Irssi Guide + Scripts

Hello there, a lot of times I see people struggling with IRSSI & some don’t know what it is or don’t realise it’s true potential. Some people abandon using IRSSI after getting frustrated in figuring out how things work. So, I decided to write this guide…to encourage more people to use IRSSI.

1) First of all what is IRSSI?

According to Wiki:

Irssi (Finnish pronunciation: [ˈ] [1]) is an IRC client program originally written by Timo Sirainen, and released under the terms of the GNU General Public License in Jan 1999. It is written in the C programming language and in normal operation uses a text-mode user interface.[1] Irssi was written primarily to run on Unix-like operating systems but also runs under Microsoft Windows, using Cygwin. Irssi can also be compiled and run under Windows natively, but doing so adds more work to access many of its useful features.[citation needed]
Several versions are available for the UNIX-based Mac OS X, including a text-mode version using Fink or MacPorts, a native graphical version named MacIrssi, another graphical version called IrssiX, and formerly the Cocoa client Colloquy (which now uses its own IRC core implementation).
Unlike some text mode IRC clients, Irssi is not based on the ircII code, and was written from scratch. This freed the developers from having to deal with the constraints of an existing codebase, allowing them to maintain tighter control over issues such as security and customization. Numerous modules and Perl scripts have been made available for Irssi to customise how it looks and operates.
Irssi may be configured by using its user interface or by manually editing its configuration files, which use a syntax resembling Perl data structures.

Basically, Irssi is a commandline based IRC client that was built especially with the functionality to be able to run remotely when let’s say you’re on a shell. Irssi can be used in conjunction with a unix/linux program like “screen” to maintain your session in the shell itself even if you accidentally lose your connection. Irssi is highly customisable & that is where it’s main strength lies.

2) What does it look like?

View image @ original size –>

3) How do I get it?

It should be available in your linux distro’s repository. If you’re on Ubuntu, try the following code to install IRSSI & Screen (screen should be installed by default):

sudo apt-get install irssi screen

4) How do I get started with the basic commands?

These are the basic commands:

As you can see, IRSSI seems kind of complex at first but when you start using it for a few hours, it’s quite simple. I would advice people who are new to IRSSI just to spend a few minutes learning the basic commands & trying it out for themselves, etc.

For more information about Irssi, I highly recommend that you visit the following sites:

Irssi Help

A Guide to Efficiently Using Irssi and Screen |

5) How do I customise my Irssi?

Well, I’ve decided to include 3 of my favorite scripts that I think are pretty essential to IRSSI.


Note the scripts below have been reuploaded, previously they were removed due to copyright infringement.

I wonder how come scripts under GPL license fall under copyright violation 😛

a) – Use this script if you want the nick names of every user to represent a fancy color.
b) – Use this script along with the screen command to have a mini side bar to show the nick list of people in the room.
c) – Use this to get notified of all the incoming messages as they are directed to Dbus. In otherwords, a notification/pop up appears when you receive a message/your name is highlighted, etc.

You can get the above scripts here –>

To install the scripts just place it in the folder as shown below:


Note: “.irssi” folder should be in your home folder.Also for the script “fnotify” to work you may need lib-notify installed in your distro. 

To make the nicklist script work, you need to manually enter “/nicklist screen” command to automatically enable it through screen every time you start a new session. By default every script that is stored in the “autorun” folder is automatically loaded when an IRSSI session is started.

To manually load a script placed in the scripts folder do: “/script load

Also kindly note that you may run into issues while trying to get the script to work because it utilizes icons on Ubuntu with hard coded variables (blame the coder for this). But if you guys really want it badly then perhaps I can fix the code and reupload with an updated version.

Find more interesting scripts like cmdline based online music streamer (LastFM plugin) for Irssi here –> web::irssi::scripts

6) How do I use Screen + Irssi?

All you have to do to load irssi with in screen is to type “screen irssi“.

If let’s say you want your Irssi session that is running inside screen to be detached or prefer running it in background, type: “[Ctrl] +A + D

To list current screen sessions running in the background, type: “screen -list

To re-attach a screen session that has been previously detached, type: “screen -raAD

7) How do I get a shell a/c?

There are a lot of free shell providers on the internet, but a lot of these free services are unreliable or most of the time their service to free users seem to get discontinued after a few months or so…other than the well known ones. Even if you get yourself a free shell a/c, the chances are there might be a lot of restrictions on what you can do or you’re allowed to do. Some support Irssi & some don’t so it’s upto you to find one which has support for Irssi. Google is your best friend 😉

Final thoughts

So anyway guys, I hope this tutorial will be useful & I made it brief because I want you to explore & find out for yourself. In my opinion no guide in the world will teach you everything and I personally think it’s much more faster to learn by just messing around with it. Like I previously said, this guide does not cover everything, but I’ve included a link at the end of section #4 & trying out those commands for yourself will make it easier to get hold of everything.

If you face any problem be sure to make a post and let me know! I’ll try to repond to the queries in my spare time. Goodluck!



  1. Nice scripts, didn’t know about them.

    About the shell accounts: be careful about identifying with NickServ through your shell account as the server might be filtering the connection and intercept your password/s. Same goes for private messaging and sensitive information.

    • Thanks for pointing that out s3my0n! I think it eventually comes down to whether you can trust the shell provider(s) and in my opinion it’s best to go with well reputed/established ones..but also that doesn’t guarantee that the logs of your activity will be safe.

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