IRC Part 1 - Connecting to #fosswire

If you are familiar with the IRC protocol already, all you need to know is that we have opened up #fosswire on Come idle with us.

You might have heard the term IRC thrown around in support forums or on blogs. If you are curious to learn what it is, then look no further: IRC stands for Internet Relay Chat, and is a way of communicating with anywhere from one to thousands of people at one time using an open protocol.

IRC is a great method to get support, organize a group, or just hang out. Before we learn to connect to any server, know these things:

  • Be obnoxious and most people will kick or ban you from their chat channel (room).
  • People tend to join and leave some channels without greetings; this is usually because they were active in another channel on the same server and are just "idling."
  • Have a lot of patience. Someone may answer your question an hour later than you asked it.
  • Typing someone's name usually causes their computer to beep. This can be annoying if done repeatedly, so only use to get someone's attention.
Know those four facts and you will succeed in any IRC channel on any server.

Now on to connecting...

For this tutorial, we're going to use the server

To start, you're going to need some sort of IRC client. You can use the one built into Pidgin if you like, though some more popular IRC clients are XChat (GNOME), Konversation (KDE), and ChatZilla (XUL/Firefox). No matter what client you are using, you will need to start by entering some settings. XChat I know has a wizard to start, and Pidgin is a bit more manual. Here are some options you might have when connecting:

  • Server: We want to use to connect.
  • Nick/Screen name: Pick a unique name. If someone else on the server is using it ("registered" in freenode's case) you will need to pick another.
  • [NickServ] Password can be ignored for now, but we'll need to fill it in later.
  • Real Name is optional, but it lets people know who you are
  • IDENT/username is usually generated for you, but you can specify one here if you know what to do with it.
Whenever you input those settings (via wizard or otherwise) go ahead and connect. In Pidgin, a small chat box might pop up, and other IRC clients will just spawn a tab in the main window. I'll refer to this area as the server window.

Now, you are on a chat server, but you cannot chat yet! You need to join a chat room, known as a channel, before you can yak away. We're going to use #fosswire. To join the channel, type /join #fosswire in that main server window.

Another window/tab will spawn. Here you are able to talk away. If you want to join yet another channel, just type /join #thechannel in any IRC window.

That's all there is to it for basic chatting! Some IRC clients might give you the option of joining channels when you start, so use them if you like to be in a lot of channels.

If you are not on or a compatible server, stop reading here, as the following only pertains to freenode servers.

Now, you probably want to claim this nick as your own. freenode bot NickServ lets you claim a nick as your own (others can still use it, but trust me, they won't want to if you have it registered). To do this, when signed in, type the following in the server window:

/ns register newpassword

where newpassword is the password you want to use. That's it! You now "own" the nickname. Remember the NickServ password box in your client from earlier? You'll want to put that there. Otherwise, NickServ will bug you about needing to identify yourself every time you sign on.

Have fun chatting, and if you feel like it, drop by #fosswire for some idle chatter. We'll be waiting.

Coming in Part 2: Managing an IRC channel

Avatar for jacob Jacob Peddicord -

Jacob is a web developer, student, and programmer from Ohio. He is a staff member at the Ubuntu Forums and is most likely a fanboy of the distribution. He loves to write in code and words, play video games, and rant about topics most would have abandoned long ago. Jacob uses GNOME and is never seen running stable software, much to the demise of his laptop.

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