Setting up and Using an IRC

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IRC, the adolescent who never grew up

IRC stands for Internet Relay Chat. As can be gained/surmised from the name, it has to do something with chatting and has Internet to do with it. All of you who are using are using telegram, whatsapp or any other application on your phone in a group mode (where you talk to many people in real-time) that has either been directly or indirectly influenced by IRC. IRC came in late 80's and before that people used something called Usenet newsgroups which can be seen as a grandfather of the modern mailing list. There were a few one-to-one chat clients but hackers and academicians at the time were not satisfied with the time-lag that newsgroups had and one-to-one chat clients did not just cut it.

So a certain Jarkko Oikarinen, in the summer of 1988 created IRC while being an intern at the University of Oulu in Finland. The main benefit in those days was that it was a real-time tool in which you could talk to people across various time-zones and all could be in a 'channel' . If ham-radio is the analog counterpart whether it's a humanitarian crisis or a man-made thing, irc is and could be looked at as the digital counterpart of the same. Before we delve into the hands-on of how to use an IRC client, some concepts need to be understood before we can proceed.

  • IRC Server - The server that you connect to. The server that you actually connect would probably be a copy of the main/model server. The thing is, when it was invented neither the technology permitted nor the author thought that it would see the popularity that IRC saw, its low and again a sort of resurgence over the last few years. So you connect via one of the servers and be possibly connected to hundreds to thousands of channels and thousands of users as well.
  • IRC Channel - The concept of the channel is the same as in your TV, your radio etc. Once you connect to a server, you can make a channel or join existing channels. There is a caveat though, not all servers host all channels. For example if you want to talk about some FOSS project your best bet would either be freenode.net or oftc.net, if you want to talk about anime, then Aniverse, if games then either quakenet (for the popular game quake), gamesnet, gamesurge and many more. The best resource to find about both a channel or a server is http://irc.netsplit.de/ . It has some of the more interesting stats and in-depth knowledge of the various services each IRC network gives and can give and has lot of real-time information.
  • Chop - Chop or Channel Operator fulfills the role of a mediator or/and moderator. Depending on the server and the community, you may have chops or may not have them. Depending on the channel guidelines, The Chop has the added responsibility to make sure that people are respectful to each other, nobody stalks/abuses other, no foul language is used (in other words people are somewhat civil to each other) . In more technical-based channels, they may have some stricter codes of conduct but this is usually shared as a clickable URL in the message of the Day.
  • MOTD - MOTD or Message of the Day is usually a message that you get once you connect to the IRC server. This can be dynamic or stale depending on the IRC network operator. For e.g. this is OFTC's MOTD

[00:00:00] - {Day changed to Thursday, July 2, 2015}

[00:13:07] * - larich.oftc.net Message of the Day -

[00:13:07] * - O

[00:13:07] * - \ The Open and Free

[00:13:07] * - O

[00:13:07] * - /| Technology Community

[00:13:07] * - O-O O

[00:13:07] * -

[00:13:07] * - Welcome to OFTC's IRC network.

  • TOPIC - topic is very relevant especially in technical circles. Topics are dynamic and usually based on hot issues concerning that channel. For e.g. in #debian-gnome on irc.oftc.net.

[00:56:46] * Topic for #debian-gnome is "RFS: nautilus-actions | RC bugs: http://deb.li/gnomercbugs | Buildd status: http://deb.li/pkggnome | Maintainer dashboard: http://deb.li/gnomedash | Potential jessie updates ready in unstable: evo* | http://www.0d.be/debian/debian-gnome-3.16-status.html"

[00:56:46] * Topic set by ah_!~ah@c-83-233-174-181.cust.bredband2.com on 2015-06-14 08:20:12 UTC

So as can be seen there are some hot topics being described above. There are people who are looking for sponsorship for the nautilus-actions package (probably new source package having additional symbols), as well as some potential issues in evolution. You also come to know who has set up the topic, in the above case it is a well known developer Andreas Henrickson fondly known as ah :)

Topic is used to keep people involved and abreast of current situations.