xK (chat kit) is an IRC software suite consisting of a daemon, bot, terminal client, and a web frontend for the client. It’s all you’re ever going to need for chatting, so long as you can make do with slightly minimalist software.

They’re all lean on dependencies, and offer a maximally permissive licence.


The IRC client, and the core of xK. It is largely defined by building on top of GNU Readline or BSD Editline that have been hacked to death. Its interface should feel somewhat familiar for weechat or irssi users.


It has most features you’d expect of an IRC client, such as being multiserver, a powerful configuration system, integrated help, text formatting, automatic message splitting, multiline editing, bracketed paste support, word wrapping that doesn’t break links, autocomplete, logging, CTCP queries, auto-away, command aliases, SOCKS proxying, SASL EXTERNAL authentication using TLS client certificates, a remote relay interface, or basic support for Lua scripting. As a unique bonus, you can launch a full text editor from within.


The web frontend for xC, making use of its networked relay interface. It intentionally differs in that it uses a sans-serif font, and it shows the list of all buffers in a side panel. Otherwise it is a near replica, including keyboard shortcuts.



The IRC daemon. It is designed for use as a regular user application rather than a system-wide daemon, and follows the XDG Base Directory Specification. If all you want is a decent, minimal IRCd for testing purposes or a small network of respectful users (or bots), this one will do it just fine.

It autodetects TLS on incoming connections (I’m still wondering why everyone doesn’t have this), authenticates operators via TLS client certificate fingerprints, and supports a number of IRCv3 capabilities.

What it notably doesn’t support is online changes to configuration, any limits besides the total number of connections and mode +l, or server linking (which also means no services).


The IRC daemon again, this time ported to Go, additionally supporting WEBIRC, and thus ideal for pairing with, e.g., https://github.com/kiwiirc/webircgateway. Any further development, such as P10 or TS6 linking for IRC services, or plugin support for arbitrary bridges, will happen here.


The IRC bot. While originally intended to be a simple rewrite of my old GNU AWK bot in C, it fairly quickly became a playground, and it eventually got me into writing the rest of this package.

Its main characteristic is that it runs plugins as coprocesses, allowing for enhanced reliability and programming language freedom. Moreover, it recovers from any crashes, and offers native SOCKS support (even though socksify can add that easily to any program).


Regular releases are sporadic. git master should be stable enough. You can get a package with the latest development version from Archlinux’s AUR.


Build-only dependencies: CMake, pkg-config, awk, liberty (included), asciidoctor or asciidoc (recommended but optional)
Common runtime dependencies: openssl
Additionally for xC: curses, libffi, readline >= 6.0 or libedit >= 2013-07-12, lua >= 5.3 (optional)

$ git clone --recursive https://git.janouch.name/p/xK.git
$ mkdir xK/build
$ cd xK/build
$ make

To install the application, you can do either the usual:

# make install

Or you can try telling CMake to make a package for you:

$ cpack -G DEB  # also supported: RPM, FreeBSD
# dpkg -i xK-*.deb


xC has in-program configuration. Just run it and read the instructions. Consult its man page for details about the interface.

For the rest you might want to generate a configuration file:

$ xB --write-default-config
$ xD --write-default-config

After making any necessary edits to the file (there are comments to aid you in doing that), simply run the appropriate program with no arguments:

$ xB
$ xD

xB stays running in the foreground, therefore I recommend launching it inside a Screen or tmux session.

xD, on the other hand, immediately forks into the background. Use the PID file or something like killall if you want to terminate it. You can run it as a forking type systemd user service.


The precondition for running xC frontends is enabling its relay interface:

/set general.relay_bind = ""

To build the web server, you’ll need to install the Go compiler, and run make from the xP directory. Then start it from the public subdirectory, and navigate to the adress you gave it as its first argument—​in the following example, that would be http://localhost:8080:

$ ../xP

For remote use, it’s recommended to put xP behind a reverse proxy, with TLS, and some form of HTTP authentication. Pass the external URL of the WebSocket endpoint as the third command line argument in this case.

Client Certificates

xC will use the SASL EXTERNAL method to authenticate using the TLS client certificate specified by the respective server’s tls_cert option if you add sasl to the capabilities option and the server supports this.

xD uses SHA-256 fingerprints of TLS client certificates to authenticate users. To get the fingerprint from a certificate file in the required form, use:

$ openssl x509 -in public.pem -outform DER | sha256sum

Custom Key Bindings in xC

The default and preferred frontend used in xC is GNU Readline. This means that you can change your bindings by editing ~/.inputrc. For example:

# Preload with system-wide settings
$include /etc/inputrc

# Make M-left and M-right reorder buffers
$if xC
"\e\e[C": move-buffer-right
"\e\e[D": move-buffer-left

Consult the source code and the GNU Readline manual for a list of available functions. Also refer to the latter for the exact syntax of this file. Beware that you can easily break the program if you’re not careful.

How do I make xC look like the screenshot?

With the defaults, xC doesn’t look too fancy because I don’t want to have a hard dependency on either Lua for the bundled script that provides an easily adjustable enhanced prompt, or on 256-colour terminals. Moreover, it’s nearly impossible to come up with a colour theme that would work well with both black-on-white and white-on-black terminals, or anything wild in between.

Assuming that your build supports Lua plugins, and that you have a decent, properly set-up terminal emulator, it suffices to run:

/set general.pager = Press Tab here and change +Gb to +Gb1d
/set general.date_change_line = "%a %e %b %Y"
/set general.plugin_autoload += "fancy-prompt.lua"
/set theme.userhost = "109"
/set theme.join = "108"
/set theme.part = "138"
/set theme.external = "248"
/set theme.timestamp = "250 255"
/set theme.read_marker = "202"

Configuration profiles

Even though the applications don’t directly support configuration profiles, they conform to the XDG standard, and thus you can change the location they load configuration from via XDG_CONFIG_HOME (normally ~/.config) and the location where store their data via XDG_DATA_HOME (normally ~/.local/share).

It would be relatively easy to make the applications assume whatever name you run them under (for example by using symbolic links), and load different configurations accordingly, but I consider it rather messy and unnecessary.

Contributing and Support

Use https://git.janouch.name/p/xK to report any bugs, request features, or submit pull requests. git send-email is tolerated. If you want to discuss the project, feel free to join me at ircs://irc.janouch.name, channel #dev.

Bitcoin donations are accepted at: 12r5uEWEgcHC46xd64tt3hHt9EUvYYDHe9


This software is released under the terms of the 0BSD license, the text of which is included within the package along with the list of authors.

Note that xC becomes GPL-licensed when you link it against GNU Readline, but that is not a concern of this source package. The licenses are compatible.