FOSSPicks

IRC client

kirc

IRC is an ancient protocol that's used for hosting conversations between groups of people. It harkens back to those early days of connectivity in the late `80s and early `90s where IRCd shared Sun-3 server space with the likes of Archie and Gopher. And yet, unlike Archie and Gopher, IRC is still being used in innumerable locations, both internal and external. The Freenode IRC network, for example, is still one of the best places to meet with virtual open source enthusiasts and chat about anything from virtual reality to synthesizers. And despite the many advances made by platforms like Slack and its open source alternatives, the simplicity and maturity of IRC is still hard to beat. This is because at a low level, all IRC is really doing is marshalling text characters as they flow in and out of a serialized port connection. This simplicity isn't enough to offer security and other modern features, but the work of augmenting that simple protocol with certificates, accounts, and extra features was done long ago.

Another great thing about IRC is that it's easy to implement yourself, and easy to audit other people's code if you need to. This means it's a great first project when you're learning a new programming language and networking stack, and it's a great place to start if you're thinking of learning C is the kirc project. This is a beautiful, tiny, efficient client written to build with any POSIX C99 compliant C compiler and no further dependencies. All the code occupies a single file that's refreshingly easy to understand, especially for C, and yet the client itself is fully functional. It supports server usernames and passwords, nicknames, width restrictions, and all the usual IRC commands, with some excellent color output and clarity on the command line. It's a great client, but also a great opportunity to learn both C and old networking standards.

Project Website

https://github.com/mcpcpc/kirc

While there's no TLS support in kirc, you can wrap the executable within a relay tool like socat.

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