About one month ago, we began a private beta for chat.sr.ht, the next flagship sourcehut product. Starting today, this service is now available to all paid sourcehut users.
chat.sr.ht is a hosted IRC bouncer service, which maintains a persistent IRC connection for you and extends IRC with useful features like offline messaging, log persistence, and various other improvements. In addition to accepting connections from any third-party IRC client, chat.sr.ht offers a ready-to-use web client.
Like the rest of the SourceHut services, chat.sr.ht is powered by free software. The bouncer is based on soju and the web chat is based on gamja. There are many other soju deployments in the wild — chat.sr.ht is just the newest. gamja is a standalone web client: it doesn’t depend on specific server software and several independent networks provide it to their users today.
The IRC networks you use with chat.sr.ht are independent entities, governed by their own stewards and unaffiliated with SourceHut. Thanks to the standard, open protocols that IRC is built on, chat.sr.ht users are able to participate in the established community of IRC networks like Libera Chat.
Our main goal is to make IRC easier to use for free software projects. For example, the bouncer exposes a special protocol extension to automatically connect to all of your IRC networks, which helps skip the tedious process of configuring every network you use. The web client can also be configured to open irc:// links around the web, so that getting involved in a project’s discussion can be as easy as clicking a link in the project’s README.
Our work is not limited to chat.sr.ht itself — we want to improve the IRC ecosystem as a whole. We are involved in upstream IRCv3 development: we participate in the standardization process by providing implementations and feedback for work-in-progress specifications (for instance chathistory), and we’re also pushing new specifications (for instance extended-monitor). Additionally, we’ve been contributing to modern-irc, the de-facto IRC reference document. We want chat.sr.ht to be a platform for improving the IRC community.
Moving forward, we plan to continue collaborating with the IRC community and improving the IRC standards. Our first priority is to develop the account-registration implementation in upstream ircds, which will bring a first-class network registration protocol to IRC. We’re also hoping to add anonymous access to chat.sr.ht, so non-paying users or users without a sourcehut account can participate in your project’s chat room.
In the meantime, please give it a shot! Head over to chat.sr.ht to take it a spin.