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


Install irssi, available in the Official Repositories.

You may also want to install irssi-systemd.


Personal configuration file should be located at ~/.irssi/config. 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
  • It sometimes might happen that umlauts are not correctly displayed. To fix this problem you have to set the right encoding with the following commands directly in irssi.
/set recode_autodetect_utf8 ON 
/set recode_fallback CP1252

Auto-connect to #archlinux on startup

Start irssi and then type the following in it:

/server add -auto -network fn

fn is a common abbreviation for the freenode network, but any preferred word can be substituted for it (e.g. foo).

Now to automatically identify your nick for a given password, type:

/network add -nick user -autosendcmd "/^msg nickserv IDENTIFY *******" fn

where user is the nick with which you registered to nickserv and ******* is the password for that nick, replace fn with the word that you used in the first command (e.g foo) if that is the case.

Note: Password will be visible when you type it and also it can be seen in ~/.irssi/config, so you can omit this step if you want to.
/channel add -auto #archlinux fn
/channel add -auto #archlinux-offtopic fn

Hide joins, parts, and quits

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

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

Basic Usage

Note: This section assumes you already know the basics of IRC and have used other clients in the past. For a more detailed introduction check the official documentation.

To start irssi issue the following command in a terminal:

$ irssi

Many people prefer to run irssi within a terminal multiplexer since some scripts like the script are dependent on a secondary window. Additionally, it allows the user to easily disconnect and reconnect to a session. Therefore, it is recommended that you select a multiplexer (e.g. GNU Screen or tmux) and review how it functions.


/server /s These change the server of the current network.
/connect /c These open a new connection to a server. This is what you want to use in order to connect to multiple servers simultaneously (Ctrl+X switches between multiple servers).
/disconnect /dc These close the current connection to a server.
ALT+(1-0,q-p,etc) Changes the currently active window. Or use Ctrl+n for the next window or Ctrl+p for the previous window.
/window 1 /w 1 Takes you to the first window. Windows go from are numbered across the top of your keyboard (1-0) and then start on the next row down (q-p).
/window close /wc These close the current window.
/window move 1 /w move 1 These move the current window to the first window position.
/layout save This will save the current window positions for the next time you start irssi.
/set This shows a list of all your current settings.
/help This provides a helpful description/explanation for whatever parameter provided.
/alias Lets you create your own shortcuts.

Script installation

As an example, this section will outline the installation of a spell checking script.

Install ispell, an interactive spell-checking program for Unix:

# pacman -S ispell

Create a directory to hold your irssi scripts and within that, a directory that contains scripts which will be automatically run when starting irssi:

$ mkdir -p ~/.irssi/scripts/autorun

Download the irssi spell-checking script, into the script directory:

$ cd ~/.irssi/scripts
$ wget .

As root run the following command:

# perl -MCPAN -e 'install Lingua::Ispell'

If you do not want to use CPAN review [1].

Start irssi and load the spell-checking script:

/script load
- - Irssi: Loaded script spell

Bind Template:Keypress to spell check your current line.

/bind meta-s /_spellcheck

If you want to autorun the script when you start irssi, just link the script into the autorun folder:

$ cd ~/.irssi/scripts/autorun/
$ ln -s ../ .

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=$(pidof 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

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're 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 dnsutils 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.

<ip> 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