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Logo xchat.png
XChat 2.8.0 PL.png
Screenshot of XChat 2.8.0
Developer(s) Peter Železný (zed), Brian Evans (LifeIsPain)
Initial release X-Chat 1.0.0: June 29, 1999[1]
Stable release 2.8.9 / 28 August 2010; 3 years ago (2010-08-28)
Development status Unmaintained[2]
Written in C
Operating system OS X, Unix-like, Windows
Platform Cross-platform
Available in Multilingual
Type IRC client
License Proprietary for Windows version, GNU General Public License for others
Website www.xchat.org

XChat is a popular Internet Relay Chat (IRC) client. It is available for Unix-like systems, Microsoft Windows (with additional features), Mac OS X (X-Chat Aqua), and for other X Window System-based systems (Fink project). It has a choice of a tabbed document interface or tree interface, support for multiple servers and is highly configurable. Both command line and graphical versions are available. The main code is licensed under the GNU General Public License, but the official Windows version is shareware, and uses the GTK+ toolkit for its interface.


XChat is a full-featured IRC client with a GUI surrounding the basic chat window. It includes all basic functionality found in most other IRC clients, including nick completion,[3] connecting to multiple servers,[4] secure connections,[5] CTCP, DCC file transfers and chats, and a plugin system for various programming languages (including at least C or C++, Perl, Python, Tcl, Ruby,[6] Lua,[7] CLISP, D, and DMDScript[8]). Plugins allow extending the features and customization of the functionality of XChat.

XChat runs on the following operating systems: GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, Solaris, AIX, IRIX, Mac OS X, Windows 98/ME/NT/2000/XP and others. Support for 98/ME was dropped from the official Windows build.[9] XChat is included with GNU/Linux distributions such as PCLinuxOS.[10]

The default view for the client window is referred to as "tree view", but can be configured for a tabbed interface for multiple simultaneous. Tabs change color as text arrives, other users enter or leave channels, or address the user's nickname. The interface can display clickable operator ("op") commands and others, and be customized for fonts, event sounds, and timestamping and logging.[10] XChat implements all standard IRC commands, such as /NICK and /JOIN, as well as DCC chatting (/CHAT), which allows chat to continue if the IRC server is disconnected.[10]

Shareware controversy[edit]

License change[edit]

As of August 23, 2004, the official Windows build of XChat has become shareware and must be purchased after a 30-day trial period. Previous (freeware) builds for Windows have been removed from the official site.[11] However X-Chat is still open-source and licensed under GPL, so there are a few free non-official builds. The author stated that the shareware fee is required due to the excessive amount of time it takes to make it compile under Windows.[12]

Unofficial builds[edit]

Unofficial Windows builds of XChat are made available by contributors, most of whom maintain binaries of the latest release, yet may release more often with builds based on SVN.[11][13] See the Derivative Software section for a list.


Xchat has been described as popular,[14][15] buildable for a variety of platforms. IRC Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools goes into depth explaining its setup, configuration, and advanced features under Unix[16] and Mac OS X.[17] A review at Softonic of the official shareware version 2.8.9 called it a "good looking and easy to use IRC client", and appreciated the UI layout, which color codes nicknames, and left-justifies conversational text, but gave the software a grade of 6/10.[18]

In a review in IRCReviews.org of the "Silverex" contributed Windows build, Allan Preston wrote, "Overall, XChat is a very capable, solid, and robust client, but it is not an mIRC copy. You can alter almost every aspect of it, either by altering the config files, or by scripting. I would recommend XChat to any Windows user who is looking for a free alternative to mIRC, or to users who are bored with mIRC’s limitations."[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "News". XChat.org. September 18, 1999. Archived from the original on 1999-09-21. 
  2. ^ Announcement of HexChat Posted on 06 Jul, 2012
  3. ^ Whaples, Thomas (2004). "Hack #2: XChat". In Mutton, Paul. IRC Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools. O'Reilly Media. p. 63. ISBN 978-0596-00687-7. 
  4. ^ IRC Hacks, p. 90.
  5. ^ IRC Hacks, p. 93.
  6. ^ Xchat-Ruby Plugin Website. ruby.sourceforge.net
  7. ^ xchat Lua plugin. ankh-morp.org.
  8. ^ xcdscript home page. ludost.net.
  9. ^ XChat Forum - Support for Windows 98/ME dropped. forum.xchat.org.
  10. ^ a b c Arnote, Paul (September 2009). "Internet Relay Chat: The Forgotten Chat Frontier". PCLinuxOS Magazine.
  11. ^ a b c Preston, Allan K. (June 2006). "XChat for Windows(review of release by Silverex)". IRCReviews.org. 
  12. ^ XChat for Windows. xchat.org. "Q. Why can't XChat for Windows be free? A. [...] Building XChat for Windows is a difficult process, it requires quite some skill and expertise to accomplish. It takes time, and is by no means automated. [...]"
  13. ^ Build Lineup. xchatdata.net.
  14. ^ IRC Hacks, p. 3
  15. ^ Hudson, Andrew; Hudson, Paul; Helmke, Matthew; Troy, Ryan (2009). "Internet Relay Chat". Ubuntu Unleashed 2010 Edition: Covering 9.10 and 10.4. Sams Publishing/Pearson Education. p. 124. ISBN 978-0672331091. 
  16. ^ IRC Hacks, p. 3
  17. ^ IRC Hacks, p. 11.
  18. ^ "XChat 2.8.9". Softonic.com. September 14, 2010. 

External links[edit]

Derivative software[edit]