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4. Getting Started

Firstly, if IRC is new to you then read section 1.2.

Startup XChat and select "Server List" in the "X-Chat" menu. This will display a list of default IRC servers. If you have your own IRC server you like then hit "New Server" and enter it's details at the bottom.

Now fill in your personal details at the top.

I will assume you are using a local server (not in the default list) of and my nick of Nebulae. If you ever do use my nick I will NOT be happy, so choose one of your own or open /usr/dict/words and choose one from there.

Press connect and (hopefully) you will connect. The opening text will scroll down the main text-box with the MOTD (Message Of The Day). Once that has stopped click on the input box and type:

/join #dgg5ds 

Make 'dgg5ds' anything you like. You should see a line saying <your nick> (<your address>) has joined #channel and your nick should show up in the user-list with a green dot by it showing that you are chanop (since you just created the channel). Since you just created the channel you'll also see a line saying you have given yourself chanop status.

If you type normal text (without a leading /) then you will see it come up in the channel with your nick before it. If anyone else was in the channel they would also see that.

Click in the text box in the tool-bar, type My Topic and hit enter. The topic of the channel is now My Topic, you will see a line telling you so. If you play about with the letter buttons on the tool-bar you can change the channel modes (more on this later).

If you hit too much too quickly you will see XChat "slow down", this is because if you flood (send too much data too quickly) the server will drop the connection so XChat limits the amount of data it will send, this can make it seem slow, but it will always catch up in the end.

Now if you type /msg <your nick> Hello and hit enter in the input box (at the bottom) you send a private message to yourself, saying Hello. You wouldn't normally do this, if you have such bad hand-eye co-ordination that you need to type something and read it, you need to see a doctor, this is just for testing. A new window will be created under the current one, and its leaf will appear in the tool-bar, with the text in red to show that it has changed.

If you click on the new leaf the window will come to the top and you'll see the message Hello from yourself. When you type into the input box in this window the text will goto the object in the window, in this case yourself, in the last case the channel #dgg5ds. If you type anything you will see it echoed back at you. Since you aren't all that interested in messaging yourself (I hope) click the X button on the tool-bar (top - left) and the window will disappear, showing the first window.

Now if you select your nick in the user-list and hit the button marked Whois at the bottom of the user-list your whois information will be shown in the text box. This information comes from the server and can be read by anyone on IRC.

The whois information can also be accessed as a command. In the input box type /whois <your nick> and hit enter. Note the leading / showing it is a command, without this the text would be sent to the channel. The buttons map onto these commands, click the Settings menu and select User-list buttons. A dialog will appear showing each button and the command it runs when pressed, you can add your own. Note that %s in the command is replaced by the nick of the selected entry in the user-list.

Now if you right click your nick in the user-list a number of options come up. These map to commands like the buttons, select User-list Pop-up in the Settings menu.

The CTCP (Client To Client Protocol) options send a private message to the clicked nick which is picked up by their IRC client and dealt as a type of command. Almost always a CTCP message is sent back. These replies can be set in Settings - CTCP Replies. The CTCP VERSION reply is automatic and can be toggled by a /hidever command, but you can still setup a CTCP reply which is run as well as the automatic one.

If you are stuck typing /help -l (thats an lowercase L and a 1) might give you a hint.

4.1 Mailing Lists

XChat has two mailing lists which you may want to subscribe to, xchat-discuss and xchat-announce (kindly hosted by To subscribe send a message with no subject and this in the body:

subscribe list-name

to where list-name is either xchat-discuss or xchat-announce. You will be asked in a reply to confirm your subscription. xchat-discuss is a general mailing list where you can ask for help, bounce ideas etc off other XChat users. xchat-announce is a moderated list (only zed and I can post to it) where announcements (such as new versions) are posted. *Do not try to post to xchat-announce*.

If you have any queries about the mailing lists just mail me (Adam Langley) at

4.2 Channel Modes

Each channel can have a series of modes. Only chanop's can change a channels' mode. The modes can either by set by the letter buttons on the right of the tool-bar or by using the /mode command. Modes can also be set by some other commands, like /op, /deop or /ban. The following is a list (which is not complete) of the channel modes.

4.3 Scripts and Plugins

Scripts and Plugins allow you to extend XChat without editing the code. For information about writing them see section 7. Scripts are Perl scripts and to use them you must have Perl already on your system and have built Perl support in when building XChat. Plugins are shared libraries (.so files) that are dynamically linked and unlinked to the XChat process image.

On startup all files ending with .pl in ~/.xchat are auto loaded. To load a script manually either use the /load command or select "Load Perl Script" from the "Scripts and Plugins" menu. To unload all scripts either use the /unloadall or select "Unload All Scripts" from the "Scripts and Plugins" menu.

To load a plugin either use the /loaddll command or select "Load Plugin" from the menu. The plugin should then be listed on a /listdll command and in the "Plugin List". You can either remove plugins one by one with the /rmdll command or in the Plugin List, or you can unload all by selecting "Unload All Plugins" from the menu.

You don't have to manually unload scripts and plugins before quitting XChat. A list of scripts and plugins for download is on the XChat homepage.

4.4 DCC Support

DCC stands for Direct Client Connect. It is a system whereby two clients connect to each other directly, bypassing the IRC server. XChat supports sending 3 types of information across a DCC link:

You can send a file by using the "/dcc send nick file" command or by selecting the nick in the user-list and clicking the send button. The DCC send window should then show the status of the transmission. When someone sends a file to you the DCC Receive window will open up allowing you to accept or abort to transfer.

To setup a DCC chat line either use the "/dcc chat nick" command or select the nick from the user-list and click chat. Once the DCC connection is accepted any private /msg's to the nick will go across the DCC link instead. When someone offers a DCC chat link with you, you can accept with the command "/dcc chat offeringnick"

4.5 Customization

If you select Settings - User Commands then you get a dialog listing a set of shortcut commands. When you type any of the words in the left hand column as a command (with a leading /, of course) then the text on the right hand side is executed. Any %n (e.g. %2 or %3) are replaced with the nth argument to the command. Any &n (e.g. &2 or &3) are replaced with the nth argument and all following text, including spaces. %c is the current channel and %n is the current nickname. User commands can be separated with a ; (semicolon), but be careful not to put a space after the ;

The same goes for CTCP Replies, Userlist Buttons, Userlist Popup, but with one exception with Userlist Popup. With this you can create sub-menus by adding lines with a name of SUB and a value of the sub-menu name. To end the sub-menu use a list with a name of ENDSUB and a value of the same name.

4.6 Tab Nicks

Say you were in a channel with these nicks:

If you wanted to direct a message to zed you would type "zed: <message>" into the input box and hit enter. Rather than do that you can use Tab Nick Complete. Just type "z" and hit tab and XChat will find the first nick in the current channel that matches what you have typed and use that nick. In this case the text in the entry box would become "zed: ". Now if you wanted to direct a message to aaaaaab you would type "a" and hit tab. But that will find the first matching entry, which in this case is aaaaaaa so the input box would hold "aaaaaaa: " - not what you wanted. So hit Shift-Page Down and XChat uses the next entry in the user-list (Shift-Page Up uses the next up), the input box will now hold "aaaaaab: ". Next time you enter "a" and hit tab, however, XChat will select aaaaaab because by using the Shift-Page Down/Up buttons to tell it that it got the wrong nick and XChat will learn.

4.7 Replace

Now select Settings - Replace Popup. A list dialog will appear with a series of default entries (assuming you haven't changed them). One of the entries should by "r" and "are", if not add it. Now start typing into any input box and at some point type " r ". The "r" will change to "are".

The replace feature runs every time you hit space in an input box and finds the last word you typed. If that word is in the list it replaces it with its entry. If the word is in ' ' marks like 'r' the word is not replaced. If the word contains an "'" (that's a single quote mark) in it, the part before the quote mark is checked. If that part is found the part is replaced, the quote mark dropped and the part after the quote mark is appended. For example if you have the entry "u" and "you":

4.8 Logging

If you go into Settings - Setup - Options and enable logging then each new session this is opened will be logged. Logs are put into ~/.xchat/xchatlogs and have the format of servername,sessionname.xchatlog. For example, some entries from my logging directory:

You can also use the No ServerName in Logs option, in which case the filenames of the logs do not have the server name prepended, thus:

Note that if you are on two channels with the same name the logs will mix

4.9 Panel support

With panel support enabled a new button appears next to the de/link button on the tool bar - it has a down arrow on it. This button panelizes the session. When you first click this a panel applet will appear. The panel applet is a label with "X-Chat" and a series of buttons. The direction of the buttons can be set in Settings->Setup->Options with the "Layout for a vertical panel" option. Note that currently you have to restart XChat to make this option come into effect. Each panelized session appears as a button in the panel applet. If the "Hide session on panelize" option is ticked the session is hidden when panelized. Clicking the button will show the session. The color of the text of the button will change as is normal (red or blue), and will set back when you focus on the session. Right clicking a panel button displays a list of items. At the top are 3 labels with the channel, server and tab state of the session. Under them are a series of buttons:

4.10 Print Events

As of 0.9.7 you can now change XChat's output strings. Open up Settings - Edit Event Texts to display the current settings.

At the top of the dialog is a list of all the events and the string that is displayed when that event happens. Just below is an edit box for changing the text. Then there is a text box that shows what the event will look like. Under that is a list of the options that is passed to the currently selected event (more on this later).

As an example we'll edit the event text for Join. First select join from the list at the top, it should be a first item. If it wasn't already the text in the edit box will show the Join event text. At first it looks a little complex but it really isn't, it breaks down like this:

So delete what is already in the edit box and type this:

%C4*%C *%C4*%C Hey! I can edit the events text!
 $1 joined $2 (host: $3)

The fist bit is the standard red, white, red stars that XChat uses. After that it's pretty clear. In the main XChat window wait for someone to join a channel you are on (note we changed the Join event *NOT* the You Joining event, so this only works for other people joining) and you will see something like:

*** Hey! I can edit the events text! Adam joined #a (host: ~Adam@

The Sound file entry allows you to enter the name of a sound file that will be played (using the play command setting) each time the selected Event is triggered.

The 5 buttons at the bottom do thus:

4.11 Key Bindings

By selecting Settings - Edit Key Bindings you can edit the key bindings XChat uses. The key bindings are sorted by use - so the most recent used are at the top. A key binding is:

To add a new key binding hit "Add new". An event with <none> will appear at the bottom. When you select it (or any binding) the widgets on the right change to reflect that binding. To change the key select the entry labeled key *and press the key*, *do not try to type in the name!*. The action to perform can be selected from the combo at the bottom and help on that action will appear in the text box at the bottom.

Changes in the dialog are always current. When the dialog is closed the key bindings information is written to ~/.xchat/keybindings.conf

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