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YoLinux Tutorial: IRC - Internet Relay Chat


This tutorial covers using IRC to get Linux help online. Linux client software, IRC chat sites, sample sessions and links are also presented.
Note: Due to the nature of hackers, if you plan on being highly controversial or opinionated, it is often safest to use a dial up connection with a randomly assigned IP address rather than a static IP which the offended hacker can target.

IRC Linux clients:

  • ircII - (/usr/bin/irc) Text terminal based IRC client. Download and compile.
    Ubuntu install: apt-get install irssi
  • Xchat - GTK+ based IRC client. Lots of advanced features for scripting and plugins.
    (Xchat users guide)
    Ubuntu install: apt-get install xchat
  • BitchX - (/usr/bin/BitchX) Text terminal
  • Pidgin - a universal chat client which supports multiple IM protocols including IRC.
    Ubuntu install: apt-get install pidgin
  • Konversation - KDE IRC client with bookmarking, ssl, file transfer, multiple identity and multiple server support, per channel encoding. Feature rich.
    Ubuntu install: apt-get install konversation
  • Quassel IRC - allows you to jump from platform to platform. KDE/Qt GUI and text mode blend.
    Ubuntu install: apt-get install quassel
  • ChatZilla - Included in Mozilla browser (SeaMonkey or Firefox addon: Tools + Add-ons + ChatZilla) to handle irc:// URL's and regular IRC.
  • irc://irc.sample-domain.net/#sclug - Example of an IRC URL acceptable by browsers like Mozilla. ChatZilla is built into Mozilla to handle irc:// URLs but it is not included in Firefox.

IRC Sample Session:

Example using ircII:

prompt$ /usr/bin/irc

/server irc.linux.com
/list - List channels /join #linuxhelp - or join #kernelnew, #linpeople, #livid (linux video), #java ... /who * - List users in the current channel Nick: bla bla bla... - It's polite to address a person /msg Nick - This method will send a private message to Nick /part #linuxhelp - Close channel /quit
Note: /usr/bin/irc comes with RPM ircii. (ircii was not included with RH 8.0 and later. You can still install an ircii RPM from RH 7.3 on 8.0/9.0.) RH 8.0/9.0 does not ship with any IRC clients. Fedora core 3 includes xchat and ChatZilla.

Helpful commands:


IRC Commands:

/HELP [optional-command]Online help. Eg. /help intro
/SERVER server-hostnameSpecify the IRC server to connect or to switch
/NICK new-nicknameChange/specify your own nick name. Nine character limit.
/LISTList the IRC channels available on the server, the number of users and topics.
/JOIN #channel-name
/PART #channel-name
Join a channel.
Leave channel
/CTCP nickname PING
/CTCP #channel-name PING
Ping to verify connection
/DCC CHAT nickname
chat here
/DCC CLOSE CHAT nickname
Direct Client Communications. Direct client to client communications by-passing the IRC server.
/DCC SEND nickname filenameFile transfer
/MSG nicknameSend single message to specified user
/NAMES #channel-nameShow nick names of all users on the current channel
/WHOList users in channel
/WHOIS nicknameShow user information
/AWAY away-message-hereLeave a message that you are not attending the channel.
eg. /away Back in 20 minutes
/QUERY nicknameStart private conversation with specified user. Issue the "/QUERY" command to exit that conversation.
/QUITExit all your IRC channels

IRC Linux sites:


Note IRC is NOT ICQ. For info on ICQ see ICQ.com and the Linux ICQ client home page, LICQ.org.

Book imageBooks:

"The Book of IRC: The Ultimate Guide to Internet Relay Chat"
by Alex Charalabidis
ISBN # 1886411298, No Starch Pr

"Internet Messaging: From the Desktop to the Enterprise"
by Marshall Rose, David Strom
ASIN # 0139786104