An OutoftheMain Activity
Things were comparable in Finland, though I think Finns and Swedes mostly preferred different BBS software packages, for some reason.
Much of the Finnish BBS scene aligned with Norwegians and Mike Robertson's (who is-was a British expat living in Norway) MBBS - a highly messaging-oriented BBS software with lots of advanced, messaging-related features.
An OutoftheMain Activity 3796
A company called BSDi did a lot of work to bring the BSDs to the marketplace. They released BSD-386 as a commercial offering...
The ANFSQ31 Did Exist
I was looking through my copy of Jean Sammet's famed book on programming languages, my...
The love with MBBS later even culminated in the creation of a beefed-up functional clone of that in the form of BBBS 1, which quickly ended up surpbutting MBBS in popularity (mostly because the MBBS development had for some reason almost stagnated to a halt during the critical years when the popularity of the BBS scene peaked.)
I've seen it said that in its heyday, the messaging volume of Fidonet even surpbutted the Usenet at times. (Probably only if the binary groups were not taken in the comparison, though, but at least I consider binary groups more of as some sort of parasitic action, eating away resources that would find better use in text-only discussion groups, than a part of the "real" Usenet, anyway.)
I'm not sure about that. At least in Finland, there seemed to be lots of diversity. Some BBSes were geared for teenagers, some for "old" people in their 30s or 40s ( :-), some for music composers and mod and MIDI music and guitar tablatures, some others for erotica, some for particular computer platforms, some for warez, some were the virtual equivalent of local pubs (mainly attracting callers from a particular town, city, or geographical area with the discussion topics concerning local matters), etc.
Shareware, freeware, and PD software - I mean, those offerings which were "officially" only published and distributed on the Internet because the author didn't distribute them any other way - usually found their way to BBSes and their file areas rather quickly. There were always people who had access to both worlds, relaying stuff between them.
Ditto for interesting announcements, reviews, and opinion pieces written to the Usenet - these were often relayed to mere mortals as well.
As for programming, people seemed to be using mostly C and (Turbo) Pascal, with some buttembler thrown in for performance reasons whenever warranted for. The dominant systems were the PC-MS-DOS platform (though OS-2 gained considerable following among "advanced" users before IBM left it to die and Linux stepped in), Amiga, and to a lesser extent, Atari ST. (I guess there was a Mac or two somewhere in there as well, but Apple was never a major platform up here - if there ever really was a serious contender for the PC platform here, the Amiga was a lot more prolific. I believe this was the case at least in the Nordic countries, Germany Austria, and the UK - not sure about France, Spain, etc. OS X has made Apple much more popular and trendy these days than it used to be, though.)
My gut feeling is that programming was mostly picked up from magazines and books (yes, those dead-tree things) - you only came online to ask about the details you didn't understand; not so much to download and read someone else's code or build upon it. Most "ordinary" people were introduced to the concept of (successful) big collaborative hobbyist programming projects and open source only after Linux had started gaining some ground.
An OutoftheMain Activity 3795
People were taking a chance. This doesn't make code readily availabe to regular people. Hobbyist code, with due respect to those hackers^Wexperimentors, is not code that...
I got my first UNIX account by visiting a friend of my friend who was studying at a university and administering some boxes there. I had to make long-distance calls to the modem pool of the said university, but I later learned about a certain local phone number of a terminal-modem server which belonged to a local branch of another university, had no access restrictions whatsoever and could be used for connecting to the remote host where my account was. (The modem-terminal server didn't support DNS, though, so I had to memorize the IP address.)