Installing an IRC Client

Author: Joshua Go
Created on: March 28, 1998
Last modified: February 6, 1999
Status: Beta

Just in case you don't know, an IRC client is a program that lets you access Internet Relay Chat using your machine. You connect to a server and then chat with other people. It's quite popular among Linux users.

Many distributions come with IRC clients, but they're usually ircII, which isn't that great. You should get ircII-EPIC, a better client, which is what this document covers. You will need to download the source and compile it yourself; if you're not comfortable with this concept, that's fine.

If you think this document sucks, check out The Official EPIC Homepage; it has some good resources. If this doc is very old at all, check out the EPIC homepage for any updates.

  1. Download and Compile
  2. Being In Two Places At Once: Opening New Windows for Channels
  3. Color
  4. Startup Script

Download and Compile

Download the compressed archive into your /usr/src/ or /usr/local/src directory. Let's assume that the archive is named ./epic4pre2.001-NR10.tar.gz. You can grab the source (theoretically) from any of the following sites:

This list is from EPIC FTP Sites, from The Official EPIC Homepage.

So, after downloading it to /usr/src/ or /usr/local/src/ unpack the archive by typing:

# tar -zxvf epic4pre2.001-NR10.tar.gz

This will unpack the directories and files needed to produce your brand new IRC client. When it shows a whole bunch of files being listed, then you know it's unpacking. By the way, this is how you should unpack most archives you download. When it's done unpacking and you're back at the command prompt, cd to the ./epic4pre2.001-NR10 directory ('cd ./epic4pre2.001-NR10', or replace the ./epic4pree1.400 with the directory the archive unpacked into.) When you're in the new directory, either read the INSTALL file (recommended even if you don't have a different archive) or use these instructions:

Again, make sure you're doing this from /usr/src/epic4pre2.001-NR10 or /usr/local/src/epic4pre2.001-NR10, 'epic4pre2.001-NR10' being the directory that you extracted from the tarred and gzipped file. The file you have can be directly executed using the command epic (or irc on older versions of EPIC) after compiling. There are other versions of ircii around, though, remember. I am currently using ircII-EPIC4pre2.001-NR10 on my last update.

Being in Two Places at Once: Opening New Windows for Channels

If you want to be in two or more channels at the same time, there's no problem with that; just type /join [Channel] everytime you want to talk in that channel. Even if you've already joined that channel, it won't be set to be the active one until you type that again.

But what about if you want to split your screen into two or more sections, or maybe open up a whole new window for each channel (if you're in X)? First I'll discuss how to split your screen, and switch between them, then discuss new windows in X.

Splitting the Screen

There are several steps that I take. First, I type /bind ^w next window so that I can type Ctrl-w to switch between portions of the screen. Then I split the screen by typing /win new. You can tell which part of the screen is active by looking for a whole bunch of characters like "^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^" on its bar at the bottom. Once you have a selected active window, type /join [Channel], where [Channel] is the channel that you want to join.

Opening Up a New Window

You should be in X to do this. You can chat through xterm or rxvt, it doesn't matter. You just have to type /window create to open up a new window in X. Then use your mouse or whatever to switch to that window and join the channel of your choice.

Putting New Window Information in Startup

You can put these lines in your startup script, called ~/.ircrc. We'll discuss the ~/.ircrc file in more detail later on. To split the screen, assign Ctrl-w to switch windows, and join both #LinuxHelp and Computers on startup, I have in my .ircrc file the following:

bind ^w next window
join #Computers
win new
join #LinuxHelp


If you use EPIC4, you can see mIRC-style colors by typing /set control_c_color on if it's not already enabled. If you want to turn it off, type /set control_c_color off while you're in the program.

Note that most scripts put in the color for you. They even add additional color into things that are not colored by default.

If your color doesn't seem to be showing up, your terminal type probably doesn't support color.

Startup Script

~/.ircrc is a file that ircII reads (and executes each command in it) every time you start it up. It should be located in your home directory; it probably doesn't exist yet, so don't worry if it's "missing". You can create it using a text editor such as pico, vim, joe, jed, or emacs. Each line is read as a separate command, so if you want to automatically set colors on, for example, put in the line set control_c_color on. If you want to automatically join a channel (I'll use #LinuxHelp as an example), add the line join #LinuxHelp. Putting a slash (/) character in front of the commands isn't necessary if it's in the file.

.ircrc is roughtly comparable to the various *.ini files that mIRC and PIRCH (IRC clients for Windows) load; ircII-EPIC is highly scriptable (contains most of the features of mIRC and pIRCh, and a few more. Check out the ircII-EPIC Scripting Help Table of Contents for a list of all its commands/functions).

Copyright © 1997-1999 Joshua Go (joshuago at users dot sourceforge dot net). All rights reserved. Permission to use, distribute, and copy this document is hereby granted. You may modify this document as long as credit to me is given.