Tips on logging an IRC channel

There are many reasons why you may want to log an IRC channel. Perhaps you want to record conversation, for later viewing, or use it to generate statistics. While this post will hopefully cover the basic ideas, it is by no means a tutorial on how to set things up. That will come at a later stage.

The first thing to consider is, how important is logging the IRC channel to you?
Do you need it logged 24/7?

The Eggdrop route…

If you are after a 24/7 solution, then you might want to consider setting up an Eggdrop Bot, which is an open source IRC bot which is very flexible and easy to use. To run this, you could use a cheap VPS or a shell account.

  • A shell account is essentially a limited access account, to a server, connecting using SSH or telnet.
  • A VPS is much different, it is a Virtual Private Server. Giving you root access of a virtualised system.

Advantages of an Eggdrop Bot:
+Very stable, expect great uptime.
+Highly configurable – Includes many great options to choose what is logged and what is not.
+Load TCL scripts to protect your channel, manage user privileges, etc.
+Great community support and documentation (Oldest IRC bot still in development, with a great community)

Disadvantages:
-Steep learning curve for beginners (No GUI)

If you are serious about archiving your channel chat, then I would highly recommend an Eggdrop Bot. The advantages highly outweigh the minor disadvantage for new users.

Example Logfile:

[00:42] h1ll37: yeah it screwed up the bootloader of TinyXP >< [00:42] -Dajori- Eventyret from [00:42] -m4t- hey, is there a preferred way to switch versions of gcc? eg. from 4.4 to 4.5? [00:42] -GH9897969x987l- hi all [00:42] -Eventyret- Dajori: ? [00:42] -m4t- switch the symlinks in /usr/bin over

Please note that the usernames are wrapped in ‘< >‘ characters in the logfiles, not ‘-‘. The page doesn’t seem to like the ‘< >‘ characters.

The client route…

If you are not so worried about not having 24/7 logfiles, and not having to worry about an Eggdrop Bot then I would recommend you log using your existing IRC client.

XChat is a great client, which has the option to create logfiles of the channels you are on, found in the settings menu. By default it will just create one large log file per channel, however you can change the logfile settings, to rotate the logfiles more often. See http://xchat.org/faq/#q223 for more info.

Advantages:
+Easy to setup and use.
+Quite configurable.

Disadvantages:
-Don’t expect great uptimes.

Example logfile output:

Oct 06 17:28:49 -delarue- mordy; packets are 1444 bytes; the funny thing though is that I can see them on both sides with tcpdump.
Oct 06 17:29:18 -delarue- so that would suggest against MTU .. I would think.
Oct 06 17:29:54 -delarue- I thought it must be config problem on the receive side until I tried the same config under kvm and the IPSEC works just fine ..
Oct 06 17:30:01 -mordy- try setting your MTU a bit lower, see what happens
Oct 06 17:30:03 -lulzfish_4- Linux-CLI: strange… what distro is that, again?

Please note that the usernames are wrapped in ‘< >‘ characters in the logfiles, not ‘-‘. The page doesn’t seem to like the ‘< >‘ characters.

Final thoughts…

At the end of the day, it is really up to you which option of logging you choose. There are many other clients and bots, which can achieve the logging effect, however personally I think that Eggdrop and xChat are two good ways to log your channels.

Location of xChat logfiles

I just wanted to document this for other people that may have this annoying query in the future.

There is not much information about where xChat and X-Chat Aqua store their logfiles!

The location of the logfiles is

~/.xchat2/xchatlogs/ where ~/ is the location of your home folder.

The .xchat2 folder is indeed hidden, which made it tricky to first locate.

On the older versions of X-Chat Aqua on Mac, the logfiles were stored in
~/Library/Application Support/X-Chat Aqua/xchatlogs

Running scripts in background

I recently came across this problem when experimenting with the PieSpy Bot.

It uses a sh script to launch a java command within, however the output, and subsequent display, stays attached. As soon as I exited the SSH session the processes is killed!

There is a simple solution. We must run it in the background. This also works with many other things that need to be launched into the background

To launch the script we are running sh ./run.sh Instead, put an & on the end of the command, so the new command will look like sh ./run.sh & This will run the process in the background!

As I mentioned above, this solution applies to not just sh scripts. The PieSpy Bot uses the sh script to launch a java command. So if we open up the sh script it has the code

java -Djava.awt.headless=true -classpath .:./lib/pircbot.jar org.jibble.socnet.SocialNetworkBot ./config.ini

Once again, we put the & on the end of the command and it will launch into the background

java -Djava.awt.headless=true -classpath .:./lib/pircbot.jar org.jibble.socnet.SocialNetworkBot ./config.ini &