Tag Archives: chat

ssh-chat: And a question for which I have no answer

About a six weeks ago I discovered ssh-chat, as a side note to a post on medium.com that asked, “Why aren’t we using SSH for everything?” A good question.


Just to be clear, that is not me running ssh-chat. That is, I believe, me connecting via ssh to a system that is running ssh-chat. I can show you what it looks like when I connect to my own system running ssh-chat, but it’s not very exciting.

2015-02-16-6m47421-ssh-chat-02 2015-02-16-6m47421-ssh-chat-03

So I think the thing to remember here is, ssh-chat itself is the server-side application that allows others to connect via ssh and join the chat session. If you have ssh installed on your machine, you already have the client.

Most commands are what you might expect after working with things like irssi or weechat, with some omissions for joining channels and so forth. You can drop out of a session with CTRL+D, much like you might use to exit an ssh session anyway.

It’s very clever, although it might not satisfy you if you’re entrenched in another chat client. And needless to say, this is probably more interesting to people who host the chat, and not the people who connect to it. I wouldn’t look for it on Freenode any time soon.

I only see this in AUR, and considering it’s quite new (with updates within past weeks), it might be a while until it reaches more venerable distros. If you can get your hands on Go though, you should be able to build it yourself.

As for the original question … I haven’t got an answer. I am just a solitary pedestrian on the grand information highway. If everyone used it, I probably would too. Until then. … 😐

echat: Serverless chatter

I’m stuck again with a chat tool that I can’t really demonstrate because I don’t have the supporting network structure. This is echat:


And that’s as much as I expect I’ll see from it. Judging by the home page, echat is designed to work in serverless environments, such as LANs or office networks. I see elsewhere that echat is intended for Vypress networks, and can interact with Windows- or other OS-based clients (I would expect no less).

A lot of that is completely foreign to me, and so I approach echat from a completely neutral angle. No, I can’t see it running at full speed, but I can see a few positive points that might make it work investigating:

  • Nice screen arrangement, and flexible size.
  • Decent man page, and enough onboard help to prevent instant floundering.
  • Good use of color.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but I can recognize standout traits where I see them.

You’ll have to set up echat with a Vypress network to see if it works as well as it promises. If you get that far into the mix with echat, please send us a proper screenshot, so we can all bask in the full force of it’s glory. πŸ˜€

hftirc: A little IRC in C

I don’t recall when or where I learned about hftirc. I usually try to make a note of the tipster who sends in a title, so it’s possible I found this one on my own.

hftirc is, as you might have inferred by the name (or by the title of this post) a small-scale IRC client for text-based environments.


hftirc has a lot of small features that I like. I can see that it’s written in C (yes, I wrote that on purpose), and ps_mem.py says it will run on about 1.25Mb of memory. It has a traditional left-to-right arrangement, with the user list as a panel on the right. It seems to follow the traditional slash-command approach to IRC navigation, making it easy to adopt if you’re coming from one of the other big names in IRC.

The configuration file gives you a few more points to consider. hftirc works with color themes, and while the default is a little taxing, a few of them — especially the “white” theme — worked quite nice in terminals with white backgrounds.

You also have the ability to colorize individual nicknames, and to set a default channel that hftirc will jump straight into, as soon as it starts and connects.

hftirc doesn’t show any newer edits than three years ago, and I know some people consider that a sign of staleness and a good reason to avoid a program. I saw no reason to discount hftirc on those grounds; in any case, I doubt IRC is such an innovative technology that three years without maintenance is going to obsolete any working IRC client. 😐

As luck would have it, I can see now how and why I found hftirc: The author is also responsible for tty-clock, one of my favorite programs of the past decade. This just goes to show you, take the time to examine a whole portfolio. πŸ™‚

ysm: At the end of the day

Believe it or not, ysm is at the end of my list for the Y section, meaning there are only a handful of programs left from my original list, collected so many years ago.

Unfortunately, the Y section was a hit-or-miss affair, with some real winners, but with some who failed to show. ysm is unfortunately going to fall into that bracket.

I did the best I could with it — I even signed on for a new ICQ number, just to be sure I wasn’t dragging along any baggage from previous accounts — but this was the best I saw.


Two or three times it halted in exactly the same place, which leads me to believe there is some sort of technical inconsistency at work here. If you can clue me in, please do.

ysm has a shortlist of features to boast of, but I can’t vouch for any of them. Personally, considering that the newest source bundle has internal timestamps of 2007, I have a feeling it has just fallen away, and lacking attention has gone stale. We all get old and then we can’t hack it any more. That’s your theory.

And that’s where the Y section comes to a close. No recap post this time; I gave every title I had the best attention I could afford, and nothing fell into the aforementioned automatic dismissals. Rare, that is.

Still, a rash of less-than-performing titles were in this section. At the end of the day, Y titles were no more promising than other sections. :\

xaric: The simple client with pretty colors

xaric won my heart as soon as I read the first paragraph of the home page — where the author describes it as a simple client with pretty colors.


That wouldn’t really do any justice to xaric though. For what I’ve seen of the dozens and dozens of text-based chat clients available, xaric has a few noteworthy points.

For one thing, I notice that xaric allows you to set quite a few environment variables — most notably IRCSERVER, IRCNICK and IRCHOST — as a means of controlling your nickname, default server and so forth. I don’t know why that strikes me as unusual, but I liked it.

And of course you can set some of those as command line flags when you invoke xaric, but it also makes things like randomizing your nickname a little easier.

The home page also insists that xaric is a fork (blend?) of both bitchx and ircii, which might account for its simplicity as well as its colorfulness. I can’t tell you exactly what was inherited from either; I don’t use IRC enough to know what to look for.

But I’m willing to take it on its word. It has pretty colors. It seems fairly simple. And the man page gives just enough information to be helpful, without becoming an obstacle. (Sometimes I think man page writers enjoy reading their own work. πŸ™„ )

So I can recommend xaric on the same grounds it was referred to me — it’s a simple client, with pretty colors. For some of us, that might be more than enough. πŸ˜‰

weechat: Word-of-mouth testimonials

weechat users have been biting their nails literally for years, waiting for this moment to roll around. Well, you can all stop e-mailing me about the wondrous goodness that is weechat: Your moment has come.

2014-06-21-6m47421-weechat-01 2014-06-21-6m47421-weechat-02

But now, after the long list of chat clients that have graced these pages, I’ll be honest and say I don’t quite recall what the hubbub was about.

“wee” to me, is a word that means small or tiny, and so perhaps weechat is a good deal smaller than the garden-variety irssi?

Not according to the ancient and revered ps_mem.py script. In fact, it’s quite the opposite situation at a cold start.

kmandla@6m47421: ~/temp$ sudo python ps_mem.py 
[sudo] password for kmandla: 
 Private  +   Shared  =  RAM used	Program 
  1.5 MiB +   1.1 MiB =   2.6 MiB	bash (4)
  2.0 MiB +   1.0 MiB =   3.0 MiB	irssi
  3.4 MiB + 610.5 KiB =   4.0 MiB	mc
 10.8 MiB +   2.3 MiB =  13.1 MiB	openbox
 14.2 MiB +   1.0 MiB =  15.2 MiB	weechat
 46.1 MiB + -23103.5 KiB =  23.5 MiB	Xorg
                        497.6 MiB

(I abbreviated a little bit there, just to save widescreen visitors the pain of constant scrolling. πŸ˜† )

So if memory profile is not the appeal, is it extensibility? The list of features on the weechat site is quite lengthy, and some of them — like vertical splits and spellchecking — are appealing even to me.

If it’s not that, then there’s only one thing that I can see outright that might swing me over to weechat, if I were mired in irssi … more color. πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜€

But I’ll let you decide. Chat clients have reached a saturation point, and unless you need something extremely specific, many of them seem to be duplicating efforts. To my untrained eye, that is.

That does mean you have plenty to choose from though. And having a choice is always a good thing. πŸ˜‰

tinyirc: A contender in the ultralight division

If you can see your way through all the mis-coded characters in this screenshot, you’ll have a pretty good image of tinyirc.


tinyirc is well within the same bracket as sic and ii, handling the job of IRC client with a fraction of the resources of some others.

tinyirc also has a much more sparse approach, when compared to things like irssi or even rhapsody. Your user name and the target server are both added as command line parameters, although I daresay you could connect to another after tinyirc starts up.

And what you see above is about all the interface I could find. If there is a way to customize that, or add color or different readouts, I missed the memo.

tinyirc, as you might have guessed from the screenshot, is available in Debian and its derivatives, but is not in Arch or AUR … and my attempts to build it from svn yielded errors.

That shouldn’t dissuade you from trying to build it though; I have a tendency to run things a little light, and that occasionally causes hiccups. πŸ˜‰

sic: Thusly was it written

I honestly have a hard time finding fault with anything that filters down from the geniuses at suckless.org. sic is another example.


For a sparse Internet chat application, you can’t get much closer to the bone than sic. Well, there is ii, from the same crew, and it’s potentially sparser. But for a singular application, to the best of my knowledge sic is as-yet unbeaten.

As you can see there, sic doesn’t pretty things up. Join a channel and it’s all spilled into one stream. For some people that might be an information overload, but if you dislike switching windows (like me), it’s heaven.

sic doesn’t do a lot of things. It doesn’t have the pre-installed script-like features of scrollz, or the newb-friendly window-like interface of rhapsody. sic just does what sic does, and any more than that is frivolity. πŸ‘Ώ

I like that, strangely enough. I am torn sometimes between ultra-sparse tools like sic, and clean and complete applications like rhapsody. I think that tries to suggest something about the duality of man. πŸ˜‰

sic is in Arch and Debian, and as it appeals to those with minimalistic inclinations, that shouldn’t surprise you.

A final note: The conversion of hyperlinks you see in the screenshot is not part of sic. That’s a nifty trick for rxvt-unicode that the godlike Arch wiki taught me. πŸ˜€

scrollz: Fast, friendly and light

The man page for scrollz told me a lot more about it than I had written in my notes.


A lot more than was on the home page either, although to be fair, there seem to be some domain redirection issues there. 😐

scrollz is written in C, and I’m a fan of most any program that can trace its heritage back to C … mostly because they seem to run faster and lighter than most other software. You can see that in things like cmus, mcplay, ctorrent and some others.

scrollz also boasts that it carries a lot of the features seen in IRC scripts as part of its internal structure. I am afraid I’m not enough of an IRC fan to know what those scripts are, or why they’re so great.

The features also include Blowfish encryption — which I can see the reason for — special features for IRC operators, user-friendly nick and channel completion, and some other things.

The user-friendly completion sticks out in my mind, after years of working with irssi and after only recently jumping ship to rhapsody. It’s nice to have an application prompt you for your nickname rather than just spit demeaning errors at you, and expect you to know how to fix the situation.

Egads, am I shifting back to the graphical side? 😯

Not likely. But it does mean that scrollz — kind of in the same way as rhapsody, but to a lesser degree — seems to have a less staid approach.

And I will mention that I like the status bar that scrollz employs. That, on top of a gilded tmux or screen status line would be another geek trophy.

For the moment I’m still enraptured by rhapsody, and my efforts to build scrollz in Arch were less-than-fruitful (it says I “must get working getaddrinfo()” … whatever that means). I will keep it in mind though, for future adventures

rhapsody: A menu-driven interface for IRC

It’s fun to me, to find new toys in the endless catalogues of available software.

For example, irssi is the de facto gold standard for text-only chat sessions. I have no complaints about that. But there are alternatives, a lot of which I’ve skimmed past on these pages. For the most part though, they seem to follow irssi’s lead.

But irssi’s style isn’t necessarily the best. There’s always room for improvement. So along comes rhapsody, which takes the same idea and recasts it as a menu-driven console application, rather than relying wholly on user-entered commands.


The greatest differences are probably obvious from watching that short movie. Where irssi and many of its cohorts expect the user to send through commands a la /connect and /join, rhapsody handles much of that through drop-down menus.

Just in that little flair, I find I like rhapsody much better than irssi. irssi has its charms and I’ve taken a lot of time to learn it, but it seems that what I’ve always been looking for was something like rhapsody.

Sorry. I just always prefer a console application that keeps the drop-down menu approach. To each his own, no?

I know, everybody has those scripts and irssi perks they like. I’m fine with that. I’m just not enough of a chat user to care if they’re available in rhapsody or not.

And I suppose it should be mentioned that rhapsody’s last release was 2005. If that matters to you, so long as a program works.

rhapsody is not in Debian but is in AUR … but the AUR version will take a little kicking to get it working, or you’ll end up with a 0.00Mb install size. It’s worth it, trust me. πŸ˜‰