An Irssi for one and all

Irssi is a command line client for IRC. It has been developed since 1999 and written in the beautiful C language. It is a many featured client with a lot of options. For those willing to learn a command line interface it can be rewarding. For a GUI version think about XChat.

When I came upon a couple of install problems I was recommended to connect to a freenode channel with an IRC client. I’ve used IRC before (really got into mIRC in Windows and XChat) and discovered that IRC is a pretty good way to meet people and exchange information. XChat to me was difficult to set up as I liked… just a personal thing really.


Install Irssi however the distribution tells you to.

Me, being a person that learns by getting my hands dirty—the tweaking and learn by example type—I didn’t comb through all the pages of documentation. However, this guide should be enough to create a basic setup. If you are like me the minimum that needs to be done is to comb through the starter’s guide and get feel of it. Irssi installs very very raw—with really nothing set up. So I added the few edits they recommended. After doing that I fired up Irssi and set my nickname:

/set nick ToddWeed

Irssi saves the nickname between sessions but you will likely want to reserve if with the IRC server (this will be demonstrated after a few more steps).

Freenode is a nice project that hosts a good deal of open source channels—including a lot of Linux distribution help channels. If you ever run across them be sure to thank them, they do a great deed. To connect to a server:


And join a channel by doing (Irssi basics are actually pretty easy):

/j archlinux

Another ability that I like doing is to automatically join a network when Irssi starts. Typing /network show the pre-configured networks. My Irssi does have freenode as one of the default servers built in. So I decided to add it so it will make connecting quicker in the future:

/server add -auto -network freenode 6667

(The -auto command is optional and will automatically connect to that server when Irssi starts.) Nicknames can also be associated with a network:

/network add -nick ToddWeed freenode

And channels in networks can also be set to be automatically joined by doing:

/channel add -auto #archlinux freenode

Setting up freenode

The freenode FAQ is in good working order and can explain in better detail more about what freenode is and what a user can do. I just needed to register (this also reserves) my nickname:

/msg nickserv register PASSWORD EMAIL@ADDRE.SS  # an email response is req.

To keep the nicknames associated email hidden (for those who fell its needed):

/msg nickserv set hidemail on

Login to freenode so your nick is official, and this too can be done automatically:

/msg nickserv identify PASSWORD
/network add -autosendcmd "/msg nickserv identify PASSWORD; ;wait 2000" freenode
Note: Some servers require an identification daemon (identd) to be installed (linux-identd, for example).

Basic commands

It is not really necessary to read any more documentation unless more advanced functions are needed. Most of the basic commands can be seen with:


The /help command should provide all the information necessary to use it. The only commands I use are /j, /leave, /msg user, /away, and /quit.

The basic key presses are: Alt+1, Alt+2 to switch between windows; and Page Up to Page Down to scroll up and down.


  • If you are in a channel with a lot of people, seeing all the joins, parts, quits, AFKs can be distracting, they can be turned off with (or you can ignore them in all channels by using * instead of #CHANNEL): /ignore #CHANNEL ALL -PUBLIC -ACTIONS
  • With a rambler they can be ignored for a specific amount of time by doing (five minutes in this case): /ignore -time 500 NICKNAME

12 thoughts on “An Irssi for one and all

  1. rainct

    >> alt+p and alt+n to scroll up and down.

    I’ve just tried this out and found it a bit cumbersome. PgUp and PgDown work way better, perhaps you should try them out if you didn’t know them.

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  6. swagger

    Using these commands your connection to freenode is not encrypted and therefore your password and messages are sent in plaintext and can be read. Never /msg nickserv anything unless you’re connected via ssl


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