Originally Published: Thursday, 14 December 2000 Author: Michelle Lowman
Published to: learn_articles_firststep/General Page: 1/1 - [Std View]

Merry X-Chat! Easy IRC Just in Time for the Holidays

So all of your friends seem to have the IRC thing figured out, and maybe you do too, but you're used to Windows-compatible applications. Have no fear, Michelle Lowman guides us through a step by step install of X-Chat.

So all of your friends seem to have the IRC thing figured out, and maybe you do too, but you're used to Windows-compatible applications like mIRC and pirch98. Have no fear. Although some Linux tasks may prove daunting to those accustomed to Windows, using X-Chat is not among them. As an IRC client for the X windows environment, and it's at least (if not more) easy to use than most other IRC clients.

First, determine that you have X-Chat installed. Go to Networking -> IRC. See it? Great! You'll be chatting in minutes. (Make sure you are looking under IRC and not Chat.) If you don't see it, don't panic! Downloading and installing X-Chat is surprisingly easy.

Download and Install

If you already have X-Chat, skip to Configure and Run. If not, stick around.

To download, go to the X-Chat site at http://www.xchat.org. (The most recent version is 1.6.1, but versions change quickly, so don't panic if you already have an older version. The newer your version is, the more likely it has a few bugs that haven't been found. For example, the version I use, 1.4.1, is a little older, and causes me no problems.)

Once at the X-Chat site, click download. You'll see several choices. If you are comfortable with source tarballs, choose your weapon and download.

The X-Chat site does include directions, but if you would rather not go clicking around to find them, here are the steps to compile and install:

Open a terminal and type in the following commands:

  • to unpack the archive: tar xfzv xchat-x.x.x.tar.gz
  • to go to the directory:
    cd xchat-x.x.x
    (x.x.x will be your version number)
  • to run the configure script:
    ./configure
  • to compile the program:
    gmake
  • to become root and install the program:
    su
    (enter password)
    gmake install
    If you are comfortable using rpm or rpkg and prefer to use precompiled binaries (and don't feel bad about it if you do; not everyone gets fired up over source code!), click on the choice that best matches your distribution of Linux.

    Be aware that if you are using precompiled binaries, you may not be getting the most recent version of X-Chat. However, if you just want to get online and chat without spending a lot of time getting there, this shouldn't be a problem.

    Configure and Run

    We're almost ready to chat. Go back to Networking -> IRC -> X-Chat. When the program opens, you will need to choose a server and a channel.

    If you are new to IRC, think of it this way: the server is a house, and the channels are rooms in that house where people can meet to chat. The server list gives you a brief description of all the houses in the neighborhood. To find the server list, go to the menu and click X-Chat, then Server List. Woo hoo! Look at all the choices. Choose one, and notice that you are now "in the house."

    Now you need to choose a channel. Click on Windows, then Channel List Window. If it is empty, click on Refresh the List. A list of channels (rooms) should pop up. Pick one that seems interesting and join.

    You may also want to change the appearance of your X-Chat window just to liven things up. To do this, go to Settings and play around until you have it looking the way you want it to look. You can also go back to the X-Chat site and download scripts, themes and icons to further customize the look of X-Chat.

    Have fun chatting and Happy Holidays!