From ArchWiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Related articles

irssi is a modular, ncurses based IRC (Internet Relay Chat) client. It also supports SILC and ICB protocols via plugins.


Install the irssi package.

Several scripts are available in the AUR under irssi-script, and in the irssi script repository.


For a detailed introduction see the official documentation.

Note: This section assumes you already know the basics of IRC and have used other clients in the past

A terminal multiplexer such as tmux or Screen is recommended. It allows the user to easily disconnect and reconnect to a session, and scripts such as depend on a secondary window. To start irssi, run:

$ irssi


Command Description
/server, /s Change the server of the current network.
/connect, /c Open a new connection to a server. This is used to connect to multiple servers simultaneously (Ctrl+Shift+x switches between multiple servers).
/disconnect, /dc Closes the current connection to a server.
ALT+(1-0,q-p,etc) Changes the currently active window. Ctrl+n cycles to the next window, Ctrl+p to the previous window.
/window 1 Go to the first window. Windows are ordered by the first two rows on the keyboard: (1-0), (q-p).
/window close, /wc Close the current window.
/window move 1 Move the current window to the first window position.
/layout save Save the current window positions for later use.
/set Show a list of current settings.
/help Describe a provided parameter.
/alias Create a shortcut.


Personal configuration file should be located at ~/.irssi/config; there is a template available in /etc/irssi.conf. You can start irssi with an alternate config file using the --config flag.

  • You can use /save to save your current configuration to the config file.
  • You can save the location of your currently opened windows by entering /layout save

Authenticating with SASL

Tip: Irssi version 0.8.18 now supports built-in SASL.

In order to add network with sasl mechanism here's an example:

/SERVER ADD -auto -ssl -ssl_verify -ssl_capath /etc/ssl/certs -network freenode -port 6697
/NETWORK ADD -sasl_mechanism plain -sasl_username <username> -sasl_password <password> freenode

  • Make sure to use the correct capitalization for the network name.
  • First command line is for adding server with #SSL Connection
  • If you have an existing network, then type second command line only.
  • If your password contains $, you have to prefix it with another $ for irssi to properly parse it.

Restart irssi, connect network and look for "SASL authentication succeeded".

Automatically connect to #archlinux on startup

Start irssi and then type the following in it:

/server add -auto -network freenode

freenode can be substituted for any preferred word, such as the common abbreviation fn.

Ensure SASL is configured correctly. You may use NickServ manually with -autosendcmd instead of SASL, but this causes a race condition when automatically joining channels. If desired, authenticate using SSL certificates, instead of passwords with NickServ.

/channel add -auto #archlinux freenode
/channel add -auto #archlinux-offtopic freenode

SSL Connection

Freenode uses port 6697, 7000 and 7070 for SSL connections (not 6667). To connect to Freenode IRC network via SSL you have to setup an new connection. Start irssi and run:

/server add -auto -ssl -ssl_verify -ssl_capath /etc/ssl/certs -network freenode -port 6697

Save your new settings with:


If everything works you will see the "Z" mode set. It should look like this: "Mode change (+Zi) for user your-nick"

Client certificates

Freenode and OFTC support authentication using SSL certificates, providing an alternative to plaintext passwords. See Freenode's Identifying with CERTFP and Creating an SSL Certificate for more extensive details.

To create an password-less certificate that is valid for 730 days (when requested to enter details like state or even Common Name (CN), you can fill anything you want):

$ openssl req -newkey rsa:2048 -days 730 -x509 -keyout irssi.key -out irssi.crt -nodes 
$ cat irssi.crt irssi.key > ~/.irssi/irssi.pem
$ chmod 600 ~/.irssi/irssi.pem
$ rm irssi.crt irssi.key

Next, find out the corresponding fingerprint:

$ openssl x509 -sha1 -fingerprint -noout -in ~/.irssi/irssi.pem | sed -e 's/^.*=//;s/://g;y/ABCDEF/abcdef/'

This will write the fingerprint to stdout. (The sed command is there to format the fingerprint correctly by removing unwanted text and characters.) Copy the fingerprint string as you will register it in irssi shortly.

In irssi, disconnect from the network and add the client certificate and keys. Omit the -ssl_pass option if your certificate was built without a password:

/disconnect Freenode
/server add -ssl_cert ~/.irssi/irssi.pem  -ssl_pass <irssi.pem_password> -network freenode 6697

Now connect (not /reconnect) and register your fingerprint

/connect Freenode
/msg NickServ identify YOUR_PASSWORD
/msg NickServ cert add YOUR_FINGERPRINT

At this point, you can remove your password from the configuration file (if you saved it in there) and save your config with:


Automatic logging

/SET autolog ON

Hide joins, parts, and quits

In order to ignore showing of joining, leaving and quiting of users for all channels type the following in irssi:

/ignore * joins
/ignore * parts
/ignore * quits

See smartfilter to restrict join messages to active users.

Tips and tricks

HTTP Proxy

To use irssi behind a HTTP proxy, the following commands are required:

/SET use_proxy ON
/SET proxy_address <Proxy host address>
/SET proxy_port <Proxy port>
/SET -clear proxy_string
/SET proxy_string_after conn %s %d
/EVAL SET proxy_string CONNECT %s:%d HTTP/1.0\n\n

irssi should then alter its config file correspondingly; if the proxy is not required, just set use_proxy to OFF.

Should the proxy require a password, try:

/SET proxy_password your_pass


/SET -clear proxy_password
Note: SSL behind a proxy will fail with these settings.

irssi with nicklist in tmux

The irssi plugin 'nicklist' offers to add a pane listing the users on the channel currently viewed. It has two methods to do this:

  • screen, which simply adds the list to the right of irssi, but brings the disadvantage that the entire window gets redrawn every time irssi prints a line.
  • fifo, which like the name suggests writes the list into a fifo that can then be continuously read with e. g. cat ~/.irssi/nicklistfifo.

nicklist will use the more efficient fifo with:


This fifo can be used in a tmux window split vertically with irssi in its left pane and the cat from above in a small one in its right. Since the pane is dependent on its creating tmux session's geometry, a subsequent session with a different one needs to recreate it (which also implies a switch in irssi windows to refill the fifo).

E. g., the following script first checks for a running irssi, presumed to have been run by a previous execution of itself. Unless found it creates a new tmux session, a window named after and running irssi and then the pane with cat. If however irssi was found it merely attaches to the session and recreates the cat pane.


T3=$(pgrep -u $USER -x irssi)

irssi_nickpane() {
    tmux setw main-pane-width $(( $(tput cols) - 21));
    tmux splitw -v "cat ~/.irssi/nicklistfifo";
    tmux selectl main-vertical;
    tmux selectw -t irssi;
    tmux selectp -t 0;

irssi_repair() {
    tmux selectw -t irssi
    (( $(tmux lsp | wc -l) > 1 )) && tmux killp -a -t 0

if [ -z "$T3" ]; then
    tmux new-session -d -s main;
    tmux new-window -t main -n irssi irssi;
    irssi_nickpane ;
    tmux attach-session -d -t main;
    irssi_repair ;
exit 0
Tip: Instead of doing all this work, this plugin does all the work needed for a nice nicklist inside tmux.

Virtual hostname (vhost)

A vhost can be used to change your hostname when connected to an IRC-server, commonly viewed when joining/parting or doing a whois. This is most commonly done on a server which have a static IP address. Without a vhost it would commonly look like so when doing a 'whois':

The result of a successfull vhost could be like so if you have the domain available:

Keep in mind that not every IRC-server supports the use of vhost. This might be individually set between the servers and not the network, so if you are experiencing issues with one server try another on the same network.

Required preconfigurations

irssi supports using a vhost as long as the required configurations has been set. This includes especially that your host supports Recursive DNS Lookup (rDNS) using Pointer record (PTR). Additionally you should add an appropriate line to your /etc/hosts file.

To see if this is working, test with the 'host' DNS lookup utility included in bind-tools like so (where ip is a normal IPv4 address):

host ip

If this returns something in the lines of this then you know that your rDNS is working. domain name pointer

Enabling the vhost

There are a couple of ways to connect to a server with a given hostname. One is using the 'server' command with a -host argument like so:

/server -host

Another way would be to set your hostname (vhost) with the 'set' command which will save your hostname to ~/.irssi/config:

/set hostname

See also