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ngIRCd - Next Generation IRC Server
(c)2001-2012 Alexander Barton and Contributors.
ngIRCd is free software and published under the
terms of the GNU General Public License.
-- Protocol.txt --
I. Compatibility
The ngIRCd implements the Internet Relay Chat (IRC) protocol version 2.10
as defined in RFC ("request for comment") 1459 and 2810-2813. These (and
probably further relevant RFCs) are listed in doc/RFC.txt.
Unfortunately, even the "original" ircd doesn't follow these specifications
in all details. But because the ngIRCd should be a fully compatible
replacement for this server ("ircd") it tries to emulate these differences.
If you don't like this behavior please ./configure the ngIRCd using the
"--enable-strict-rfc" command line option. But keep in mind: not all IRC
clients are compatible with a server configured that way, some can't even
connect at all! Therefore this option usually isn't desired for "normal
server operation".
II. The IRC+ Protocol
Starting with version 0.5.0, the ngIRCd extends the original IRC protocol
as defined in RFC 2810-2813. This enhanced protocol is named "IRC+". It is
backwards compatible to the "plain" IRC protocol and will only be used by
the ngIRCd if it detects that the peer supports it as well.
The "PASS" command is used to detect the protocol and peer versions see
RFC 2813 (section 4.1.1) and below.
II.1 Register new server link
Command: PASS
Parameters: <password> <version> <flags> [<options>]
Used by: servers only (with these parameters)
<password> is the password for this new server link as defined in the server
configuration which is sent to the peer or received from it.
<version> consists of two parts and is at least 4, at most 14 characters
long: the first four bytes contain the IRC protocol version number, whereas
the first two bytes represent the major version, the last two bytes the
minor version (the string "0210" indicates version 2.10, e.g.).
The following optional(!) 10 bytes contain an implementation-dependent
version number. Servers supporting the IRC+ protocol as defined in this
document provide the string "-IRC+" here.
Example for <version>: "0210-IRC+".
<flags> consists of two parts separated with the character "|" and is at
most 100 bytes long. The first part contains the name of the implementation
(ngIRCd sets this to "ngircd", the original ircd to "IRC", e.g.). The second
part is implementation-dependent and should only be parsed if the peer
supports the IRC+ protocol as well. In this case the following syntax is
used: "<serverversion>[:<serverflags>]".
<serverversion> is an ASCII representation of the clear-text server version
number, <serverflags> indicates the supported IRC+ protocol extensions (and
may be empty!).
The following <serverflags> are defined at the moment:
- C: The server supports the CHANINFO command.
- L: INVITE- and BAN-lists should be synchronized between servers: if the
peer understands this flag, it will send "MODE +I" and "MODE +b"
commands after the server link has been established.
- H: The server supports the "enhanced server handshake", see section II.2
for a detailed description.
- M: Changing client "metadata" (hostname, real name, ...) using the
METADATA command is supported.
- o: IRC operators are allowed to change channel- and channel-user-modes
even if they aren't channel-operator of the affected channel.
- S: The server supports the SERVICE command (on this link).
- X: Server supports XOP channel modes (owner, admin, halfop) and supports
these user prefixes in CHANINFO commands, for example.
- Z: Compressed server links are supported by the server.
Example for a complete <flags> string: "ngircd|0.7.5:CZ".
The optional parameter <options> is used to propagate server options as
defined in RFC 2813, section 4.1.1.
II.2 Enhanced Server Handshake
The "enhanced server handshake" is used when both servers support this IRC+
extension, which is indicated by the 'H' flag in the <serverflags> sent with
the PASS command, see section II.1.
It basically means, that after exchanging the PASS and SERVER commands the
server is not registered in the network (as usual), but that IRC numerics
are exchanged until the numeric 376 (ENDOFMOTD) is received. Afterwards the
peer is registered in the network as with the regular IRC protocol.
A server implementing the enhanced server handshake (and indicating this
using 'H' in the <serverflags>) MUST ignore all unknown numerics to it
In addition, such a server should at least send the numeric 005 (ISUPPORT)
to its peer, containing the following information. Syntax: <key>=<value>,
one token per IRC parameter. If the server has to send more than 12 token
it must send separate ISUPPORT numerics (this is a limitation of the IRC
protocol which allows at max 15 arguments per command).
- NICKLEN: Maximum nickname length. Default: 9.
- CASEMAPPING: Case mapping used for nick- and channel name comparing.
Default: "ascii", the chars [a-z] are lowercase of [A-Z].
- PREFIX: List of channel modes a person can get and the respective prefix
a channel or nickname will get in case the person has it. The order of the
modes goes from most powerful to least powerful. Default: "(ov)@+"
- CHANTYPES: Supported channel prefixes. Default: "#".
- CHANMODES: List of channel modes for 4 types, separated by comma (","):
Mode that adds or removes a nick or address to a list, mode that changes
a setting (both have always has a parameter), mode that changes a setting
and only has a parameter when set, and mode that changes a setting and
never has a parameter. For example "bI,k,l,imnPst".
- CHANLIMIT: Maximum number of channels allowed to join by channel prefix,
for example "#:10".
Please see <> for details.
The information exchanged using ISUPPORT can be used to detect configuration
incompatibilities (different maximum nickname length, for example) and
therefore to disconnect the peer prior to registering it in the network.
II.3 Exchange channel-modes, topics, and persistent channels
Parameters: <channel> +<modes> [[<key> <limit>] <topic>]
Used by: servers only
CHANINFO is used by servers to inform each other about a channel: its
modes, channel key, user limits and its topic. The parameter combination
<key> and <limit> is optional, as well as the <topic> parameter, so that
there are three possible forms of this command:
CHANINFO <channel> +<modes>
CHANINFO <channel> +<modes> <topic>
CHANINFO <channel> +<modes> <key> <limit> <topic>
If the channel already exists on the server receiving the CHANINFO command,
it only adopts the <modes> (or the <topic>) if there are no modes (or topic)
already set. It there are already values set the server ignores the
corresponding parameter.
If the channel doesn't exists at all it will be created.
The parameter <key> must be ignored if a channel has no key (the parameter
<modes> doesn't list the "k" channel mode). In this case <key> should
contain "*" because the parameter <key> is required by the CHANINFO syntax
and therefore can't be omitted. The parameter <limit> must be ignored when
a channel has no user limit (the parameter <modes> doesn't list the "l"
channel mode). In this case <limit> should be "0".
II.4 Update webchat/proxy client information
Command: WEBIRC
Parameters: <password> <username> <hostname> <ip-address> [<ignored>]
Used by: unregistered clients only
The WEBIRC command is used by some Web-to-IRC gateways to set the correct
user name and host name of users instead of their own. It must be the very
first command sent to the server, even before USER and NICK commands!
The <password> must be set in the server configuration file to prevent
unauthorized clients to fake their identity; it is an arbitrary string.
Optionally, a 5th parameter is accepted to comply with an IRCv3 extension,
see <>, but ignored.
II.5 Client character encoding conversion
Parameters: <client-charset>
Used by: registered clients
A client can set its character set encoding using the CHARCONV command:
after receiving such a command, the server translates all message data
received from the client using the set <client-charset> to the server
encoding (UTF-8), and all message data which is to be sent to the client
from the server encoding (UTF-8) to <client-charset>.
The list of supported client character sets is implementation dependent.
If a client sets its <client-charset> to the server encoding (UTF-8),
it disables all conversions; the connection behaves as if no CHARCONV
command has been sent at all in this session.
II.6 Update client "metadata"
Parameters: <target> <key> <value>
Used by: servers only
The METADATA command is used on server-links to update "metadata" information
of clients, like the hostname, the info text ("real name"), or the user name.
The server updates its client database according to the received <key> and
<value> parameters, and passes the METADATA command on to all the other
servers in the network that support this command (see section II.1 "Register
new server link", <serverflag> "M"), even if it doesn't support the given
<key> itself: unknown <key> names are ignored silently!
The following <key> names are defined:
- "accountname": the account name of a client (can't be empty)
- "certfp": the certificate fingerprint of a client (can't be empty)
- "cloakhost": the cloaked hostname of a client
- "host": the hostname of a client (can't be empty)
- "info": info text ("real name") of a client
- "user": the user name of a client (can't be empty)
III. Numerics used by IRC+ Protocol
The IRC+ protocol uses numerics in the range 800-899 which aren't used by
RFC 2812 and hopefully don't clash with other implementations ...
Numerics 800-849 are used for status and success messages, and numerics
850-899 are failure and error messages.
III.1 IRC+ status and success numerics
%1 :Client encoding set"
%1 client character set
III.2 IRC+ failure and error numerics
:Can't initialize client encoding