IRC via Telnet

Ever wanted to get on IRC without a client on the command line? Well you can, and it’s pretty easy, using IRC’s protocol syntax. All you need is a box with or without X, the telnet program (included by default in most linux distros), and an IRC server. Feel free to try this out on ProtoFusion’s IRC server, irc://

Start out by telnetting to your server, in this example, ProtoFusion’s IRC server on the default port for IRC

telnet 6667

Now you should see something like this: NOTICE AUTH :*** Looking up your hostname… NOTICE AUTH :*** Found your hostname (cached)

If not, ensure that your port and server settings are correct. Now that you’re connected, you need to set your nickname and your user info. This is done with a simple series of commands:

USER your name * * :Your Description
NICK yournickname

Now you should see some log-on output, and you should autojoin #protofusion if you’re on If not, you cna join channels with the JOIN [channel] command. Of course you will probably want to talk in the channel, which is a bit tedious uneless you put the first part in your clipboard.

PRIVMSG #protofusion Write your message text here

The privmsg command can also be used with a username instaed of a channel to PM an individual IRC user. Other stuff you may want to know:

  • The server usually pings users every once and a while, and you need to “pong” back to the server so your session doesn’t time out and disconnect. If the server sends you a “PING” or the like, you must respond “PONG” in a somewhat timely fashion, depending on the server’s configuration.
  • Your connection can also time out if you d on’t set your USER and NICK data in a timely fashion

Ethan is a computer engineer and open source hardware/software developer from Michigan. He enjoys AVR and linux development, photography, mountain biking, and drinking significant amounts of home-roasted coffee. Find out more at

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