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irssi is a powerful text-mode IRC client for connecting to internet relay chat (IRC) networks. Non-standard features are implemented with perl scripts, rather than in the core. Irssi can range from a functional, no-frills client to a highly-customized and automated client.[1] Irssi can handle multiple IRC connections simultaneously, thus it is possible to be active in channels on different networks at the same time.[2]


USE flags

USE flags for net-irc/irssi A modular textUI IRC client with IPv6 support

otr Adds support for a loadable IRC otr module
perl Add optional support/bindings for the Perl language
proxy Adds support for a loadable IRC proxy module
selinux !!internal use only!! Security Enhanced Linux support, this must be set by the selinux profile or breakage will occur


Install net-irc/irssi:

root #emerge --ask net-irc/irssi

To run the program, simply open up a terminal and type irssi. Read the manual man irssi to see all available command-line options. More on using Irssi can be found in the usage section below.


The first time irssi is invoked by a user a configuration file will be created in ~/.irssi/config This can be modified with the /set command while in the client by typing /set option value. Typing /set by itself will display available options and their current values.

For changes to remain persistent over restarts, modify the configuration file found at ~/.irssi/config. See the following example:

FILE ~/.irssi/configExample configuration
settings = {
  core = { real_name = "Larry The Cow"; user_name = "larrytc"; nick = "larry"; };


As mentioned above irssi is started by invoking:

user $irssi

While in the Irssi interface command-line options can be issued in order to have Irssi perform the desired actions.

Connect to a IRC network, here


Set the user name to larry:

/nick larry

Starting irssi using the above options with one command-line invocation:

user $irssi -c -n larry

Optionally certain channels may require registration before speaking is permitted. For these types of channels, register with the service and then login with the chosen nickname and password:

user $irssi 6667 larry:password

Join the #gentoo IRC channel:

/join #gentoo

Leave the #gentoo channel:

/leave #gentoo

Save configured settings:


Quit an Irssi IRC session:

/quit or /exit


screen is a useful tool that allows a user to manipulate multiple windows inside of a single terminal session. Each window operates independently of the others and acts like another terminal.[3]

If irssi is currently open, close it using the /quit command and start screen by typing:

user $screen

This opens a new screen session. To someone who has not used screen before it may appear that invoking the screen command above did nothing. This is not the case; there was something that happened by running screen, using the -list option will show the user that there is now an open screen session:

user $screen -list

Starting irssi inside the screen session will create a helpful use case. Start irssi again inside the screen session:

user $irssi

While inside a screen session special keystrokes are used in order to provide control. Ctrl+a is the keystroke needed to beseech control of screen.

Detaching screen sessions

To detach a screen session press: Ctrl+a then d

Attaching screen sessions

To re-attach to a running screen session type:

user $screen -rd


tmux is another good way to manage irssi sessions. Start a tmux session for irssi by typing:

user $tmux new-session -s irssi

Once inside the tmux session start irssi by typing:

user (tmux session)irssi

Ctrl+b is the keystroke needed to grab control of tmux. To detach the irssi session press Ctrl+b then the d key. If everything went properly the irssi session should detach and the focus returned to the shell prompt.

To re-attach a session use the attach-session -t <session_name> argument (where <session_name> is the name used for the irssi session):

user $tmux attach-session -t irssi

For more information on the details of using tmux see the tmux article.

See also

  • Quassel — a daemon/headless IRC client written in C++ that supports 24/7 connectivity.
  • Screen — a program that enables the creation of multiple sessions and virtual terminals within a single terminal.
  • Tmux — a program that enables a number of terminals (or windows), each running a separate program, to be created, accessed, and controlled from a single screen or terminal window.
  • WeeChat — a light, extensible, actively maintained, well documented, highly featured text-mode IRC client.

External resources


  1. Matt Sparks. A Guide to Efficiently Using Irssi and Screen, Matt Sparks, December 19th, 2004. Retrieved on January 10th, 2015.
  2. Matt Sparks. A Guide to Efficiently Using Irssi and Screen, Matt Sparks, December 19th, 2004. Retrieved on January 10th, 2015.
  3. Matt Sparks. A Guide to Efficiently Using Irssi and Screen, Matt Sparks, December 19th, 2004. Retrieved on January 10th, 2015.