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Today I will show you how to use an existing IRC network to set up your very own chat room. Then I will show you how to set up your own IRC network easily using your Linux distribution. IRC is an internet protocol that was originally developed in the 1990's and is still great for chatting to others.
There are also loads of IRC clients (programs which connect to the networks). There are even some online which can be used within your browser so it is perfectly accessible by anyone. It is also very useful for online meetings with lots of people involved.
There are many IRC servers out there. In this article, I will use freenode which is often known for open source project meetings, but it will be fine for any chat as long as you use your own channel.
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Setting up a channel
In order to set up a channel, first load up your IRC client and join freenode. In my picture to the right, you can see I have used xchat but you can use any IRC client out there. To join freenode you can type in the client: "/server irc.freenode.net. Usually you can set up a channel by typing "/join #<channel name>". If the channel is free and not being used, it will make you the owner.
For example, lets say I want the channel #example. All I would do is type in "/join #example" and if no-one owns it, Freenode will give it to me and allow me to register the channel for future use (so nobody can take your admin place without your permission). To register the channel on Freenode (I will use the earlier example of #example), you will need to type: /msg ChanServ register #example.
Now any user can connect to the freenode server and join your channel to speak to you and your group. You also have special privileges as owner of the channel which can be viewed here.
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For some projects, the servers out there (such as Freenode and Undernet) may not be suitable for the channel you are trying to set up or you may need special server settings. In this case it is a good idea to set up your own server. It is actually easier than most people think to get a simple server up and running in now time for a couple of friendly discussions.
Since you are using Linux, there is usually a handful of IRC daemons in your repositries that can allow you to create a simple server with a bit of configuration. One of these is dancer-ircd, and can be used in conjunction with dancer-services to create a server able of running nickserv and chanserv. You can out how to set up dancer-ircd on Ubuntu in a step-by-step format by clicking here.
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Hopefully you now understand how to set up an IRC channel, and in special circumstances a full IRC network. You certainly need to know the channel and user modes as well in order to deal with things like spam attacks and general annoyances if they arise. If you already use IRC, see if you can get another op in another channel to show you how things are done.
As usual, if you have any queries or questions about anything mentioned in this article, feel free to drop me a comment below and I will do my best to help you.