “Inbound Rules”, and click “New Rule”. Select Port, and click next. On the next screen enter port 23 in the ports field. Click next through all the following screens until you get to the final screen with the finish button. Name the new rule “Telnet”, and click finish. Port 23 is now ready to accept inbound telnet connections.

Now open up Internet Explorer (boooo!), and navigate to www.synchro.net. Click download to save the Synchronet installer locally. Run the installer and walk through the initial setup wizard. Once this has completed, Synchronet will start. You should see a screen like this:

Synchronet is now working and waiting for inbound “calls”. To test the new board, attempt to telnet from your local machine to the same address that you used to connect to the remote desktop earlier. With any luck, you should now be able to connect to your new BBS in the cloud!

So there you have it, you’re own BBS running on EC2.

Feel free to comment with thoughts, corrections, and suggestions.

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