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In our company (web company, 35 people, engineering and business, OS X clients, linux servers), we're evaluating alternatives to Skype which we use mostly for group and user-to-user chat.

I've looked into IRC but saw two problems:

  1. when my IRC client is not connected to the server I miss the messages. That'd be a "no go". AFAIK there are "IRC bouncers" - but I'd like this to have this for all users per default, is there a IRC daemon which has this included?
  2. I'm wondering if business people would feel comfortable with IRC as it seems more like a "hacker tool" - any experience on this?

P.S. We've also looked into Jabber but IMO the clients on OS X are way behind clients like Colloquy or Linkinus

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

We're using Openfire+Spark on both Windows and Mac OSX clients, working just great. Even file transfers and screenshots work flawlessly.

The only thing I miss is VoIP integration, but it's said to be possible via Red5 server.

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openfire supports offline messages. i would rather stick with jabber than trying to enforce everything over irc. – akira Jul 7 '10 at 10:07
thanks for the hint with Spark - although the client is from 2007 it looks like "reduced to the max" – Philipp Keller Jul 7 '10 at 14:28
Just make sure you use the beta release for OS X clients (, and the latest MSI for Windows Clients ( – pauska Jul 7 '10 at 14:31

when my IRC client is not connected to the server I miss the messages. That'd be a "no go". AFAIK there are "IRC bouncers" - but I'd like this to have this for all users per default, is there a IRC daemon which has this included?

Maybe you want to take a look at Quassel IRC which is a kind of IRC bouncer with its own client. Quassel runs on Linux, Windows and Mac OS X (and basically any OS which is supported by Qt).

It supports disconnected operations which means that a client, which connects to a Quassel core will receive the backlog of the IRC channels which the Quassel core is connected to.

I personally would see XMPP/Jabber as the most appropriate solution for your problem and you should invest at least some time trying to solve the problems you've run into. Maybe try another XMPP server.

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thanks for the hint, gives me confidence to go more into the Jabber direction – Philipp Keller Jul 7 '10 at 14:28

My own solution to missing stuff on IRC is to run the client on a server... The likes of GNU Screen or tmux allow you to leave console based applications running in the background while you are logged off - the client I use is irssi.

As for your second question, you could point out the thousands of open source projects co-ordinated and developed over IRC. Point to freenode and OFTC as examples rather than efnet ;)

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I'm afraid screen and irssi or any other text-based IRC client is not quite compatible with the intended target audience. – joschi Jul 7 '10 at 10:42
indeed, console is not a fit for our business people :-) For me personally it is - I'm a screen fan – Philipp Keller Jul 7 '10 at 14:29

how about jabber?

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we've looked into Jabber (Adium as client, openfire as server), but we run into so many problems: 1. we didn't see if the other client was online 2. joining channels on Adium often just does nothing - no error, etc. Jabber felt so much behind IRC - especially the clients. – Philipp Keller Jul 7 '10 at 6:48

This question is old, but for anyone looking into this:

Could it be possible to connect to an about 100% uptime IRC-Server (there are lists, Google helps fast), and protect the channel then? The servers would "always" be online, with uptimes like "99,99%" or "99,95%" more reliable than most servers in a LAN (expect it'll be the server of the most perfect IT company ever - but not everyone has something like that). What's perfect about this is that there is connection about any IRC-client, even if (let's not hope so, but...) your servers break down.

Essentially, you have to do these things:

  1. Register the channel to the mailadress and admin username you wish.
  2. Set it to mode +s (not: +p). Then, your channel won't be shown in any channel list, this way cannot be seen by people you haven't given the channelname.
  3. Set mode to +k and set password. Only users knowing the password will be able to join the channel. Even if they knew it existed, they could only join with password.
  4. Care for a good client. Good IRC-clients don't require their users to be programmers or expert-users ("hackers" has never been required, btw). Good clients allow users to enter their username, their password if registered (and they can register via client, if you can realize that), maybe channelpassword and, if you let the decision which channel to join up to them, channelname and server. All these values can be entered in popular desktop clients, very good ones (from "made for nerd to feel at home"-style to "beginner-users are welcome" or truly professional appearance, everything is there to give the user the experience they wish). If you customize your web-client, you'll pre-enter values you don't want users to choose, and make the rest up to them (for example, username and user password). This also is not necessarily coding, depending on how much you want to give the client your own look and feel. You definitely don't have to write it from scratch. For server-side-running clients, I'd recommend CGI:IRC (the newest version only), or PJIRC as a friendly Java Applet.
  5. Set usermode to +x (masked hostname in /whois) for all users if you are able to do so. If your server does not seem to allow users setting +x on themselves, at least let a bot with operator-rights do that.

Depending on how you set up the look and feel, no user will feel they are entering the darker backstreets of the Internet, and no strangers will join and mess the channel up.

Clean, simple, easy to use and with you having good things to say ("We use SSL so all your data is transferred in safe ways.", "We are determined to provide you any kind of security possible.") about security, should that be a problem?

In fact, I never felt safe using Skype. Who could swear what is behind their codecs and so on? You're right IRC misses VOIP, but it really depends on the server, the channel admin and the end-users whether IRC is save.

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i would prefer jabber, especially the openfire server. if you dislike the jabber clients: try bitlbee as a "pseudo" irc-server you can connect to with your favorite irc-clients.

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The Subway project might help:

" The backend supports connection persistence and optional logging".

It's a nodejs/mongodb-backed web-based IRC client.

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