Very briefly, it's a protocol for chatting online. It's been around for a long time and there are lots of clients available for every platform. It's not as easy to use or as full featured as other chat options (like Discord), but it's free, open and you can retain control of your data! Read more about it on Wikipedia: Internet Relay Chat
Just download an IRC client and then enter your server name and channel.
|Windows||Hexchat||Not one of the easiest to get started in, but fast and full-featured|
|MacOS||LimeChat (mac store link)|
|Linux||Hexchat|| Usually you can just install it with
|Linux||Weechat||This is a command line IRC client but it's very full featured and easy to use|
There are hundreds of servers to choose from, but our #opensource chat is on irc.glasgow.social
You'll have to choose a channel to chat in. We're in the #opensource channel. You can view all the channels on the server by typing:
To join a specific channel (#opensource for example) use this command:
Or use the GUI to select a channel from the list.
I'm glad you asked! As well as being an open network that the users control (as opposed to a corporation) - it can be decentralised (for example, try connecting to irc.armchairscientist.co.uk it's a different server but it has the same channels and users on it - they are part of a larger interconnected network). All of these things are great if you don't want to be forced to rely on a corporation to respect your privacy/data and it eliminates points of failure (there are alternative routes to the network if a domain name expires etc).
In addition, IRC provides DCC - the Direct Client-to-Client protocol. This allows direct connection between users for file exchanging, video calls, end to end encryption etc. Very powerful tools at your finger tips.