9.2. Using IRC
Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is a network-based, multiserver chat/instant message system. While mailing lists provide asynchronous communication, IRC provides almost-immediate, synchronous communication. You can use it to participate in online planning meetings, discuss development, or exchange support advice.
9.2.1. How Do I Do That?
There are many different IRC client programs available.
To use the IRC client XChat, select the menu option ApplicationsInternetIRC, or run the command xchat. The window shown in Figure 9-1 will appear.
Figure 9-1. XChat server-list window
XChat will propose a first, second, and third nickname based on the username and actual name (GECOS field) of the account you're using. Edit these values if desired, select the FreeNode network, and click Connect. Figure 9-2 shows the main XChat window and introductory message that will appear.
Figure 9-2. XChat main window
To join a specific channel, select the menu option WindowChannel List. When the channel-list window shown in Figure 9-3 appears, enter fedora into the Regex Match field and click Apply. Select the channel you wish to join from the list and click Join Channel.
Figure 9-3. XChat channel list
The main XChat window will now show a list of users down the right side and a tab containing your selected channel at the bottom of the screen, as in Figure 9-4. In some cases, the server will redirect you to an alternate channel such as fedora-join-instructions to assist you with registering or authenticating.
Figure 9-4. XChat connected to a channel
/msg nickserv register yourSecretPassword
/msg nickserv identify yourSecretPassword
If you were redirected to another channel such as fedora-join-instructions, you can switch to the channel you originally wanted to join now. Either select the channel from the list that appears after selecting the menu option WindowChannel List (Figure 9-3), or use the /join command:
You can now view messages in the large pane of the XChat window or enter messages in the text field at the bottom of the window. To find out about a specific user, right-click on that username and select the name from the pop-up list that will appear. XChat will display basic information about that user.
/msg susan Have you installed FC6 on your new laptop yet?
In the message pane, when on a public channel, outbound private messages are identified by angle-brackets pointing at the username:
>olgovie< | I don't think that will work.
When other users send a private message to you, that message will appear in a separate tab at the bottom of the screen. The label text on a tab will turn red if there are unread messages on that tab, providing you with an easy way of monitoring multiple channels and several private conversations at the same time. Messages that you enter while a private tab is active are automatically private, even without the use of /msg user at the start of the line.
9.2.2. How Does It Work?
IRC works through a distributed network of servers that relay messages back and forth between connected clientshence the name Internet Relay Chat. The XChat program is one of many IRC clients available in Fedora; others include mozilla-chat, EPIC, Irssi, ninja, Konversation, and the multiprotocol clients Gaim and naim.
The FreeNode network is a small, high-capacity IRC network operated by the Peer-Directed Projects Center (PDPC) in support of peer-directed projects, including many open source projects. Most of the FreeNode staff are volunteers.
9.2.3. What About...
126.96.36.199. ...saving an IRC discussion?
There are two ways to save a discussion in XChat: you can enable logging, which automatically logs all discussion on all channels, or you can save text, which performs a one-time save of the current text (300 lines by default) in the current topic:
Figure 9-5. XChat preferences window
188.8.131.52. ...other ways of accessing IRC?
From time to time, you may want to connect to IRC from a computer that does not have an IRC client when you don't have administrative permission to install oneat a friend's house or a library, for example.
The ChatZilla extension to Firefox offers a chat client that runs within the Firefox browser. Since some systems permit users to install extensions without superuser privilege, you may be able to use this approach. Within Firefox, select ToolsExtensions to bring up the Extensions window, and then click the Get More Extensions link in the corner of that window to go to the Firefox Extensions web site. Browse to or search to find the ChatZilla extension, the click the Install Now button. Confirm the installation on the dialog that appears; when the extension has finished installing, restart Firefox, then click ToolsChatZilla.
The other option is to use a webchat client through your web browser. Web sites offering webchat clients come and go; a few minutes of searching with Google will find several, but you will need to examine them individually to see if they support connecting to the FreeNode network (where the Fedora channels are hosted).
9.2.4. Where Can I Learn More?