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OSX IRC Client Shootout

Posted by mattray on May 2, 2008

My IRC needs are quite basic, I need an OSX IRC client I can leave open all day without having it crash or consume 100% of my CPU and/or memory. I’ll be hanging out on the #zenoss channel on the irc.freenode.net servers as part of my new job. Open Source is preferred, and I’d like configurable Growl integration and detailed, searchable logging; but stability is my #1 priority. Below is my 15-minute per client IRC shootout.

The Contestants:

Colloquy 2.1:
Colloquy was the first I tried because I remembered it seemed pretty good from a few years ago, but then my company started blocking IRC and I never got around to using it again. It is GPL and configuration seemed to go fine except for the fact that everytime the window lost focus, it started bouncing on the Dock. After I fixed that annoyance, after about 10 minutes of IRC, my CPU hit 100% and Colloquy was the culprit. That could be related to this ticket, but that was a major strike against it. After switching to my new MacBook Pro, I figured the PPC bug would be gone and it would be OK, but then channels would open and stay empty, so I decided I’d had enough.

Irssix .7:
Very minimal and GPL, I got online with no fuss. No themes, just black on white and it seemed to resist my attempts at applying different fonts. No Growl or offline logging either. Never noticed CPU or memory usage. It set a very stable, no-frills baseline.

Ircle 3.1.2:
30-Day shareware, interesting project because they still support OS 9 and the 68K platform. Kinda ugly and complicated out of the box, with an annoying sound theme on by default. irc.freenode.net wasn’t on the list of 2300+ servers as far as I could tell. Configuration was also complicated, didn’t see Growl integration, but auto-logging was available (and I assume searchable outside the application). Crashed when I shut it down (report sent).

Snak 5.3.3:
30-Day shareware, but the money is donated to charity so that’s a positive. The first run started with a setup assistant, which seemed innocuous enough and it worked immediately. Themes were mostly pleasing pastels and there was a nice transparency slider. Growl integration in the action list, where you could trigger highlighting or other actions based on input was a very slick feature. Memory and CPU usage seemed minimal. Logging sent to an external file with configuration for the formatting. Everything seemed stable and straightforward, no complaints in my 15 minutes.

X-Chat Aqua .16
I used to use XChat for Linux back in the day, this is the GPL OSX Aqua update. For eye-candy it had a transparency slider and extensive color support but no themes. Logging to external files is supported. The event notifications configuration is quite nice. You can choose Growl, indicate on or bounce the Dock or a sound file for just about everything IRC related with toggling for when XChat is the foreground application. I never noticed memory or CPU usage. Apparently it hasn’t been updated in awhile, but it seems to be working just fine. Occasionally OSX’s Spaces will forget to pin it to all desktops, but that’s just an odd bug for now.

And the winner is…

X-Chat Aqua hit all the right features and seems stable enough. If it turns into a resource hog after a few days, I’d probably give Snak another look. I’m sure I probably overlooked some other IRC clients or missed out on the greatness of one of the ones I did review. Feel free to leave feedback and maybe if X-Chat stops being good enough I’ll reevaluate the competition.

PDF Scribd link.

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3 Responses to “OSX IRC Client Shootout”

  1. chadwick said

    What’s wrong with the good ol’ IRC II client? 🙂

  2. […] settled on Colloquy because of it’s Mac-like interface and logging. I’d check out Matt Ray’s OS X IRC shoot-out […]

  3. mattray said

    As a followup, I now use the IRC module for Adium version 1.4. It does everything I need and integrates into Adium, so there’s 1 less application I have open. Been using it for months now and I’m really pleased.

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