Opus-CBCS (Opus Computer Based Conversation System) is a bulletin board system (BBS) program that runs under MS-DOS. It was popular from the mid-1980s through the 1990s.
Opus was created by Wynn Wagner as a FidoNet-compatible BBS program, designed to be compatible with Fido (the program that originated FidoNet) so that sysops of existing Fido boards could easily switch to Opus and preserve all their content, configurations, and user records. Thus, the files used by Opus are almost entirely the same as those of Fido, though over time some of them diverged in later Opus versions (e.g., the conversion of file lists from flat text files to a database format).
Opus rapidly gained popularity by supporting everything Fido did, plus some enhanced features such as the use of color in menus (for users with terminal programs supporting one of several protocols that supported this), and some new and improved data transmission protocols which made more efficient use of modems.
Later on, though, it lost ground to other BBS software which had greater support for such things as online games and multi-user chatting. There was a long delay between the release of versions 1.20 and 1.70 (they skipped the version numbers in between), with the only word on possible release dates being "When It's Ready", and many people switched away during that time, leaving a few hard-core Opus fans sticking with it.
Opus was one of the few FidoNet-capable boards that supported built-in network mail (and Echomail, the FidoNet answer to forums or newsgroups); other BBS software generally required an add-on front-end to support these features. Many Opus sysops, however, still used front-ends on their boards to do netmail/echomail, since those programs had more features in this area.
Opus has always been free software, with the author requesting that those who like it enough to want to pay for it send money to an AIDS research charity instead of to the author.
According to Wagner, Opus is not named after the cartoon penguin, but after the Latin word for "work". The plural of "opus" is "opera", but there is no apparent connection between Opus and the web browser Opera.
The standard control file is called BBS.CTL. Often it is split into multiple parts referenced in the main control file with "INCLUDE" statements; usually these parts have a .CTL extension as well. These files are ASCII-based, containing a series of configuration directives which are documented in the Opus sysop and technical manuals found in the file areas linked below. After modifying the control file, the sysop then needs to run a utility called NACL (from the chemical formula for table salt) to compile the control file into a file BBS.PRM which was used directly by Opus. Another utility CAYENNE would make the conversion in the opposite direction, generating a BBS.CTL file from the BBS.PRM file.
Menu, help, and other displayable text files
Traditionally, the batch file to invoke Opus is named NERF.BAT, apparently the result of an inside joke to do with the bats used on Nerf balls.