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In this two-part guide, we’ll learn what IRC is, tips to use it, and some basic commands to get you started. In part one of this guide, we’ll focus on introducing IRC and getting you set up to use it on your computer. Specifically, we’ll cover:

  • What is IRC?
  • Who Uses IRC?
  • What is a Client?
  • What is a Server?
  • What are Channels, Networks, and Servers?
  • Download and Install Pidgin, an IRC Client
  • Configure Pidgin for IRC

What is IRC?

IRC started out in the late eighties and began in the way it continues to operate: by allowing multiple users to communicate with each other both in public chat and privately. Since that time, it’s come a long way with additional features, to compliment its core purpose, such as network bots that assist with registration and messaging and encryption.

Who Uses IRC?

While IRC is an older technology, it’s still very relevant today. The fact that you’re reading this means people like you are the types of users on IRC: people who want to communicate with others who have similar interests and hobbies.

IRC lets users chat with each other via client/server technology. You, the client, chat to others through servers.

What is a Client?

When you connect to an IRC server (like freenode), you become a client. Other users who are connected are also clients and, through the server, you can communicate with each other.

What is a Server?

A server connects clients together and hosts your chat sessions. Servers also control bots such as the NickServ that you’ll chat with further on in this guide. IRC is not peer-to-peer (i.e. you don’t connect directly to other users) so without the server, you wouldn’t be able to communicate with other users.

Download and Install Pidgin, an IRC Client

In this guide, I’m going to recommend you use a basic IRC client like Pidgin (which can also be used for Yahoo Messenger, MSN Messenger, Google Talk, AOL IM, Jabber etc.) Once you get comfortable with Pidgin, you can explore other clients such as mIRC and HydraIRC.

Download Pidgin

Download Pidgin

Download Pidgin

Install Pidgin

To install Pidgin, double click the .exe file you downloaded earlier.

Choose your language, click next through the license agreement, and accept the installation defaults.

Wait while Pidgin installs and then move on to the next step to configure Pidgin.

Configure Pidgin for IRC

Start Pidgin and configure Pidgin as follows:

Either add an account using the pop up that shows when you start Pidgin for the first time or click Accounts > Manage Accounts.

Click Add and configure your IRC account. If you already have an IRC account, use your credentials here or simply input the name you’d like to use without a password:

If you pick a username that’s already in use, a chat box from NickServ will pop up, and you’ll need to change it. To change your nickname, use the following command:

/nick username

Replace username with your desired username.

Once you’ve found a username, you should register it with the following command:

/msg NickServ REGISTER your_password email@address.com

Replace your_password with your desired password and email@address.com with your email address.

Once you’ve registered, you’ll be told that you need to check your email:

Open your email and copy the chat command that you’ll need to send to NickServ.

Send the message to NickServ:

You’re registered.

If you changed your username above (because the one you chose is taken), you should add a new account with the details you just registered. To do this, add a new account just as you did earlier with your registered details.

Now Delete the previous account you set up:

Note: if you don’t change your account details or save your password, you’ll need to identify yourself at each log in with the command:

/msg NickServ IDENTIFY your_password

Where you_password is your password.

Now you’re registered and ready to go, check out part 2 of this guide.

About Rich

Rich is the owner and creator of Windows Guides; he spends his time breaking things on his PC so he can write how-to guides to fix them.

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