Existing IRC servers are complex beasts. They're designed for large public networks that need to handle tens of thousands of concurrent connections. They're written in C so they're difficult to modify and often vulnerable to security exploits. Setting them up takes hours of configuration in special syntax and requires knowledge of jargon like "jupe" and "O-line."
Worse, they're hampered by years of legacy decisions. Access control and permissions are handled by an arcane set of user and channel modes and commands, enforced by "services bots" that need to be maintained separately from the servers themselves. And servers are encumbered with controls for rate limiting and spam protection because they're intended for public use.
A private chat server for people you trust
Hector is different: it lets you create a private chat server for people you trust. It's designed for small groups of friends who are comfortable using IRC clients to talk to each other but don't want the administrative overhead of a public server.
Hector implements just enough of the IRC protocol that existing IRC clients can connect and chat. Unlike other servers, Hector has no bans, modes, ops, opers, or channel keys -- but you do need a user name and password to connect. So you either have full access, or you don't have any access at all.
There are no administrative commands built into Hector. You can grant or deny access to users with a simple command-line tool. If you need finer control over connections, use your operating system's firewall (or find better friends).
Modifying Hector is easy because it's written in Ruby. Implementing a new command is as simple as defining a method. Connecting Hector to your existing authentication system is straightforward too.
Hector supports a limited subset of IRC commands.
PASS-- Authenticates you to the server. (Your client sends these as soon as it connects.)
NICK-- Sets your nickname.
JOIN-- Joins a channel.
NOTICE-- Sends a message to another nickname or channel.
TOPIC-- Changes or returns the topic of a channel.
NAMES-- Shows a list of which nicknames are on a channel.
NAMES, but returns more information. (Your client probably sends this when it joins a channel.)
WHOIS-- Shows information about a nickname, including how long it has been connected.
PART-- Leaves a channel.
AWAY-- Marks or unmarks you as being away.
INVITE-- Invites another user to a channel.
PING-- (Your client uses this command to measure the speed of its connection to the server.)
QUIT-- Disconnects from the server.
Installation and usage
Install Hector with RubyGems and create your server:
$ gem install -r hector $ hector setup myserver ... $ cd myserver.hect
Set up your first user account:
myserver.hect$ hector identity remember sam Enter password:
Start the Hector daemon:
myserver.hect$ hector daemon I, [2010-03-07 22:00:00#21466] INFO -- : Hector running on 0.0.0.0:6767 I, [2010-03-07 22:00:00#21466] INFO -- : Secure Hector running on 0.0.0.0:6868
You can connect Hector to an existing authentication scheme by modifying
init.rb in your server's directory:
Hector::Identity.adapter = MyIdentityAdapter.new(...)
MyIdentityAdapter is a class whose instances respond to
authenticate(username, password, &block) and
lib/hector/yaml_identity_adapter.rb for an example.
Copyright © 2011 Sam Stephenson.
Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:
The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.
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