If you chat on #gamingonlinux-irc:matrix.org via Matrix, you might think GamingOnLinux also operates a Matrix room, but that’s not entirely true. Read on for the details.
What is Matrix? I’m using Element, not Matrix
Matrix is the network and protocol that Element (formerly called Riot) uses to transmit messages. Element is just one of many Matrix clients.
What is the gamingonlinux Matrix room?
On the one hand this is a normal Matrix room, on the other hand it’s also bridged to the #gamingonlinux IRC channel on Libera Chat. You can reach it from the GamingOnLinux website or by connecting an IRC client to Libera Chat.
What do I need to do in order to join #gamingonlinux-irc:matrix.org?
You need to have a registered nickname on Libera Chat, as only registered people can talk on the channel. Once you have a username and password, authenticate on the Matrix side as follows:
- Open an unsecure chan with @appservice:libera.chat
- And finally
What is IRC?
IRC stands for Internet Relay Chat. It’s a chat protocol that has been around since 1988, long before Matrix, instant messengers or even the Web were around. Read more on Wikipedia.
What does the Matrix-Libera Chat bridge do?
It makes IRC messages appear inside Matrix and Matrix messages appear on IRC. Everything you say in the GamingOnLinux Matrix room will be copied to the #gamingonlinux IRC channel and everything that the IRC users say will be mirrored to the Matrix room.
Can an IRC user tell that I’m a Matrix user?
Yes. On IRC, you will appear with an
[m] after your nickname. You can get rid of it by registering your nickname on Libera Chat and configuring Matrix to use this, but how to do that is beyond the scope of this FAQ.
It also becomes obvious that you’re using Matrix if you make use of the reply feature. This feature creates a weird-looking quote of the message replied to, it looks someting like this:
Psy-Q: hey, it seems you are a Matrix user
aMatrixUser[m]: <Psy-Q "hey, it seems you are a Mat"> yes
To IRC users, there is no such thing as replying to a specific older message. If you want to address someone directly, usually you would put a colon after their nick to get their attention:
aMatrixUser[m]: Psy-Q: hi there
In a similar vein, editing old messages doesn’t work either, it looks something like this when someone edits a message twice:
aMatrixUser[m]: i did not hit her aMatrixUser[m]: *i did not hit her, it's not true, it's bullshit! aMatrixUser[m]: *I did not hit her, it’s not true! It’s bullshit! I did not hit her! I did not! Oh hi Mark.
This makes it look unneccessarily noisy on IRC. People there are expected to keep up with the context of a conversation, that’s why you might get strange reactions when using these Matrix features in the GamingOnLinux room – or any other IRC-bridged Matrix room, for that matter.
If all you want to do is correct a previous typo, the traditional way is to simply write a new message and prefix the word with an asterisk:
aMatrixUser[m]: Johnny's my best fiend aMatrixUser[m]: *friend
You can’t delete messages on IRC. What is sent is sent. If you delete a message you posted via Matrix, it will appear as deleted only to Matrix users, but IRC users will still see it.
Why would someone prefer an IRC client if Matrix is more modern?
Matrix is more modern but also a lot more complex than IRC. IRC clients can be tiny and take up just a few hundred KB, they are really fast and make good use of resources. There are also downsides such as missing chat history, no support for attachments, etc. but these can be worked around by using an IRC bouncer and relying on external services to host files, then pasting their URLs into IRC.
Beyond the technical reasons, some of us are simply more comfortable using IRC, maybe because we also sit on other IRC channels or even different IRC networks from the same client.