Irssi is an IRC client. If that sentence made no sense, then read no further. This post outlines my current irssi setup as I think it’s quite nice and others may wish to copy it.

Note: I’ve since moved to weechat. If anyone’s interested, that config can be found here.


Irssi Screenshot 


For the longest time I didn’t really touch ~/.irssi/config except to set up auto connections etc. Then I started using awl.pl (which I’ll describe in the scripts section). This meant I no longer had a use for one of the statusbars. So for the sake of completeness, here is the change I made to get the statusbar look you see in the screenshot:

statusbar = {

    # <snip>

    default = {
      window = {

        # disable the default bar containing window list
        disabled = "yes";

        # window, root
        type = "window";
        # top, bottom
        placement = "bottom";
        # number
        position = "0";
        # active, inactive, always
        visible = "active";

        # list of items in statusbar in the display order
        items = {
          barstart = { priority = "100"; };
          time = { };
          user = { };
          window = { };
          window_empty = { };
          lag = { priority = "-1"; };
          more = { priority = "-1"; alignment = "right"; };
          barend = { priority = "100"; alignment = "right"; };
          active = { };
          act = { };

      # <snip>

      prompt = {
        type = "root";
        placement = "bottom";
        # we want to be at the bottom always
        position = "100";
        visible = "always";
        items = {
          barstart = { priority = "100"; };
          time = { };

          user = { }; # added my current nick here b/c it was the only useful
                      # item in the disabled bar

          prompt = { priority = "-1"; };
          prompt_empty = { priority = "-1"; };
          # treated specially, this is the real input line.
          input = { priority = "10"; };


      # <snip>


My full config (sans passwords) can be downloaded here.


The theme I currently use was originally generane.theme; I’ve gradually hacked away at it until, at this point, it’s entirely unlike that theme. I just call it pbrisbin.theme and it can be found with the above dotfiles. It’s a really grey theme to go with my overall desktop. Messages from me are a bright-ish grey, with messages to me as bright yellow. Actions (/me stuff) are magenta and offset to the left which I really like.


Bitlbee is a killer app. It sets up a small-footprint IRC server on your local machine, hooks into your various chat protocols (gchat, aim, facebook, twitter), and let’s you /join or /query them as if they were any other #channel.

This is great for someone like me who’s gotten used to /exec -o foo and other tricks that aren’t possible in a normal chat client.

There are a lot of guides online for setting this up so I’m just going to list out a few facts that it took me a minute to figure out or get used to:


And the best part, the scripts. All of these can be easily googled for so I won’t provide links; the versions on my box could even be out of date anyway.

cap_sasl.pl - in an effort to streamline my dotfiles management, I was looking for ways to get plaintext passwords out of dotfiles. One such way is to use SASL for authentication to freenode. After getting the script, setup can be done via in-irssi commands as many existing how-tos outline. I got gummed up however because I fudged up the server name (freenode vs Freenode) when setting up sasl compared to when I had initially setup the connection…

This is why I prefer to do direct, in-file configuration. So, here are the portions of .irssi/config to support this:

servers = (
    address = "irc.freenode.net";
    chatnet = "freenode";
    port = "6697";
    use_ssl = "yes";
    ssl_verify = "yes";
    ssl_capath = "/etc/ssl/certs/";
    autoconnect = "yes";


And place a file as ~/.irssi/sasl.auth with the following contents:

freenode	<primary nick>	<password>	DH-BLOWFISH

It’s important that you use your primary nick or it won’t work. For instance, I always talk as brisbin but that’s just a secondary nick associated with my primary brisbin33, so I had to use brisbin33 in the sasl setup.

nm.pl - this handles random/unique nick coloring and nick alignment. Personally, I /set neat_maxlength 13.

awl.pl - the advanced window list (sometimes called adv_windowlist.pl). This gives that nice statusbar with the channel names and numbers. Channels turn bright white when active and magenta if I’m highlighted. Personally, I use /set awl_display_key "%w$N.$H$C$S" and awl_maxlines 1.

trackbar.pl - this puts a dashed mark in the buffer at the last point you viewed the conversation. I really like this script, it’s simple but affective. If you hop around between windows this is a great little addition to your .irssi/scripts/autorun.

screen_away.pl - thank you rson for turning me onto this. Once I started using irssi exclusively in screen (as outlined here) this script really started coming in handy. It just auto-sets you as away when you detach your screen session and brings you back when you reattach. This means Ctrl-a d logs me off, and when I do reattach I’ve got all my messages waiting for me right there in window 1.

queryresume.pl - now that I’m using bitlbee as my main IM client, I’m spending a lot of time in queries. This script gives you a little bit of context by printing the last few lines of your most recent query with this person that you’ve just started a new query with.

hilightwin.pl - this script captures any text that matches your /hilight rules, whether it’s nick or keyword-based. Anything you’ve set up as a hilight will be captured in a dedicated window. Couple this with a smart layout where your hilightwin is dedicated to the top 8 lines of your client, and you can always see who’s talking at you, no matter what you’re doing. Any google search for this script will not only give you the source, but also the commands required to setup the smart layout to go along with it.

link_titles.pl - this is a script that I recently wrote as a learning exercise in perl. It watches the conversation for urls. When it finds one, it visits that page and prints the title element back to the window where the link was sent. Most actual channels I’m in will have a bot that does this, but I wanted to print titles for links sent to me in a query via gchat or aim. The source for this is on my github, hopefully more scripts will show up there soon.

20 Mar 2010, tagged with linux