This whole thing with freenode has led me to IRC again, though this time to Having played around with a couple of IRC clients, I have once again decided on irssi in tmux.

I used smuxi with a remote engine for a while, and it's fine, really. I still don't feel like I have the same level of control/reliability to survive my laptop going to sleep. I'm sure part of that is imagined.

I'm fairly certain that I first used irssi around 2001-ish on freenode, and that was my entry into IRC.

So that's 20 years ago. I have Thoughts about that.

To start with, that things haven't changed that much in 20 years. Oh, yeah, SASL authentication wasn't there yet (was it?), and all kinds of things are new. I'm not saying it's all identical. But the fundamental modes of interaction are the same.

A related thought is that it's no wonder, then, that in 20 years, IRC has been mostly supplanted by Slack, Matrix or whatever else there is.

But also, going back to IRC doesn't feel *limited*.

I mean, on the face of it, it totally is.

No images, for one (small) thing. There are a bunch of channels with bots that let you paste URLs and that will add some meta-information, so that you get more or less the same thing a click further away than more modern systems offer. It works, but isn't the same.

But that's not really the main use-case, is it? I can click URLs in a terminal just fine, I don't need bots for that. That's just for providing context for e.g. video links or whatever it...


... is you might want to know a little about before clicking. These bots effectively offer the same-ish experience as media previews in browser-based chat clients.

No, the main use-case is sending messages (in channels), and that works... just the same?

So 20 years of "no change" have led to a point where more modern competitors to IRC have only few and incremental improvements over the original experience to offer.

Does that mean IRC was "perfect" 20 years ago, in the sense that it no...

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... longer needed to evolve drastically?

I had been assuming for the past few years that, no, it was just something that was past its time.

But now I'm seriously wondering what it is we're chasing. tmux + irssi take just over 100k of memory to run, and offer at least 90% of the functionality of a multi-gigabyte Electron app for Matrix.

For what it's worth, I'm perfectly fine with people preferring the latter. The point is not to make it sound like the worse choice.

I'm just genuinely struck by this relationship between the improvements newer tech has made over the cost of that.

(One of the weirder things for me is how odd this feels, because, you know, mutt is my main email client. I'm no stranger to using older/smaller tech. That this feels like such a big deal is, in some sense, the big deal that prompts me to write about it.)

Anyway, thoughts are welcome, but I have no position here I want to defend. I'm just a little surprised, and that needed out.

Oh, yeah, I'm jfinkhaeuser there and won't mind a few channel recommendations.

@jens granted, the predominant lack of image previews and link descriptions isn't a protocol thing; there are a couple of clients that do prefer such features, and even could be implemented in console-based clients such as #irssi.
#WeeChat, my preferred console client, for instance has a script called which will post the page title for any URL posted, and in the past I forked to do something similar; though I stopped doing that myself as I kept running into CAPTCHAs when it concerned YouTube URLs.

Image previews in consoles also shouldn't be impossible anymore, especially with advancements such as libsixel; support for this in terminal emulators just isn't widespread yet, and I think #IRC users generally like the low level of distraction or pure text without images and automatic metadata.

All in all, it would be better imho if whoever posts the link provides the necessary context. :)

@FiXato Agreed.

I'm really happy about seeing some SIXEL integrations. The gnome terminal version seems to be more or less done, just not rolled out to distros yet.

@jens I’ve been thinking about this a lot, especially recently, asking people what they use computers for and comparing that to what we used to do with much simpler, lower-power machines.

There are applications which may justify the cost (in terms of complexity, financial, environmental, humanitarian, etc.) of modern computers, but most of what people do could be done with far less. In a way it’s like owning a pickup truck because you might haul something once a year.

@requiem Oh, I do notice a difference in compilation times for example. And running a Windows VM. That kind of thing.

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