IRC/XChat Howto

What is IRC?

IRC is a text based chatting protocol. You as a user chat through what is called IRC client. The client is a program installed on your system and connects to an IRC network. A network is a group of servers connected to each other to manage the exchange of messages. Users connected to the same network can chat together even if each is connected to a different server as long as these servers belong to the same network. Each network has a group of what is called chat rooms or channels reaching to thousands of channels. If one join a room he'll be able to chat with all those who joined the same room in a conference fashion. As complicated as it might sound, it's actully very easy to use. Just bare with us to the end of this Howto.

How is it different than ICQ, MSN Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger?

When using any of the previously mentioned IM protocols you probably chat with individuals in private conversations. In order to start a conversation someone you must know his ICQ number/ Hotmail email addresss / Yahoo! email address. With IRC its different, inorder to start a conversation you must know the room/channel you want to chat in. In the same way that you can search for individuals to chat with on (for example) ICQ , you can search for channels with topics of your interest to join on IRC. To wrap things up, previously mentioned protocols are used mainly for private conversations yet they support group chat rooms chatting, IRC on the other hand is mainly used for group chatting yet it supports private conversations.

Why should I bother?

IRC is a very popular way of asking for help concering FOSS. Forums are popular too but with forums you don't get real time response from the others. In an IRC channel you can ask a question and several users could walk you through your problem as you feedback them with your progress. The only drawback of such a method is that it's not publicly documented. Meaning that when you use a forum for asking about a specific problem others could later face the same problem , search the web for an answer and benefit from the replies you got. This is not the case with IRC. That's why you should be patient and polite when asking a question on IRC because many questions are asked over and over again making some people get bored answering them. IRC is also a way for developers coordinate they work and its the the preferred way for FOSS fans to just hang out and socialize.

Ok, What do I need?

Installing an IRC Client

You need to have an IRC client installed on your system. One that we recommend is XChat

Using a Web IRC Client

Check the last section of this howto

Now what?

Connecting to a Network

Joining a channel

You could just type /join #eglug in the main xchat window instead of the previous 2 steps

Chatting basics

Connecting to another network

Searching for a Channel

Registering and Auto connecting

I can't install X-Chat! / I'm behind a firewall!

Just type a Nickname of choice, type "irc.freenode.net" infront of "Server", type "#eglug" infront of "Channel" and then hit "Login".