The Freenet Message System is a message board system for Freenet. Get it here -> FMS

FMS Tutorial for Beginners

This short tutorial describes the basic usage of FMS. Non-essential stuff is left out for simplicity.


To keep this short, I'm going to assume that:

I will also assume that FMS is running on the local host and listening on port 8080. If you changed this from the defaults, you'll know where to adjust.

Links to the local FMS interface on this tutorial will present you with an external link warning from Freenet. This is normal. Just verify that the link indeed leads you to the local web interface. Alternatively, copy or type the URL into the browser.

This guide is current as of the 0.3.65 release of FMS. It will possibly apply to later releases, at least in part.

1. The web interface

When FMS is running, its interface is accessed by visiting in your web browser. You may want to add a browser bookmark to this location for convenience.

2. The forum interface

Clicking Browse Forums [] will get you to the forum web interface.

This is where you'll be most of the time. Reading and posting messages should be straightforward if you're familiar with regular web forums.

If you just now installed and started up FMS, you'll notice that the place is almost empty, not much content yet. Don't fret; this is expected. In contrast to ordinary web forums, FMS doesn't connect to a server where all the content resides. FMS messages (but also identities, boards, etc.) need to be fetched from Freenet continually, piece by piece. What this means is you'll see many more messages and identities if you wait a couple of minutes, and even more after some hours. A fresh FMS installation has to catch up to all the existing content, and of course this takes some time. In fact, at this stage I recommend you just leave FMS running for 1-2 hours so it gets a chance at filling up its database a bit.

Ideally, FMS is left running constantly, for the best performance. If you only run FMS once in a while, don't expect all messages to be available immediately.

3. Adding boards

You're probably wondering if there are no more boards in the forum. Of course there are, FMS just doesn't add them to the forum interface by itself. Click on Board Maintenance [].

This page lists all boards FMS knows. Remember, this list will grow over time as you leave FMS running. To get a board added to the forum interface, check its checkbox it the "Forum" column and click "Update".

There, boards added and ready to use. FMS discovers existing boards automatically, no action is required on your part. You can also create new boards, of course.

4. Identities

FMS is continually learning about other identities from the network. The Peer Maintenance [] page shows how many identities FMS knows about.

The Recently Added Peers [] page shows recently discovered identities. This list too will grow as you leave FMS running.

5. Messages

If FMS knows about an identity it will try to fetch its messages. Messages are not all fetched at once. You can observe messages coming in on the Received Messages [] page.

This page shows all received messages, including any messages sent to boards you haven't added to the forum interface.

6. Creating an identity

After browsing for a while, you'll probably want to participate. You need an identity to post messages. Proceed to the Create Identity [] page.

Type in your desired name, click "Create" and wait a bit.

Your new identity will appear on the Local Identities [] page.

7. Announcing your identity

FMS only fetches an identity's messages if it knows about it. If you want others to receive your messages you need to announce your identity's existence. The upside is you only need to do the announcement step once. This is done by solving puzzles, such as captchas. Move on to the Announce Identity [] page.

Type in the answers to some of the puzzles and click "Announce". You don't need to solve all captchas, and you don't need to get every answer right (there's no penalty for wrong answers). Solve 10-20 captchas at most.

At the bottom of the page FMS offers to add trust list trust to identities you've solved captchas from. Since FMS finds out about new identities from others' trust lists, it's better to leave this checkbox checked, for faster peer discovery.[1] Don't worry, you can always review trust assignments later.[2]

After some time (some hours, or maybe one day) the Local Identities [] page will show your identity as announced ("Yes" on the "Announced" column). This confirms that others know about your identity and will receive your posts.[3] If you fail to get announced, repeat the announcement step.

8. Posting a message

Head over to the forum interface and sign in with your new identity. Enter the "test" board, click "New Post", compose your message and hit "Send".

There you are. Your message should be inserted into the pending messages queue []. After a while it will be inserted into Freenet. If all went to plan it should show up in the "test" board later. It could take a while, though (somewhere from a few minutes to a few hours.) Remember, messaging over Freenet isn't instant.

9. Identities list and peer trust

The Peer Trust [] page is where you manage trust levels, but it's also the place to go for an overview of the list of identities FMS knows about (known peers). Most columns are sortable.

Trust is an important part of the FMS design. When you feel inclined to learn more about trust, take a look at the Trust FAQ.

That's it, this tutorial showed you the basics. There are more advanced features and options. I'll add more on those eventually, or they will be covered elsewhere.