IRC stands for Internet Relay Chat. It's a text-based chat service which predates all those ad-infested, bloated, virus-ridden commercial offerings like Yahoo! Messenger, MSN, etc.
Just as there is no single web server, there is no single IRC server; you can connect to various public servers on the internet. Examples of well-known ones are freenode and efnet. On a particular server, conversation is divided into separate groups called channels. All messages in a channel are visible to all participants. You may join several channels at once and take part in multiple conversations. IRC also allows direct messages to other users, independently of participation in a channel. It's possible to configure a channel with various restrictions such as which users can join, maximum users and various other esoteric settings which we needn't worry about here.
To use IRC you need an IRC client. This is an application that lets you send and receive messages in real-time, just like your web browser lets you read webpages off a remote server. There are many, many clients available and which one you use is a matter of personal choice.
When using IRC, generally whatever you type (followed by Enter) will be sent and displayed to other users on the channel. Limited text formatting is available. Commands are given by starting the line with a
/ (forward slash). It is useful to remember a few of these:
|/join||#chan key|| Join a named channel, eg.
|/part||none||Leave the current channel|
|/me||text|| Action command, eg.
See the bugs homepage to check if a channel password is currently active.
An IRC channel has an address, similar to a webpage, except that it begins with
irc instead of
http. Some web browsers may be configured to handle the IRC address automatically, in which case you can click on the link and an IRC client will automatically start. Try it on this link: irc://irc.oz.org/#bugs . The Opera browser has IRC built in, as does Mozilla (not Firefox). Otherwise, you will need an additional application to be your IRC client.
If you have no knowledge of where to start and what client to use (and you don't already use Opera), try
weechat. This is a character-based IRC client which has a good set of features and will get you up and running with a minimum of fuss. Once you've installed
weechat, a quickstart guide can be found in /usr/local/share/doc/weechat/weechat_quickstart.en.txt and a full set of commands can be listed using
$ weechat-curses -w
weechat is available in FreeBSD ports as irc/weechat and has only a couple of dependencies (although somewhat perversely, the resulting binary is named
weechat-curses). For further help on installing FreeBSD ports, refer to the handbook.
Help for other BSDs can be added here
To join #bugs you just start weechat from a terminal window, as shown below. Choose a nickname for yourself (a short name that will appear next to your messages), but as a courtesy to others learn how to set your real name in your client.
$ weechat-curses irc://nickname:firstname.lastname@example.org/#bugs
And you're in. Say hello!
In order to stop robots from joining the channel there may be a password (key). See the home page http://bugs.au.freebsd.org/ under the “Talk to us on IRC” heading, and simply append the key to the end. eg. /join #bugs password
If you are having trouble, try messaging one the regular channel users (see list below for suggestions).
In the course of usual lively discussion on IRC, people often wish to place code snippets, command output (a common one is
smartctl(8)), etc. output in such a place that others can see it. By using the BUGS Pastebin, available at http://bugs.pastebin.com, you may post said code snippets, syntactically highlight them, etc. and provide this to other channel users.
Remember to post the URL of the paste, or it's not much use.
Due to the vagaries of IRC client configuration, some people don't have a valid Real Name setup so you can only see their machine login name and nick. In order to promote the values of friendship and openness, here is a nick to name mapping of the regular visitors to #bugs.
|Sue Blake (deceased)||Central Coast||unixhag|
|Adrian Chadd||Perth, WA||adrian|
|Andy Farkas||Bundaberg, QLD||chuzz.*|
|Alastair Hogge||East Fremantle, Wait Awile||alastair|
|Mohammed Ifadir||Marrakesh, Morocco||mifadir|
|Jari Kirma||Helsinki, Finland||kirma|
|Sam Lawrance||Perth, WA||lawrance|espionado|noddianado|
|Greg Lehey||Dereel, VIC||gr[oO0][oO0]gle|
|Jürgen Lock (deceased)||Germany||nox|
|Andrew Perry||Nowra, NSW||pez|
|Michael Ralston||Maitland, NSW||Stralytic|
|Tamas Szabo||Perth, WA||sztamas|
|Alex Wilkinson||Perth, WA||DeLF|
|Christiane Yeardley||Dereel, VIC||fenix|