The Internet Relay Chat, or IRC is a client-server based chating protocol, it allows ten or even hundreds of thousand people to chat at the same time in different topics or channels.
The IRC is an open protocol, which is built on TCP/IP. An IRC server can be linked with others, so it will form an IRC network.Users access IRC networks by connecting a client to a server. Most IRC servers do not require users to register an account but a user will have to set a nickname before being connected.
The protocol specified that characters were 8-bit but did not specify the character encoding the text was supposed to use. This can cause problems when users using different clients and/or different platforms want to converse.
A hostmask is a unique identifier of an IRC client connected to an IRC server.IRC services and bots can use it to identify the client. The hostmask looks similar to an e-mail address. It is a combination of the nickname, ident, and hostname.
The nick/channel delay solution is very simple. After a user signed off, so the nickname became available, the server will allow new user to connect with the same nick name after a period of time.
There are IRC clients available for several operating systems. There are some web browsers which has a built in IRC clients or can be extended by addons.
A lot of computer games have a built in IRC as well. ( Unreal Tournament, Warsow , etc. ) Ustream’s chat interface is an IRC aswell, but with custom authentication.
Sharing works like P2P, users can create file servers which allows them to share files by using IRC bots or scripts for their client. The file-sharing is implemented in the clients not in IRC itself.
RC has changed much over its life on the Internet.New server software has added a multitude of new features. Like:
Services: Network-operated bots to take care about registration of nicknames and channels.
Additional commands: New commands to Services and network operators to modify user’s hostmask.
Encryption: For the client-to-server leg of the connection SSL might be used. For client-to-client communication SDCC can be used.
Connection protocol: IRC can be connected to via IPv4, or the next generation protocol called IPv6.