Internet Relay Chat (IRC)

Internet Radio

    Internet Relay Chat FAQ

    What is IRC?

    IRC stands for "Internet Relay Chat". It was originally written by Jarkko Oikarinen ( in 1988. Since starting in Finland, it has been used in over 60 countries around the world. It was designed as a replacement for the "talk" program but has become much much more than that. IRC is a multi-user chat system, where people convene on "channels" (a virtual place, usually with a topic of conversation) to talk in groups, or privately. IRC is constantly evolving, so the way things to work one week may not be the way they work the next. Read the MOTD (message of the day) every time you use IRC to keep up on any new happenings or server updates. IRC gained international fame during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, where updates from around the world came accross the wire, and most irc users who were online at the time gathered on a single channel to hear these reports. IRC had similar uses during the coup against Boris Yeltsin in September 1993, where IRC users from Moscow were giving live reports about the unstable situation there.

    How is IRC set up?

    The user runs a "client" program (usually called 'irc') which connects to the irc network via another program called a "server". Servers exist to pass messages from user to user over the irc network.

    How do I use a client?

    First, check to see if irc is installed on your system. Type "irc" from your prompt. If this doesn't work, ask your local systems people if irc is already installed. This will save you the work of installing it yourself. If an IRC client isn't already on your system, you either compile the source yourself, have someone else on your machine compile the source for you, or use the TELNET client. "telnet 6668". Please only use the latter when you have no other way of reaching IRC, as this resource is quite limited, slow, and *very* unreliable.

    Where can I get source for the irc client?

    You can anonymous ftp to any of the following sites (use the one closest to you): *** If you don't know what anonymous ftp is, ask your local systems people to show you ***

    UNIX client /irc/clients /pub/irc /pub/unix/irc /pub/irc /pub/comp/networking/irc/clients /pub/irc

    EMACS elisp /irc/clients/elisp /pub/unix/irc/Emacs /pub/comp/networking/irc/clients /pub/irc/emacs /pub/irchat

    X11 client /pub /pub/tcl/code

    VMS client /irc/clients/vms /pub/irc/vms /pub/unix/irc/vms /pub/net/irc

    REXX client for VM /irc/clients/rxirc /pub/irc/rxirc /pub/net/irc/VM /pub/irc/rxirc /pub/unix/irc/rxirc

    MSDOS /irc/clients/pc/msdos /pub/unix/irc/msdos

    Microsoft Windows /irc/clients/pc/windows

    OS/2 /irc/clients/pc/os2 /os2/2_x/network

    Macintosh /irc/clients/macintosh /info-mac/comm /pub/unix/irc/mac /pub/systems/mac

    Which server do I connect to?

    It's usually best to try and connect to one geographically close, even though that may not be the best. You can always ask when you get on irc. Here's a list of servers avaliable for connection: This is, by no means, a comprehensive list, but merely a start. Connect to the closest of these servers and join the channel #Twilight_Zone When you get there, immediately ask what you want. Don't say "I have a question" because then hardly anyone will talk.

    OK, I've got a client and I'm connected to a server? Now what?

    It's probably best to take a look around and see what you want to do first. All irc commands start with a "/", and most are one word. Typing /help will get you help information. /names will get you a list of names, etc. The output is typically something like this-> (Note there are more channels than this, this is just sample output).
    Pub: #hack      zorgo eiji Patrick fup htoaster 
    Pub: #Nippon    @jircc @miyu_d 
    Pub: #nicole    MountainD 
    Pub: #hottub    omar liron beer Deadog moh pfloyd Dode joek
    (Note there are LOTS more channels than this, this is just sample output -- one way to stop /names from being too large is doing /names -min 20 which will only list channels with 20 or more people on it, but you can only do this with the ircII client). "Pub" means public (or "visible") channel. "hack" is the channel name. "#" is the prefix. A "@" before someone's nickname indicates he/she is the "Channel operator" (see #7) of that channel. A Channel Operator is someone who has control over a specific channel. It can be shared or not as the first Channel Operator sees fit. The first person to join the channel automatically receives Channel Operator status, and can share it with anyone he/she chooses (or not). Another thing you might see is "Prv" which means private. You will only see this if you are on that private channel. No one can see Private channels except those who are on that particular private channel.

    What is a channel operator? What is an irc operator?

    A channel operator is someone with a "@" by their nickname in a /names list, or a "@" by the channel name in /whois output. Channel operators are kings/queens of their channel. This means they can kick you out of their channel for no reason. If you don't like this, you can start your own channel and become a channel operator there. An IRC operator is someone who maintains the IRC network. They cannot fix channel problems. They cannot kick someone out of a channel for you. They cannot /kill (kick someone out of IRC temporarily) someone just because you gave the offender channel operator privileges and said offender kicked *you* off.

    What is a "bot"? How can I get one?

    "bot" is short for "robot". It is a script run from an ircII client or a seperate program (in perl, C, and sometimes more obscure languages). (Michael Adams) defined bots very well: "A bot is a vile creation of /lusers to make up for lack of penis length". IRC bots are generally not needed. See below about "ownership" of nicknames and channels. It should be noted that many servers (especially in the USA) have started to ban ALL bots. Some ban bots so much that if you run a bot on their server, you will be banned from using that server (see segment below on K: lines).

    What are good channels to try while using irc?

    #hottub and #jeopardy are almost always teeming with people. #hottub is meant to simulate a hot tub, and #jeopardy is non-stop game of the popular television series "Jeopardy". To get a list of channels with their names and topics, do /list -min 20 (on ircII) which will show you channels with 20 or more members. You can also do this for smaller numbers. Many IRC operators are in #Twilight_Zone ... so if you join that channel and don't hear much talking, don't worry, it's not because you joined, operators don't talk much on that channel anyways!

    Someone is using my nickname, can anyone do anything about it? Someone is using my channel, can anyone do anything about it?

    Even while NickServ registered nicknames, there are not enough nicknames to have nickname ownership. If someone takes your nickname while you are not on irc, you can ask for them to give it back, but you can not demand it, nor will irc operators /kill for nickname ownership. There are, literally, millions of possible channel names, so if someone is on your usual channel, just go to another. You can /msg them and ask for them to leave, but you can't *force* them to leave.

    There aren't any channel operators on my channel, now what?

    Channel operators are the owner(s) of their respective channels. Keep this in mind when giving out channel operator powers (make sure to give them to enough people so that all of the channel operators don't unexpectedly leave and the channel is stuck without a channel operator). On the other hand, do not give out channel operator to *everyone*. This causes the possibility of mass-kicking, where the channel would be stuck without any channel operators. You have one option. You can ask everyone to leave and rejoin the channel. This is a good way to get channel operator back. It doesn't work on large channels or ones with bots, for obvious reasons.

    What if someone tells me to type something cryptic?

    Never type anything anyone tells you to without knowing what it is. There is a problem with typing a certain command with the ircII client that gives anyone immediate control of your client (and thus can alter your account environment also).

    What was NickServ? Is NickServ ever coming back?

    NickServ was a nickname registration service run in Germany. It was a bot that told people who used a registered nickname to stop using that nickname. NickServ has been down since the Spring of 1994. It is not likely that NickServ will be back. Remember, nicknames aren't owned.

    What does "*** Ghosts are not allowed on IRC." mean? What does "*** You are not welcome on this server." mean?

    On IRC, you cannot be banned from every single server. Server-banning exists only on a per-server basis (being banned on one server does not mean you are automatically banned from another). "Ghosts are not allowed on IRC" means that you are banned from using that server. The banning is in one of three forms: The most general answer is "use another server", but if it bothers you, try writing to the irc administrator of that site --> /admin -- plead your case. It might even get somewhere!

    What does "You have new email." mean? What does it mean when I see "[Mail: 5]" in my status bar?

    IRC does not have its own mail. However, if your client tells you that you have new email, it simply means that you have received mail in your account. Leave irc (either by suspending it or quitting it), and read the mail. You might also see "You have new email." when you start irc. IRC does not keep track of email between sessions, so when you start irc and have something in your mailbox, irc will tell you you have new email. The "[Mail: 5]" in your status bar tells you how many email messages you have in your mailbox. Again, to access them, leave irc and read them using your normal mail reader.

    Where can I find GIF archives of irc people?

    GIF archives of irc people are available: -- NORDUnet Only! /pub/comp/networking/irc/RP

    Where can I learn more?

    The best, basic, irc user's manual is the IRC Primer, available in plain text, PostScript, and LaTeX. Another good place to start might be downloading the irc tutorials. They're avaliable via anonymous ftp from in /irc/support/tutorial.* -- there are three, tutorial.1,tutorial.2, and tutorial.3. The third tutorial mentions a fourth but as of this writing it has not been released. You can also join various IRC related mailing lists. "operlist" is a list that discusses current (and past) server code, routing, and protocol. You can join by mailing Another mailing list,, exists to discuss protocol revisions for the 3.0 release of the ircd, currently in planning. Mail to be added to that. Those looking for more technical information can get the IRC RFC (rfc1459) available at all RFC ftp sites, as well as

    What do I do if I'm still confused or have additions to this posting?

    email or ask for help (in #Twilight_Zone) on irc.


    Internet Radio

    To fully experience Internet Digital Radio, you need a sound card and Internet Web software (Netscape or Mosaic). You should have at least 14.4 KBs access, as a typical song file will be 1.5 to 3 MBytes long, and a complete radio show can be as long as 30 or 40 MBytes (although they are often divided into smaller files).

    WWW sites that have Radio Internet resources include the following:

    * Radio on the Internet

    * Radio Stations on the Internet by Yahoo

    * RadioNet

    * Virtual Radio