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This is a build-it-as-you-do-it tilde.town guide.
I am new to tilde.town (or I was when I started this guide), and I've heard repute that there is a lot of fun to be had here. I learn best by doing, so here's what I've learned as I've done it; in what better form than a to-do list.
Why tilde.town? I am a big supporter of indepdendent, non-commercial social and hobbyist communities online that serve as places for creativity and collaboration. We need a lot more places like this these days. I even started my own at rawtext.club that tries to merge the "slow" movement with a FOSS GNU/Linux learning environment.
(Please email me with anything unique to tilde.town that I'm missing!)
It is hard to ever put this one in the "done" section because learning *NIX is a never ending processes. A lot of the fun in tilde.town is around the fact that this is a *NIX system and UNIX is inherently a SOCIAL system .
A movement I hope to inspire on tilde.town is the active use of *NIX's great social tools. Here are some classics:
finger - If you haven't fingered your fellow tilde.town'er recently, you should try it. 'finger' is a long time UNIX command that prints out basic information about a user. "finger cmccabe" at the command line would give you my info, for example. But less well known to the younger generation of *NIX users is that finger is THE ORIGINAL blog tool. If you add information to a .plan and/or .project file in your ~username directory, that information will show up when someone else fingers you. (Ok, you can laugh at the command name 'finger' now.).
w - See a list of 'w'ho else is logged in to the system and what they're doing -- 'w' has been referred to as the command that gave birth to social networking.
talk - chat with another user, originally only on the same system, but (as of 1983) also users on other networked systems when both systems are configured supportively.
wall - a concatenation of 'w' (write) and 'all', prints a message on the terminal of all other logged in users. One of the more annoying of UNIX commands.
write - like 'wall' but sends a message to a single other user rather than to all users.
In addition to the basic social utilities, users should be conscious of file and directory permissions. If I recall correctly, your home directory has open read permissions by default. This is fine, but it means that all other users can read your files -- so just be aware of it. But the value of this is that user home directories are open for visitors and for sharing what you're working on. You can leave notes for others in your directory, or just label things so that others will be able to understand what they are. If this paragraph is Greek to you, try reading the "chmod" man page, or just doing a web search for "Unix file permissions".
botany - botanical simulator; plant a seed, water it regularly, watch it grow.
cadastre - multi-user tilde.town ascii art map: tilde.town/~troido/cadastre/
faling snow simulator
holodeck - a multi-user, text-based virtural world that continuously expands as users describe new areas and features.
non-original games (/usr/games): e.g. minecraft, adventure, wump
todo: sort through this treasure chest: https://tilde.town/~bear/code.html
tildecoin - a tilde currency (not blockchain-based) that you can send to other users. You get around 1000 just for having a user account; and evidently you can win more by playing Tilde Game (run the !tilde command on tilde.town's IRC server, on the #bots channel). See ~login's tildecoin page for more information.
tilde.train - a community train I developed, to which everyone can add a car. See the tilde-train guide for more info.
tron - a snake game, a multi-player one, I hear.
where - geographic location of current online users (http://tilde.town/~bear/where.html)
chat See the chat section in this guide. Typing chat at the command line opens tilde.town's IRC server.
wall send this message displays "send this message" to the screen of all logged-in users. Typically used by sysadmins to notify users of system events like system shutdown. Do not abuse this or you could end up annoying everyone logged into tilde.town.
Most of these tools or activities require that you're logged into the server via something like ssh or mosh, and that you know how to work in a command line environment.
BBJ is a simple (but colorful) bulletin board system accessible from the command line. It is self-described as "a persistent, chronologically ordered text discussion board for tilde.town." Log in by typing bbj at the command line; and you will then be prompted to either enter a username or proceed anonymously. The oldest posts are from April 2017. One way to navigate the posts is with your keyboard's up/down/left/right arrows. BBJ has a built-in help system accessed by pressing the '?' key. BBJ is a fun way to asynchronously communicate with other tilde.town users.
shadowrun is a bbj instance with a sci-fi Shadowrun theme.
Typing alpine or mutt at the command line will let you use either e-mail client. E-mail on tilde.town is configured so that you can only send email to other tilde.town addresses. If using mutt, note that the default editor is 'joe'.
Watch your tild-e-mail for the periodic newsletter, the "tilde.town times", edited by ~jumblesale (to which you can even contribute).
I'm used to using weechat to connect to IRC servers, but here I couldn't figure out what the IRC address is (irc.tilde.town?). Instead, you can just type chat at the command line and you'll be connected to tilde.town's charybdis IRC server, where you can type "/list" to see various channels. You'll initially be dropped into the #tildetown channel but there are various others, #abookclub, #chinese, #dumpsterfire, as of the time I'm writing this.
You cannot connect to tilde.town IRC from off the local server, but ~nick has written instructions on how to connect from off site through an SSH tunnel.
Stil to do -- tilde.town's IRC bots: spellbot, talklike, botany, breakfast, tacobell, magic, pokemon, toot (...and more: to see a list of bots, use the !rollcall command on IRC; best used in the #bots channel so you don't clutter the airwaves of human channels.)
Good, long-lasting online communities are special places. A shared sense of purpose is one thing that keeps them together. Another is genuine respect for other users and the sysadmins. Everyone should carefully read and abide by the tilde.town Code of Conduct.
Your account's ~/public_html directory has an index.html file that you can edit. To do anything beyond hosting a raw-text file for your personal homepage, you'll need to know some HTML (which is beyond the scope of this guide). You can edit your index.html file with nano or various other editors, and then make it publicly available by chmod'ing its permissions: chmod 604 ~/public_html/index.html. And, your public_html folder will need to be made executable, e.g. chmod 601 ~/public_html
It looks like 'apache2-utils' is not installed on the server, so there will be no .htaccess tricks here.
You can create other pages in addition to your index.html page. For example, create one called tildebook_profile.html in the same directory as your index.html and it will be automatically included in the tildebook. Take THAT Facebook!
 "What we wanted to preserve was not just a good environment in which to do programming, but a system around which fellowship could form. We knew from experience that the essence of communal computing, as supplied by remote-access, time-shared machines, is not just to type programs into a terminal instead of a keypunch, but to encourage close communication."
-- Dennis Ritchie