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Internet Relay Chat has a history of over 25 years and it is still a widely used text-based protocol for chatting. In the Linux world, each distribution and major project has a chatting room, usually on Freenode, and here you can get online help, participate in collaborative projects, or just have a look at the latest discussions regarding the development of some project or application.

There are plenty of IRC clients out there for Linux, including console-based ones like the powerful Irssi, graphical ones like XChat, HexChat or the ones embedded in instant messaging clients. There are also web-based ones or clients available as add-ons for browsers, for example the ChatZilla add-on for Firefox.

In the following article I will briefly discuss about three clients for the KDE environment, leaving the others for a future article. All three of them come with features such as tabs, DCC, multiple networks or SSL.

For a list of clients with a GUI, have a look at this overview I wrote a while ago.


At first sight, Quassel IRC has a simple and lightweight interface, but under the hood it comes with enough configuration options and features.

Quassel has support for aliases, notifications, highlights, backlog, interface or colors customization. It’s most suited to users who need the basic features from an IRC client, offering decent features in a lightweight application.




From the three applications mentioned here, KVirc is the most feature-rich and complete client, with its own scripting language and plenty of options.

Dubbed “the visual IRC client”, KVirc is somewhat similar to mIRC for Windows, making it a good choice for users who are new to Linux.

Except for the feature-completeness, KVirc has some unique and impressive functions, like for example the possibility of allowing users to set an avatar image, which will be displayed to other KVirc users.

KVirc is also the only one which has a powerful, unique scripting language that allows event-based scripts to be written. The scripting interface is organized in actions, aliases, events, pop-ups and raw events. It also has support for themes, add-ons, background image, transparency, logging, powerful configuration options. KVirc indeed has a wealth of options to choose from, being highly customizable.

The latest version of KVirc is 4.2.0, released in 2012, and although no other major version has been published in the meantime, it offers pretty much anything you could ask from an IRC client.

KVirc 4.2.0:




Konversation, just like Quassel, is also lightweight and pretty easy to use, with features such as bookmarks, logging, notifications, system tray integration, appearance configuration (IRC colors, fonts, background image, quick buttons, tabs positioning), aliases, highlighting. Konversation has a configurable OSD (on-screen display) as well, disabled by default, which can display messages or join/part events.

Konversation has support for scripts as well, in languages such as Python, Bash or Perl (but no event-driven mechanism though).




Rene says:

Do any of those show custom colour and backgrounds on channel topics? Mirc does, but I’ve not found any irc client that supports it. They all treat topics as plain text, maybe highlighting links with their default colour.

Rene says:

I mean, I’ve not found any Linux irc client that supports it, besides Mirc that is windows only.

Craciun Dan says:

It doesn’t seem to have a GUI option for it, but you probably can change it in KVirc via scripting, for the topic event or so.

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