SyncTERM is a Bulletin board system (BBS) terminal program. BBSes can be seen as the precursor to the internet as we know it – back from a time where you would dial in to the server that you wished to view. Not all BBSes are gone. Surviving BBSes can be accessed via Telnet or by using a program such as SyncTerm.

(Un)fortunately I am too young that I missed the heyday of the BBS. But, when I read the blog post: Bulletin Board Systems: The VICE Exposé on I was excited to learn that the BBS is alive and well, and anyone can “dial in” and have the experience of years gone by.

Two Bit History‘s post mentions that you will be required to build SyncTERM from the source code. This isn’t anywhere near as daunting as it sounds. I’ll take you through those steps now.

Building SyncTERM

First of all open Terminal – we’ll start by installing the dependencies that are required during the build process:

sudo apt install build-essential libncurses5-dev libncursesw5-dev

Once this is completed, change in to your home directory and then download the source code for syncTERM:

cd ~ && wget

After the sourcecode downloads, extract the code from the archive:

tar -zxvf syncterm-src.tgz

We now want to change in to a subdirectory – that contains the source – of the archive we just extracted:

cd syncterm-20200309/src/syncterm

Before we can build syncTERM, we have to tell the compiler where the source is located. This can be done with the following command:

make SRC_ROOT=/home/YOURUSERNAME/syncterm-20200309/src

After this completes, build the software and install it:

sudo make install

This may take some time. Once it completes you can run SyncTERM by typing syncterm into terminal or by finding it in the Application menu.

Now you can exchange information the way Ward Christensen and Randy Suess intended.

While you’re here check out my earlier posts! If you have any interesting BBSes you wish to share feel free to email me!