Internet Relay Chat or IRC for short is an online chat system. Users can join multiple channels using an IRC Client application in which they can participate in discussions with other people in that channel. See this Wikipedia article for more background information about IRC.
IRC servers are usually connected to a larger network of distributed servers. One very popular IRC service is freenode.net, which provides a global network of IRC Servers on which there are a large number of IRC channels related to Open Source Software.
MySQL is registered as a primary group and there are several MySQL-specific channels:
- #mysql - the general MySQL community channel to discuss all MySQL-related issues.
- #mysql-dev - a channel dedicated to discussions about developing for or on the MySQL source code — no support questions please!
- #mysql.de - Discussion about MySQL in German language
- #mysql-es - Discussion about MySQL in Spanish
In order to connect to an IRC channel, you need to have an IRC client application that connects to any server connected to the Freenode IRC network. There are numerous IRC applications available, text-based or using a graphical user interface (GUI). Some of them have to be installed locally on your workstation, while others can be used via your web browser or by logging into a remote server. See the Resources section below for a more detailed list.
The basic required connection information is always the same, regardless of which client you use:
- Your Nickname. This is your virtual identity, the user name under which you will be visible in the selected Channel. A Nickname has to be unique, there can not be two users using the same nickname at the same time. Freenode uses a so-called Nick Server, which takes care of the registration and safekeeping of your nick name. So once you have chosen a nick name, make sure to register it with the Nick Server, so it can't be taken by others! This entry in the Freenode FAQ describes the registration process and how to set up your nick name during login. Some IRC clients like xchat support performing the registration with the nickserv at login time, so you don't have to perform the registration yourself every time you log in.
- The IRC Server host name to connect to. You can either use chat.freenode.net or irc.freenode.net, which will pick an available server for you in round-robin fashion. Alternatively, you can select a server based on your geographical location from the list of available Freenode IRC Servers worldwide.
- The Channel(s) to join. See above for some channels related to MySQL or use the /list IRC command to get a full list of available channels (which will be huge for Freenode!). Some clients also provide a builtin function to browse and join the available channels, which is probably the preferred way of doing it. See your IRC client's documentation for details on how to do this.
The following articles describe the procedure of establishing a connection by using a particular IRC client in more detail:
More info on how to access and use IRC can be found on the following sites:
- FreeNode.net main web site
- Accessing the FreeNode.net Network
- FreeNode FAQ
- IRChelp.org Internet Relay Chat (IRC) help archive
- IRC tutorial on IRChelp.org
- IRC primer on IRChelp.org