IRC, how to use it?

Martin Leach leach at
Wed Nov 3 12:32:49 EST 1993

Ok netter, long post here will post second part of manual after this one

ircle Users Manual
 Version 1.3.5, July 1993

Welcome to the Internet Relay Network, Macintosh User!

ircle is an IRC client program that lets you talk with people all over the
world via the IRC (Internet Relay Chat) network. All you need is a
Macintosh with a network connection and the MacTCP driver, and you have to
be able (technically) to connect to an IRC server.

This manual has been split into two files because of the TeachText file
size limit.
part 1:
 Getting Started
 The Server
 ircle Windows and Messages
 CTCP and DCC commands
part 2:
 ircle Menus
 Further Reading
 Beware of Pitfalls
 What is still to be done
 The inevitable legal stuff

Getting Started
Maybe you know already IRC. You might have used it from a Unix, VMS, or VM
machine, probably using Telnet from your Mac to log in to that machine.
Then you hopefully will have little doubt about how to use ircle, and you
may as well skip this manual and just try it out. You will notice that
there are probably many windows, one of them per channel you're on, and
that you switch channels by just switching windows; that you have the most
important commands available on shortcut keys, but you can use all commands
like in a text-only environment too.

To all others who don't know IRC it is here to be explained what data they
have to enter into the fields of the dialog which will be presented to them
after they have chosen a name for the preferences file at the first program
startup. (Subsequently it is possible to start ircle by double-clicking on
the preferences file and skip these dialogs.) The preferences file is
absolutely necessary, the program will not run without the user having
specified one first. 
The settings are the following:

- Server: The hostname or IP address of your server. See below on more

- Port: The port number of your server. By now, the port used by IRC
servers should always be 6667, but a different number can be entered in
case there are special applications such as site-specific local servers
that use a different port. Usually you don't have to worry about this.

- Nickname: Your most important user-specific thing. This is the name by
which you will be known to other people on IRC, as each line of text you
send to the network will on other users' screens be prefixed by your
nickname. Choose a name that you like, and that consists of printable
characters with no spaces and is at most 9 characters long.
But be aware of the fact that no two people on the network may use the same
nick at one time. You will be presented an error message if a collision
occurs and may not proceed until you have chosen another nickname (see
below on the appropriate commands). Also be aware of the NickServ, which is
a database that holds the nicknames of regular IRC users and will inform
you if you have chosen a nick that has been registered by some other user.
Nicknames are not owned, but it is considered bad behaviour to ignore
NickServ and proceed with some other user's nick. NickServ will inform you
about how to register your own nick too.

- E-Mail address: When IRC was Unix-specific, the servers kept track of
users by their login names. However, on a machine (Mac or MSDOS) without
user logins, this is senseless, but the server needs this information. As
it can also be used by other IRC users to figure out who you are (to send
you mail, for example), you should enter a valid account name (provided you
have one, which is assumed to be the case if your site is
Internet-connected :-) Some servers try to verify this name; this probably
does not work with ircle, when in doubt check with your server
administrator (see /admin command).

NOTE that if you pass an address of the form person at site.domain, the server
will ignore the part after the @ and replace it with the actual machine it
is called from, in this case of the Mac, and the /whois command will give
the wrong address person at Mac.domain (with Mac replaced by the name your Mac
is assigned) or sometimes person at (with a raw IP address).
Nevertheless this information is valuable, see below on the /ctcp finger

- User name: This should be your real name but most people add comments to
that name. Not too long a line, please :-)

- Auto-exec: Here you can enter commands that are to be processed on
startup (usually /join, /topic, /notify, perhaps /ignore). They have to be
separated with a semicolon, e.g. /join #MyChannel;/toipc #MyChannel I'm
(New users best leave this field blank.)

- Notifications: ircle is able to run in the background (under System 7 or
MultiFinder), and it can have more than one conversation window, so it is
convenient to get notified of the fact that something happens in a
background window. You may choose which notification you would like in
which situation, from a flashing icon in the menu bar and a sound being

The Server

The IRC network consists of a number of servers all over the world, which
are interconnected, and clients that can connect to this servers. To use
IRC you have to know the address (hostname or IP number) of a server which
you can use, and this should be the server which can be reached from your
site at minimum delay and network load (usually the geographically

The simplest case for finding a server is when you or some other people at
your site have already used IRC: look at the screen when the connection is
started. The server will give its name with the welcome message:

*** Your host is server-name [], running version xxxx.

Enter the full host name into your preferences dialog.
Or you ask one of the local network gurus, who probably will know a server
address, especially in big organizations which probably have a server

If that doesn't work, follow the method suggested by Helen Trillian Rose
(in the file 'IRC Advice', which you should read completely anyway). A
complete list of servers gets sometimes posted in the  alt.irc newsgroup.

NOTE that you need the technical possibility to connect to a server. For
example, if your site has a local network running TCP/IP but no connection
to the Internet, you can not use IRC. If you site has an Internet
connection but no IRC server on the local network, you will need to connect
to a server outside it, but many sites explicitly inhibit non-local
connections for certain machines. In that case, you should *politely* (!!!)
ask your network administrator for lifting that restriction. (Usually the
reason for such restrictions is users, especially on PCs open to the
'public' e.g. in university computing centers, abusing network access for
FTPing large amounts of data from the other end of the world. Restricting
network access is in fact the only way of dealing with this problem, but
maybe there is a person willing to start a local and therefore reachable
IRC server. :-)
Some sites still are reluctant to allow the use of IRC because of fear that
it may put too much load on the network. This is usually not the case,
however, and you should try to settle the case with the responsibles using
reasonable arguments.

Note that not all servers allow all clients in. When you get a message
about being rejected by the server, you should find another server.  All
servers are part of the same network and have the same information, persons
and channels.

ircle Windows and Messages

The first window you will see after successfully calling a server is called
the message window. You will recognize it by its title: it is your
nickname. The server will give you a few lines of welcome and MOTD
messages. Then, at the bottom of the screen, there is a small box
containing two lines of Monaco-9 called the status/input window. (In fact
*this* window pops up first.)  Everything you type on the keyboard will
appear in the input line, and it will be processed on hitting the Return
key. Above is the status line giving general information about you and the

Mister talking to #Hmgpf       Flsh   Log  FT(1)   

'Mister' - your nick
'#Hmgpf' - current target to wich mesages are sent
'' - your server. Will be replaced by 'Err(n)' if an error
occurs in the connection between server and client.
'Flsh' will appear when you are flushing messages (see below on menus).
'Log' will appear when you are logging messages to a file.
'FT(n)' indicates that n DCC Filetransfers are in progress.

The input line is the most non-Mac-like thing in ircle but this is
influenced by the fact that other IRC clients use a similar input line. You
can place the input cursor with the mouse (one click will not suffice as it
first activates the window) and move it with the cursor keys. The up/down
keys allow for recalling the last entered lines (limited to 5000 chars).

IRC conversation is done by 'channels' and 'private messages'.  Channels
have names beginning with a # character. You can list the channels 
currenttly in use with the /list command. When you join a channel (with the
/join command), all messages you type get sent to all people on that
channel, and you will see all messages by that persons in the form

<grumbl> Is anybody out there?

In ircle every channel corresponds to a window. When you join a channel, a
new window will pop up having the name of that channel. It will present you
with a topic (if set) and a list of people on that channel.

Private messages are exchanged between to people. They appear in the window

*bubbl* Where is Prof. Smith tomorrow?

and the window they appear in is usually the frontmost window, regardless
of the channel(s) the sender is on, unless there is a query window of that
nick. It is intended that private messages are exchanged via query windows.
 They are opened with the /query command and look like channel windows with
a nickname as title. Conversation between you and that nickname is done via
private messages.

There is a third means of conversation, the DCC CHAT connection, which is a
window with a title consisting of a nick surrounded by = signs. See below

A NOTICE is a message that is generated as automated response to certain
commands by servers or other client programs (but may be sent by users,
too). It looks like This is the University of Karlsruhe, Germany.

Watch out for messages in the message window of the form

/WORD/sender/target/arguments/ or
/NUM/sender/target/arguments/, where NUM is a 3-digit number.

The former are generated by servers sending erroneous commands to a client
(which should not happen in any case, that could be a server bug), the
latter are normal status messages that should be processed by the client
but are not because of implementor's laziness. Somebody could tell me if
such things occur.

You can obtain a window full of helpful information by giving a /help
command or via the About box.

When you close a channel window you will leave the channel. Closing a query
window or the help window will do nothing more than closing the window, and
closing a DCC CHAT window will close that connection. Closing the message
window will merely hide it until a message appears in it.

All windows can hold up to 20000 characters' worth of messages. If this
number is exceeded, 5000 characters from the top will be deleted, so you
always have access to at least the most recent 15000 characters of that
conversation. You can mark text in a window with the mouse and Copy it via
the Edit menu to the clipboard for further use.


Having completed a line of input, you let it be processed by hitting the
Return key. Then it is determined if the line consists of a command or a
message. Commands are lines which start with the / (slash) character
followed by the command name and optional
parameters, e.g.

/join #tuebingen

(this is the command that will get you on a channel).
Messages are everything not starting with a slash. Messages are sent to the
frontmost window, more precise to that (channel or query or DCC CHAT
connection) that runs over the frontmost window, the message type and
target being determined by the window type and name.

And here is a list of IRC commands (given in lowercase letters, but they
are not case-sensitive, as nicks and channel names are not either):

/admin name - give administrative info about the specified server (which
may be a server name or a nick, in the latter case giving info about that
user's server). This always should at least include an E-Mail address of a
person responsible for that server, to be contacted if problems occur.

/away message - marks you as being away, which will display a 'G' (gone)
instead of 'H' (here) in the /who command and the specified message on
/whois and private messages. /away without argument removes the away

/broadcast message - send message to all channels you're on and to all
users you have queried.

/bye (text) - quit IRC after sending the optional text to all channels
you're on. /quit, /exit or /signoff will do as well.

/cmdchar x - change command-prefix character. That means, subsequently
commands must be prefixed with the given character instead of the /.

/ctcp target command - perform the Client-To-Client-Protocol. This is
supported only by modern clients and not vital, but has some useful
functions. 'target' should be a nickname, to whom the command is sent. The
user does not see the message, but his client program responds (usually)
with a NOTICE containing an answer. See below on CTCP commands.

/date server - display date and time as seen by the specified server. /time
is the same.

/dcc command nick - perform Direct-Client-Connection functions. These are
supported only by modern clients, when in doubt use /ctcp clientinfo first.
See below.

/help - pop up a window with helpful information, including a list of
commands with short descriptions. 

/ignore pattern - mark specific users to be ignored. Messages from them
will not be displayed on your windows. If you feel harrassed by someone,
this should be the first thing to do. 'pattern' may be of the form
nick!user at host and may contain the ? and * wildcards, matching any
character or any sequence of characters, respectively.
user and host are the ones given by /whois. If either no nick or no
user at host is provided, a * will be inserted for the missing parts. 
/ignore without parameters lists all ignore patterns currently in effect.
/ignore -pattern removes a pattern, which must be exactly the same as given
in the list. 
/ignore +pattern causes a user to not just be ignored but answered by a
NOTICE to each message. (This may be considered rude by some people, but
there are client programs which have this feature built-in with no choice.)
Note that having many ignore patterns may slow down the program. Ignore
patterns are not saved if you leave the program.

/info - display info about IRC and your server. 

/invite nick channel - invite person to a channel. For invite-only channels
(see /mode), this is the only way to join a channel.

/join channel -  join a channel. Currently (server version 2.7), all
channel names start with a # character. If no window comes up after this,
there may be a connection or server-related problem. /join without an
argument joins the channel you were last /invite'd to. /channel is an alias
for /join.

/kick channel nick - kick a person from channel (can only be done by
channel operators). The victim may re-join unless banned (see /mode).

/kill nick - remove nick from the IRC network completely. This command can
only be used by operators and should really not be used at all.

/leave channel - leave a channel. On ircle this is equivalent to closing a
channel window. /part will do, too.

/links server - show server connections. (Warning: Long list to come!)
Useful for operators only.

/list [par] [channel] - show channel name, number of users and topic.
Without argument, lists all channels. Additional parameters may be given as
follows, starting with a - (dash):
-min n - list only channels with a minimum of n users
-max n - list only channels with a maximum of n users
-local - list only local (&) channels
-global - list only global (#) channels
-public - list only public channels
-private - list only private channels
-topic - list only channels with topic

/lusers - show statistics on the users on the network.

/me action - send an action description.
Example: /me switches off the air conditioning. This will be presented to
other users on the channel as
 Mister switches off the air conditioning.
with 'Mister' replaced by your nickname. There are some contrary opinions
about this being necessary, but I did it because the actual implementation
is shorter than this paragraph. Note that this uses CTCP protocol which is
not recognized by older clients. You should end the sentence with a period.

/mode channel par - set a channel mode. 'par' can be +x (sets flag x), +x
nick (sets flag x on nick), -x or -x nick removes flag, respectively. More
than one flag may be given at once. The flags are (server version  2.7):
 p - private channel (name not made public)
 s - secret channel (never listed)
 i - invite-only channel
 m - moderated channel
 t - only channel operators may set topic
 n - only persons on channel can send messages to channel
 l max - limit channel to max. # of users
 b nick - ban nick (nick may not enter; instead of nick you can use
nick!user at host with wildcards)
 o nick - nick is channel operator
 v nick - let nick talk on moderated channel
 k key - set channel password
/mode can be set by channel operators only.
/mode nick par - set a user mode. The modes are:
 i - invisible
 s - receive server notices
 w - receive wallops messages

/motd server - show server's message of the day.

/msg nick message - send nick a private message. This can be done  more
easily via /query too.

/names channel - give a list of names on the channel. 'channel' may contain

/nick newnick - change your nickname. This must be done if the server
rejects your nickname.

/notice target text - send a NOTICE, which is just like a normal message
('target' may be a channel or nick) except that it may not generate
automated responses. (This rule is to prevent loops, as automated responses
of any kind are NOTICEs.)

/notify nick - add nick to the notification list. Whenever someone on this
list signs on or off, you'll be informed about this fact. (This
notification may be delayed a bit.) You can remove a nick from this list
with /notify -nick.

/query nick - open a query window. What is sent to that window will become
a private message to the specified nick. /query without an argument will
query the person who sent you the last private message.

/server host port - switch to a different server. Used when your server
goes down.

/summon user server - summon specified user to IRC. This will work only  if
the specified host is running a server and has this feature enabled.
Otherwise, a Talk program will do too :-)

/topic channel text - set the channel topic.

/type - type a text file to the current chanel. You will be presented a
file selection box. The contents of the file are sent in the background,
one line at a time as if typed (usually rather slow - no bug but feature).
Note that dumping large files to a channel without being asked to do so is
considered bad behaviour. If simply a file transfer is to be done, you
better use /dcc send - it's more efficient.

/users server - show users logged on to the server (like rwho, or finger,
or similar).

/version server - show server version.

/wallops text - sends text to all IRC operators online. This command is
obsolete and won't be accepted by modern servers. If you want to talk to
operators specifically, /join #Twilight_Zone instead. (And don't harrass
them too much, most of them have work to do.)

/who channel - list users on channel. Without an argument, the current
channel is assumed. When talking no channel, all IRC users are listed (very
long list!)

/whois nick - gives detailed information about a user, specifically which
login name on which machine he is and what he has entered as his real name.
 Sometimes this information is useless because the user may be using a
'public client' or a Mac or MSDOS box which has no login names. In this
case you will get bogus names or raw IP addresses instead of an account
usable as E-Mail address. In case the other part is using ircle, you can
get more information with /ctcp finger (s.b.) 
/whois without an argument will use the nick who sent you the last message
or joined most recently a channel.

/whowas nick - like /whois but displays information of users that have
signed off recently.

Note that commands for the exclusive use by operators are not mentioned
here. They should know them anyway. :-)

/ctcp nick command sends a special message containing a command,  which
will be processed by the other part's client program. Some clients do not
support this.
'command' may be:

 clientinfo - list all known CTCP commands along with description. If you
get no answer on this, the other part has CTCP and DCC not implemented.

 finger - gives user information. If the other part uses a Unix client,
this will respond with the information returned by the finger command. If
the other part is using ircle, this will return the E-Mail address the user
has entered in the preferences field. Provided this address is valid, it
can be used for mailing him or launching a finger, which will not work with
the information returned by /whois. It also returns the idle time (in
seconds) of the user, big numbers usually indicating the user being away or
not caring.

time - tells the other part's local time. 

version - tells which client version and environment the other part is

action - is used by the /me command.

dcc - is used by the /dcc command, NOT by the user - this could confuse the

Clients may implement other CTCP commands as well which they will tell on
the clientinfo command. Commands which are responded generate a NOTICE with
the original command and the response text in it.

The Direct-Client-Connection (DCC) protocol establishes connections between
clients, bypassing the server network for efficiency or security reasons.
It is invoked by /dcc command nick.
'command' may be:

 chat - opens a DCC CHAT connection to nick. Messages exchanged via this
connection are not sent over IRC but directly to the other client.
Therefore this is the most secure method of communication, as nobody even
with a 'hacked' or bogus server can even accidentally see it. (But be aware
that there just is no method of tap-proof communication on the Internet,

 send, tsend - transfers a file. You will be presented a file select box. 
The file will be sent over a direct connection to the other part. For
Macintosh files, this will transfer the data fork only, so to transfer
programs or other files with resource fork you have to BinHex them. (this
is the same problem as with FTP; in fact /dcc send is just a convenient
replacement for FTP, working almost the same way.) If the file contains
text, you should use tsend instead of send, which will convert the file to
ISO charset (see below) with LFs instead of CRs (this is what Un*x clients
use). send will send the file unchanged (binary mode). File transfer runs
in the background without disturbing communication (well, slowing down a
big bit :-)

 get, tget - accept an incoming file transfer. When you get a message for a
DCC SEND request, you should answer with /dcc get nick, which will receive
the offered file after you have selected a name for it with the usual file
selector. Use tget if the file contains text information (s.a.)

 close type nick - abandon a DCC connection.

/dcc without parameters will list all DCC connections currently in effect.
No two connections of the same type to the same nick may be in effect at
one time; before re-opening a failed connection you must close it.

Other DCC commands present in other clients are not implemented. For TALK
there is already a wonderful program for the Macintosh (by Peter Lewis)
which you can use instead.

Each DCC request must be answered by the other part. If this is not done,
the connection will not be established. How the answer is done depends on
the client. With ircle, a CHAT request is to be answered with a CHAT, and a
SEND request to be answered with a GET.

NOTE that for DCC to work, TCP/IP connections between the two clients have
to be established.  This may be technically impossible due to the reasons
mentioned above under 'Servers', and connections may fail because of bad
links even with the server connection remaining up. In such cases you will
get an error message.

------ Continue reading with ircle Users Manual part 2 ------


.....          Martin Leach                Email:leach at 
   _|____      Dept. of Pharmacology       Phone: (617) 638-5323        
   / o  /      Boston Univ. School of Med. Fax:   (617) 638-4329         
 _/  |-/__==/  80 E. Concord St. (L603)
(BULLDOZER) \_ Boston MA 02118            "Not the old underpants on your
               USA                           head.....WIBBLE" -BLACKADDER  

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