You may already have an IRC client and not even know it! Several of the all-in-one instant messaging programs list IRC as one of the protocols they support. If you are using IRC casually, or if you don’t run any channels and just need to hop on to ask quick questions or keep in touch with co-workers, this support may be all you need. On the other hand, if you are a serious user, you may find it lacking.
IRC is just similar enough to the instant messaging format to lend well to inclusion in those programs, but not similar enough for it to be seamless. In particular, identities on IRC are much for fluid than in the other protocols your instant messaging program handles. Consequently, IRC “contacts” are just added by a nickname, but often, another user can sign on with the same nickname, or the person you have added as a contact may one day sign on with a different nickname than you have added.
Good enough to chat, but some things to be aware of.
- Terminology may be different from standard IRC terms. The program may call nicknames “screen names” or “contacts” and/or call channels “rooms”.
- Some IM programs may have limited or no support for performing important channel operator functions.
- IM clients may lack a place to display messages from the server, or may hide them in a debugging view, rather than in a status window like most IRC clients.
New to IRC? Some reminders.
- Like instant messaging, IRC is asynchronous. Learn to be patient.
- Many IRC users leave their clients on constantly, and nay not provide any immediate indication of availability.
- Experienced IRC users tend to bounce very fluidly from conversing in real-time to the pace of emails over a holiday weekend, and back again, without warning.
- IRC is much more aligned with group chats over “channels” than one on one communication - although it certianly supports both, most users will expect you to talk to them in an appropriate channel unless you are having a side conversation not welcome in the public channel or discussing something sensitive, and may regard private messages outside these parameters with outright hostility.
Connecting to IRC
Connecting to IRC
Thunderbird is a popular mail and news client from Mozilla (the same people who brought you Firefox), and the Instantbird instant messenger has merged into Thunderbird, making it into an instant messaging program as well as a mail and news program.
Note: This is a very different IRC client than the ChatZilla IRC client bundled with SeaMonkey and available as a Firefox addon. ChatZilla aims to be full featured, while the built in IRC that Instantbird brought to Thunderbird is far from a complete IRC client.
Connecting to IRC
- You must be running Thunderbird 15 or later for IRC support.
- The Thunderbird Support site provides a detailed article with screenshots to set up IRC or instant messaging in Thunderbird.
- Most IRC commands are only available from the input line, and not from the GUI.
- These is no right click action defined for contacts on a channel.
- The term “chat” and “conversation” are used instead of the more accurate term “channel”, and these terms are used indiscriminately with private messaging as well.
- Connections are defined per server, and set up in the account manager. To change servers, or even to reconfigure existing ones, you must define a new server in the account manager.
- No apparent way to associate multiple servers with a given IRC “account”, meaning no redundancy except by specifying a round robin address for the network.