Introduction to the Internet

Starting to use IRC (Internet Relay Chat)

Available Software

There are 3 common packages for using IRC:

Connecting

To join IRC you need to log into your sils.umich.edu account. The syntax for starting a UNIX IRC session from the prompt is irc or irc <nickname> <server>.

Nicknames are the common identifiers of a user, and can be from 3-9 characters (letters, numbers, underlines, and certain punctuation). By default, your nickname is your UNIX login.

To make use of IRC you need to connect to a proper server. Common servers include: pegasus.ccs.itd.umich.edu, irc.uiuc.edu, or irc.colorado.edu. By default, you are connected to the University's IRC server.

When you connect, you will see that server's Message of the Day, or MOTD, the number of currently connected users, and other information. After connecting, you are not a member of any IRC channels. You must join a channel to partake in public discussion, or send private messages to your desired recipient.

Basic Concepts

Basic Commands

Message Commands

Channel Commands

Client Commands

Customizing

You can set up your account with a default IRC nickname, fullname, and desired server list by adding a few lines to your ".login" file:

setenv IRCNICK "<nick>"
setenv IRCNAME "<full-name>"
setenv IRCSERVER "pegasus.ccs.itd.umich.edu irc.uiuc.edu irc.colorado.edu"

When you start IRC, it looks for a file in your UNIX account called ".ircrc". If it finds this file, it will execute each line as an IRC command. This is a great way to customize the appearance or behavior of the IRC client. A typical resource file looks like:

/SET DISPLAY OFF

/COMMENT -- Simple Appearance Modifications
/SET AUTO_WHOWAS ON
/SET BEEP_MAX 2
/SET INDENT ON
/SET CONTINUED_LINE
/SET INPUT_PROMPT $T>
/SET SUPPRESS_SERVER_MOTD ON
/SET BOLD_VIDEO ON
/SET INVERSE_VIDEO ON
/SET UNDERLINE_VIDEO ON

/COMMENT -- More Appearance Modifications
/ON ^ACTION * ECHO $0 $2-
/ON ^SEND_ACTION * ECHO $N  $1-
/ON ^PUBLIC * ECHO <$0> $2-
/ON ^SEND_PUBLIC * ECHO > $1-
/ON ^MSG * ECHO *$0* => *$N* $1-
/ON ^SEND_MSG * ECHO *$N* => *$0* $1-
/ON ^NOTIFY_SIGNON * ECHO *** Signon: $0 $1
/ON ^NOTIFY_SIGNOFF * ECHO *** Signoff: $0
/ON ^NOTICE * ECHO *$0* $1-

/COMMENT -- Simple command shortcuts
/ALIAS REPLY MSG ,
/ALIAS CHOP MODE $C +o $0
/ALIAS DEOP MODE $C -o $0
/ALIAS BANS MODE $C +b
/ALIAS BAN MODE $C +b $0
/ALIAS UNBAN MODE $C -b $0

/IGNORE NICKSERV@SERVICE.DE +ALL
/SET DISPLAY ON

Other notes

IRC software is not case-sensitive. Nicknames, channel names, and commands can use mixed case without difficulty. However, certain punctuation is reserved, and cannot be used to form certain names.

Most users spend little time formatting their messages properly, and punctuation or spelling is often sacrificed for response time. Users may also use typical internet abbreviations to convey their messages, such as BBL (Be Back Later) and IMO (In My Opinion).

Although you can start a channel and become operator there, most active conversations occur on established channels dedicated to a certain topic or purpose. Unless you plan on starting (and publicizing) a new channel, or have agreed to meet with someone on a particular channel, then you should join and try out established channels. Some popular places include #twilight_zone (home of many IRC operators and good place to get help), #talk, #hottub, or #macintosh.


This document was created at the University of Michigan School of Information and Library Studies (SILS), but it has been designed for public use. Permission is hereby granted for unlimited print and electronic redistribution. Your feedback is encouraged.

fprefect@umich.edu - 12/17/94