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  1. Overview
  2. The #ccl channel
  3. IRC over SSL
  4. Register your nick
  5. Configuring channels
  6. Using the Irssi client
  7. Becoming a server operator


The Crawling Chaos Labs IRC server is free for public use but is not a member of any IRC network. We suggest registering your nick with our nickserv bot (/msg nickserv help) since the anonymization we use makes it hard to otherwise verify a user's identity. Unencrypted connections are available on ports 6667 and 194 but SSL connections should use port 994 instead. See the topics below for additional information.

The #ccl channel...

Crawling Chaos Labs provides an isolated IRC server to facilitate communication between CCL members and peers. The most prominent channel is #ccl, where general technical discussion occurs. All communication within the channel is logged, and a searchable Web interface for the #ccl log is also provided to confirmed members. With your IRC client of choice, connect to port 194 or 6667 and once connected join the #ccl channel. On many IRC clients this is done with:

/join #ccl

We've also provided a Java-based IRC client which will automatically connect to the IRC server and join #ccl. It's far from exceptional, but should suffice in a pinch.

IRC over SSL...

In addition to normal IRC services, SSL-encrypted IRC connections are possible on TCP port 994 (supported by many clients). The X.509 certificate for on this port is signed by CAcert's Class 1 PKI Key.

While encryption effectively secures communication between you and the IRC server against prying eyes while in transit, that information is decrypted on the server and also potentially transmitted in an unencrypted form to other users involved in any discussion. Also, since the encryption is provided on the IRC server, it only secures communication which traverses the server and thus does not protect DCC (direct client to client protocol) or other similar peer-to-peer conversations.

Users connected via SSL can be identified easily as they will have their source host spoofed to appear as secure. By contrast, users connected through unencrypted means will have their source host spoofed to appear as INSECURE instead.

Register your nick...

Most clients will pick your nick automatically based on the username under which you're running them unless you specify something else on the command line, in an environment variable or your config file. Since all users on this IRC server are effectively anonymized via source spoofing, it helps to register your nick so as to guard against impersonators. This is accomplished by sending a series of special messages to the nickserv bot, using a password you'll remember. For example:

/msg nickserv register FoObArBaZxYzZyPlUgH
/msg nickserv set kill on
/msg nickserv set secure on

This will ensure that only you can use your nick, by kicking off anyone who doesn't identify properly. To identify yourself to the nickserv bot:

/msg nickserv identify FoObArBaZxYzZyPlUgH

Then you will be identified and nickserv won't kick you off the server. This also allows you to kill off ghost nicks where you've lost contact with the server and logged back on, without needing a server operator to interfere on your behalf.

Configuring channels...

Any new channel will be created the moment someone joins it. Whoever joins first will be the channel operator. You can adjust this behavior and a number of others by registering a channel through the chanserv bot. For information on this, send chanserv a private message with just the word help in it. As an example, here is how the #ccl channel is configured:

/msg chanserv set #ccl secureops on
/msg chanserv set #ccl entrymsg All channel conversations are logged and archived.
/msg chanserv set #ccl email
/msg chanserv set #ccl url

Using the Irssi client...

Now that the previously popular BitchX IRC client has been showing its age for a while (stale development with a history of security vulnerabilities), the CCL IRC operators recommend Irssi as a viable alternative for cross-platform IRC client. Debian and Ubuntu users can just use the APT frontend of their choice to retrieve and install the irssi and irssi-scripts DEB packages for their respective distributions. Information on retrieving and installing Irssi on other operating systems can be found on the Irssi download page.

By popular request, here is a recipe to configure Irssi so that it will automatically connect to via SSL, identify with nickserv and join #example and #otherchannel. These directions are for Debian GNU/Linux and Ubuntu, but should work on other platforms with minor modification. Start by installing the client, add-on scripts and certificate authority bundle:

sudo aptitude update
sudo aptitude install ca-certificates irssi irssi-scripts

Next, create your local user configuration directory tree:

mkdir -p ~/.irssi/scripts/autorun

Now you'll want to create a basic ~/.irssi/config file with the following contents:

chatnets = { ccl = { type = "irc"; }; };

servers = (
    address = "";
    autoconnect = "yes";
    chatnet = "ccl";
    port = "994";
    ssl_cafile = "/usr/share/ca-certificates/";
    # try if you don't have the above file
    use_ssl = "yes";

settings = {
  core = {
    real_name = "Your Full Name";
    nick = "yournick";
    timestamp_format = "%H:%M:%S";
  "fe-common/core" = {
    use_msgs_window = "no";
    reuse_unused_windows = "yes";
    windows_auto_renumber = "no";
    use_status_window = "no";
    autocreate_own_query = "no";
    autocreate_query_level = "none";
    autoclose_windows = "no";
    print_active_channel = "yes";
    autocreate_windows = "no";
    show_nickmode_empty = "no";
  "fe-text" = {
    autostick_split_windows = "no";
    term_force_colors = "yes";

hilights = ( { text = "yournick"; nick = "yes"; word = "yes"; } );
keyboard = (
  { key = "home"; id = "scroll_start"; data = ""; },
  { key = "end"; id = "scroll_end"; data = ""; }

Replace Your Full Name and yournick with appropriate strings. This will be enough to get it to automatically connect to the IRC server for the ccl chatnet we defined. The options in the settings subsections for "fe-common/core" and "fe-text" aren't strictly necessary, but are some good defaults to keep new Irssi users from getting confused by its use of separate windows for server output and private messages. Same goes for the hilights section.

The irssi-scripts package comes with a script which can automatically identify you with nickserv, but at least the version in Debian has a minor bug which we'll correct by making a modified local copy in ~/.irssi/scripts/autorun like so:

sed 's/zed\./zed/' /usr/share/irssi/scripts/ > ~/.irssi/scripts/autorun/

Next, create a file telling it what your nick's identify password is for the ccl chatnet (obviously substituting your proper nick and chosen password):

touch ~/.irssi/nickserv.users
chmod 0600 ~/.irssi/nickserv.users
cat > ~/.irssi/nickserv.users
yournick ccl FoObArBaZxYzZyPlUgH

Finally, create a file telling it what channel(s) within the ccl chatnet you want to automatically join following identification:

echo example ccl > ~/.irssi/nickserv.channels
echo otherchannel ccl >> ~/.irssi/nickserv.channels

Now, running irssi from the command line should perform all the desired automation.

Becoming a server operator...

If you would like to be a CCL IRC server operator, contact for more information.