freenode, the network hosting the channels for many free / opensource projects – who just recently announced that they have surpassed the 50,000 users mark – do have big news again.
Existing since 1995 as a stand-alone network, it’s gone through a few IRCds already – from ircu to dancer-ircu then dancer-hybrid and hyperion now.
Being in use since August 2005 now, hyperion could see it’s end-of-life on freenode pretty soon as this blog post, asking for users to get aboard the freenode testnet, might indicate.
ircd-seven is the name the new IRCd is called, which is based on charybdis which in turn is based on ircd-ratbox. This should prove as being a very stable codebase as ratbox is the main IRCd used on EFNet and therefore is used on a large scale for quite some time now.
Since “neither ratbox nor Charybdis implements freenode’s more unique features, such as ban-forwarding or hidden IRC operators” a small team of developers started modifying the code, consisting of only one main dev, a few upstream contributors and the occasional contribution by volunteers. Today, according to christel of freenode, the project is “fairly close to completion, it needs a few tweaks to some staff-only functionality, but most of it’s there”. Asked about an anticipated release date, christel replied that they’re “looking at early next year if everything is going after plan”.
A few of the new features already have been publicized, amongst them are SSL-support for both servers and clients where hyperion only did S2S compression and haven’t had any encryption neither for users nor servers so that’s a big leap forward to the 21st century. Also the channel ban system has been reworked and the username prefixes (i= and n=) are gone for good and ~ is used to indicate a non-identd username instead as most other IRCds do too.
The way you can identify on connect also has been changed and you can now sign in to an account without having to use a nickname that is linked to it by specifying it in the form of accountname:password in the server-password field. You can also do that using SASL provided your client supports it – only irssi and Conspire do that as of now.
Being asked if there are even more features coming up or if the features in the posting are complete, christel replied “Oh, theres definitely a few more surprises in store!”.
To check out the new IRCd yourself, connect to testnet.freenode.net on port 9002 for normal connections or 9003 for SSL encryption. The ircd-seven bugtracker is located here – you can also download the IRCds sourcecode there.
Thanks to TheXception for the tip & thanks to christel for the interview!