Chat

6 Best Free and Open Source IRC Servers

Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is a form of real-time Internet text messaging (chat) or synchronous conferencing. IRC was born during summer 1988 when Jarkko Oikarinen wrote the first IRC client and server when he was working in the Department of Information Processing Science at the University of Oulu, Finland. This system enables millions of people around the world to communicate in real time. While IRC has lost some popularity, IRCv3 looks interesting with some advanced client features such as instant notifications, improved security and more.

IRC is mainly designed for group communication in discussion forums, called channels, but it also allows one-to-one communication via private message as well as chat and data transfers via Direct Client-to-Client.

IRC is used for many different purposes such as obtaining technical support from developers and users, for conducting meetings and even for rolegaming.

Users typically connect to an IRC network using an IRC client. The client takes the raw IRC traffic and turns it into an easy-to-use interface.

Although the IRC protocol does not provide any file transfer mechanisms, users can create file servers that allow them to share files with each other by using customised IRC bots or scripts for their IRC client.

IRC is a good way of engaging with the Linux community. Being able to tap into the wealth of knowledge of individuals logged into IRC enables users to engage directly with developers and other users of distributions and applications. IRC is not just limited to obtaining and giving technical support to others; it can be used for many other activities.

Here’s our verdict captured in a legendary ratings chart.

Best Free and Open Source IRC Servers

Let’s explore the 6 IRC servers. For each title we have compiled its own portal page, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, a screenshot of the software in action together with links to relevant resources.

IRC Servers
InspIRCdStable, modern and lightweight IRC daemon written in C++
IRCD-HybridLightweight, high-performance internet relay chat daemon
miniircdVery simple IRC server
ngIRCdNext generation IRC daemon
ErgoModern IRCd (IRC server software) written in Go
UnrealIRCdHighly advanced IRCd with a strong focus on modularity

We’ve cover IRC clients separately.


Read our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. The collection covers all categories of software.

The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There's tons of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle and Autodesk. There are also fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.
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