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Linux IRC mini-HOWTO

Fr�d�ric L. W. Meunier

v0.4 7 January, 2005
Revision History                                                             
Revision 0.4        2005-01-07          Revised by: fredlwm                  
Fifth revision.                                                              


This document aims to describe the basics of IRC and respective applications
for Linux.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Table of Contents
1. Introduction
    1.1. Objectives
    1.2. Miscellaneous
    1.3. Translations
   
   
2. About IRC
3. Brief History of IRC
4. Beginner's guide on using IRC
    4.1. Running the ircII program
    4.2. Commands
    4.3. IRC Etiquette
   
   
5. Console IRC Clients
    5.1. ircII
    5.2. EPIC
    5.3. BitchX
    5.4. irssi
    5.5. Other Console IRC Clients
   
   
6. X Window IRC Clients
    6.1. Zircon
    6.2. KVIrc
    6.3. X-Chat
    6.4. QuIRC
   
   
7. IRC Servers
    7.1. IRCD
    7.2. IRCD-Hybrid
    7.3. ircu
    7.4. Bahamut
   
   
8. IRC Bots
    8.1. Eggdrop
    8.2. EnergyMech
   
   
9. IRC Bouncers (IRC Proxy)
    9.1. bnc
    9.2. muh
    9.3. ezbounce
   
   
10. Installation
    10.1. Clients
    10.2. Servers
   
   
11. But what's already included in my distribution ? (Linux on x86)
    11.1. Debian
    11.2. Fedora (Red Hat)
    11.3. Slackware
   
   
12. Hell and Paradise
    12.1. Gods (developers)
    12.2. Saints (contributors)
    12.3. Angels (feedback)
    12.4. Devils
   
   
13. Revision History

1. Introduction

This document is still WIP, and should be treated as such. I'll do my best to
keep it updated and accurate.

The following bibles shouldn't be ignored:

��*�RFC 1459 by Jarkko Oikarinen and Darren Reed was the first about the
    Internet Relay Chat Protocol -  http://ftp.isi.edu/in-notes/rfc1459.txt
   
��*�RFC 2810 by Christophe Kalt updates RFC 1459 and describes the
    Architecture of the Internet Relay Chat -  http://ftp.isi.edu/in-notes/
    rfc2810.txt
   
��*�RFC 2811 by Christophe Kalt updates RFC 1459 and describes the Channel
    Management of the Internet Relay Chat -  http://ftp.isi.edu/in-notes/
    rfc2811.txt
   
��*�RFC 2812 by Christophe Kalt updates RFC 1459 and describes the Client
    Protocol of the Internet Relay Chat -  http://ftp.isi.edu/in-notes/
    rfc2812.txt
   
��*�RFC 2813 by Christophe Kalt updates RFC 1459 and describes the Server
    Protocol of the Internet Relay Chat -  http://ftp.isi.edu/in-notes/
    rfc2813.txt
   

Also be sure to check the following links:

 http://www.irchelp.org/
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

1.1. Objectives

Among others, the objectives of this mini-HOWTO are:

��*�Link important resources about IRC;
   
��*�Avoid common misuses of IRC by writing an IRC Etiquette;
   
��*�List popular clients, servers, bots, and bouncers, along with their
    maintainers, #channel, small description, download location, home page,
    and hints;
   
��*�List IRC tools available in the latest release of all major
    distributions.
   

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
1.2. Miscellaneous

The latest version of this document is available at  http://
www.pervalidus.net/documentation/IRC-mini-HOWTO/

A WIP of the next draft may be available at  http://www.pervalidus.net/
documentation/IRC-mini-HOWTO/WIP/

All drafts are archived at  http://www.pervalidus.net/documentation/
IRC-mini-HOWTO/old/

Everything may be mirrored at  http://www2.pervalidus.net/documentation/
IRC-mini-HOWTO/

You can e-mail me (in English, French, or Portuguese) with suggestions about
the mini-HOWTO. I know this is far from finished, but hope you find it
useful. Just try to avoid asking me to add your application, distribution, or
site. Most likely I won't, but you can try to persuade me. Also don't ask for
technical support. I have no time to help everyone.

BTW, someone to work on the protocol and server sides would be very welcome.

Fr�d�ric L. W. Meunier -  http://www.pervalidus.net/contact.html
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

1.3. Translations

Proposed translations will be linked here. Although I can write in Brazilian
Portuguese and French, I'm not going to translate this document in the near
future, so feel free to make them.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

2. About IRC

Excerpt from RFC2810:

The IRC (Internet Relay Chat) protocol is for use with text based
conferencing. It has been developed since 1989 when it was originally
implemented as a mean for users on a BBS to chat amongst themselves.

First formally documented in May 1993 by RFC 1459 [IRC], the protocol has
kept evolving.

The IRC Protocol is based on the client-server model, and is well suited to
running on many machines in a distributed fashion. A typical setup involves a
single process (the server) forming a central point for clients (or other
servers) to connect to, performing the required message delivery/multiplexing
and other functions.

This distributed model, which requires each server to have a copy of the
global state information, is still the most flagrant problem of the protocol
as it is a serious handicap, which limits the maximum size a network can
reach. If the existing networks have been able keep growing at an incredible
pace, we must thank hardware manufacturers for giving us ever more powerful
systems.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

3. Brief History of IRC

The first IRC daemon was written in the summer of 1998 by Jarkko "WiZ"
Oikarinen of the University of Oulu, Finland. Originally intended as a
BBS-style replacement for Talk, IRC quickly spread; first through
Scandinavian, and then throughout the rest of the world. Within a year there
were over 40 servers linked up.

At this stage there was only one network, and so a name unnecessary - it was
simply 'IRC'; but as the size of the network grew, disagreements began to
form. IRC was a pretty chaotic medium with netsplits, nick collisions, and
channel takeovers all commonplace; and it was inevitable that at some stage
users would split off to form their own networks.

One of the first major splits was in 1992, when Wildthang created the
Undernet network. Originally intended as a test network, Undernet quickly
grew, gaining a reputation as a friendly network due to it's introduction of
services to protect users and channels.

Two years later, Undernet itself forked, the new networking becoming DALnet.
DALnet's founder, dalvenjah, took Undernet's concept of services to a new
level, introducing support for nick registration, G-lines, and a host of
other features.

Meanwhile on IRCnet (as the original IRC network was now known), feelings
where running high. IRCnet was opposed to the concept of channel/nick
'ownership' which Undernet and DALnet had introduced, but clearly something
had to be done about the constant channel takeovers that were occuring. Two
alternative ideas were proposed: nick/channel delay, and timestamping (see
http://www.irc-help.org for information), but there was bitter dispute over
which to implement.

In July of 1996, IRCnet split, with most of the North American servers
leaving to form EFnet, leaving IRCnet as a mostly European network.

Since then, hundreds of other smaller networks have formed, most using
modified versions of either DALnet, EFnet, IRCnet, or Undernet's ircd.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

4. Beginner's guide on using IRC

The standard IRC client is the original ircII. It's part of most Linux
distributions, and most other text-based IRC clients (notably BitchX and
EPIC) are derived from it.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

4.1. Running the ircII program

It's easy to use ircII. Let's say you want to connect to irc.freenode.net as
mini-HOWTO.

At the command line, type:

$ irc mini-HOWTO irc.freenode.net

You can also export variables, so you won't need to use them at the command
line. For bash and zsh users:

$ export IRCNICK=mini-HOWTO IRCSERVER=irc.freenode.net

For csh and tcsh users, replace export with setenv.

Add them to your shell profile (e.g. ~/.bash_profile or ~/.zprofile) when
you're done.

Other common variables are IRCNAME and IRCUSER, to respectively set the
ircname part of a /whois and username as seen at the first line 'mini-HOWTO
is ~username@hostname (ircname)'. Keep in mind that IRCUSER won't work if you
run an ident daemon (default on most distributions). If you still need to
change your username (not recommended, and I hope you're not using IRC logged
as root !), install oidentd from  http://ojnk.sourceforge.net/ . To
configure, read the oidentd.conf man page. Finally run '/usr/local/sbin/
oidentd -g nobody -u nobody'. Add this to your startup scripts (e.g. /etc/
rc.d/rc.local) when you're done.

If not set, IRCNICK, IRCUSER, and IRCNAME will be retrieved from /etc/passwd
.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

4.2. Commands

Use /help to get a list on all available commands (/help help is a good
start). Replace nick by any IRCNICK.

��*�First, /set NOVICE off
   
��*�/nick IRC-mini-HOWTO changes your IRCNICK to IRC-mini-HOWTO
   
��*�/set realname The Linux IRC mini-HOWTO changes your IRCNAME to The Linux
    IRC mini-HOWTO (doesn't change on the same connection)
   
��*�/j #mini-HOWTO joins channel #mini-HOWTO
   
��*�/j #unmaintained-HOWTO joins channel#unmaintained-HOWTO
   
��*�/j #mini-HOWTO changes the active current channel to #mini-HOWTO
   
��*�/msg nick Hi. sends a private message to nick containing Hi.
   
��*�/notice nick (or #mini-HOWTO) Hi. sends a notice to nick (or #mini-HOWTO)
    containing Hi.
   
��*�/query nick starts a private conversation with nick. /query ends the
    private conversation
   
��*�/me uses Linux. sends an action to the current channel or query
    containing IRC-mini-HOWTO loves Linux.
   
��*�/dcc chat nick starts a chat with nick. Use /msg =nick (notice the =) to
    send messages over the chat
   
��*�/dcc send nick /etc/HOSTNAME sends the given file to nick
   
��*�/dcc get nick receives the file offered by nick
   
��*�/part leaves the active current channel
   
��*�/part #unmaintained-HOWTO leaves channel #unmaintained-HOWTO
   
��*�/discon disconnects from current IRCSERVER
   
��*�/server irc.oftc.net connects to IRCSERVER irc.oftc.net
   
��*�/quit Bye. quits your IRC session with a reason Bye.
   

Most of the above commands (including the use of environmental variables)
will also work in other console-based clients.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

4.3. IRC Etiquette

WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING

��*�Never use IRC logged as root or any user with excessive privileges. Bad
    things may happen sooner or later. You were warned. It's highly
    recommended you create an user only to use IRC.
   

$ man adduser

On Linux channels you shouldn't:

��*�Act as an idiot. If you want to be respected, then first respect each
    other.
   
��*�Use colors (^C). Most Linux users don't tolerate such mIRC crazes, and
    ircII doesn't really support them. The same should apply for ANSI.
   
��*�Use full CAPS, bold (^B), reverse (^V), underline (^_), blink (^F), and
    bell (^G). The first 4 are here to emphasize words, not the whole text.
    The last 2 are just very annoying.
   
��*�Ask if you can ask a question. Just ask, but first read all documentation
    available on the subject. Start looking at  /usr/doc/ (on some systems it
    may be  /usr/doc/, otherwise go to  http://www.tldp.org/ or  http://
    www.ibiblio.org/pub/Linux/docs/ . And don't repeat your question
    immediately. Wait at least 10 minutes. If you don't get any answer it's
    because nobody knows or wants to help. Respect their choice, they're not
    your personal assistant. Also never send mass private messages. It's like
    spam.
   

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
5. Console IRC Clients

5.1. ircII

Maintainer: ircII project

IRC Channel: #ircII (official channel ?) on EFNet  http://www.efnet.org/?
module=servers

Originally written by Michael Sandrof, ircII comes with most Linux
distributions. It uses termcap and shouldn't be a choice for most users, but
is a standard. Mathusalem and other gurus will use it. Less ventured will
regret to have it installed.

You can get the latest version of ircII from  ftp://ircii.warped.com/pub/
ircII/ . Homepage at  http://www.eterna.com.au/ircii/
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

5.2. EPIC

Maintainer: EPIC Software Labs

IRC Channel: #EPIC on EFNet

Based on ircII, EPIC (Enhanced Programmable ircII Client) is meant for real
scripters and users searching freedom. When you start it for the first time
you'll notice that you should really learn the basics of scripting.

You can get the latest version of EPIC from  http://prbh.org/?page=ftp .
Homepage at  http://www.epicsol.org/
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

5.3. BitchX

Maintainer: Colten Edwards

IRC Channel: #BitchX on EFNet

Originally a script for ircII, BitchX is a popular client intended to reduce
the need for scripting by including a huge array of features in the client
itself (too many features for even experienced users to remember). Many
consider BitchX bloatware (not necessarily a bad thing), but it is very
popular amongst users and opers alike.

You can get the latest version of BitchX from  http://www.bitchx.org/
download.php . Homepage at  http://www.bitchx.org/
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

5.4. irssi

Maintainer: Timo Sirainen

IRC Channel: #irssi on freenode -  http://freenode.net/irc_servers.shtml and
IRCnet -  http://www.ircnet.org/

Timo released yagIRC in 1997. It was a GUI client using the GTK+ toolkit. The
army called on him a year later, and the new maintainers wouldn't do the job.
yagIRC passed away and he started irssi as a replacement. It used GTK+. GNOME
and curses versions would appear later. As of 0.7.90 it's only a modular text
mode client. Supports Perl scripting.

You can get the latest version of irssi from  http://irssi.org/?page=download
. Homepage at  http://irssi.org/
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

5.5. Other Console IRC Clients

There are a few others ircII based clients.

Blackened -  ftp://ftp.blackened.com/pub/irc/blackened/

Ninja -  ftp://qoop.org/ninja/

ScrollZ -  http://www.scrollz.com/
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

6. X Window IRC Clients

6.1. Zircon

Maintainer: Lindsay F. Marshall

IRC Channel: None ?

Written in Tcl/Tk, uses the native network communications of Tcl.

You can get the latest version of Zircon from  ftp://catless.ncl.ac.uk/pub/ .
Homepage at  http://catless.ncl.ac.uk/Programs/Zircon/
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

6.2. KVIrc

Maintainer: Szymon Stefanek

IRC Channel: #KVIrc on freenode

Also written with the Qt toolkit, KVIrc is a beast. Supports DCC Voice,
built-in scripting language, and plugins.

You can get the latest version of KVIrc from  http://www.kvirc.net/?id=
download . Homepage at  http://www.kvirc.net/
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

6.3. X-Chat

Maintainer: Peter Zelezny

IRC Channel: #Linux on ChatJunkies -  http://www.chatjunkies.org/servers.php

Using GTK+ and optionally GNOME, supports Perl and Python scripting.

You can get the latest version of X-Chat from  http://xchat.org/download/ .
Homepage at  http://xchat.org/
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

6.4. QuIRC

Maintainer: Patrick Earl

IRC Channel: #QuIRC on DALnet -  http://www.dal.net/servers/index.php3

Using Tk, supports Tcl for scripting.

You can get the latest version of QuIRC from his Homepage at  http://
quirc.org/
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

7. IRC Servers

7.1. IRCD

Maintainer: ircd developers

IRC Channel: #ircd on IRCnet

The original IRC daemon, mainly used by IRCnet. Recent versions have
attempted to improve on channel security through the introduction of
additional channel types (eg !linux), and channel modes.

You can get the latest version of IRCD from  ftp://ftp.irc.org/irc/server/.
Homepage at  http://www.irc.org/
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

7.2. IRCD-Hybrid

Maintainer:

IRC Channel: None ?

Mainly used by EFNet. Hybrid's focus is on speed and efficiency, since it
lacks many of the services offered by other networks. In keeping with EFnet's
ethos that opers should not be concerned with channel matters, Hybrid doesn't
allow opers to set modes on channels, or join channels from which they are
banned. It is only relatively recently that Hybrid offered the ability for a
service bot to reop an opless channel.

You can get the latest version of IRCD-Hybrid from  http://
ftp1.sourceforge.net/ircd-hybrid/ . Homepage at  http://www.ircd-hybrid.org/
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

7.3. ircu

Maintainer: Undernet Coder Committee

IRC Channel: #ircu on Undernet -  http://www.undernet.org/servers.php

Mainly used by Undernet. Following a series of DDoS attacks in 2001/2002,
ircu has offered the ability for users and servers to hide their addresses.
Many of the /stats commands have also (sadly) been removed from Undernet.

You can get the latest version of ircu from  http://ftp1.sourceforge.net/
undernet-ircu/ . Homepage at  http://coder-com.undernet.org/
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

7.4. Bahamut

Maintainer: DALnet Coding Team

IRC Channel: #Bahamut on DALnet

Based on DreamForge and Hybrid, Bahamut is the DALnet server. Features
include channel and nick registration, support for nicknames up to 15(?)
characters, and a memo service.

You can get the latest version of Bahamut from  http://bahamut.dal.net/
download.php . Homepage at  http://bahamut.dal.net/
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

8. IRC Bots

8.1. Eggdrop

Maintainer:

IRC Channel: #eggdrop on Undernet

Generally considered to be the IRC bot, Eggdrop offers robust channel
protection, and is highly customisable through the use of Tcl scripting.

Multiple eggdrops can be linked together forming a botnet which can span
multiple channels, or even networks. On networks without channel registration
services, eggdrops are common feature in almost all large channels.

You can get the latest version of eggdrop from  http://www.eggheads.org/
downloads/ . Homepage at  http://www.eggheads.org/
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

8.2. EnergyMech

Maintainer: Proton

IRC Channel: None

Early versions of EnergyMech (or emech as it is frequently called), earned a
reputation as something of a script kiddie's bot, through it's ability to run
multiple bots from a single process (thus allowing less desirable users to
load up hundreds of vhosted clones from a shell account). This is a
reputation emech does not deserve, since it is really a rather good channel
protection bot, and recent versions of emech have restricted this capacity
(to max 4 bots). A popular alternative to Eggdrop.

You can get the latest version of EnergyMech from  http://www.energymech.net/
download.html . Homepage at  http://www.energymech.net/
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

9. IRC Bouncers (IRC Proxy)

9.1. bnc

Maintainer: James Seter

IRC Channel: None ?

bnc is the original bouncer.

You can get the latest version of bnc from  http://gotbnc.com/download.html .
Homepage at  http://gotbnc.com/
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

9.2. muh

Maintainer: Sebastian Kienzl

IRC Channel: None ?

muh is a smart and versatile irc-bouncing tool that will also go on IRC as
soon as it's launched, guarding or attempting to get your nick.

You can get the latest version of muh from  http://ftp1.sourceforge.net/muh/
. Homepage at  http://seb.riot.org/muh/
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

9.3. ezbounce

Maintainer: Murat Delig�n�l

IRC Channel: None ?

ezbounce's basic features include password protection, remote administration,
logging and listening on multiple ports.

You can get the latest version of ezbounce from his Homepage at  http://
druglord.freelsd.org/ezbounce/
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

10. Installation

10.1. Clients

All popular clients use GNU Autoconf and GNU Automake, thus come with a
configure script. Read the installation instructions after you unpack the
sources. Be sure you have the required libraries in order to compile. Doing
cd name_of_the_created_directory; ./configure --help; ./configure 
your_options_here; make; make install > ~/sources_install.log is the right
procedure. Also note that for ircII, EPIC, and BitchX you should really edit
include/config.h to suit your needs.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

10.2. Servers

Do you really need help to set up a server ?

~$ touch ircd.conf
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

11. But what's already included in my distribution ? (Linux on x86)

11.1. Debian

IRC Channel: #Debian on freenode (irc.debian.org -> irc.freenode.net)

Debian -  http://www.debian.org/ includes too many IRC tools to list. You can
find them at the following places:

��*�Debian stable -  http://ftp.debian.org/debian/dists/stable/main/
    binary-i386/
   
��*�Debian unstable (didn't receive enough testing)  http://ftp.debian.org/
    debian/dists/unstable/main/binary-i386/
   
��*�Also be sure to check the proposed updates -  http://ftp.debian.org/
    debian/dists/proposed-updates/ . It may contain IRC clients as well.
   

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
11.2. Fedora (Red Hat)

IRC Channel: #RedHat on freenode (irc.redhat.com -> irc.freenode.net)

[http://fedora.redhat.com/] Fedora Core 3 includes the following clients:

��*�EPIC4 1.0.1 -  http://download.fedora.redhat.com/pub/fedora/linux/core/3/
    i386/os/Fedora/RPMS/epic-1.0.1-18.i386.rpm
   
��*�KSirc from KDE Network 3.3.0 -  http://download.fedora.redhat.com/pub/
    fedora/linux/core/3/i386/os/Fedora/RPMS/kdenetwork-3.3.0-5.i386.rpm
   
��*�X-Chat 2.4.0 -  http://download.fedora.redhat.com/pub/fedora/linux/core/3
    /i386/os/Fedora/RPMS/xchat-2.4.0-3.i386.rpm
   

��*�Rawhide (current development)
   
��*� http://download.fedora.redhat.com/pub/fedora/linux/core/development/ .
    Use at your own risk.
   

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
11.3. Slackware

IRC Channel: #Slackware on freenode and OFTC -  http://www.oftc.net/

Slackware -  http://www.slackware.com/ 10.0 includes the following clients:

��*�BitchX 1.1 -  ftp://ftp.slackware.com/pub/slackware/slackware-10.0/
    slackware/n/bitchx-1.1-i486-1.tgz
   
��*�EPIC4 2.0 -  ftp://ftp.slackware.com/pub/slackware/slackware-10.0/
    slackware/n/epic4-2.0-i486-1.tgz
   
��*�irssi 0.8.9 -  ftp://ftp.slackware.com/pub/slackware/slackware-10.0/
    slackware/n/irssi-0.8.9-i486-3.tgz
   
��*�KSirc from KDE Network 3.2.3 -  ftp://ftp.slackware.com/pub/slackware/
    slackware-10.0/slackware/kde/kdenetwork-3.2.3-i486-1.tgz
   
��*�X-Chat 2.0.9 -  ftp://ftp.slackware.com/pub/slackware/slackware-10.0/
    slackware/gnome/xchat-2.0.9-i486-1.tgz
   

��*�Slackware -current (current development)
   
��*� ftp://ftp.slackware.com/pub/slackware/slackware-current/ . Use at your
    own risk.
   

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
12. Hell and Paradise

12.1. Gods (developers)

��*�Thanks to all authors. Without their hard and volunteer work I'd never
    write it, and we'd never get our hands on Linux nor IRC.
   

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
12.2. Saints (contributors)

��*�See  http://www.pervalidus.net/documentation/IRC-mini-HOWTO/
   

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
12.3. Angels (feedback)

��*�See above.
   

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
12.4. Devils

��*�Khaled Mardam-Bey must be stopped :-)
   
��*�'If idiots could fly, IRC would be an airport'. I don't know who wrote
    that, but it makes sense. For those of you using IRC to annoy people I
    ordered a /kill.
   

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
13. Revision History

��*�20050107 - v0.4, fifth draft
   





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