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Home >Workshop Wisdom > Full Story

Setting up your own IRC server}
By Anurag Phadke

Want to setup an IRC server for your website? Here's how

<alsie> Hi there max, hw r u?

<max> fine ty, gtg catch u l8r.

Is that proper English? Not for my High School English Teacher perhaps. But for millions of chat fans, this is a perfect statement with no grammatical mistakes, the new chat lingo.

Before Instant Messengers (IM's) became popular, IRC (Internet Relay Chat) was the most preferred mode of real time communication on the Internet. Companies like Talkcity use IRC services for hosting chat/celebrity events, discussing hot topics and latest technology with one another. Furthermore you can customize it as per your preferences.

UnrealIRCd (Unreal server) is one of the most popular IRC server that is available for free. It runs on both Windows and Linux, and is highly configurable. Setting up UnrealIRCd is relatively simple; just follow the steps below to get started.

Setting up UnrealIRCD on Windows

Let's first install it on a UnrealIRCd Windows box.

For installing UnrealIRCd on Windows, download it from unrealircd.com/download/Unreal3.2-beta2.zip.Window users should skip the ./Config and other sections and just read the UnrealIRCd configuration section. It's pretty much the same for both the operating systems. Just copy the example.conf from /doc directory to your main directory. Rename this directory as unrealircd.conf and double click on wircd.

Setting up UnrealIRCD on Linux

For setting up UnrealIRCD on Linux download the 1096 KB file from unrealircd.com/download/Unreal3.2-beta2.tar.gz.

Install the Unreal IRC server using the following commands:

cp /location/of/downloaded/file / 'Copies the Unreal file from the downloaded directory to /

tar xzvf Unreal3-2-beta2.tar.gz 'Untars the Unreal file

cd Unreal3.2 'Changes directory to Unreal3.2

./Config 'command to configure the IRCD server

The config tool shall ask you a few. If you are installing the server for the first time, we suggest stick to the following alternatives.

Do you have an insecure operating system and therefore want to use the server anti-spoof protection?

[No] -> Yes

What directory are all the server configuration files in?

[/Unreal3.2] -> {Press Enter}

Pressing Enter shall use the value inside the bracket. ie. /Unreal3.2 in this case.

What is the path to the ircd binary including the name of the binary?

[/Unreal3.2/src/ircd] -> {Press Enter}

Would you like to compile as a hub or as a leaf?

[Hub] -> Leaf

A Hub is used to provide multiple links to other IRC servers at your own network. Since we are installing as a single server on our network, option Leaf is used.

What is the hostname of the server running your IRCd?

[localhost.localdomain] -> {Press Enter}

If you want to use any other hostname like foo.com, make sure that you have proper setup for the same and entry has been made in /etc/hosts file.

What should the default permissions for your configuration files be?

[0600] -> {Press Enter}

This is similar to the permissions option that we use in UNIX. Setting it to 0777 shall allow read/write/exec privileges for any person to read the configuration file. The configuration files should be considered as a classified piece of data and therefore care should be taken to avoid unauthorized read privilege. The 0600 mode prevents unwanted reading of files.

Do you want to support SSL connections?

[No] -> {Press Enter}

Secure Sockets Layer provides secured connections over the network. Though this makes the connections a bit slow, it is highly recommended for people who care utmost about security and privacy. Enabling SSL ensures privacy for users. You need to use self signed certificates (not trusted by everyone) or get them signed at sici.ircsystems.net. This service is free of cost you only need to convince the administrators that the server really belongs to you.

Do you want to use encrypted oper {} passwords?

[No] -> {Press Enter}

This uses the crypt() library which is an Operating System's feature. Press Enter for the remaining encrypt options if you don't want to encrypt the passwords. Type yes to use encryption techniques.

Do you want to enable IPv6 support?

[No] -> {Press Enter}

IPv6 support for Unreal IRC is under testing. Most of the systems use IPv4. Unless your system specifically uses IPv6, we recommend you blindly press enter for the above option.

For the next few questions, just press enter to make use of the default options. Standard values are listed and should be changed only to fine tune the server.

Once the questionnaire has been answered, compilation shall config UnrealIRCd. Changes made to the system shall be mailed to you on your root email account. Keep this email as a reference.

Just type make on your shell and unrealircd shall now compile your IRC server.

Only compilation is achieved by the above command. You still need to configure the IRC server in accordance to your needs.

UnrealIRCd configuration

Type the following:

#cp doc/example.conf unrealircd.conf 'copies doc/example.conf to the parent directory as unrealircd.conf

Now open your favorite editor to edit the unrealircd.conf file and make the following changes. Unlike previous Unreal configuration files, the unrealircd.conf contains all the required information. The file is coded in C/C++ format and is not compatible with previous versions. One doesn't need additional knowledge of C/C++ to get the server working; editing/replacing some of the parts of the config file shall do the trick.

me

{

name "irc.chitchat.com"; /*Name by which the server should be recognized */

info "Chatter Box Server"; /*Description of the server */

numeric 1; /*Sends server token instead of server name to save bandwidth when linked to other IRC servers*/

};

admin {"Chit Chatter"; /* Name of the admin */

"chitchat"; /* Nick name of the admin */

"chatter@chitchat.com"; /* email id. of the admin */

};

Worried about unauthorized access to your server? You can assign a default password such "f00Ness" (0=zero) so every user needs to know the password before logging onto the server. This is a cumbersome method and tends to drive away more users than attract them. Just delete the password line that appears in the allow class.

Starting IRC

In /*Server specific configuration */, you need to change the kline-address value to a valid email id.

kline-address "chatisgood@goody.com";

Change the DNS entry to the one that corresponds to your machine.

dns {

nameserver 127.0.0.1; /*IP address of the server to connect to */

timeout 2s; /* Timeout if it cannot resolve address of the server within 2 secs. */

retires 2s; /* Retry connecting to the server after 2 secs. */

};

Now that we are finished making the configuration file, let's start our IRC server. It's not recommended to run IRCd as root. So create another user id "cbca" using linuxconf utility. You can even use 'adduser' for adding users.

We need to assign the ownership of "Unreal" directory to "cbca"

#chown -R cbca.cbca /Unreal3.2

Login to "cbca" and goto Unreal3.2 directory.

#./src/ircd

Above command shall open the unrealircd.conf file and check it for errors. If none are found, it shall only prepare to boot IRCd and not actually boot it.

To boot/start IRCd, type

#./ircd 'Starts ircd process

#ps -ux 'Checks whether IRCd service has been started or not

There might be a distinct possibility, that port 6667 may be used by some other service. In such a case, edit unrealircd.conf and remove all lines that have port 6667 written against them. If you follow the instructions in this article, then you can connect to 127.0.0.1, port 8067.

Save the file and rehash it using the following command:

#./rehash

Once you make changes to the configuration file, you need to reload it. With Unreal, you can use the rehash command to reload the configuration file only and not the entire service.

You can now invite your friends/family members as you can kick/ban and k-line them on your own server. Try connecting using BitchX or Kirc, the free forum of speech awaits you.

Guess that's pretty much it!. See you @ IRC soon :)

Anurag Phadke can be reached at cbca@mantraonline.com

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