danlucraft /blog

How to run an IRC channel for your free software project

December 2008 • Daniel Lucraft

I recently needed to set up an IRC channel for Redcar (#redcar at freenode.net), and the tutorials I found online were next to useless. I created my channel on freenode.net. Freenode provides free IRC servers for open source projects. Lots of projects I follow (#rubinius, #rspec) are on Freenode, and Freenode has all the services you need to run your channel easily. You don’t have to worry about channel wars or any of that nonsense if you register your channel with them.


Choose your IRC chat client. I used to use Pidgin, but now I use Irssi. A terminal based client was my choice because it means I can leave it open on my server and connect to it from wherever I am, work or home. That means the client is never closed, so logging can happen continuously and I do not need to disconnect and reconnect periodically. Disconnecting and reconnecting is accomplished using GNU Screen. This is a good tutorial on using Screen and Irssi together.

You do not need to use Irssi, or to have a permanently open connection to run an IRC chat. Having said that, ChanServ has some impenetrable help text about channel successors or somesuch, so may want to test this stuff out.

Register your nickname

Before you can register a channel, you have to have a registered nickname. Send a message to the NickServ bot to register the nickname you are currently using. You can send the message from any channel (though be careful with your typing otherwise you will be broadcasting your password).

/msg nickserv identify mypassword

Create your channel

You create a channel by joining it. So type:

/join #mychannel

Register your channel

Registering a channel secures it from being taken over by unscrupulous types. Freenode runs the ChanServ bot for this purpose. To register your channel send a message to ChanServ

/msg chanserv register #mychannel

You can now use ChanServ to grant yourself admin privileges when you need them, and to make sure that no one else has admin rights. To give yourself admin rights to your channel (called ‘ops’) type:

/msg chanserv op #mychannel

To remove admin rights type this:

/msg chanserv deop #mychannel

According to my sources, admin rights are like sudo, you should grant them to yourself when you need them but otherwise have them turned off.

You can get help about all of ChanServ’s commands:

/msg chanserv help
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