What is IRC?

Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is a form of real time chat designed for group (channel) communication or private communication via private messaging. IRC was created back in 1988 by Jarkko Oikarinen, and since then, its popularity has grown and grown. IRC is an open protocol using TCP (sometimes TLS) working on a server/client model. The standard server port is TCP 6667, but it’s also run under several other nearby ports (6668, 6669, etc.) On the IRC server, there are many channels, each created for a purpose, for a group of people of similar interest. Channels and users have modes which are represented by letters. Becoming familiar with the common IRC modes will help you quickly identify a wide range of information. For more information, please refer to the Wikipedia IRC entry.

Installing HexChat

HexChat is an IRC client that lets you connect to various IRC servers. HexChat is not installed by default in Kali Linux but it can easily be installed as follows:

 apt update && apt install -y hexchat

After installation, HexChat can be located under: Applications > Usual applications > Internet > HexChat


Using HexChat

After running HexChat for the first time, you should see a window similar to the one below.

HexChat Network List

Complete the appropriate Username Information fields, select freenode from the Networks list, and click Connect. You MUST register your nickname with freenode (and then login) in order to be able to join in our #offsec channel. This will also prevent others from using the same nickname as you on the freenode IRC network. Once you have found an available nickname, register it by typing the following command in the HexChat window:

 /msg NickServ REGISTER

You may need to check your email account and follow any instructions sent by freenode.


Once you have registered your nick, you will need to identify with NickServ each time you connect to the server as follows, being extremely careful not to expose your password to a public channel:

 /msg NickServ IDENTIFY

If you do not do this, you will get the following message: “Cannot join channel (+r) – you need to be identified with services”. Alternatively you can use SASL to authenticate.

For more information about user registration, please refer to the freenode registration page. In addition to registering your IRC nick, you may wish to get a hostname cloak. You can do so by asking an administrator in the #freenode channel.


Our channel is located in #offsec. To join our channel simply type the following:

 /join #offsec

The channel is set to hidden, so it will not show up in when searching channels.


As an alternative to HexChat, you can use any other IRC client or freenode Web Chat to connect to the freenode network. Once you have joined the channel you can ‘Private Message’ (PM) another person where you can talk “one to one”. The standard way of doing this is:


Depending on your IRC client, a new tab or window may appear that will be used for private messaging. Please note that your IRC client may have slightly differently terminology, especially if you use the GUI instead of the /msg command. To use the GUI in HexChat, along the right hand side you can right click on a user in the “User List” and select “Open Dialog Window”. This will place you in a PM with that person.


Channel Behaviour

Once in the channel, be polite and courteous – that’s pretty much it. We do not tolerate profanity of any type – please take this into consideration.

  • Look at the channel topic, important up to date information is located there.
  • Do not talk about exercise specifics openly in the channel as you may spoil the fun and challenge for other students.
  • We have an IRC bot named “Offsec-Ninja”, which can give you some useful information if you type an appropriate command such as !hours, !ip, !faq, !bob, etc. Please do not abuse this feature.
  • Keep in mind that #offsec is not a place to resolve issues you may have before or during your course.
    • For any technical issues, you should contact us through our support site https://support.offensive-security.com or email help [_at_] offensive-security.com.
    • For any issues with your purchase, payment, or other orders related activity, please email orders [_at_] offensive-security.com.