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Following the overview of KDE IRC clients, here is a brief overview of several counterparts for GNOME, which will blend well in Xfce or Unity as well.

hexchat01


I did not include IRC clients which are bundled in applications such as Empathy, Pidgin, or Thunderbird, however it’s good to know these are available as simple IRC implementations in these programs. I also didn’t talk about XChat, which, although finished and complete, hasn’t seen a new version since 2010 (but I included HexChat, a fork of XChat).

HexChat

This is probably the most powerful and feature-complete IRC client available for GNOME at the moment. HexChat is a fork of XChat, and brings several improvements over the older client, and it is actively maintained. HexChat has support for plugins, event-based scripting in Perl/Python, multi-network support, configurable keyboard shortcuts, tabs, and plenty of other features, making it a very good choice for those who need all the power they can get from a graphical IRC client. HexChat also supports DCC, SSL encryption, backgrounds and colors customization.

Brief look at settings, scripts, keyboard shortcuts and events windows:

hexchat02

To install the latest version of HexChat in Ubuntu/Mint, you can use this PPA (for Trusty, Utopic and upcoming Vivid as well as Mint 17 and 17.1).

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gwendal-lebihan-dev/hexchat-stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install hexchat

Polari

Polari is an IRC client for GNOME which stands out due to its minimal interface.

polari01
(Image credit)

To install Polari in Ubuntu/Mint, you can compile it from source. However, the only version I could compile without having the configure script complain about the GTK development library being too old was 3.11.2, and a PPA doesn’t seem to be available yet. And even so, Polari fails to run on Mint 17 (Ubuntu 14.04) with the error “Settings schema ‘org.gnome.polari’ is not installed”. However, Ubuntu 14.10 and Mint 17.1 can probably install a newer version of Polari.

Download the source tarball from here (I used version 3.11.2 for this example) and uncompress it.

tar -xf polari-3.11.2.tar.xz

Install the development libraries:

sudo apt-get install build-essential libgtk-3-dev
sudo apt-get install libgirepository1.0-dev libtelepathy-glib-dev gobject-introspection gjs
sudo apt-get install libtelepathy-logger3 libtelepathy-logger-dev

Change the working directory to polari-3.11.2 and type:

./configure
make
sudo make install

Smuxi

And finally, Smuxi, which is another chat application with a simple interface, and features such as. Smuxi is primarily an IRC client, but it also offers support for chat protocols such as Twitter or XMPP. According to the official page,

Smuxi doesn’t do just IRC, it can also handle Twitter, Facebook Chat, Google Talk, Jabber / XMPP, Campfire and SignalR’s JabbR natively.

smuxi01

And it also features notifications and integration with Unity:

Smuxi has full GNOME desktop notifications support and also integrates with Ubuntu’s messaging menu.

sudo apt-get install smuxi

To run Smuxi, type in a terminal smuxi-frontend-gnome.

Recommendation

For a powerful client, HexChat is the way to go. If you want something simple and basic, Polari will do the job, and if you are in need of a single program that can handle more than one protocol, then Smuxi, Empathy or Pidgin should do the trick.

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