Set up and log on to Color 64 BBS

In this post we are going to set up Color 64 BBS, get it running and log in. We will be using Vice so if you don’t have it yet I suggest you get it and install it. Vice makes things easier on a modern machine and it makes screenshots much prettier. Plus we can image any disk image to an actual disk to use on a Commodore.

For these purposes I have transferred all of the Color 64 BBS installation files onto a 1581 .d81 image to give us lots of room for the password file and to play around. Eventually I will be moving everything to a Lt. Kernal hard drive when the site goes live and will simply copy the files from a 1581 drive to the Lt. Kernal. This may seem tangential but I feel it is best to get this out of the way up-front to address the “why”s.

Ok, let’s assume you have Vice C64 fired up and your Color 64 BBS disk in Drive 8. You should note that stuff is in different places on a Mac vs. on a Windows machine. I am developing on a Mac but will also provide Windows views.

Go to (Mac) Settings > Drive Emulation (Windows) Settings > Drive Settings > Drive Settings… and you will get a window similar to below. Make sure Drive 8 is set to the proper drive type. In this case it is 1581. Also be sure True Drive Emulation is checked or weird things can happen.

Drive options. Know what you’re doing.

load”$”,8 : list and make sure the disk is working.

Is it? Good. Load setup: load”setup”,8,1 and you will get this screen:

Loading BBS Setup. Exciting!

When it asks if your √bbs.parms disk is in Drive #8 just hit enter.

Remember you can have your √bbs.parms disk live on a completely separate disk from the BBS programs, especially if you are running from a RAM Expansion Unit!

So yeah, the first screen is a little intimidating.

But before we get into this I need to warn you to think 1985. This system is not advanced enough to know where a cursor is so you cannot move around nor tab ahead or back. Your options are the return key to go ahead and answer “n” at the bottom of the screen if you messed something up or want to go back.

Enter the values you expect to need. The important stuff is at the bottom. When asked for User bit = 32 High Speed answer “y”. Does your modem use AT commands? “n”

So many choices.


Drives? Everything is going on the Lt.K (for us) so no need to do anything fancy. All on 8!

A little bit here, a little bit there. If you have 2 or more hardware drives this screen is crucial to a smooth running BBS.

When it comes to Upload/Download directories it’s up to you. For your first time I suggest setting up 1. You can always add more.

Upload/Download Directories

Enter the access level where uploads do not require moderation. Since most everything that will be uploaded is now public domain you can set this as low as you want. Of course we want upload descriptions and we will most certainly have multiple directories per drive.

Set user’s time limits. Usually I give new users 20 minutes since they are restricted in what they can do. It’s up to you on how you want to structure it per-level.

Taste the power! Only 10 minutes for you, Level 2, you urchin.

If we were running a hugely popular board I would say set this up but since we are not we will give everyone 2.73 years to come back before we delete them.

Never Gonna Give You Up. Unless you don’t call back for 2.74 years.

Set up a couple of message categories at least. The number on the left is the access level required to access the category.

It’s like subreddits but with fewer memes and trolls. Well, fewer memes at least.

The menus! Fun stuff here. I do not recommend changing any menu commands unless you absolutely know what you are doing and are ready to edit every menu file.

Do this don’t do that can’t you read the… menu!

Same for screen 2. If you decide to add additional overlays or modules such as games you can add those commands here in the “Spare” slots.

You only think you will never use those spare slots.

The infamous rainbow string!

Here you can customize your color string for the site. Enter a number and then you must enter the corresponding key code on a Commodore keyboard to set the color. Black is not allowed. Your colors are:

   1   2   3     4      5     6     7     8
      WHT RED   CYN    PUR   GRN   BLU   YEL
 Orng Brn L.Red D.Gry M.Gry L.Grn L.Blu L.Gry

Your keys to select those colors are:

Top colors – Windows: TAB Key, Mac: Control Key
Bottom colors – Windows: Control Key, Mac: Option Key

When you are finished hit RETURN, go to the next screen and hit RETURN again.

This doesn’t really do anything since we don’t have a modem plugged in and we told it to ignore AT commands. It’s just one step between you and saving your stuff.

Setup will save your choices in the √bbs.parms file and will also create your √passwords file if it does not exist (it shouldn’t). You will then be asked if you want to load the BBS (hit return if you do) or if you want to go back and make some config changes or tinker with the colors some more just enter “n” and type “run” to run through setup again.

For this tutorial we are booting the BBS…

Send a nice postcard to Greg. He may appreciate it. Or find it creepy as hell.

There it is!

Since we saved the √bbs.parms file locally go ahead and hit return. Enter the current date and time. Believe it or not, Color 64 is Y2K compliant!

Hit “n” to not regenerate the message index. Enter the date in MM/DD/YY format and the time in military time. Next give it a few minutes to work and you will be brought to…

The infamous Waiting for Call screen!

Press any F-key and then F1 to log in.

Since it is your first time you can enter “2” and the password “SYSOP” (you can see and change this via F6 Password Maintenance)

We made it!! We’re signed in!

At this point you are 100% signed in and should be able to read and post (your own) messages and play around.

You have taken your first step into a larger world.

Post a message. The world’s loneliest message.


Just remember, DON’T BOTHER THE SYSOP! ;)

Color 64 is a Facebook/Google/Meme/Popup/Ad-Hijack-free environment. Use IDK LOL in a chat subject and lose an access level.


  1. Luigi on March 28, 2019 at 9:24 pm

    Many thanks, i tried on a real c64, with hayes wifi modem and with the 1541 ultimate 2, unfortunately it doesn’t work, it can indicate what should be done so that it also works on a real commodore 64 .?
    thank you very much … if you make a gida oer color 64 v.8 you could also make it work on a real commodore 64 .?
    Many thanks
    best wishes
    luigi scarpetta

    • sysop on March 28, 2019 at 11:30 pm

      Hi Luigi!

      I have not tried it on a real 64. My configuration is a C=128, Rear Admiral Lt. Kernal hard drive and a 1581 and 1571. I have never touched Color 64 v8 either. Version 7.37 was the last I used.

      Where are you having problems? With the setup, boot or other? I’m happy to help!

      • Luigi on March 29, 2019 at 7:31 am

        Many thanks for the reply…
        The bbs program dont load when
        After the first local mode access. F1 button.

        At the first access I give my identification number, that is 2 and by entering the password the software searches for the password and changes screen, where the words appear:

        your name:
        Caller no.:
        Times called:
        Last called:
        Access level:
        Blks dnlded:
        Blks uplded:
        News messages:

        and the writing
        program loading …please wait…

        the colored stripes at the edges also come out but nothing happens …

        I have the bbs.parms disk in another floppy disk…

        I ran everything as in your description, probable cause should I have the bbs.parms disk and the bbs software on the same support?
        or I should change string of commands at …. since I have a modem hayes wifi the modem scheme of Leif Bloomquist ..
        I do not know…

        • sysop on March 29, 2019 at 1:27 pm

          Is it the glimmering type border? That’s a bad sign. The border colors are:

          black – all is good
          grey – SysOp has been paged
          orange – a non-fatal error occurred
          glimmering – nonrecoverable error/kernel panic

          I’ll get straight to the reason why I think you are getting this: √bbs.msgs is missing from your disk. Make sure – at the very least – all √bbs.* files are on the main disk.

          You have to think like a C=64 and understand how the BBS works. Remember that we are dealing with a rather tiny amount of RAM and resources here (in comparison with modern computers). Also, the flow of the BBS is quite linear, which is why you have a bit of overhead in each module from lines 0-13000-ish.

          When the BBS loads it first loads the machine language routines (ML) and boots through the √bbs.ini overlay (or √bbs.init – I shortened all of my overlays to just 3 letters after √bbs. to save bytes – every byte helps!). √bbs.init contains the following functionality:

          • boot
          • terminal
          • set time/date
          • regenerate messages
          • call answer/modem negotiation
          • change baud rate
          • waiting for call for screen
          • login/password
          • membership list
          • new user registration/application
          • user stats

          That is quite a load for a single overlay to handle. And keep in mind that SysOps will front-load the login process with other stuff: graffiti wall, last few callers, login lotto and more.

          Once the login process gets past user stats the BBS loads √bbs.msg, as that is the point where welcome2, news and level notices are displayed and mail is checked. I personally moved welcome2, news and level notices to another overlay to save space. Back in the day this process was the bane of SysOps without RAM expanders or hard drives because it could take FOREVER to navigate between overlays. Remember that it generally takes 1 second per block size to load. So yeah. Users didn’t like it either.

          The first main prompt you get is in √bbs.msgs. So if you want to change the prompt you have to do so in √bbs.msgs, √bbs.xfer and √bbs.ovl and any other games that send you back to the prompt.

          Now, if once you log in and you are a good BBS citizen you will go to Read messages and post messages. All well and good because you’re in the messages overlay. Welcome messages, system info and private messages work fine. But as soon as you do something like check directories that is when you’re going to get another Program Loading… please wait message while √bbs.xfe is loaded. Once in there any directory-related or up/download stuff loads quickly.

          I hope this helps explain it a bit.

          I also opened a topic about this in the forums so others can lend their expertise.

          • Luigi on March 29, 2019 at 4:04 pm

            Wow great…
            Many thanks

          • Jim Berg on March 13, 2021 at 5:02 am

            I have a commodore 64 and would like to setup a bbs but everone have color 64 bbs on the nets as a disk image. I need either the disks orr cd with the files on not. Not interested in the disk image files as it is too difficult to convert the file back over to a floppy.


  2. […] Now I’ll get setup run. I don’t need to explain how that is done because there is another post about that. […]

  3. […] Find the tutorial here […]

  4. Michael Newkirk on June 15, 2021 at 7:59 pm

    does anyone know a good init string to use with the commodore 64 wifi modem?

  5. Nuke on July 7, 2021 at 6:06 pm

    I’ve been unable to get Color64 running with the C64 wifi modem. I’ve tried all sorts of variations in initialization string and the BBS refuses to answer. Going to terminal mode, sometimes the modem responds to commands, other times not. I’m ensuring I’m set to the proper baud rate of the c64 wifi (1200 baud), DTR has been tried with both Y and N, I’m not sure what else is there to try? Current init string is something like ats0v0x1s0=1 and wifi modem is in listener mode.

  6. Rafa on February 15, 2023 at 11:31 pm

    Hi. From where can I download this version? The one I have downloaded from here is different with multiple d64 disks. Thanks.

  7. Bobafett on February 17, 2023 at 8:26 pm

    Hi, do you have a tutorial of how Setup the connection in Windows so The BBS can be accesed from outside? Thanks

  8. Jon Nichols on October 27, 2023 at 2:18 pm

    I have been trying to get Color64 running on VICE for some time. I had a post where it was working but with the latest versions of it with ip232, I can’t get Color64 to work for the life of me. Does anyone have instructions on ip232 or how to get either the Jim Brain version or the Fozztexx version of TCPSER to run with VICE?

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