Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is a form of real-time Internet chat or synchronous conferencing. It is mainly designed for group communication in discussion forums called channels, but also allows one-to-one communication via private message, as well as chat and data transfers via Direct Client-to-Client.
LXDE IRC Channels
The official LXDE channels are hosted on oftc.net:
|irc://irc.oftc.net/lxde||English (International Channel)|
Commands and replies
IRC is based on a line-based structure with the client sending single-line messages to the server, receiving replies to those messages and receiving copies of some messages sent by other clients. In most clients users can enter commands by prefixing them with /. Depending on the command, these may either be handled entirely by the client, or - generally for commands the client does not recognise - passed directly to the server, possibly with some modification.
Due to the nature of the protocol, it is impossible for automated systems to pair a sent command with its reply.
The basic means of communication in an established IRC session is a channel. Channels in a server can be displayed using the command /list [#string] [-min #] [-max #] that lists all currently available channels, optionally filtering for parameters (#string for the entire or part of the name, with wildcards, and #min / #max for number of users in the channel).
Users can join to a channel using the command /join #channelname and send messages to it, which are relayed to all other users on the same channel.
Channels that are available across an entire IRC network are prepended with a ' # ', while those local to a server use '&'. Other non-standard and less common channel types include '+' channels — 'modeless' channels without operators, and '!' channels, a form of timestamped channel on normally non-timestamped networks.
Users and channels may have modes, which are represented by single case-sensitive letters and are set using the mode command. User modes and channel modes are separate and can use the same letter to mean different things (e.g. usermode "i" is invisible mode whilst channelmode "i" is invite only). Modes are usually set and unset using the mode command which takes a target (user or channel), a set of modes to set (+) or unset (-) and any parameters the modes need.
There are thousands of running IRC networks in the world. They run various implementations of IRC servers, and are administered by various groups of IRC operators, but the protocol exposed to IRC users is very similar, and all IRC networks can be accessed by the same client software.
One can join servers by clicking on an irc://irc.network.example:port/channel hyperlink.
The largest IRC networks have traditionally been grouped in The Big Four — a designation for networks that top the statistics. The Big Four networks change periodically, but due to the community nature of IRC there are a large number of other networks for users to choose from.
The Big Four: EFnet, IRCnet, QuakeNet, Undernet
For more details on this topic, see Comparison of Internet Relay Chat clients at Wikipedia.
People most commonly will connect to an IRC network via an IRC client. The client takes the raw IRC traffic and turns it into an easy-to-use interface.
There are a great many IRC clients available, and are mostly separated by operating system. On Windows-based systems, one of the most popular IRC clients is mIRC. However, with the recent introduction of new clients such as Bersirc, KVIrc, Trillian, Pidgin, Visual IRC, ChatIRC and X-Chat, mIRC is beginning to see much more competition, especially with clients that are not commercial. Many people still use mIRC most likely due to the fact that it has been around for quite some time and has a wide variety of scripts available.
ircII is the canonical Unix and Linux IRC client, but its userbase has declined with the appearance of competing clients such as ircII-EPIC, BitchX, irssi, X-Chat, Konversation, etc. For Mac OS X, the most widely used clients are Snak, Ircle and Colloquy. OS X can also run most Unix-like command line and X11 IRC clients. Recently, X-Chat Aqua, a special build of X-Chat, has been gaining ground on OS X systems. Amiga IRC clients are AmIRC, WookieChat, BenderIRC. Amongst AmigaOS clones there is MomosIRC for MorphOS.
There are a number of Internet browsers with IRC clients. Opera has a built in IRC client. Mozilla Firefox does not have a built-in IRC client, though ChatZilla, a Firefox add-on, can be installed to provide access to IRC in the browser. Chatzilla is part of the SeaMonkey internet suite.
Built-in IRC is utilized by many computer games, such as War§ow, Unreal Tournament, Uplink, World of Warcraft, Zdaemon and EVE Online. The SoulSeek file sharing network is based on IRC.
For novice users, mIRC and other large-window clients can seem unnecessarily large and complex. New users may prefer instant messaging clients like Miranda IM, Pidgin or Trillian that support IRC and provide a familiar interface to the application. Alternatively web based clients such as Mibbit and webirc provide an easy way for people to access IRC.