Almost all big open source projects have one IRC channel where they can meet and coordinate or else it would be very difficult for someone new to join the group or ask for help. For a new user though, IRC is very daunting. It takes some time understanding something that was originally made in 1988 (wow, 21 years old). Today, I just want to break it down, a little bit of history, and why the open source world loves it. And no, its not that we don’t have GTalk or MSN.
According to wikipedia, Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is a form of real-time Internet text messaging (chat) or synchronous conferencing.
There are some reasons why we open source geeks tend to use IRC
- IRC is an open procotol. Makes a lot of sense for open source people. Its all about principles.
- Most IRC servers don’t need a sign up. Now, that is a major advantage. True, some channels may require that you register your nickname, but that is after actually entering the IRC server. Most of the time, to participate or ask questions, registration is not really required.
- IRC is real-time. Kinda obvious for a chat, but I just wanted to state it anyway.
- Not really graphics heavy. It can even be run from command line. Need I say more?
The Ubuntu community uses IRC for support, in the channel #ubuntu, and for discussions of all sorts. All official teams have an IRC channel and sometimes even more. We use the Freenode network. Its a network that exists solely to support peer-directed projects, including those relating to free software and open source. The aim of Freenode is to help our participants to improve their communicative and collaborative skills and to maintain a friendly, efficient environment for project coordination and technical support. That’s just their official philosophy. In simple words, they’re there so that open source projects have a place to discuss and support.