What is IRC?
IRC (Internet Relay Chat) is a form of communication between multiple users. It is available freely to anyone with inernet access. IRC is a great way to communicate with others e.g. There is an IRC channel for Ubuntu Linux, which is for either asking for help with something Ubuntu related, or just generally talking about Ubuntu (there are many IRC networks, such as IRCNet, EFNet, Undernet, and you would have to be connected to the right network to have access to that channel). But, it's not just for that, it can also be a place to meet friends who have similar interests, which may really help you in the fututre. Here you will learn the basics of IRC.
An IRC client is a software applications that will allow you to access the wide variety of channels and servers around the world. There are many clients you can use to use to connect to IRC servers, like mIRC, XChat and ChatZilla (FireFox plugin). These are the most widely know clients, and are freely available from their respective websites.
Servers are the place you will connect to, so that you are able to join a channel on that server, an example of server is irc.freenode.net . Once you have connected to a server, you will be able to join one of the channels on the server. To connect to a server, use /server <server hostname/IP>:<port> , although the port is usually not needed, as most IRC servers host on port 6667, which is the default port that the client makes it's attempt to connect to.
A channel is a "chat room" in which you will join after you have connected to a server. Most clients will bring up a list of available channels once you have connected. An example of a channel would be #Ubuntu. A channel's name will always start with "#". You can join a channel by using the /join <#channel> command. Once you have joined a channel, you will be able to able to talk to any of the respective users in the channel. You can say whatever you want in the channel (as long as it is not against the rules, such as offensive language).
These are the commands you will be able to use while in a channel. They are the basic commands you should know for using an IRC client. They are as follows:
/nick <name> - This will change your nickname to <name>.
/me <text> - This will show up as if your user was saying or doing something from a third person view, e.g. typing "/me shrugs" and your username was John, it would say "John shrugs." in the chat.
/server <hostname/IP> - Joins a server
/channel <#channel> - Joins a channel.
/clear - Clears the chat in the currently active chat window.
/clearall - Clears the chat in all chat windows.
/motd - Displays the message of the day.
Congratulations, you have learned the basics of IRC. You now know what you need to join the vastly growing community of IRC users.