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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

  • Download and install that latest XChat for windows

Using a Web IRC Client

Check the last section of this howto

Now what?

Connecting to a Network

  • Start Xchat
  • You will be greeted with this window named Server list window. Choose a nickname for yourself, scroll down to Freenode and press the connect button

  • You'll get the xchat main window. Wait for a while till you get connected to a server.

  • Now you're connected to the Freenode network.

Joining a channel

  • Its time to join a channel. Choose "Join Channel" from the "Server" menu in the menubar.

  • type #eglug and press OK

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

Chatting basics

  • Now you'll chatting in #eglug. To grab the attention of the user you're talking to type the first letter of his nickname then press tab to autocomplete his nickname.

  • In the previous screenshot alaa typed "s" and then pressed Tab, XChat auto-completed "some_nick" and as you can see some_nick got a highlighted message in the eglug channel tab.
  • To privately send a message to a user in the channel, say to alaa whose dancing is annoying you type:

Connecting to another network

  • To connect to another network, press "X-Chat" in the menubar then choose "Server list" or just press Ctrl S.
  • Type a nickname, you can use a totally different nick than the one you used to connect to Freenode. Choose a new network to connect to, say EFNet. Press on the "connect in new tab" button.

  • You are now connected to two networks, namely Freenode and EFNet.

Searching for a Channel

  • You joined #eglug on Freenode because you already know it, but you don't know any channels on EFNet. Press "Windows" then "Channel List".

  • You'll get the following window, press "refresh the list" and after a minute you'll get a list of thousands of channels.

  • Highlight any channel to join and press "Join Channel". I chose #newbies. Now you are chatting in two different channels on two different networks with two different nicknames. Ofcourse you can join several channels on the same network.

Registering and Auto connecting

  • To make things easier on you the next time. Go to the Server List, highlight Freenode , check the checkbox named "Skip server list on startup" and press Edit.

  • You'll get the following window. Check the checkbox beside "Auto connect to this network at startup" , type #eglug in the text box beside "Channels to join:" and choose UTF-8 from the "Character set" dropmenu in order to type and view Arabic messages.

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

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


YoussefAssad's picture

You know what?

This is really damn good. We should make the people in our classes read this.

Thanks NewComer, I can see it took some effort.


Why on Windows?

This is great, but one comment. Why is the example given with a Windows program while we are on a Linux community site? And X-Chat is a GTK package aslan.

DarKnesS_WolF's picture

it`s will not chang alot

i guess xchat it`s self is the same in windwo$ and GNU/Linux and i think the howto is going more for the window$ users that still didn`t install GNU/Linux and want more help in installing 3and tar2 sahl ( IRC ) i donn if NewComer have another point of view :)


Live Free Or Die...

As DarknesS_Wolf mentioned, t

As DarknesS_Wolf mentioned, this Howto is aimed to windows users who either need help to install GNU/Linux or setup their Internet connection within GNU/Linux. It was a suggestion by alaa and it seemed useful and interesting enough so I went on and did it.

Alaa's picture

dabesoni ba2a

yeah yeah, make it my mistake



"u know i once dream that the office of mobinil is from el 7`os :S and the one that answer u and tell u rasidak a girl called ghada"

YoussefAssad's picture


Did I just hear you volunteer to write a similar article for BitchX/ircssi? Hmmm? :)


Manal's picture

FOSS Community

We r a FOSS community, we can support any FOSS on any platform if we want to.

Pronco's picture

Do not IRC as root:

Do not log on to IRC as root.

Even if nobody decides to try to penetrate your system, you are going to be banned from a lot of the good technical help channels and servers.

I used to be indecisive ... but now I'm not so sure !

Ahmed Hashim's picture

Do any body know a way to acc

Do any body know a way to access the IRC while i am behind a firwall :(

All ports is closed.

2comments on this helpfull article

  1. please replace windows screen shots with GNU/Linux one
  2. if you will use windows screenshots and want to take screenshot for a window press ALT+Print screen this will print the active window only not all screen, it will be easy rather than cutting the edges on the paint.

كما دعا أعضاء في مجمع البحوث الإسلامية التابع للأزهر مرشحي انتخابات الرئاسة المصرية لتبني قضية تطبيق الشريعة الإسلامية في برامجهم، مؤكدين أنها هي الحل لمشكلات مصر الاقتصادية والاجتماعية من فقر وفساد وخلافه

For the firewall thing, check

For the firewall thing, check the last section, just been updated.

Manal's picture

the link to the irc from

the link to the irc from web mentioned above no longer allow u to log in to any irc network.

does anyone has an alternative?

IRC @ Work

Manal's picture

Thanx NewComer

I googled and found this link too, used it all week :-)

Thanx again

MSameer's picture

Yes and you didn't bother

Yes and you didn't bother to post it :p

Manal's picture


that's true, u r absolutely right.. I should have added it.

Pronco's picture

Does it work ?

Does it work with you ?

- I'm a code junkie security enthusiast

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