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ngIRCd - Internet Relay Chat Server

This document explains how to install ngIRCd, the lightweight Internet Relay Chat (IRC) server.

The first section lists noteworthy changes to earlier releases; you definitely should read this when upgrading your setup! But you can skip over this section when you do a fresh installation.

All the subsequent sections describe the steps required to install and configure ngIRCd.

Upgrade Information

Differences to version 25

  • Attention: All already deprecated legacy options (besides the newly deprecated Key and MaxUsers settings, see below) were removed in ngIRCd 26, so make sure to update your configuration before upgrading, if you haven't done so already (you got a warning on daemon startup when using deprecated options): you can check your configuration using ngircd --configtest -- which is a good idea anyway ;-)

  • Setting modes for predefined channels in [Channel] sections has been enhanced: now you can set all modes, like in IRC "MODE" commands, and have this setting multiple times per [Channel] block. Modifying lists (ban list, invite list, exception list) is supported, too.

Both the Key and MaxUsers settings are now deprecated and should be replaced by Modes = +l <limit> and Modes = +k <key> respectively.

Differences to version 22.x

  • The NoticeAuth ngircd.conf configuration variable has been renamed to NoticeBeforeRegistration. The old NoticeAuth variable still works but is deprecated now.

  • The default value of the SSL CipherList variable has been changed to "HIGH:!aNULL:@STRENGTH:!SSLv3" (OpenSSL) and "SECURE128:-VERS-SSL3.0" (GnuTLS) to disable the old SSLv3 protocol by default.

To enable connections of clients still requiring the weak SSLv3 protocol, the CipherList must be set to its old value (not recommended!), which was "HIGH:!aNULL:@STRENGTH" (OpenSSL) and "SECURE128" (GnuTLS), see below.

Differences to version 20.x

  • Starting with ngIRCd 21, the ciphers used by SSL are configurable and default to "HIGH:!aNULL:@STRENGTH" (OpenSSL) or "SECURE128" (GnuTLS). Previous version were using the OpenSSL or GnuTLS defaults, "DEFAULT" and "NORMAL" respectively.

  • When adding GLINE's or KLINE's to ngIRCd 21 (or newer), all clients matching the new mask will be KILL'ed. This was not the case with earlier versions that only added the mask but didn't kill already connected users.

  • The PredefChannelsOnly configuration variable has been superseded by the new AllowedChannelTypes variable. It is still supported and translated to the appropriate AllowedChannelTypes setting but is deprecated now.

Differences to version 19.x

  • Starting with ngIRCd 20, users can "cloak" their hostname only when the configuration variable CloakHostModeX (introduced in 19.2) is set. Otherwise, only IRC operators, other servers, and services are allowed to set mode +x. This prevents regular users from changing their hostmask to the name of the IRC server itself, which confused quite a few people ;-)

Differences to version 17.x

  • Support for ZeroConf/Bonjour/Rendezvous service registration has been removed. The configuration option NoZeroconf is no longer available.

  • The structure of ngircd.conf has been cleaned up and three new configuration sections have been introduced: [Limits], [Options], and [SSL].

Lots of configuration variables stored in the [Global] section are now deprecated there and should be stored in one of these new sections (but still work in [Global]):

  • AllowRemoteOper -> [Options]
  • ChrootDir -> [Options]
  • ConnectIPv4 -> [Options]
  • ConnectIPv6 -> [Options]
  • ConnectRetry -> [Limits]
  • MaxConnections -> [Limits]
  • MaxConnectionsIP -> [Limits]
  • MaxJoins -> [Limits]
  • MaxNickLength -> [Limits]
  • NoDNS -> [Options], and renamed to DNS
  • NoIdent -> [Options], and renamed to Ident
  • NoPAM -> [Options], and renamed to PAM
  • OperCanUseMode -> [Options]
  • OperServerMode -> [Options]
  • PingTimeout -> [Limits]
  • PongTimeout -> [Limits]
  • PredefChannelsOnly -> [Options]
  • SSLCertFile -> [SSL], and renamed to CertFile
  • SSLDHFile -> [SSL], and renamed to DHFile
  • SSLKeyFile -> [SSL], and renamed to KeyFile
  • SSLKeyFilePassword -> [SSL], and renamed to KeyFilePassword
  • SSLPorts -> [SSL], and renamed to Ports
  • SyslogFacility -> [Options]
  • WebircPassword -> [Options]

You should adjust your ngircd.conf and run ngircd --configtest to make sure that your settings are correct and up to date!

Differences to version 16.x

  • Changes to the MotdFile specified in ngircd.conf now require a ngIRCd configuration reload to take effect (HUP signal, REHASH command).

Differences to version 0.9.x

  • The option of the configure script to enable support for Zeroconf/Bonjour/ Rendezvous/WhateverItIsNamedToday has been renamed:

    • --with-rendezvous -> --with-zeroconf

Differences to version 0.8.x

  • The maximum length of passwords has been raised to 20 characters (instead of 8 characters). If your passwords are longer than 8 characters then they are cut at an other position now.

Differences to version 0.6.x

  • Some options of the configure script have been renamed:

    • --disable-syslog -> --without-syslog
    • --disable-zlib -> --without-zlib

Please call ./configure --help to review the full list of options!

Differences to version 0.5.x

  • Starting with version 0.6.0, other servers are identified using asynchronous passwords: therefore the variable Password in [Server]-sections has been replaced by MyPassword and PeerPassword.

  • New configuration variables, section [Global]: MaxConnections, MaxJoins (see example configuration file doc/sample-ngircd.conf!).

Standard Installation

Note: This sections describes installing ngIRCd from sources. If you use packages available for your operating system distribution you should skip over and continue with the Configuration section, see below.

ngIRCd is developed for UNIX-based systems, which means that the installation on modern UNIX-like systems that are supported by GNU autoconf and GNU automake ("configure script") should be no problem.

The normal installation procedure after getting (and expanding) the source files (using a distribution archive or Git) is as following:

1) Satisfy prerequisites 2) ./ [only necessary when using "raw" sources with Git] 3) ./configure 4) make 5) make install

(Please see details below!)

Now the newly compiled executable "ngircd" is installed in its standard location, /usr/local/sbin/.

If no previous version of the configuration file exists (the standard name is /usr/local/etc/ngircd.conf), a sample configuration file containing all possible options will be installed there. You'll find its template in the doc/ directory: sample-ngircd.conf.

The next step is to configure and afterwards start the daemon. See the section Configuration below.

Satisfy prerequisites

When building from source, you'll need some other software to build ngIRCd: for example a working C compiler, make tool, and a few libraries depending on the feature set you want to enable at compile time (like IDENT, SSL, and PAM).

And if you aren't using a distribution archive ("tar.gz" file), but cloned the plain source archive, you need a few additional tools to generate the build system itself: GNU automake and autoconf, as well as pkg-config.

If you are using one of the "big" operating systems or Linux distributions, you can use the following commands to install all the required packages to build the sources including all optional features and to run the test suite:

Red Hat / Fedora based distributions

  yum install \
    autoconf automake expect gcc glibc-devel gnutls-devel \
    libident-devel make pam-devel pkg-config tcp_wrappers-devel \
    telnet zlib-devel

Debian / Ubuntu based distributions

  apt-get install \
    autoconf automake build-essential expect libgnutls28-dev \
    libident-dev libpam-dev pkg-config libwrap0-dev libz-dev telnet

ArchLinux based distributions

  pacman -S --needed \
    autoconf automake expect gcc gnutls inetutils libident libwrap \
    make pam pkg-config zlib


The first step, to run ./, is only necessary if the configure script itself isn't already generated and available. This never happens in official ("stable") releases in "tar.gz" archives, but when cloning the source code repository using Git.

This step is therefore only interesting for developers!

The script produces the's, which are necessary for the configure script itself, and some more files for make(1).

To run you'll need GNU autoconf, GNU automake and pkg-config: at least autoconf 2.61 and automake 1.10 are required, newer is better. But don't use automake 1.12 or newer for creating distribution archives: it will work but lack "de-ANSI-fication" support in the generated Makefile's! Stick with automake 1.11.x for this purpose ...

So automake 1.11.x and autoconf 2.67+ is recommended.

Again: "end users" do not need this step and neither need GNU autoconf nor GNU automake at all!


The configure script is used to detect local system dependencies.

In the perfect case, configure should recognize all needed libraries, header files and so on. If this shouldn't work, ./configure --help shows all possible options.

In addition, you can pass some command line options to configure to enable and/or disable some features of ngIRCd. All these options are shown using ./configure --help, too.

Compiling a static binary will avoid you the hassle of feeding a chroot dir (if you want use the chroot feature). Just do something like:

  CFLAGS=-static ./configure [--your-options ...]

Then you can use a void directory as ChrootDir (like OpenSSH's /var/empty).


The make(1) command uses the Makefile's produced by configure and compiles the ngIRCd daemon.

make install

Use make install to install the server and a sample configuration file on the local system. Normally, root privileges are necessary to complete this step. If there is already an older configuration file present, it won't be overwritten.

These files and folders will be installed by default:

  • /usr/local/sbin/ngircd: executable server
  • /usr/local/etc/ngircd.conf: sample configuration (if not already present)
  • /usr/local/share/doc/ngircd/: documentation
  • /usr/local/share/man/: manual pages

Additional features

The following optional features can be compiled into the daemon by passing options to the configure script. Most options can handle a <path> argument which will be used to search for the required libraries and header files in the given paths (<path>/lib/..., <path>/include/...) in addition to the standard locations.

  • Syslog Logging (autodetected by default):

--with-syslog[=<path>] / --without-syslog

Enable (disable) support for logging to "syslog", which should be available on most modern UNIX-like operating systems by default.

  • ZLib Compression (autodetected by default):

--with-zlib[=<path>] / --without-zlib

Enable (disable) support for compressed server-server links. The Z compression library ("libz") is required for this option.

  • IO Backend (autodetected by default):

    • --with-select[=<path>] / --without-select
    • --with-poll[=<path>] / --without-poll
    • --with-devpoll[=<path>] / --without-devpoll
    • --with-epoll[=<path>] / --without-epoll
    • --with-kqueue[=<path>] / --without-kqueue

ngIRCd can use different IO "backends": the "old school" select(2) and poll(2) API which should be supported by most UNIX-like operating systems, or the more efficient and flexible epoll(7) (Linux >=2.6), kqueue(2) (BSD) and /dev/poll APIs.

By default the IO backend is autodetected, but you can use --without-xxx to disable a more enhanced API.

When using the epoll(7) API, support for select(2) is compiled in as well by default, to enable the binary to run on older Linux kernels (<2.6), too.

  • IDENT-Support:


Include support for IDENT ("AUTH") lookups. The "ident" library is required for this option.

  • TCP-Wrappers:


Include support for Wietse Venemas "TCP Wrappers" to limit client access to the daemon, for example by using /etc/hosts.{allow|deny}. The "libwrap" is required for this option.

  • PAM:


Enable support for PAM, the Pluggable Authentication Modules library. See doc/PAM.txt for details.

  • SSL:

    • --with-openssl[=<path>]
    • --with-gnutls[=<path>]

Enable support for SSL/TLS using OpenSSL or GnuTLS libraries. See doc/SSL.txt for details.

  • IPv6:


Adds support for version 6 of the Internet Protocol.


Please have a look at the ngircd(8) and ngircd.conf(5) manual pages for details and all possible command line and configuration options -- and don't forget to run ngircd --configtest to validate your configuration file!

After installing ngIRCd, a sample configuration file will be set up (if it does not exist already). By default, when installing from sources, the file is named /usr/local/etc/ngircd.conf (other common names, especially for distribution packages, are /etc/ngircd.conf or /etc/ngircd/ngircd.conf).

You can find the template of the sample configuration file in the doc/ directory as sample-ngircd.conf and online on the homepage. It contains all available options.

In the sample configuration file, there are comments beginning with # or ; -- this is only for the better understanding of the file, both comment styles are equal.

The file is separated in five blocks: [Global], [Features], [Operator], [Server], and [Channel].

In the [Global] section, there is the main configuration like the server name and the ports, on which the server should be listening. Options in the [Features] section enable or disable functionality in the daemon. IRC operators of this server are defined in [Operator] blocks, remote servers are configured in [Server] sections, and [Channel] blocks are used to configure pre-defined ("persistent") IRC channels.

Manual Pages Online

Command line options

ngIRCd supports the following command line options:

  • -f, --config <file>

The daemon uses the file <file> as configuration file rather than the standard configuration /usr/local/etc/ngircd.conf.

  • -n, --nodaemon

ngIRCd should be running as a foreground process.

  • -p, --passive

Server-links won't be automatically established.

  • -t, --configtest

Reads, validates and dumps the configuration file as interpreted by the server. Then exits.

Use --help to see a short help text describing all available parameters the server understands, with --version the ngIRCd shows its version number. In both cases the server exits after the output.

Please see the ngircd(8) manual page for more details!