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Logo xchat.png
screenshot of XChat 2.8.0
Developer(s) Peter Železný (zed)
Stable release 2.8.6 (source)

 (2008-06-12; 18 months ago)
2.8.7f (windows)

 (2009-08-18; 4 months ago) [+/−]
Written in C
Operating system Windows, Mac OS X, Unix-like
Platform Cross-platform
Available in Multilingual
Development status Active
Type IRC client
License Proprietary for Windows version, GNU General Public License for others

XChat, commonly written X-Chat or xchat, is a popular Internet Relay Chat (IRC) client. It is available for Unix-like systems, Microsoft Windows (with additional features), Mac OS X (X-Chat Aqua), and for other X Window System-based systems (Fink project). It has a choice of a tabbed document interface or tree interface, support for multiple servers and is highly configurable. Both command line and graphical versions are available. The main code is licensed under the GNU General Public License, but the official Windows version is Shareware, and uses the GTK+ toolkit for its interface.



XChat is a full-featured IRC client and includes all basic functionalities that are found in most other IRC clients, including CTCP, DCC file transfers and chats, and a plugin system for various languages (including at least C or C++, Perl, Python, Tcl, Ruby[1], Lua[2], CLISP, D, and DMDScript[3]). By writing plugins, one can extend the features and customize the functionality of XChat.

XChat runs on at least the following operating systems: GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, Solaris, AIX, IRIX, Mac OS X, Windows 98/ME/NT/2000/XP and others. Support for 98/ME was dropped from the official Windows build[4], but XChat can still be compiled for this platform from source or obtained from an alternate build site.

Shareware controversy

Licence change

As of August 23, 2004, official Windows build of XChat has become shareware, and must be purchased for USD $20, AUD $25 or 14.95€ after a 30-day trial period. Previous (freeware) builds for Windows have been removed from the official site.


There has been a great deal of discussion about the legality of this move. Since the XChat project has not required copyright assignment, the maintainer (Peter Železný, or zed) of the XChat project does not actually hold copyright to the entirety of the code. While he has offered to remove and rewrite any patches, provided the author of the patches asks him to, there are many who feel that he is still in violation of the GPL, especially since the code for the shareware enforcement is not disclosed. As the code may be in violation of the GPL, a developer whose code is currently in the XChat source code may be entitled to legal action. However, as the controversy has existed for quite some time, it is unlikely for a developer to take this action if they are currently concerned about their code in the project and have not already requested a change.

Author's rationale

It is stated that the shareware fee is required due to the excessive amount of time it takes to make it compile under Windows[5].

Unofficial builds

Unofficial Windows builds of XChat are made available (at no cost) by contributors, who maintain binaries of the latest release.

See also


  1. ^ Xchat-Ruby Plugin Website
  2. ^ xchat lua plugin
  3. ^ xcdscript home page
  4. ^ XChat Forum - Support for Windows 98/ME dropped
  5. ^ XChat for Windows Quote: "Q. Why can't XChat for Windows be free? A. [...] Building XChat for Windows is a difficult process, it requires quite some skill and expertise to accomplish. It takes time, and is by no means automated. [...]"

External links

Derivative software

Simple English

XChat is a popular IRC client. It is open source, but its Windows port is shareware.[1]

Other pages


  1. "Xchat for Windows". Retrieved 2009-09-16. 

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