irssi: IRC client setup and configuration

What is IRC?

IRC is the abbreviation for Internet Relay Chat, which is an application layer protocol of the OSI stack, used for communication between systems connected to the internet. It follows the client-server architecture model.

An easy way to remember this stack is:


What is an IRC client?

IRC clients are the computer programs that implements the IRC protocol to establish connection to the server, to which more clients are connected further and hence, can communicate with each other, in the client-server way.

There are several IRC clients available today, but I prefer to use terminal based clients, for example, bitchx, irssi, etc. I love irssi and in this post I’m going to go step by step as to how I did the setup and configure irssi on mac, but linux distributions should follow similar configuration process, except installation.

You can install it on mac using brew package manager- brew install irssi.

Now you can use it to connect desired server and then channels, manually. These following setups for that should suffice.

Manual set-up

  1. Connect to the server.
    Eg. /connect (if you want to connect to Freenode server)

  2. Identify yourself /msg nickserv identify <username> <password> Some channels doesn’t require you to identify yourself, but mostly it does. (PS- You need to register yourself first with freenode, follow this link)

  3. You would not want to reveal your IP address, which is visible to anyone in the channel when you join it. There are many ways to hide it, but getting a cloak is the easiest. (though not very reliable) To get a cloak, follow this link.

  4. Join the required channel. /join <channel-name>

Now I’ll show you how you can automate points 1,2 and 4 by configuring SASL.

Points 1 and 2

  1. /network add -sasl_username <login> -sasl_password <password> -sasl_mechanism PLAIN freenode
  2. /server add -auto -net freenode -ssl -ssl_verify 6697
  3. /save

point 4

  1. /channel add -auto <#channel-name> <network>
    eg. /channel add -auto #dgplug freenode

  2. /save

Some basic commands that you might use regularly:-

  • /msg <nickname> to send private message.
  • /exit to leave irssi
  • /me <message> to write a message in second person.
  • /whois <nickname> to know about the person
  • /part to leave a channel
    (other useful commands you can find here)

Also, it is quite helpful if you can get some sort of notification when you’re nick is mentioned by someone. By default, irssi will hilight the person who has mentioned you’re nick but some sound notification makes if way more handy and sometimes it isn’t even possible to browse though all the texts to see if someone has mentioned you. So, following will help you get a beep tone in case someone’s mentions you-
/set bell_beeps ON

Now, you’re ready to enter the world of IRC chatting, welcome to one of oldest platform of real-time communication!