nethack.alt.org, commonly abbreviated to NAO, is one of the oldest NetHack public servers, and by far the most popular.
NAO is well integrated with #nethack on irc.freenode.net through the Rodney bot, which announces all deaths on the server, to the morbid delight of all.
dgamelaunch is used to manage the games and user accounts.
To play, all you need is a Telnet client. On Windows XP, the built-in telnet.exe is adequate, though most prefer to use PuTTY. On Mac OS X and other UNIX-like systems, as on Windows XP too, typing
at a command prompt will get you connected. Since certain monsters can be hard to see in the default black-on-white OS X terminal, it is best to go white-on-black beforehand with:
xterm -fa Monaco -fs 14 -fg white -bg black &
User interface tips
For those used to the tiles (GUI) port
Anyone accustumed to the tiles port will sorely miss a separate message window. Instead, game messages are displayed one line at a time in the terminal's top line. Most meaningful actions generate several lines that each have to be scrolled by with space or escape. This is, of course, standard behaviour in the tty form of Nethack.
The best solution is to configure the MSGTYPE option to suppress junk messages. Also, you might want to turn off rest-on-space and either use space to scroll through the messages, or skip all messages at once with ctrl + space, then use ctrl + p to read a screenful at a time. (In that case, you'll have to set a preference to have ctrl + p list messages on a full screen instead of line by line; it's also good to have a healthy large number, say 50, of past messages saved.)
For those using Terminal.app in Mac OS X
To enable extended characters, do the following:
- In Terminal.app, choose "Preferences..." from the Terminal menu.
- Click the "Encodings" tab at the top. Check the checkbox next to "Latin-US (DOS)"
- Click the "Settings" at the top and create a new setting, probably titled "Nethack".
- In the new setting, click the "Advanced" tab and set "Character encoding" to "Latin-US (DOS)"
- Close the Settings window and open a new Nethack window from the Shell menu.
- In Nethack, enable the IBMgraphics option.
- (Optional) Install a smoother-looking font, ProFont.
Differences from vanilla Nethack
nethack.alt.org runs vanilla NetHack with the following interface patches:
- menucolors, compiled with posix regex
- showborn & extinct
- hpmon, with an added option to turn it off
- dgamelaunch mail
- paranoid quit
- slightly modified version of use_darkgray
- window edge
- extended logfile
- whereis-file user game tracking lifted from Sporkhack
- MSGTYPE option
Also, NetHack has been compiled with autopickup exceptions, and several bugs have been fixed, including the Astral call bug, a bug that allowed predicting the random numbers, and a crash when dropping gold in certain situations. There's also several new hallucinatory monster names, random engravings, random gravestone epitaphs and T-shirt messages.