What is IRC?

Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is an application protocol to do text based communication. It was created in 1988 and still being used as one of the primary communication medium for many people around the world, including various Free and Open Source software projects.


The above is the first ever IRC server (original image is from Wikimedia Commons).

We use IRC as our primary communication medium because it works with low bandwidth. You don’t need super fast internet connection to attend the summer training sessions. Also, later when you will try to contact other communities, you will find most of them are active on IRC.

What is a channel?

Every IRC server has various virtual groups or rooms where people can communicate with each other. These are known as channels. The channel names start with # sign. For example, #dgplug is the channel name in Freenode server for our training.

IRC clients

There are various IRC clients, for our sessions you can use hexchat client on your computer.


hexchat is a popular Internet Relay Chat (IRC) client. It has a choice of a tabbed document interface or tree interface, support for multiple servers and is highly configurable.

How to install?

For Fedora:

# dnf install hexchat

For Ubuntu:

# apt-get install hexchat

For windows please download hexchat from their site.

Configurations Steps

Default hexchat will open in network selection window where you have to select FreeNode and then connect.


After connect you will see connection complete window where you have option to join channel (provide dgplug)


After pressing OK, you are now in main window and joined #dgplug channel. Now you have register your nickname to make sure someone else not using it.


You will get a verification mail for your registration and same you have to execute in XChat window.


After verification one can authenticate to NickServ by issuing the following command

/msg nickserv identify your_password

Authentication to NickServ in this fashion can be tedious to do manually each time. In HexChat, one can setup SASL authentication in the server options. Open the network selection window with Ctrl+S and select the network to edit. In the edit window, shown below, change the login method to SASL and fill in your password.


Below is a GIF which shows how to join the #dgplug channel on Freenode.



You can open the image in a new tab to view it in proper scale.

IRC on the Web

While a client (xchat, hexchat, etc), on any platform, is the best way to experience IRC on a daily basis, you can in fact use your web browser to connect to IRC!

While it might not be as comfortable as a native client, irc via a browser is actually quite full featured.

It depends on you knowing commands though, so this page on the IRC beginner website will come in real handy.

So let’s start at the very beginning.

Here’s what we’d need for our summer sessions.

  1. We need a browser
  2. We need an username that stays the same, throughout sessions
  3. We need to login to the #dgplug channel on freenode with that username

Step 1. The Browser


You’ve already have one and are successfully connected, if you’re reading this :)

Step 2. A username for IRC.

Let’s mosey over to the freenode website


Login with the username you want, like I’ve done here.
I’ve chosen mariojason for a username.
Ignore the channel and auth options for now.
Just clear the I am not a robot test.


And you should enter the world of irc!

There’ll be a lot of stuff that’ll end with a screen like this.


You’ll obviously have figured out that the little white box at the bottom is where you type in your messages and commands.
You can type /quit to quit your connection for example.
Also note the tab that says “status” (not visible in the pic) above at the top of your window.
You’ll want to click this tab before typing in sensitive IRC commands (as you will do shortly).
You’ll see more tabs at the top as you join channels later and you’ll use the tabs to switch between them.
You in with your username? Good.
Now let’s register it so that we can always have the same one.
Type the command /msg NickServ REGISTER <password> <email>, where password will be some complicated password of yours while email is where you put in your email address
You can see me doing it below

If all works well, Nickserv will reply saying that activation instructions have been sent to your email id, like so …


So hop over and check your mail. This is what you should expect to see.


Let’s copy the /msg line and go back to the irc page and paste it in the chat bar like so …


And voila! You should be verified!


Now that we’re done registering our nickname, quit the connection by typing in the /quit command and let’s move to …

Step 3. Connecting to the DGPLUG channel.

Now we’re back to where we started.

Only this time, fill in all the details.

  1. Put in your nickname
  2. Use #dgplug as the channel to connect
  3. Enable auth to services
  4. The username is the same as the nickname
  5. Fill in the complicated password that you had created for your id.

And hit Connect!


You should login and you should be switched to a new tab with the #dgplug channel.


There! You’re in! Welcome! Enjoy your time in the channel :)


Nick Ghosting

If for some reason, your nick lingers on after you are disconnected either due to a bad connection, or due to a netsplit, you will be unable to use your nick again since it already is on the server. To remove the nick from the server, one needs to ghost it. To do this, make sure you are authenticated to NickServ and execute the following command:

/msg nickserv ghost your_nick_name your_password