back to article Slacking off? It used to be there was pretty much one place to chat with your fellow developers: IRC

IRC is crusty, ancient, and still far and away the best group chat system currently available. IRC is the best chat system precisely because it is a system. It is a protocol, not just an app, and even better it is a loosely federated protocol. The IRC system is a federated protocol around which a galaxy of clients (apps if you …

  1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge
    Paris Hilton


    "since the Zulip installer takes care of everything, even installing system software like a Postgresql database,"

    ew gross. Why? Why not just provide a .deb and a .rpm?

    1. Ozan

      Re: ew

      AT least, it's not a docker image.

      1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

        Re: ew

        At least a Docker image wouldn't clobber your system.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ew

      If you've tried packaging a non-trivial Django app as a .deb or an .rpm, you'll know why.

      It's all about the python package dependencies in the base OS, which are usually either several years out of date, or missing completely.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: ew

        So include those in the package. There are mechanisms for managing Python dependencies so you can deal with outdated systems. Alternatively, have the installation process rely on those dependencies and then check at install time whether they're met satisfactorily. If not, you can still do the full install method.

        Even with that, there's no need for it to install a database server for you. Make it clear it needs a Postgres installation, and ask for credentials just like everything else which has a database does. A user can easily install the database from their package repositories and let the install scripts do all the setup if they don't want to manage that themselves.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: ew

          "Make it clear it needs a Postgres installation, and ask for credentials just like everything else which has a database does."

          +1. That's one of the things package managers do pretty well. You can even specify version requirements for the dependencies.

          1. AVee

            Re: ew

            Better still, if you use dbconfig in the Debian package it can create a database and database users during install, generate passwords and create the config file with database settings. That way you you can have a fully working system after install.

    3. jasonbrown1965

      Re: ew

      . . .

      +1 from a nix pov ?

      ".. ew gross ..."

      Very late to this of course, but yours remains top comment after near three years, relatively. Upvoted, and (vaguely) understand the essential nature of reasons for the download options you mention. My but, tho, is this: as a 2024 refugee from myriad other social networks, when does (rightful) nix guardianship cross over into unintentional FUD for non-nix newcomers?

      Case study: evaluating open-source software for, in order of importance, towards helping youth fight their own battles, including #childabuse

      a) open-source

      b) privacy

      c) usability

      To reverse that order of importance = no usability = no privacy = no open source or closed source apps successfully deployed. Zulip is the closest I've found to closing those gaps. I get the technical misgivings about the installer, all I ask as a journo trying to share info tools, please give context.

      For example,

      " Ew, why did such a good app do such a silly, relatively minor thing? Not a biggie for 99% of use-cases, but for life-or-death situations, beyond important. "

      Or something similar, I dunno, just despair sometimes at reading user reviews, while trying to make the right software decisions, for the right people.

      Help me. Help us.



      . . .

  2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Old times

    When the network access was restricted and it was "compiling", the fun was just ssh and irssi away.

  3. sreynolds

    Just skip slack altogether

    The is a direct correlation between how much easier it is for someone to write/publish something, and the quantity of information that is conveyed.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    it's sad to see how few people even know what IRC is these days, and most organisations just automatically adopt whatever cruft Microsoft throws at them as default in Office. When managers and senior developers in tech companies ask me what git is, and whether it's "some kind of facebook thing like slack", my soul dies a little more each day.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Look at the bright side : at least they're enquiring about it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Had a manager once suggest that we didn't need git because, "we're agile"

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        they weren't enquiring - they were responding to my enquiring as to why they didn't have it, sadly.

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "Zulip is doing it right"

    Thank you, El Reg, for regularly bringing me nuggets of useful information like this.

    I'm going to keep a link on this article and I'll check Zulip out as far as I can. I'm sure I'll be referring Zulip to my contacts in a short time.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Zulip is doing it right"

      I've also tested many different options like Slack,, mattermost and some other(s) that I already forgot and Zulip was clearly the best of the bunch.

      The problem is it's strength (the topics) would not go down well to non-technical users who are used to twatter and faecesbook and want to just fart their messages out.

      Nonetheless some day I will force it for the users. Would save a few thousand per month and it might even integrate with the on-prem directory service.

      I encourage everyone to try Zulip.

  6. John 73

    Another good alternative

    Another good alternative to the disorganised chaos of Slack and IRC is Twist ( It's like an even-more-organised version of Zulip. It's fully thread-based, and provides each thread with its own home. Much calmer and more useful long-term than something like Slack or Discord. It's not open-source but, apart from that, well worth checking out. It's about the same price as Zulip (a bit cheaper, actually) but you can't self-host.

    (No connection other than being a user!)

  7. The Central Scrutinizer

    I used to belong to a 3D graphics SIG on IRC many years ago. We used to share tips and tricks, engage in discussions about this and that. It was actually really good. Social media before there was the abomination that is now called "social media".

  8. Alepoldar

    Might be worth looking at for me. Matrix is sold on a similar promise, but it's very unpleasant to work with.

    1. redpola

      My only issue with matrix is that the client is buggy and the devs just seem weird.

      I raised a defect report which meant that essentially the iOS app was unusable (IIRC it actually made portions of messages unreadable/blank with no workaround other than “use a different client”) and this wasn’t prioritised as a showstopper. Not only wasn’t it fixed in the next release but I dunno if it even got fixed, and this was no minor annoyance of a bug- it manifested in almost every conversation.

      One would have thought that losing incoming text into a permanent abyss might be something of a problem for a communication program, but no, apparently not.

      The dev team also annoy me by bizarrely using TestFlight backwards. They release the iOS app to the App Store and then release the same build on TestFlight, uh, for… testing?

  9. karlkarl Silver badge

    For me, IRC is actually getting better again. All the added "noise" has moved onto Slack, Discord, etc.

    Back when I first started using it ~2000, there was pretty much just as many knowledgeable people on there as there is today 20 years later.

    I.e if you go into a 3D graphics channel, I find the quality of discussion much better. Mainly because those who want quick thrills (No offense to you Unity3D guys!) would simply be on another media and won't be cluttering up the room.

  10. Sparkus

    problem being...

    no one could figure out how to make $$$ from IRC, you know, like uunet used to be.....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: problem being...

      Lee sure is trying....

  11. steelpillow Silver badge


    Me truly know nothing about chat artitectures. Why need server for peer-to-peer chat? Why not keep list of friends like email address book? Then we need to little more than give our mail/address book apps a chat protocol alongside mailto/pop3/smtp/webmail/blahblahblah.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: ignoramus

      "Why need server for peer-to-peer chat? Why not keep list of friends like email address book?"

      Because most chat systems allow someone to join. That means the person joining needs a place to contact with a request to join and everyone involved would need to update addresses. If you have ten nodes in the network, that's ten possibilities to have different contact lists until they all figure out what they're doing and sync it. If you send big messages (files mostly), then you need to send ten copies even if nine of the people don't intend on using it. Also, you need to relearn everybody's IP addresses each time they change, which can be a lot if using the IPV6 privacy extensions or on an unstable IPV4 network.

      "Then we need to little more than give our mail/address book apps a chat protocol alongside mailto/pop3/smtp/webmail/blahblahblah."

      You can put the chat protocol into your mail client if you want to. It won't do that much other than keeping it all in one process.

    2. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

      Re: ignoramus

      I'm not sure why the downvotes were necessary.

      Because you need to coordinate who is who. If we both have P2P chat accounts without a server and we want to talk, how do we find each other?

      A central server allows for global addressing.

    3. -v(o.o)v-

      Re: ignoramus

      Because it is decidedly not a peer to peer chat! Duh!!

      It does have DCC extensions for p2p.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's EYE ARE SEE, not ERK!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It is if it annoys you -- IRK!

      1. AnonEMusk Noel

        IRKsome, i suppose

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounding like an XKCD character?

    Yes, but not the one he's thinking of.

  14. JustaBod

    Only one chat window

    IRC wins by the very fact you can have several chat windows next to each other so you can multiple conversations at the same time. Newer chat apps are so inefficient to use.

    I use them, but I hate them

  15. Blackjack Silver badge

    You forgot problem Zero, get people to use the thing.

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