9 Best IRC Clients for Linux in 2021

An IRC (Internet Relay Chat) client is a program that a user can install on their computer and it sends and receives messages to and from an IRC server. It simply connects you to a global network of IRC servers and enables one-on-one and group communication.

There are still many users of IRC out there for one reason or the other, though considered an old fashion way of online communication. But leaving the talk of it being relevant or not to users around the world.

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There are several IRC clients that are actively being developed, that you can use on a Linux desktop, and in this article, we shall take a look at some of them.

1. WeeChat

WeeChat is a light, fast, highly extensible command-line based and above all cross-platform chat client that runs on Unix, Linux, BSD, GNU Hurd, Windows, and Mac OS.

WeeChat IRC Client for Linux
WeeChat IRC Client for Linux

It has got some of the following features:

  • Modular and multi-protocols architecture
  • Highly extensible with optional plugins
  • Fully documented and an active project

Install WeeChat in Linux

$ sudo apt install weechat     [On Debian/Ubuntu & Mint]
$ sudo yum install weechat     [On CentOS/RHEL 7]
$ sudo dnf install weechat     [On CentOS/RHEL 8 & Fedora]
$ sudo yay -S weechat          [On Arch Linux]
$ sudo zypper install weechat  [On OpenSUSE Linux]
$ sudo pkg install weechat     [On FreeBSD]

2. Pidgin

Pidgin is an easy-to-use, free, cross-platform chat client that enables users to connect to several chat networks at the same time. Pidgin is more than just an IRC client, you can think of it as an all-in-one program for Internet messaging.

Pidgin IM Client for Linux
Pidgin IM Client for Linux

It supports multiple chat networks including AIM, Google Talk, Bonjour, IRC, XMPP, MSN plus many others that you can find from the Pidgin homepage and it has got the following features:

  • Supports multiple chat networks
  • Highly extensible with plugins
  • Integrates with the system tray on GNOME and KDE
  • Free software with active development

Install Pidgin in Linux

$ sudo apt install pidgin     [On Debian/Ubuntu & Mint]
$ sudo yum install pidgin     [On CentOS/RHEL 7]
$ sudo dnf install pidgin     [On CentOS/RHEL 8 & Fedora]
$ sudo yay -S pidgin          [On Arch Linux]
$ sudo zypper install pidgin  [On OpenSUSE Linux]
$ sudo pkg install pidgin     [On FreeBSD]

3. XChat

XChat is an IRC client for Linux and Windows that enables users to connect several chat networks simultaneously. XChat is also easy to use with features such as support for file transfers, highly extensible using plugins and scripts functionality.

XChat IRC Client for Linux
XChat IRC Client for Linux

It comes with plugins written in Python, Perl, and TCL but depends on the download source or Linux distro it comes with, users can also write plugins in C/C++ or scripts in many languages.

4. HexChat

Originally called XChat-WDK, HexChat is based on XChat, and unlike XChat, HexChat is free and can be used on Unix-like operating systems such as Linux, OS X, and also Windows.

HexChat IRC Client for Linux
HexChat IRC Client for Linux

It is feature-rich including the following:

  • Easy to use and highly customizable
  • Highly scriptable with Perl and Python
  • Fully open-source and actively developed
  • Translated in several languages
  • Multi-network with auto-connect, join and identify functionalities
  • Support for spelling check, proxies, SASL, DCC plus many more

Install HexChat in Linux

$ sudo apt install hexchat     [On Debian/Ubuntu & Mint]
$ sudo yum install hexchat     [On CentOS/RHEL 7]
$ sudo dnf install hexchat     [On CentOS/RHEL 8 & Fedora]
$ sudo yay -S hexchat          [On Arch Linux]
$ sudo zypper install hexchat  [On OpenSUSE Linux]
$ sudo pkg install hexchat     [On FreeBSD]

5. Irssi

Irssi is an easy-to-use command-line-based IRC client meant for Unix-like operating systems and supports SILC and ICB protocols through plugins.

IRSSI IRC Client for Linux
IRSSI IRC Client for Linux

It has some amazing features and these include:

  • Autologging
  • Supports themes and formats
  • Configurable keybindings
  • Paste detection
  • Support for Perl scripting
  • Irssi proxy plugin
  • Easy upgrades without losing connections

Install Irssi in Linux

$ sudo apt install irssi     [On Debian/Ubuntu & Mint]
$ sudo yum install irssi     [On CentOS/RHEL 7]
$ sudo dnf install irssi     [On CentOS/RHEL 8 & Fedora]
$ sudo yay -S irssi          [On Arch Linux]
$ sudo zypper install irssi  [On OpenSUSE Linux]
$ sudo pkg install irssi     [On FreeBSD]

6. Konversation

Konversation is a user-friendly, fully-featured IRC client developed on the KDE platform but can also run on GNOME and other Linux desktops.

Konversation IRC Client for Linux
Konversation IRC Client for Linux

Konversation has the following features:

  • standard IRC features
  • Support for bookmarking
  • Easy to use GUI
  • Support for SSL server
  • Several servers and channels in a single window
  • DCC file transfer support
  • Text decoration and colors
  • On-screen notifications
  • Highly configurable
  • Automatic UTF-8 detection
  • Per-channel encoding support

Install Konversation in Linux

$ sudo apt install konversation     [On Debian/Ubuntu & Mint]
$ sudo yum install konversation     [On CentOS/RHEL 7]
$ sudo dnf install konversation     [On CentOS/RHEL 8 & Fedora]
$ sudo yay -S konversation          [On Arch Linux]
$ sudo zypper install konversation  [On OpenSUSE Linux]
$ sudo pkg install konversation     [On FreeBSD]

7. Quassel IRC

Quassel is a free, new fashion, cross-platform, distributed IRC client that works on Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X, you can think of it as a GUI replication of WeeChat.

Quassel IRC Client for Linux
Quassel IRC Client for Linux

At the time of this writing, the Quassel development team is still actively working to setup up its features and if you visit the official website, a link I have provided below, you will actually realize that the features page has no content yet but it is actively being used.

Install Quassel in Linux

$ sudo apt install quassel     [On Debian/Ubuntu & Mint]
$ sudo yum install quassel     [On CentOS/RHEL 7]
$ sudo dnf install quassel     [On CentOS/RHEL 8 & Fedora]
$ sudo yay -S quassel          [On Arch Linux]
$ sudo zypper install quassel  [On OpenSUSE Linux]
$ sudo pkg install quassel     [On FreeBSD]

8. Element – Secure Collaboration and Messaging

Element is a free and open-source All-in-one software instant messaging app that supports end-to-end encryption, group chats, video conferencing, voice calls, and sharing of files between users while working remotely.

Element - Secure Collaboration and Messaging
Element – Secure Collaboration and Messaging

Install Element on Debian, Ubuntu & Mint

$ sudo apt install -y wget apt-transport-https
$ sudo wget -O /usr/share/keyrings/riot-im-archive-keyring.gpg https://packages.riot.im/debian/riot-im-archive-keyring.gpg
$ echo "deb [signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/riot-im-archive-keyring.gpg] https://packages.riot.im/debian/ default main" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/riot-im.list
$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt install element-desktop

9. Session Message

Session Message is a new encrypted secure private messenger application that offers a completely anonymous account without any number or email required. All your chat messages are route privately using online routing protocols that keep your messages secret, secure and private.

Session Message Private Chat App
Session Message Private Chat App

If you use IRC, then having read this article, you must be ready to try some of these great and amazing IRC clients for Linux. Make your choice right or you can try out all of them to actually determine which works best for you and remember to share your experience with other users around the world via the comment section below.

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10 thoughts on “9 Best IRC Clients for Linux in 2021”

  1. What about Element (Matrix.org) and Session Message with Lokinet (kind of VPN, put “exit.loki” on exit node and then you are full anonymity and hide ip address). That both are open source.

    Reply
  2. This IRC article has brought me memories of good times. I used one client called Ninja Script and another called Avalanche Script. In addition to the standard mIRC client on Windows, because at the time I still did not know Linux.

    Reply

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