I have been connecting to IRC on a daily basis about ten years ago but stopped doing so. IRC is the Internet Relay Chat, a huge network of servers, channels and users who can chat and trade files there. The client of choice back then was MIRC and everyone was using it with plugins and stuff to enhance the client.
Hydra IRC is another client that I heard about only recently and it works pretty well. It does come with all the features that one would expect from an IRC client like DCC file transfers, multiple server connections, multiple user identities, channel monitoring and a wealth of other features.
Some would say that the initial layout of the IRC client is a bit messy with lots of information panels everywhere. At start you have the following windows: Server List, Channel List, Channel monitoring with three additional tabs, event log with three additional tabs and the main channel window. Another window is added to the mix when the user connects to a server. This one displays the connected users that are currently in the channel.
The good news is that every window can be removed or minimized to display only the needed ones. Beginners will probably be a bit lost at the beginning because of the sheer size of options and servers to chose from.
IRC is still a nice way to find information pretty fast. Almost every network has channels for programming languages or operating systems where users can receive help when they need it. I'm not sure about the file sharing scene on IRC though if it is still that active and I did not have time to check this out.
Hydra IRC is definitely a nice client for IRC, best of all it is completely free.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.