Getting to know IRC

Despite having worked in IT more or less for 10 years, I have never really had a chance to get to know IRC very well. At work, we use plenty of chat and instant-message programs, and they work pretty well on a day-to-day basis. So, IRC has never been a priority. There are probably no real (legit) Buddhist IRC channels either, so no point in looking for those. ;)

However, IRC, while old and obtuse, does have some advantages over other chat clients:

  • It’s very lightweight and efficient.
  • It’s very stable, owing to it’s efficiency, and not relying on commercial clients and protocols.
  • Speaking of clients, you can find IRC clients for just about every computer OS and version.

We do have IRC services here at work, and they seem to be an ideal alternative to chat, especially when during serious incidents. The last thing you want is for MSN messenger or Spark/Jabber to crash right in the middle of a conference during some major system problem. You need something that, while ugly, works all the time. Hence, I’ve been learning to use IRC on the side to take advantage of the existing services. :)

Right now, I am trying out a command-line client in Linux called IRSSI, which so far has worked better than expected for me. Using this in combination with the screen command in Linux means I never lose my terminal. Before IRSSI, I used to use the plug-in for Firefox called ChatZilla, and this works OK, but I don’t like the extra window it opens. I was able to “bookmark” IRC URLs, which was kind of cool, but IRSSI has config options to automatically login and join certain channels if you so choose. Also, there is the issue of having to open Firefox first and run the plug-in through there, when you may not always be in a position to do that. The command-line setup is, not surprisingly, the most reliable in a serious situation.

By the way, if you are going to use IRC, you should get familiar with the basic commands. I found this website to be the best summary of IRC commands you need to know for getting around and such. The nick*, join and part commands are especially useful. By the way, when using IRSSI, you can jump between windows with the ctrl+N (next window) and ctrl+P (previous window) commands.

Anyways, it’s good to finally get to know IRC, and finally join the legion of nerds who rant, harass and flamewar one another. IRC is the r0xx0rz. :)


* – My nickname on IRC is sometime “Prof. Torvald Coolguy”, a reference to StrongBad’s pseudonym. +10 Buddha Points if you can figure out which episode/toon.