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All about Internet Relay Chat

IRCCloud

As most people on IRC these days know, we all use some sort of BNC software. Well, here is the next generation of BNC that you will just want to get your hands dirty with, called IRCCloud.

IRCCloud is a modern, always-connected IRC client that works on mobile devices and modern web-browsers.

You’ll always be connected to IRC, even if your browser is closed and your computer is offline. When you come back to your computer, you’ll be able to easily see and respond to new messages since the last time you checked.

You can use IRCCloud from multiple computers, a record of messages you’ve seen and responded to are automatically kept in sync, so you get a seamless experience every time.

What exactly IS IRCCloud?
To make things simple, it’s an IRC client – IRCCloud connects to IRC servers for you, keeps your connection alive, and stores your chat history. You can access it via a modern web browser, or their mobile apps.

Does IRCCloud act as a BNC/bouncer and stay connected when I go offline?
Yes it does – you will stay connected to IRC even if you shutdown your computer or sign out of IRCCloud.com. This means when you come back, you’ll be able to see what happened on IRC whilst you were away.

Can I connect to an IRC network via SSL?
Yes. Additionally, your web connection to the irccloud.com will always be over HTTPS.

Can I connect to an IRC network that requires a password?
Yes, if you upgrade your account. NickServ login and SASL auth are also supported.

Is it FREE or does it cost something?
There is a free trial version which allows you to connect to up to 2 IRC networks other than IRCCloud’s home network. With the FREE account there is a limitation of being inactive for 2 hours before you are set as inactive and disconnected from any networks you may be connected to.
The PAID version is only $5/month. That includes an unlimited amount of allowed networks and access to connect to passworded servers.

What mobile versions are there?
Currently there is an Android app and an iOS app. They are available in the app stores, and are also open source.

How can I ban an IRCCloud user without banning the entire IRCCloud bouncer?
Information on the host and username scheme that IRCCloud uses is available in their abuse policy.

Why IRCCloud?
IRCCloud was built to solve these three issues:

  • You need to be online and running your IRC software to get messages
  • Being logged in to IRC from two or more computers often causes confusion
  • Most IRC software isn’t a pleasure to use

IRCCloud’s design philosophy is to make things clean, elegant and unobtrusive. IRC software shouldn’t get in your way. They’ve enabled some useful features by default, such as automatically collapsing join and part messages. Conversely, and as a matter of good taste, IRCCloud promises never to add graphical emoticons.

So, Who’s behind IRCCloud?
RJ works on the backend software, which is written in Erlang. An online-music alumnus, he founded Audioscrobbler and Last.fm, where he worked from 2002-2009. He occasionally blogs about Erlang and scalability topics on metabrew.com, and is @metabrew on Twitter.

James works on the interface design, and writes the JavaScript that powers the frontend. Another online music refugee and Last.fm alumnus, he keeps himself busy with various JS/PHP side projects, blogs as jouire.com and tweets as @jwheare

UnrealIRCd Survey

As the #1 most used IRC daemon on most networks, UnrealIRCd as we all know is a great daemon. It has many features, easy configureation and good irc support. But as IRC grows (or dies depending on how you look at it), there are more and more IRC daemons being released. With all of the long time IRC users learning to code, they decide to branch out either from the unrealircd source or from another IRC daemon source. With that being said, UnrealIRCd is slowly moving down the popularity list.

So to improve the UnrealIRCd, Syzop (Bram Matthys), has decided to launch an online survey.

This survey is not only for those who have dealt with UnrealIRCd as a developer, but for anyone and everyone who has ever been on an IRC network, that runs UnrealIRCd, either as just a user, an admin, or a developer. The results from the survey will be used by the UnrealIRCd development team to know what areas to focus more time on in the Unreal3.4.x series

The purpose of this survey is to give us a good idea of how people think about UnrealIRCd, how it’s being used, and – even more important – in what areas we should improve.
–Syzop, Project Leader. Developer/maintainer of UnrealIRCd 3.2.x and 3.4.x

So if you like, dislike, or want UnrealIRCd to be improved in any way, shape or form, this is your time to fill out this survey. It takes about 15 minutes of your time to complete (only if you end up having to answer all 33 questions), But some questions are skipped depending on your answer for some questions.

If you have 15 minutes to spare right now, we encourage you to visit http://survey.unrealircd.com

Quakenet open-sources core services

The gaming aimed IRC network Quakenet recently published their set of services, commonly known as Newserv, to the community. Among the different bots, the two most notable ones are Q and S, which handle user accounts, channel management and protection against floods in big channels.

A repository has been set-up, from which one can download a copy of the source code. Complete with a README file, it’s not only aimed at developers, but also network administrators. The repository is located at https://hg.quakenet.org/newserv. Available under GPL v2.0 license, freedom to use and extend the software has graciously been given by the maintainer slug.

Quakenet is based on a lot of modified and custom-crafted code. Whilst the network has released some software in the past, this is the first time they release the last version of something their core services. Prior to this release, the latest public version of Q dated back to January 2003.

IceChat

IceChat is an open source IRC Client developed by Snerf in July of 2000, first named sIRC. This version still exists and works with very minimum features.

Screenshot:

sIRC Screenshot

It was then recoded from scratch and renamed to VClient in August of 2001 to Icechat.

Screenshot:

VClient Screenshot

To this date, Icechat has now managed to have its on in-built VBS script engine as well as many everyday IRC features. The best feature, It’s FREE! Ice chat is compatible with Windows 95/98/ME/2000/XP/2003/Vista and also Windows 7, it has also been tested on 64bit XP, Vista and Windows 7.

IceChat also has some very unique features that make it a special IRC Client. A few features to be noted include but not limited to built in emoticons, which can de disabled if the user wishes, a Favorite Server Tree, IRCv3 capabilities and built in virus scanners.

Since the beginning of IceChat, it has now gone through multiple rewrites and is now cross-platform friendly. It now has mirc scripting abilities, VB Scripting and multi-language support. IceChat has now had over 30,000 downloads with a few Beta testers to make sure the release version doesnt have any major bugs.

IceChat is now in version 9, which started in January of 2009 in C# and was yet again a rewrite. The latest release of v9 was released February 9th, 2013.

Icechat currently has its own support channel on the Freenode IRC network at #IceChat

Interview With Jarkko Oikarinen – The Inventor Of IRC

Today we’ve got something very special:

An Interview with the creator of IRC himself, Mr. Jarkko Oikarinen.

We’ve asked Mr. Oikarinen a few questions about his invention as well as himself – without much further ado lets get straight to the interview.

 

First, please introduce yourself to our readers (even though you really shouldn’t have to ;) )

My name is Jarkko Oikarinen. I am the developer of original IRC server and client and was actively developing IRC from it’s inception in summer 1988 until somewhere around 1992.

Since then I’ve been working in many areas in software industry, including multiuser games, software for advanced neurosurgery, medical imaging software, 3D computer graphics (which was my PhD research area), mobile applications and operating systems.

Most recently I have sort of went back to my roots and become involved in the development of a different kind of multiuser “chat”, Google Hangouts.

 

Out of what necessity did you invent IRC?

In 1988 I was working as a summer intern in University of Oulu (in Finland), and I was the sysop on a BBS (bulletin board system) called OuluBox. That was one of the few BBS systems where one could connect to over both phone lines (using modem) and Internet.

I decided to improve the multiuser chat system for OuluBox and IRC was the result of that effort.

The name ‘Internet Relay Chat’ was definitely more ambitious than the original intention.

 

How much time did it take to come up with the first versions of the protocol, daemon and client?

The first versions took maybe 1-2 months, depending on how you count. At that time I was doing all kinds of small networked programs, games etc, parts of which was easily reusable here.

 

Do you still use IRC? If so, for what and if not, why?

I use IRC very rarely nowadays.

Main reason for not using it is simply lack of time. Also in the early times I was in fact spending more time developing IRC than using it… it’s like many other things for me, I am more interested in developing new solutions than actually using them myself for very long.

 

Did you ever imagine IRC would be as popular as it is now (or was)?

Definitely not.. there were several other chat programs also at that time, but IRC’s distributed design made it different from others.

The timing for IRC was perfect in that it was introduced when Internet was just about to link together all continents.

 

What’s your view on the development of your invention, be it technical or its use?

It actually looks like there has not been that radical development on the chat systems during the last decade. I find that surprising given all the areas where improvements could be made.

 

If you had to write the protocol today, would you do it differently now?

Yes, of course… obvious examples are usage of proper cryptography and making of the IRC spanning tree more fault tolerant.

I would also think of scaling, so that the size of an individual IRC network could be larger than what it can be now in practise.

 

IRC in the early days must’ve been like the Wild Wild West – how did you experience it?

It was very exciting and unique; it felt like much smaller world, almost everyone knew everyone else, there were many happenings where IRC users met each other in real life.

I presume much of the similar atmosphere exists even now within individual IRC networks, but I have only later really understood how unique the early days of IRC were. I also had the opportunity of getting many IRC friends around the world, many of which I still keep some contact with.

 

The Great Split – What role and position did you have?

I assume you refer to the eris split. I was of the opinion that anonymous servers should not be allowed in the irc network. That opinion was based on the IRC protocol limitations; it allows anonymously attacking the irc in such a way that the discussions could be eavesdropped.

The IRC security model depended on the server administrators being reliable, and anonymous access would allow anyone to have the same access rights than the administrators.

On the other hand, I support the concept of having multiple smaller independent irc networks, there is no need to have just one big network.

 

If you had to modernize IRC for it to be able to compete with all the social networks, what would you do?

I think the key words are security (the servers should not rely on each other so much), privacy (cryptographic guarantee for conversation privacy) and multimedia (audio, video).

But I’m not sure if IRC would be the same thing after these changes… :-)

 

If you wanted to see one thing implemented in IRC, what would that be?

It’s hard to pick just one thing, but the area which I worked as one last thing (but never got to finish it) was the network of networks concept.

It would link the independent networks together but allow individual networks keep their identity and control, while simultaneously allowing users to easily browse all channels in all networks.

 

What kind of influence do you still have on IRC?

I have not been actively participating in IRC development for a long time, and am not planning to do that either; I just don’t have the time.

Non-paid projects such as IRC have more people who like to tell how features should be done instead of actually completing the features themselves. It’s so much more fun to design software than actually go through all implementation necessary.

Therefore the direction is truly influenced by people who actively develop the software who actually make the decisions on what they choose to implement. That is also how it should be, as far as I am concerned.

 

What’s your take on projects that try to unify IRC networks once again, such as the Janus interlinking service?

I have not studied that very much, but by initial look it looks like something similar to the network of networks concept. There probably are a few different approaches, but I would try to keep the network linking loose so that the individual networks can develop their servers and add new features independently, without necessarily requiring those features to be added to all other networks.

My ideology would concentrate on providing value to users and allow them to explore the whole IRC metanetwork from their clients.

 

Is the original source of the IRCd still around somewhere for folks to look at?

I don’t think the very original source is available anymore. I tried to search it a few years back, but was not able to find it anywhere on my local backup disks.

 

Is RFC1459 supposed to be all inclusive or, as per your intentions, is it allowed to be extended as long as it is fully supported?

RFC1459 was written to document the existing protocol at that time. Progress needs new features and extensions.

If some server implementations would no longer be compliant with RFC1459, I would prefer those servers to not be called IRC, unless those changes are very widely accepted in IRC community.

Progress needs to happen, so we shouldn’t stick with the old designs, but fragmentation should also be avoided.

 

In closing, what would you like to tell our readers?

One thing that I would like to remind that even though social chatting over computer is much fun, don’t take it too seriously so that it would jeopardise your studies, work, and/or real life social interaction.

 

A big thank you goes to Jarkko Oikarinen for taking the time to answer the questions so thoroughly!