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IRC 101: Part 2, File Sharing With IRC

by , 11:00 AM EDT, April 16th, 2002

This is Part 2 of our IRC basics tutorial. Check out Part 1 for more basics in working with IRC, "IRC 101: What Is It & How Do I Use It?"

OK folks, now you're on IRC. You've chatted with your friends. Now what do you do? One of the great things about IRC is that is can be used for so much more than just chatting. File sharing via Internet Relay Chat is much more advanced than that in AOL's Instant Messenger client. Using IRC, you can share extremely large files, and can resume a truncated download if necessary. Today we're going to examine the uses of fserv (or DCC) file sharing and the basic commands needed.

What is IRC file sharing useful for?

The possibilities are really endless, since you can share or download anything you or your friends are interested in. Maybe you made an iMovie of your new puppy and want to show all your friends, or you've got digital photos of your last vacation—IRC file sharing makes these files easy to access for your friends. Have some fantastic shareware or freeware you've begun using? You can share those files as well (provided you include the author's information as per their instructions). IRC file sharing allows downloads at your leisure, without having your e-mail swamped with huge attachments.

The fact of the matter is that there is also all sorts of illegal file sharing that occurs through IRC channels, though that illegal file sharing does not detract from the many legal uses that also take place. The Mac Observer does not condone the illegal file sharing that goes on through IRC. Please be responsible when using the following tips.

Where do we begin?

For the purpose of this tutorial, we're going to assume that someone (me) has set up a file server, and you are going to download a file from them. Please note that this server is not actually set up. The screen shots I will be including here are the from Snak 4.8.3, my IRC client of choice.

I have a new iMovie of my dog (the most adorable puppy in the world) and I want to share it with you. However, I won't be at my computer when you're able to download, and it's too big a file to e-mail. I have an automated server, with an "advertisement."

Depending on your client, the ad might look different, but the content is always the same. (Be careful in Ircle sharing files with PC users, as it has difficulty handling two of the most common mIRC scripts (mIRC is a PC IRC client), Invision and Syris, and will display extraneous characters in each ad, making them difficult to read.)

Before you enter my server, you'll need to set up permissions to receive files from me. This is done in your client preferences. [Again, the following screen shots are from Snak, but the preferences in each individual client do not vary that much.] Open your preferences menu and choose "DCC."


Click the thumbnail for a larger image

For downloading only, we are only concerned with the middle section. It reads: "When manually receiving a file that already exists." Your choice depends on your personal preference. I chose "Resume," in case I have to start downloading a file again, it won't overwrite the old file and start from zero. If you choose "Ask," each time a DCC send begins for an existing file, a dialog box will ask you if you want to resume the file, overwrite the existing file, or rename the file to be downloaded. You must be at your computer while downloading for this option to be useful.

Next, click on "DCC Auto" to choose more preferences. For simplicity, you can choose "Auto Accept From Everyone," since in this case, "everyone" is only one person. Then choose a location for your downloads. The desktop is convenient. Again, you need to choose what to do with a file that already exists


Click the thumbnail for a larger image

Now you're ready to go back and look at my ad. The important sections are "trigger," "sends," and "queues." Trigger tells you how to get into my server to request a file; sends indicates how many files I can send at once, and how many slots I have free; queues lists the number of people in line to download.

Here is my ad:

In your console window, type my trigger. (A trigger is a fancy way to request a private chat.) Some triggers include an "!" at the beginning, to distinguish it from regular chat text, so remember to type (or cut and paste) the entire trigger text. If you have set DCC to auto-accept chat, a new window will open with my information. Inside a DCC chat, there are only a few basic commands, which are similar to commands you might use in the Terminal in OS X.

help -- give you a brief overview of the commands
dir -- lists files (and file size, so we'll use this instead of the "ls" command)
cd -- opens a directory
get -- requests a file
sends -- shows the files currently sending
queues -- shows the files currently in the queue
clr_queues -- erases you from the queue
exit -- closes DCC chat

Type "dir" for a list of the files of my server. (A listing in all caps is probably a folder, which you can open using the "cd" command.) Find the file you want, and type "get puppy.mov" to request it. My server will tell you if you are being put into the queue, or if the queue is full. A send will appear in your DCC list window. Type "exit" or simply close the chat window to cancel the DCC chat.

That's it! You've requested a file. Downloading will be automated from there on out, so don't worry.

There are some other methods of serving files. Others work similarly. Just remember to read the instructions, and you'll be fine. Remember, the "help" command is your friend.

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