Choosing an IRC Client

13, Nov 2009


Brief Overview, and Installing irssi

Internet Relay Chat, more commonly known as IRC is an extraordinary useful text based messaging system for group conversations. With a very large user base, it is easy to find knowledgeable people on any subject imaginable. It is there for an excellent resource to turn to when one has questions on a topic, or to just idle in a channel and watch the ongoing discussions. There's been many a time that I've turned to IRC for help on a project that I've been working on. However, I haven't been all that happy with the IRC client that I've been using to interact with the system. Therefore, I have now installed a new client and shall be documenting the process of setting up the configuration for it.

My new IRC client of choice is irssi. It can be installed in Fedora by running the following command in a terminal:

sudo yum install irssi

Once installed you can start the program from a terminal by running the command


Basic Operation

Basic operation of irssi is very similar to nearly every other IRC client. For example, to connect to the freenode IRC network, type '/connect' you can then join a channel by typing '/join #channel'. Fairly simple. Something to be noted though, is that irssi supports multiple network connections - you can be connected to different servers at the same time. Switch between the active server by ^X (Ctrl-X). You will see a notice in the status bar at the bottom of the terminal stating what connection is currently active.


Once you've joined a channel, you'll note that the status window of the server has disappeared. It is now residing in a different window of irssi. You can switch windows by pressing Alt-#, where # is a number between 0 and 9. Or, you can use Alt and either the left or right arrow key to move between windows. You can make another window by joining another channel on the server. If you want to close a window the command is either '/q' or '/wc' (short for window close).

Manipulating Settings

Now it is time to actually customize your client. To view your current settings, change back to your status window (usually window 1) and type '/set'. This will cause the screen to fill with all the settings being currently used. To scroll through the list use Page Up and Page Down. You can restrict which settings you want to look at by adding a keyword after the set command. For example, try running '/set timezone'. Should you wish to change one of the values of these settings you can do so by typing '/set setting value' - where setting is the attribute to be changed, and value is its new value. To save your changes so that they are preserved the next time you run irssi type '/save'. This will write to your config file, generally stored at ~/.irssi/config. If you care to you can edit that file directly, and any changes will be applied the next time irssi is run.

Automatically Login To Servers

You can easily set irssi to automatically authenticate you into select IRC servers. To do this, open your irssi config file (~/.irssi/config) in your favourite text editor, and amend the beginning of the file to look something like this:

servers = (
    address = "";
    chatnet = "server1";
    port = "6667";

chatnets = {
  server1 = {
    type = "IRC";
    autosendcmd = "/msg nickserv identify nickname password";
    max_kicks = "4";
    max_modes = "3";
    max_msgs = "5";
    max_whois = "4"; 

Make sure to replace 'nickname' and 'password' with the credentials you setup for the server. Now, when you start irssi, you only need to issue the command '/connect server1' to join that server and have irssi automatically take care of authenticating you.


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