IRC is one of the easiest communication methods for online societies. For those that are unfamiliar with what IRC actually stands for – it’s an internet relay chat.
In more complex terms:
“Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is an application layer protocol that facilitates communication in the form of text. The chat process works on a client/server networking model. IRC clients are computer programs that a user can install on their system.”
Now, IRC is pretty popular. Because of this, it’s no surprise that literally dozens of IRC clients exist. With so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to find an IRC client that beats the rest.
Of course, your choice will also depend on what operating system you use. So to make things easier, let’s discuss the best option based on operating systems.
Windows/XP/Vista = mIRC
mIRC is probably the ultimate option for Windows operating systems. The installation is basic, the client itself is lightweight, and the customization options are plentiful. The best part about mIRC – in my opinion – is that it gives you a list of global IRC servers to choose from.
Of course, you can always specify another server manually.
Mac OS X = Textual
Textual is styled in a multi-column UI with different light/dark variants. Similar to mIRC in its lightweight capacity, the similarities continue as Textual offers all of the modern IRC features.
Some of the features include (but are not limited to):
- IPv6 support
- Complete compatibility with IRCv3 provisions
- Client-side certificate authentication
- Large variety of keyboard shortcuts
- iCloud synchronization of preferences
- Auto-completion for nicknames/commands
- Full text formatting
- ZNC integration
Linux = WeeChat
This potent and speedy IRC client is lightweight with extended capabilities at your leisure. With a large amount of plug-ins and scripts in addition to the included features, WeeChat is probably one of the best options in general. Fortunately, it is available on almost every operating system as well.