Screenshot of Hexchat 2.10.2
|Initial release||6 July 2012|
2.14.3 / 20 December 2019
Windows 10 App,
Windows 7+ 64-bit,
Windows 7+ 32-bit,
|Developer(s)||Peter Železný (zed), Brian Evans (LifeIsPain)|
|Initial release||X-Chat 1.0.0: June 29, June 29, 1999|
2.8.9 / 28 August 2010
|Operating system||macOS, Unix-like, Windows|
|License||Proprietary for Windows version, GNU General Public License for others|
HexChat is an Internet Relay Chat client, forked from XChat. It has a choice of a tabbed document interface or tree interface, support for multiple servers, and numerous configuration options. Both command-line and graphical versions were available.
XChat's main source code tree has not received any patches since 2013. In the past, some Linux distributions, such as Fedora, maintained their own versions to fix bugs, keep the program working and able to build, and to resolve security issues.
The Internet Relay Chat client offers a graphical user interface surrounding the basic chat window. It includes all basic functionality found in most other IRC clients, including nick completion, connecting to multiple servers, secure connections, Client-to-client protocol, Direct Client-to-Client file transfers and chats, and a plugin system for various programming languages (including at least C or C++, Perl, Python, Tcl, Ruby, Lua, CLISP, D, and DMDScript). Plugins allow extending the features and customization of the functionality of XChat.
The default view for the client window is referred to as "tree view", but can be configured for a tabbed interface instead. Tabs change color as text arrives, other users enter or leave channels, or another user addresses the user's nickname. The interface can display clickable operator ("op") commands and others, and allows customization of fonts, event sounds, timestamps, and logging. XChat implements all standard IRC commands (e.g.
/JOIN), as well as DCC chatting (
/CHAT), which allows chat to continue if the IRC server is disconnected.
The main body of XChat code is licensed under the GNU General Public License. However, on August 23, 2004, the official build for Windows had become shareware, and had to be purchased after a 30-day trial period. Previous builds for Windows were removed from the official site. The authors stated that the shareware fee is required due to the excessive amount of time it took to make it compile under Windows. This created controversy as Peter Železný did not have the copyright to all of the code which he was claiming to re-license, as well as linking proprietary shareware enforcement code against GPL-licensed code, making the Windows version of XChat a violation of copyright law and the GPL.
However, since the Unix version of XChat's code is free software under the GPL, several free non-official builds for Windows are being maintained.
- Silverex's Windows build based on XChat 2.8.6 (discontinued)
- XChat Aqua or XChat Azure for macOS
- XChat Gnome
- lurc, an IRC client based on XChat 1.0
- HexChat (formerly XChat-WDK), cross-platform fork which adds various features
- XChat (SE)
XChat has been described as popular, buildable for a variety of platforms. In its heyday it was rated one of the best IRC clients for Linux. IRC Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools goes into depth explaining its setup, configuration, and advanced features under Unix and macOS.
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