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Back in the 1990’s, the only “instant messenger” system in use was IRC chat. Its use actually predates the web and the http protocol. IRC is still going on strong today – it is used by countless groups including developers, businesses, hackers and everyone else in between. Since it is such an established protocol, there are tons of clients out there. I wanted to feature one that really stands out of the pack – Quassel.
What makes Quassel IRC different is its client/server architecture. A typical IRC chat client is just that, a client. When you disconnect your client or end your program, you are disconnected from IRC. Quassel really brings IRC chat to the next level. It splits your IRC client into two parts – the “client” and the “core”. The core is actually what connects to the external IRC servers – your client simply connects to the core and from there, you access IRC networks.
So why bother with a 24/7 client? It is very beneficial to catch up on what has been going on since the last time you connected. For developers this means that you can see past discussions, for business it lets you keep up on what is going on. There are many reasons. However I think you will agree with me that once you learn about 24/7 IRC chat, you won’t want to go back to the old ways.
First you download the “core” application on a PC that you leave running all of the time. This PC can be a server or it can be a regular computer that you leave on 24/7. I have this running on a server in a data center so that the connection to the internet and server uptime are rock solid. They have both the core and client available for Windows, Linux and Mac – also the source code is freely available.
After running the core, you have your client to setup and configure. All configuration of the ‘core’ server is done via the client on another PC (or on the same PC, it does not matter at this point which computer the client is running on). Upon first connection to the server, it will give you the option to “Launch Wizard” to setup the core.
Once your Quassel user is set up, you can authenticate to the core. Next up will be setting up your identity. Later on you can even have separate identities for each IRC chat network that you connect to! For now, enter your username and other information and continue. By default it will connect you to Freenode but you can connect to any network you want, or multiple IRC networks.
For added security between your client and core, you can encrypt the connection. Quassel core has SSL capability added in, or if you have a Hamachi network set up you can use the IP address of your Core server for the hostname (the port is 4242).
I’ve been using Quassel for over a year now and it is definately a project to watch. mIRC is the most popular IRC chat client, but I’ve found that Quassel is just as good, and as stable. It is a great way to manage your connections to multiple IRC networks while maintaining your connectivity. It is being actively developed so look for more features such as scripting coming out soon!
And just to address the command line lovers out there – I wanted to note that this has been possible for a long time on the command line side using something like screen and irssi. However the ability to have a remote, stable connection for GUI users has been a long time coming.
Do you use Quassel? Or do you have another preferred IRC client? Let us know all about it in the comments.