Using IRC

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See also: IRC | Chat Clients

Why use IRC

IRC is:
    • Reliable: One of the oldest and most developed chat tools available; not going anywhere anytime soon.
    • Fast: being text-only makes the service quick, accessible, and available to almost any Operating System.
    • Non-profit: Not a commercial service and has no advertisements.
    • Huge: One of the largest chat services available.
    • Flexible: More channels, more topics, more groups than almost any other service.
    • Uncensored: While channels have channel operators who monitor in-channel activity, all other chat is rarely or never censored.
Download an IRC client, connect, read a little of the many “get started” guides and try it out. You may get hooked like thousands of other people.

A few links to help you get started:


IRC clients for download (free)


  • savIRCGUI, Open-source, written in TCL/TK, much more user-friendly than XChat
  • BitchXCLI. Open-source. A hack on ircII. Created for *Nix users.
  • Irssi – CLI. Open-source. Text-mode IRC client for *Nix and Windows, coded from scratch with security in mind.
  • XChatGUI & CLI. Open-source. Versatile *Nix and Windows client. Many plugins and scripts for both *Nix and Windows available.
  • CBIRC – GUI. written in Java
  • ChatZilla – GUI. Open-source. Part of the Mozilla browser suite.


Instant Messenger networks with IRC-connectivity

  • Jabber – HAD a working IRC transport, but it used an older jabber chat protocol which isn’t supported by most clients. irc-transport is on hold until the new chat protocol, MUC is finalised.

Instant Messenger Clients with IRC-connectivity



IRC Servers

Lists of other IRC Software


Some servers require Identd servers to be enabled, primarily big ISPs like AOL and SBC or DSL and Cable providers. Visit for information on enabling Identd services.

Firewalls can also block Identd and DCC connections. Disable until connected, then try re-enabling.

Security note

IRC is not a private chat system unless otherwise noted. Some IRC clients offer SSL security, such as Irssi and XChat but may only secure connections with the server (if enabled). Some client-to-client secure services also exist (check documentation) which offers a fully secure solution. If only on the server-side, keep in mind all data goes through a 3rd source: the IRC server where it is possible to be monitored. Encrypted Chat Clients are available, some using IRC, to make your conversations secure. One mature project in particular is The Invisible IRC Project and Secure Internet Live Conferencing.

While many tools are available to make it more user friendly, knowledge of just a few commands makes the process so much easier. While many graphical interfaces for IRC allow users to skip this use of text in favor of separate message boxes, server lists, and graphics. Knowing some of the basic commands, however, turns out to be faster. These commands start with a “/” symbol.

Quickly, the most common commands are:

/server <i></i> – to join a server. A list of servers and IRC Networks.

/join #<i>channelname</i> – to join a channel where a specific topic is discussed.

/msg <i>username</i> – to send a private message to one person.

/whois <i>username</i> – to find out more information on a specific user.

Other useful IRC words to know.

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