How To Create Your Own Private IRC Channel/Room

222271430_d833395bd1 Before the world went crazy about Twitter and Google Wave, there was something called IRC (Internet Relay Chat). In this post, I am not going to tell you how I used to enjoy IRC so many years agoor how things have changedsince then, because last week was the first time I experienced IRC to a considerable extent.

About four years ago, when I started using the Internet, Yahoo messenger was ruling the roost in Internet chat.  Everyone used it, so did I. I did hear of IRC back then, but ignored it, just because of the fact that it was old’. Although I got a taste of it when I tried out Ubuntu, I didn’t quite get the hang of it at that time. GTalk and Twitter triumphed.

We, the authors at Techie Buzz, frequently have conferences and group chats. Almost everytime, we create a room at TinyChat and hop in. It’s quick and easy, but the room had to be created everytime and it was not password protected. Moreover, there were not enough controls to please the geeks.  Move on, think of an alternative, we thought. Then it struck me, old is gold! IRC! I went ahead and got a private room which no one but the right people can join, and believe me it was easy. I’ll tell you how you can also create your own private room on IRC in a few minutes:

Choosing an IRC Client

Before we go ahead, you’ll need to download an IRC client. If you use Firefox, ChatZilla is a Firefox add-on that will allow you to perform chats using IRC from within the browser. If you prefer to use IRC from your desktop, Nettalk is the preferred alternative. These are two of my recommended clients for IRC. You can find more options for your own operating system in this list of IRC clients.

Selecting a Server

The next step involves setting up servers/networks. Think of a channel  as a small room, among many rooms in a hotel. To create a channel, you will need to enter a server first. You can create as many channels on a server as you wish, of course, rules and regulations for each server are different.

For this guide, we will be using Foonetic as our network/server. You can use any other server, depending on their rules.


Create and Register a Nickname

Let’s get it going. Pull up your geek socks. Open up Nettalk and enter /server The program will open the foonetic IRC server for you. Now you’ll need a nickname, just like you’d need one for twitter and email. To create your nickname, type  /nick nickname and press Enter. Replace nickname with your desired nickname. If the nickname is not available, try a different one.


Just like the government keeps a record of all newborn babies, an IRC nickname server will keep record of all the registered nicknames. This prevents users from registering duplicate nicknames on the same server. You can register your nickname so that no one else can grab it when you log off.

In IRC world, the ministry of nicknames is called NickServ. To register your nickname, type /msg nickserv register password email. Replace password and email with your desired values. The server will reply with a confirmation. In a short while, you will receive an email at the email address you registered. The email will contain a confirmation code from the server.

To verify your email address, type the command as it appears in the email message in the IRC server window. When that is done, the server will give a confirmation that your email has been verified. The next time you wish to login with your username, type /msg nickserv identify password and replace password with your password.

Create and Register a Room

Give yourself a pat on the back, you just created your username!  To start chatting on IRC, you need to create or join an existing room.  Think of a name for you room, and type /join #channelname. You will need to add a “#” before the channelname. If the room you want to join already exists, you will be entered into the room. However, if the room does not exist, the server will create a new room with the name you provided.

Congratulations, you have just created a functional room in IRC. You can now invite your friends and chat with them. However, like Tinychat, this room is not reserved permanently. You will have to register this room with ChanServ, a service that handles channel registrations.To register your channel, type /msg chanserv register #channelname password description. Replace channelname with the name of your channel, which you created earlier, and replace password and description with obvious values.


The password you set here will give you founder-level rights when you log in next time. Note, this password doesn’t password protect the room. It just recognizes you as the founder of the channel and assigns the channel to your nick (It will make you the channel operator). Initially, you will be logged in automatically. The next time, use /msg chanserv identify #channelname password and the server will give you founder-level access to your room.You can enter your room by typing /join #channelname.

The channel is now ready for regular use. Invite your friends and have a blast, but it is still not restricted. Until you set a password for the room, any user will be able to access it by typing /join #channelname. So let’s make it password protected.

Password Protecting Your Room

You can set a password for your channel by using /mode #channelname +k password. People can then join the channel with /join #channel password. If you login as the founder of the channel, as explained in the last step, you won’t need to use the password now.

Although the channel is password protected now, it is visible in the rooms list of the server. Set your new channel to secret by typing /mode #mynewchannel +s. If you don’t mind your new channel being public, don’t do anything. All new channels are automatically public.

Accessing the Private Room

Voila! You are done! Your password protected and secret IRC channel has just been made. Your friends might ask how they open it, right? Give them these three points:

  1. Type the command  /server [or the server you chose]
  2. Get a nickname with /nick nickname. Also consider registering it with /msg nickserv register password email.
  3. Join room with /join #channelname password (append password if you password protected it, if not, just drop the value.)

What do you think of it? Will you start using IRC (again)? Or do you think this is too geeky? Let me know your comments below! I am looking forward to them!

(Image Courtesy: Flickr user Mammal)

More Resources:

Wikihow | IRC Help | Wikipedia | NickServ Commands | ChanServ Commands | List of All Commands

Published by

Keshav Khera

Keshav Khera is a young freelance writer from India. Alongside writing for the web, he also attends school and tries not to bunk classes. He keeps interest in music, table tennis, reading and of course, twitter (@keshav)

  • Igor Cemim

    Great tutorial!
    Very useful!


    • John


      I have a question, how can we keep it persistently? When I do this, I lose the room when I log out. Is there any way to keep it indefinitely?


      • Did you register your room?

  • Excellent article "old is Gold" is on point! The internet was a blank canvas when irc was king and I miss the "free cyberspace" feel, void of Government corruption and "corporatewhorism" control. Now everyone(who heavily plugs publicly) has some financial stake in FB, Twit, Goog, etc. Kids should be protected by firewalls and programmed routers, but the internet should never be controlled by Whorporations. Now most sites tell us what browser brand we must have in order to just view sites??? What happened to WWW standards? If your browser has xhtml, java, html, WAP the site should just work (void of the extra fancy stuff if it is and older or less powerful browser) I should NEVER get a warning UPGRADE NOW TO "brand", or this "brand"!?!?!

  • Cool article.. i used to use mIRC when I was ten

  • francis boyd

    wow still as hard for me to grasp as it was 10yrs ago but thx to u for this excellent tutorial, i managed to understand alot more about the "Hows" n "Why's".

    am more confident in setting up a room and password protecting myself, friends, family also in making it secret.

    i feel so much more secure.

  • I've also used IRC only a few times for Ubuntu and later, WordPress (I think). Great for public/community support.

    As geeky as you can be, I don't think having to note so many commands and stuff is worth it. If it was for something important (and makes you money), I'd spend a small fraction of it on some premium online chat tools (like the 37signals one).

    • You don’t really have to note them down. Most modern clients (Nettalk, mIRC, XChat…) can save your commands in a “commands to execute after login” kind of list. So just dump your commands in there, double click the server name, and you’ll be ready to go without entering a single command again (if you are a casual user).

      Thanks for the comment, Sumesh.

  • cool article.. It is really very useful..

  • Stephanie

    Thanks for posting this! My friends and I use IRC ALL THE TIME and I am really bad at it. This really helps! It is totally geeky. That’s why we like it :)

    • Glad I could help, Stephanie. :)

  • I have got both Instantbird Messenger and Pidgin on my computer and I am using both of these messengers to connect to IRC channels. And they work in IRC without any problem. If you type your password for your registered nickname in the password space when you set up your IRC account username in Instantbird and Pidgin. It will save it for you so you are automatically logged in next time you connect to that IRC network server. I don’t think IRC chat messengers have this setting. Do they? Andrea Borman.

  • This is excellent! Very very! well written I was able to follow it to a T!

  • anthony

    Only change to your instructions are:

    For setting a Password on a room – You will need to use the “/msg Chanserv set #roomname MLOCK +k password” command as by default the +k is disabled.

    Otherwise an excellent guide.

    • Keshav

      This is correct. Thanks for pointing it out.

  • Excellent Article! Clearly written instructions!

  • Lucky

    Just a note, Foonetic is now using Atheme, which means this guide is outdated. In particular, ChanServ no longer has an identify command.