How to get started chatting on freenode with XChat on Ubuntu

What’s needed ahead of time

  • A computer with Ubuntu installed
  • The ability to use sudo on Ubuntu
  • An e-mail address to use for freenode account registration and for password recovery
  • About half an hour (more in the unlikely event a freenode administrator is not available for a while)

Anonymity

Skip this section if you’re not trying to maintain anonymity

I can’t help you to perfectly protect your anonymity, since there are thousands of little unnoticeable ways that your identity can be uncovered. I can give you some optional tips to reduce the risk a bit, though.

  1. Use the following alternative procedure:
    1. Go to a place where you usually use the Internet
    2. Set up MAC address randomization on your WiFi card
    3. Turn off your DHCP hostname
    4. Install Tor; press Ctrl-Alt-T to open a terminal and type:
      sudo apt-key adv --recv-keys --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com 886DDD89
      sudo add-apt-repository "deb http://deb.torproject.org/torproject.org $(lsb_release -s -c) main"
      sudo apt-get install -y deb.torproject.org-keyring
      sudo apt-get install -y tor
      exit
      
    5. Install whichever of Firefox or Chrome that you don’t use
    6. Install the Tor Browser Bundle
    7. Follow only the Install XChat section below
    8. Use a firewall to block all Internet activity for all applications on the computer except DHCP, Tor, the newly-installed browser, the Tor Browser, and XChat
    9. Ensure that XChat is not connected to any servers and will not connect when it’s started up
    10. Completely quit the newly-installed browser (you shouldn’t have started it yet) and the Tor Browser
    11. Take the batteries out of your mobile devices
    12. Travel to an open WiFi hotspot that:
      • …you haven’t used before
      • …isn’t in your neighborhood
      • …isn’t in your friends’ neighborhoods
      • …isn’t in a small town or small city that you spend much time in
      • …is somewhere you can blend in with all the other people using that hotspot
      • …is somewhere you don’t have to do anything nearby that’s recorded (sign-in sheets, credit card use, library card use, enter a username or password that’s unique to you, etc.)
      • …is somewhere that cameras aren’t recording you
    13. With the newly-installed browser:
      1. Start the browser
      2. Go to Google
      3. Handle any WiFi sign-in screens
      4. Quit the browser
    14. With the Tor Browser:
      1. Quit the browser completely if it’s running
      2. Start the browser
      3. Sign up for a webmail account (perhaps at bitmessage.ch), using the following rules:
        • Don’t enter any real information about yourself
        • Don’t enter any pseudonymous information you use anywhere else
        • Don’t enter any of your other e-mail addresses or account names
        • The webmail provider can break into your freenode account if they’re untrustworthy, so choose providers wisely
        • Use only a recently-updated Tor Browser with this webmail account
        • If the Tor Browser is already running, completely quit it and restart it right before accessing webmail
        • When you’ve started the Tor Browser for webmail, do nothing else in the Tor Browser (including using another webmail account for another freenode account) until you’re done with webmail and you’ve completely quit the Tor Browser and restarted it
        • When you’re done with webmail, sign out and then completely quit the Tor Browser; do both
        • Never send any messages from this webmail account, ever
        • When you receive a message, quickly deal with it so that you don’t need it anymore, then delete it, then empty the trash
        • Never give out this e-mail address to anyone (including friends) or to any Internet sites, except to NickServ when registering for this one freenode account; if you want an e-mail address for another freenode account or for any other purpose, use a completely separate e-mail account
      4. Leave the browser running for the freenode registration confirmation message
    15. Successfully complete this guide, starting with Set up an SSL connection to freenode; do not skip the Tor section
    16. With the Tor Browser:
      1. Delete the registration e-mail and empty the trash
      2. Completely quit the Tor Browser
    17. Quit XChat completely
    18. Disconnect from WiFi
    19. Leave back to a place you’re more familiar with
    20. Put the batteries back in your mobile devices
    21. Uninstall the newly-installed non-Tor-Browser browser, making sure to delete all of its files
    22. Reconfigure or disable the firewall so that it doesn’t block normal applications anymore
    23. You’re done; XChat is now ready for use anywhere

Install XChat

  1. Press Ctrl-Alt-T to open a terminal window, and type the following:
    sudo apt-get install -y xchat xchat-otr
    mkdir ~/.xchat2
    cd ~/.xchat2
    wget http://lwsitu.com/xchat/cap_sasl_xchat.pl
    exit
    

Set up an SSL connection to freenode

  1. Start XChat by going to the Ubuntu application menu, Internet submenu, XChat IRC
  2. In the XChat: Network List window that comes up, do the following:
    1. Fill out the form:
      • Nick name: what you will normally be called (up to 16 characters, no spaces, made of alphanumeric, _, -, \, [, ], {, }, ^, `, or |)
      • Second choice: your backup nickname if your normal nickname is temporarily unavailable
      • Third choice: your backup nickname if both your normal nickname and the earlier backup nickname are both temporarily unavailable
      • User name: a name for you that shows up next to your Internet address whenever you do anything on IRC; usually your normal nickname, but it can be whatever you’d like (up to 9 characters, no spaces, made of alphanumeric, ., _, or -)
      • Real name: a short message for people who ask the server who you are; can be your real name, a pseudonym, a short quote, the URL for your website, or whatever you’d like
    2. Check next to Skip network list on startup
    3. Choose FreeNode from the Networks list
    4. Click the Edit... button, and do the following in the new window:
      1. Click on irc.freenode.net/8001
      2. Change it to irc.freenode.net/7000
      3. Check next to Connect to selected server only
      4. Check next to Auto connect to this network at startup
      5. Check next to Use SSL for all the servers on this network
      6. Click Close
    5. In the original window, click Connect
  3. If it asks What would you like to do next?, click OK to close the window
  4. In the new main window, check that it shows the MOTD (message of the ‘day’) and that you’ve set modes +Z (for an SSL connection) and +i (for being invisible to normal users unless they’re on a channel you’re on) on yourself

Register an account

  1. At the bottom of the main window is a text-entry line where you should type the following:
    1. /query nickserv
    2. register password email-address
    3. /sasl set freenode normal-nickname password PLAIN

Verify your e-mail address

  1. Check your e-mail for the verification e-mail, which will look like this:

    Subject: freenode Nickname Registration
    From: freenode automailer
    Olathe,

    In order to complete your registration, you must send the following command on IRC:
    /msg NickServ VERIFY REGISTER Olathe qzxqzxqzxqzx

    Thank you for registering your nickname on the freenode IRC network!

    Thank you for your interest in the freenode IRC network.

    This email was sent due to a command from Olathe[~Olathe@wifi.olathe] at Wed, 23 Oct 2013 22:19:00 +0000.
    If this message is spam, please contact support@freenode.net with a full copy.

  2. Copy and paste the entire /msg line from the e-mail you received (not from this page) into the same place you just registered your freenode account (the /query nickserv section you opened in XChat)

Change settings for your freenode account

  1. Type the following into the same place you just pasted the registration verification (the /query nickserv section you opened in XChat):
    1. set enforce on
    2. set hidemail on
    3. set private on
    4. /nick second-choice-nickname
    5. group
    6. /nick third-choice-nickname
    7. group

Set up Tor

Skip this section if you don’t want to use Tor!

  1. Type the following into the same place you just changed your freenode account settings (the /query nickserv section you opened in XChat):
    1. /set irc_hide_version ON
    2. /ignore * CTCP DCC

    tor-commands

  2. Press Ctrl-Alt-T to open a terminal window, and type the following:
    sudo apt-key adv --recv-keys --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com 886DDD89
    sudo add-apt-repository "deb http://deb.torproject.org/torproject.org $(lsb_release -s -c) main"
    sudo apt-get install -y deb.torproject.org-keyring
    sudo apt-get install -y tor
    exit
    
  3. Go to XChat’s Settings menu, Preferences
    1. Switch to the Interface section, Input box subsection and, under Nick Completion, fill out Nick completion suffix with :completion-setup
    2. Switch to the Chatting section, General subsection and erase all Default Messagesmessages-setup
    3. Switch to the Network section, Network setup subsection and do the following:
      1. Check next to Use Authentication (HTTP or Socks5 only)
      2. Fill out the following:
        • Hostname: 127.0.0.1
        • Port: 9050
        • Type: Socks5
        • Use proxy for: All connections
        • Username: XChat
        • Password: XChat

        network-setup

    4. Switch to the Network section, File transfers subsection
      1. Under Files and Directories, change Auto accept file offers to No
      2. Under Network Settings, change DCC IP address to 127.0.0.1dcc-setup
    5. Click OK
  4. Go to the Settings menu, Advanced submenu, CTCP Replies
    1. Repeatedly click Delete until all CTCP replies are gonectcp-setup
    2. Click Save
  5. Go to the XChat menu, Network List...
    1. Under Networks, choose FreeNode, and click Edit...
      1. Click on irc.freenode.net/7000, change it to p4fsi4ockecnea7l.onion/7000, and press enter
      2. Click Add, click on newserver/6667, change it to lgttsalmpw3qo4no.onion/7000, and press enter
      3. Click Add, click on newserver/6667, change it to 5jebommkgbfl6agc.onion/7000, and press enter
      4. Click Add, click on newserver/6667, change it to lbkwyb2csfcgoxwa.onion/7000, and press enter
      5. Uncheck Connect to selected server only
      6. Click Close

Store SASL password securely

  1. Quit XChat completely
  2. Press Ctrl-Alt-T to open a terminal window, and type the following:
    chmod 600 ~/.xchat2/*sasl*
    exit
    
  3. Start XChat by going to the Ubuntu application menu, Internet submenu, XChat IRC
  4. Make sure it connects to freenode, that you are set mode +Z, and that you do not see the following message:

    This nickname is registered. Please choose a different nickname, or identify via /msg NickServ identify <password>.

Get a cloak

  1. Type the following into XChat’s text-entry line:
    1. /join #freenode
      • If you set up Tor:
        Can I please get an unaffiliated cloak for when I'm not on Tor?
      • If you didn’t set up Tor:
        Can I please get an unaffiliated cloak?

      unaffiliated-cloak

  2. Wait for someone to give you a cloak; in the rare case that no one responds, try asking again in 10 minutes
  3. Once you get a cloak, thank the person who gave it to you and quit XChat completely

Check that everything is set up properly

  1. Start XChat by going to the Ubuntu application menu, Internet submenu, XChat IRC
  2. In XChat, type:
    1. /query nickserv
    2. info normal-nickname
  3. Ensure that your account information looks like the above
  4. If everything is set up properly, you’re done! If not, you can type /join #freenode and ask for help there

Read about how to use OTR chat

It’s important to understand that, though it’s unlikely they do so, it’s possible for some freenode administrators to view private conversations (in /query other-person's-nickname windows). If you use it properly, OTR encrypts these conversations so that only the two participants can read them.

The creator of the XChat OTR plugin has created some instructions, which you should read.

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