Bounce Around IRC with ZNC

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In my discussion on IRC with "bkidwell" (see the Non-Linux FOSS article for more on our talk), we were discussing how we connect to IRC. My main method is to SSH in to my co-located Raspberry Pi in Austria and connect to a screen session I have running that is constantly connected to IRC with Irssi. This works really well for me, and I never miss messages when I'm away. The big problem I have is occasionally I'm away from a laptop, and so I can't efficiently use the terminal to chat. It might be technically possible to IRC chat via an SSH app on my phone, but it would mean super-tiny text and awkward keyboard shortcuts.

That's where ZNC comes into play. I've never used an IRC bouncer before, but the concept is that it stays connected to IRC using your credentials, and it allows you to connect to it with your IRC app and pick up where you left off. Functionally, it's like a screen session, but instead of connecting via SSH, you connect with an IRC client. Since it keeps you logged in, when you connect, you have access to the chats and personal queries that have occurred while you were disconnected. Plus, it allows you to connect from multiple locations at once and use whatever IRC client you want—there's no "client" application you have to use!

(Image from ttp://znc.in)

ZNC is really an awesome way to use IRC. It allows me to keep using Irssi too, because I just point Irssi at the ZNC bouncer, and never miss a beat even when I'm remote on my phone. If you use IRC regularly or are hesitant because of the issues I've highlighted here, I urge you to check out ZNC. It's at http://znc.in and is available for most platforms.

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Shawn Powers is a Linux Journal Associate Editor. You might find him on IRC, Twitter, or training IT pros at CBT Nuggets.