8 Best IRC Clients for Linux in 2024

An IRC (Internet Relay Chat) client is a program that a user can install on their computer and it sends and receives messages to and from an IRC server. It simply connects you to a global network of IRC servers and enables one-on-one and group communication.

There are still many users of IRC out there for one reason or another, though considered an old-fashioned way of online communication. But leaving the talk of it being relevant or not to users around the world.

There are several IRC clients that are actively being developed, that you can use on a Linux desktop, and in this article, we shall take a look at some of them.

1. WeeChat

WeeChat is a light, fast, highly extensible command-line-based and above all cross-platform chat client that runs on Unix, Linux, BSD, GNU Hurd, Windows, and Mac OS.

WeeChat IRC Client for Linux
WeeChat IRC Client for Linux

It has some of the following features:

  • Modular and multi-protocol architecture
  • Highly extensible with optional plugins
  • Fully documented and active project

Install WeeChat on Linux

To install WeeChat on Linux, use the following appropriate command for your specific Linux distribution.

sudo apt install weechat         [On Debian, Ubuntu and Mint]
sudo yum install weechat         [On RHEL/CentOS/Fedora and Rocky/AlmaLinux]
sudo emerge -a sys-apps/weechat  [On Gentoo Linux]
sudo apk add weechat             [On Alpine Linux]
sudo pacman -S weechat           [On Arch Linux]
sudo zypper install weechat      [On OpenSUSE]    
sudo pkg install weechat         [On FreeBSD]

2. Pidgin

Pidgin is an easy-to-use, free, cross-platform chat client that enables users to connect to several chat networks simultaneously. Pidgin is more than just an IRC client, you can think of it as an all-in-one program for Internet messaging.

Pidgin IM Client for Linux
Pidgin IM Client for Linux

It supports multiple chat networks including AIM, Google Talk, Bonjour, IRC, XMPP, MSN plus many others that you can find from the Pidgin homepage and it has the following features:

  • Supports multiple chat networks
  • Highly extensible with plugins
  • Integrates with the system tray on GNOME and KDE
  • Free software with active development

Install Pidgin in Linux

To install Pidgin on Linux, use the following appropriate command for your specific Linux distribution.

sudo apt install pidgin         [On Debian, Ubuntu and Mint]
sudo yum install pidgin         [On RHEL/CentOS/Fedora and Rocky/AlmaLinux]
sudo emerge -a sys-apps/pidgin  [On Gentoo Linux]
sudo apk add pidgin             [On Alpine Linux]
sudo pacman -S pidgin           [On Arch Linux]
sudo zypper install pidgin      [On OpenSUSE]    
sudo pkg install pidgin         [On FreeBSD]

3. HexChat

Originally called XChat-WDK, HexChat is based on XChat, and unlike XChat, HexChat is free and can be used on Unix-like operating systems such as Linux, OS X, and also Windows.

HexChat IRC Client for Linux
HexChat IRC Client for Linux

It is feature-rich including the following:

  • Easy to use and highly customizable
  • Highly scriptable with Perl and Python
  • Fully open-source and actively developed
  • Translated into several languages
  • Multi-network with auto-connect, join, and identify functionalities
  • Support for spelling check, proxies, SASL, DCC plus many more

Install HexChat on Linux

To install HexChat on Linux, use the following appropriate command for your specific Linux distribution.

sudo apt install hexchat         [On Debian, Ubuntu and Mint]
sudo yum install hexchat         [On RHEL/CentOS/Fedora and Rocky/AlmaLinux]
sudo emerge -a sys-apps/hexchat  [On Gentoo Linux]
sudo apk add hexchat             [On Alpine Linux]
sudo pacman -S hexchat           [On Arch Linux]
sudo zypper install hexchat      [On OpenSUSE]    
sudo pkg install hexchat         [On FreeBSD]

4. Irssi

Irssi is an easy-to-use command-line-based IRC client meant for Unix-like operating systems and supports SILC and ICB protocols through plugins.

IRSSI IRC Client for Linux
IRSSI IRC Client for Linux

It has some amazing features and includes:

  • Autologging
  • Supports themes and formats
  • Configurable keybindings
  • Paste detection
  • Support for Perl scripting
  • Irssi proxy plugin
  • Easy upgrades without losing connections

Install Irssi on Linux

To install Irssi on Linux, use the following appropriate command for your specific Linux distribution.

sudo apt install irssi         [On Debian, Ubuntu and Mint]
sudo yum install irssi         [On RHEL/CentOS/Fedora and Rocky/AlmaLinux]
sudo emerge -a sys-apps/irssi  [On Gentoo Linux]
sudo apk add irssi             [On Alpine Linux]
sudo pacman -S irssi           [On Arch Linux]
sudo zypper install irssi      [On OpenSUSE]    
sudo pkg install irssi         [On FreeBSD]

5. Konversation

Konversation is a user-friendly, fully-featured IRC client developed on the KDE platform but can also run on GNOME and other Linux desktops.

Konversation IRC Client for Linux
Konversation IRC Client for Linux

Konversation has the following features:

  • standard IRC features
  • Support for bookmarking
  • Easy to use GUI
  • Support for SSL server
  • Several servers and channels in a single window
  • DCC file transfer support
  • Text decoration and colors
  • On-screen notifications
  • Highly configurable
  • Automatic UTF-8 detection
  • Per-channel encoding support

Install Konversation in Linux

To install Irssi on Linux, use the following appropriate command for your specific Linux distribution.

sudo apt install konversation         [On Debian, Ubuntu and Mint]
sudo yum install konversation         [On RHEL/CentOS/Fedora and Rocky/AlmaLinux]
sudo emerge -a sys-apps/konversation  [On Gentoo Linux]
sudo apk add konversation             [On Alpine Linux]
sudo pacman -S konversation           [On Arch Linux]
sudo zypper install konversation      [On OpenSUSE]    
sudo pkg install konversation         [On FreeBSD]

6. Quassel IRC

Quassel is a free, new fashion, cross-platform, distributed IRC client that works on Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X, you can think of it as a GUI replication of WeeChat.

Quassel IRC Client for Linux
Quassel IRC Client for Linux

At the time of this writing, the Quassel development team is still actively working to set up its features and if you visit the official website, you will realize that the features page has no content yet but it is actively being used.

Install Quassel in Linux

To install Irssi on Linux, use the following appropriate command for your specific Linux distribution.

sudo apt install quassel         [On Debian, Ubuntu and Mint]
sudo yum install quassel         [On RHEL/CentOS/Fedora and Rocky/AlmaLinux]
sudo emerge -a sys-apps/quassel  [On Gentoo Linux]
sudo apk add quassel             [On Alpine Linux]
sudo pacman -S quassel           [On Arch Linux]
sudo zypper install quassel      [On OpenSUSE]    
sudo pkg install quassel         [On FreeBSD]

7. Element – Secure Collaboration and Messaging

Element is a free and open-source All-in-one software instant messaging app that supports end-to-end encryption, group chats, video conferencing, voice calls, and sharing of files between users while working remotely.

Element - Secure Collaboration and Messaging
Element – Secure Collaboration and Messaging

Install Element on Debian, Ubuntu & Mint

To install Element on Debian-based distributions, use the following commands.

$ sudo apt install -y wget apt-transport-https
$ sudo wget -O /usr/share/keyrings/riot-im-archive-keyring.gpg https://packages.riot.im/debian/riot-im-archive-keyring.gpg
$ echo "deb [signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/riot-im-archive-keyring.gpg] https://packages.riot.im/debian/ default main" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/riot-im.list
$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt install element-desktop

8. Session Message

Session Message is a new encrypted secure private messenger application that offers a completely anonymous account without any number or email required.

All your chat messages are routed privately using online routing protocols that keep your messages secret, secure, and private.

Session Message Private Chat App
Session Message Private Chat App

If you use IRC, then having read this article, you must be ready to try some of these great IRC clients for Linux.

Make your choice right or you can try out all of them to determine which works best for you and remember to share your experience with other users around the world via the comment section below.