Zircon, an X11 Client for IRC

Release 1.18

Change Log

Zircon is an X Window System interface to Internet Relay Chat. The software is written in tcl/tk and uses the native network communications of tcl. Suggestions for improvements to Zircon are welcome. I am particularly interested in making the system useful for those users in groups where JIPS and other national character sets are used.

Zircon has more features than you could possibly imagine and implements nearly everything that the irc II clients support as well as many other useful and interesting features. This reflects the power of tcl/tk not the fact that I am a wonderful programmer (I am, but that is a side issue :-)) tcl/tk is a wonderful system and you need it on your machine NOW.

Screenshot of zircon running under KDE.

Screenshot of zircon running under Windows.

Please send all reports, comments and suggestions to: Lindsay.Marshall@newcastle.ac.uk

N.B. Any user whose nick is zircon has nothing to do with this program, nor have any of the #zircon channels.

There is a very, very low volume, moderated mailing list for zircon to which I sometimes post information and requests for comments. It is run from the excellent egroups service. This is made possible by the inclusion of unobtrusive adverts at the end of messages - usually I would have nothing to do with such a system, but these ads are so unobtrusive as to be ineffective, so I dont mind! Join up using this form:

Subscribe to zircon
Enter your e-mail address:
An e-group hosted by FindMail's eGroups.com


The current version of the software was developed using:

N.B. This version of zircon will not run with releases of tcl/tk earlier than 7.5!!

Zircon 1.18 is available from catless.ncl.ac.uk by ftp, and it can be found on several archive sites throughout the net.

Zircon is also available as a source rpm distribution. If you want to know what has changed in the latest version, read the Change Log.

If you do find a problem please let me know.

tcl/tk is available from ftp.scriptics.com in the directory /pub/tcl8_0 and from various archive sites. You can always get the latest versions from catless.ncl.ac.uk as well.

You can configure lots of stuff using X resources, thus it is possible to make buttons and text associated with particular users and channels appear in special colours and fonts. The system is much easier to use than the usual UNIX interfaces to irc (IMHO) and a lot of people are using it on a day to day basis. Zircon also supports a distributed drawing board, but please do not use this when there are non-Zircon users around as they get annoyed when they cant see the pictures.

For people who really cannot do without their ircII style commands a subset of these is also supported both in an optional command line and from Channel windows - see the MANUAL for details.


  • Make sure you have tcl and tk installed.
  • Run the program "installZircon"
  • Set the various fields that it displays to be the correct values for your system
  • Click on the Install button
    You may see compilation errors for the Sed module - don't worry, it won't affect the end result.
  • Read the file README.prefs and look at the file Preferences. Then set up your .zircon/preferences file and your various netspace files.
  • Off you go. Have fun!


Mail problems to Lindsay.Marshall@ncl.ac.uk.

Known Features

  • There is no JIS support. This needs a kanjified tcl/tk and some changes to zircon. Someone in Japan used to provide support for this but seems no longer to do so. Tcl 8.1 has proper unicode support included so this problem will go away soon.
  • Character escaping in the low level CTCP protocol is not done everywhere, but it *is* done for SED encrypted messages
  • You cannot configure anything other than Channels using the configuration panel. If you wish to configure Message channels then you have to do them by hand in the rc file. One day I will completely redo the configuration system....
  • The Sketch Pad facility is (still!!) not completely finished. (and will probably move out into the plugin system when I get that done)
  • The Clear button does not clear the screen. This is a tcl/tk problem and I cannot do anything (useful) to solve it. If you Shift-click on the button then the screen and the history are cleared - this does work.