IRC Basics

Introduction

Welcome to Linuxchix IRC. Our server welcomes women all around the world who like Linux, and anyone who wants to support women in computing. Our rules are simple, and number only two:

1. Be polite

2. Be helpful

Conventions

Knowledge of a few commands might make your IRC experience more enjoyable, so we are presenting some common ones. Before we start, here are a few conventions. You're probably already familiar with them, so if you are you can skip over these.

Commands in IRC begin with a slash / as the first character on a line, we will be representing these in fixed width, such as:

/command

Where something is in angle brackets, it signifies a parameter that a command takes, such as:

/command <parameter>

Where something is in square brackets, it signifies that whatever is between them is optional, such as:

/command <parameter1> [<parameter2>]

Further to this, several options which are mutually exclusive will be separated by a pipe symbol, such as:

/command <this>|<or this>

An IRC program is usually referred to as a client, which is what we'll use in this document. One thing that you may find unfamiliar is that groups of people come together in what IRC calls channels, instead of "rooms" that you may be familiar with from instant messaging systems. A channel is roughly analogous to a radio channel, in that everything you type into it is broadcast to everyone else in the same channel. You will find each channel has a unique name that is usually chosen to represent the general topic of interest to people in that channel.

Getting started

There are many choices of IRC client nowadays, many of which have graphical interfaces, but IRC itself is controlled using text commands you type. Let's go through a few of them now; you will find lots of them have equivalents in the user interface of your client. What actually happens there is your client creates the commands for you to do stuff.

A few helpful commands:

/nick <nick>

Instructs your IRC client and the server to change your nick; choose one you would like everyone to see you as.

/join #<channel>

This will join your IRC client to the selected channel. Type /join #beginner to join our beginners channel where you will find some nice friendly people to help you get to grips with things. Be sure to include the # sign.

There are several official channels which you might be interested in:

Many chapters also use channels on the server, and there are several other related interest channels.

/list [<pattern>]

The /list command will give you a list of channels on the server. If you supply no parameters it will give you a list of all channels on the server, though it should be noted that many clients will tell you this is unwise because of the number of channels; this will prove no problems on LinuxChix because we are a small IRC network with only our own channels. If you supply a pattern it will try to filter them to only display ones matching what you're looking for - this varies between clients so it is best to consult the help to check.

/msg <nick>

You use the /msg command to send a private message to someone (or something) else. This lets you talk to them, and only them, without anyone else being able to see what either of you are saying. Sometimes a client will provide additional commands such as /query which will perform a similar function with different presentation - eg: a query may open a new window and place you in it. Your IRC client should contain help that allows you to find out more information, but please don't be afraid to ask if you get stuck.

/msg <service> <command>
[<options>]

The LinuxChix IRC network contains various services that enable us to manage things on IRC more easily, such as NickServ, Chanserv or MemoServ. The most common one you will probably use is called NickServ. So /msg nickserv help , for instance, will print out NickServ's help file. We recommend that most people register their nick; /msg nickserv help register will tell you how, but remember to identify regularly to NickServ when you have registered, to make sure that your registration doesn't expire.

If you find one of our channels "moderated", you will have to ask for "voice" from an op (channel operator). If you want autovoice, please 1. register with Nickserv. 2. set up your client to auto-identify to Nickserv (use /msg nickserv help or help command for help text). If you cannot auto-identify before entering the channel, you can voice yourself by command once you have autovoice status. Use /msg chanserv help voice for the help text about this.

Finally, write to irc-admin@linuxchix.org asking for your nick to be autovoiced on the moderated channel. We ask you read and agree to our Etiquette guide, and you should mention that in your request.


A service you may find useful is MemoServ, which lets you leave messages for friends who aren't connected to IRC whilst you're around. You can /msg memoserv help to get some instructions for this. You may also see OperServ and ChanServ around, they take care of things on the server for us - /msg chanserv help for some details if you'd like.

/me <emoted message>

/me is a fun command, it lets you emote actions, which prints your nick and message text like this:

* nick wonders if there is a beginner IRC tutorial somewhere?

/away <message>

You can to set yourself away as you leave your keyboard, but stay in the channel while you are gone. This sets a flag on you so that people can see you're not around. If they send you a private message they will get a message back saying you're gone, for example. To unset yourself as away, use the /away command again but with no message. Some clients will also let you use the /unaway or
/back command.

/whois <nick>

The whois command tells you some information about nick. If you do a /whois of a person who has left an away message, it will be displayed to you, it will also tell you where they're connected from, which channels they are in, and other useful information such as whether they are a server operator. You can try it out on yourself.

/whowas <nick>

This is similar to whois, but will tell you if someone was connected to IRC. Useful to see if you've just missed someone!

/names [<channel>]

So who's around? /names with no options lists all the nicks of all the people in the current channel. Nicks preceded by an @ are channel operators - they're there to look after you, so if you have any problems talk to them first. You can specify a different channel, if you like, so to look at a channel called #channel: /names #channel

One thing that might confuse you slightly is that if you aren't in a channel, and look at who is in that channel, you may not get a complete list. That's normal, and we'll talk about that in a bit.

/who <channel>|*

This is very similar to the /names command, but gives you more information, including a G or H flag to say whether they're Gone or Here (away or not). If you use a * it will do it for the current channel, or you can specify the channel name. In this view you also see a @ against someone's nick to represent channel operators, but you may also see a * which indicates that that person is a server operator.

/topic <channel>|*
[<newtopic>]

Each channel has a "topic" associated with it that the people using it can set to display whatever they want. Despite the name it doesn't have to be used to define a rigid topic that everyone in the channel is talking about, it can be used to display messages or notices for people to see for example. Some clients will always display the channel topic, some will display it but truncate it, others may not display it all. No matter which behaviour yours has, you can always use this command to see the current topic, or even set it if you're allowed to. Use this command with only one parameter to view it, or supply a second parameter if you would like to change it. Bear in mind that some channels may find it impolite if you change the topic without asking if that is ok.

/mode <channel>|<your nick>
+|-<modes> [<option>]

This is a really big command, with dozens of advanced options. The bit you will probably be interested in is that if you do /mode <yournick> +i it will set you as being 'invisible' on the server. You won't show up in lists of users anywhere, unless the person looking already knows your nick either by them specifying it or being in a channel with you. This is a useful command, since whilst we try to look after LinuxChix IRC very closely, we do occasionally have creeps that turn up. You'll still be visible to the server staff though, so don't be naughty!

If you are being spammed or bothered by Private Messages (PMs) from unregistered nicks, you can stop them being allowed to message you by setting your status to +E. Of course, your nick will have to be registered with Nickserv first! Depending on your client, use one of these commands to set the mode:

* /umode +E (do not use with ERB or X-chat)
* /mode YOURNICK +E
* /quote mode YOURNICK +E
* /raw mode YOURNICK +E

/part [<message>]

So, once you've joined a channel, you can leave it too! This lets you leave a channel without logging off the server; if you type a message, it will be on your quit line displayed to other people.

/quit [<message>]

We'll be sad to see you go, but this command logs you off the server. Just like /part the message is optional, but will be displayed to other people.

Connection Problems?

More ports are available, so if you find trouble connecting from your location, we now accept connections on ports 6665 to 6669 and port 7000 for normal connections, as well as 6697 for SSL. Whilst we do not allow connections from open proxies and Tor, we do allow connections from closed proxies, shell servers and the Mibbit IRC service so if you find a message saying that you have exceeded the number of allowed connections just drop an email to irc-admin@linuxchix.org and we will increase the limits for whatever you happen to be using. The limits are only enforced to stop people from loading the server with many drones to come and make our lives miserable.