Ngircd Install Guide

In this guide, we'll setup ngircd, a free, portable, lightweight IRC server.

Overview

ngircd is an IRC? server. It helps IRC clients send messages to one another.

Advantages:

  1. The source code is written in modern, portable C.
  2. The code compiles easily on all BSDs, Linux, and other platforms.
  3. The code is easy to fork to add new features such as spam filters
  4. The server has a very simple, easy-to-understand configuration
  5. Documentation is short and easy to understand
  6. The server is a clean implementation which was written from scratch
  7. The lead developer po||ux actively hangs out on the IRC server barton.ngircd.de on #ngircd

Docs and references

  1. Official ngIRCd documentation

Installation

Installing from OpenBSD packages

$ doas pkg_add ngircd

Copy the sample configuration file:

$ doas cp /usr/local/share/examples/ngircd/sample-ngircd.conf /etc/ngircd/ngircd.conf

ngIRCd v26.1 provided by OpenBSD 6.9 ports does not have ident support. On a production server, ident support is essential, so we will need to compile from source (described below). You will want to do this after installing from packages, so that rc.d scripts are created automatically.

Installing from source

Pull the codebase from IRCNow's file servers, extract the code, and install it

 
$ ftp https://ircnow.org/software/ngircd.tgz
$ tar xvzf ngircd.tgz
$ cd ngircd-26.1/
$ sh build.sh 

Configuring ngircd

Edit /etc/ngircd/ngircd.conf :

Note: Lines that begin with # or ; are comments and will be ignored. Remove # or ; to uncomment the line if that is desired.

Typically, ";" precedes a line of code that has been commented, while a "#" precedes an actual note that should not be uncommented.

Global Block

[Global]
        Name = irc.example.com
        AdminInfo1 = Example Network
        AdminInfo2 = Planet Earth
        AdminEMail = admin@example.com
        Info = irc.example.com
  • Name: Use your server's domain name.
  • Info: Use your server's domain name.
        Listen = 127.0.0.1,192.168.1.1,2001:db8::

Uncomment this line and provide every single IP address you want ngircd to listen on. This includes localhost (127.0.0.1), and our public IPv4 and IPv6 addresses. Keep 127.0.0.1 but replace 192.168.1.1 and 2001:db8:: with your real public IPs. If you are hosting a public service, avoid listing IPs that are not DDoS-filtered. IRC servers are heavily DDoSed and using an unfiltered IP will get you nullrouted.

Note: if you do not uncomment on this line, you will listen to all IPs by default, which is probably a mistake.

        MotdFile = /etc/ngircd/ngircd.motd
        Network = ExampleNet

Motdfile stands for "Message of the Day"; we will create this file later on. Network: Your network name.

        Ports = 6660, 6661, 6662, 6663, 6664, 6665, 6666, 6667, 6668, 6669, 7000, 16667
        ServerGID = _ngircd
        ServerUID = _ngircd

It's recommended to provide ports besides the standard 6667 to allow users to bypass network firewalls.

NOTE: Make sure to set the ServerUID and ServerGID to _ngircd. Otherwise, it runs as the user nobody by default.

Limits Block

[Limits]
        MaxConnectionsIP = 0
        MaxJoins = 300
        MaxNickLength = 16
        MaxListSize = 1000
        PingTimeout = 300
        PongTimeout = 300

MaxNickLength: must be identical to all servers on the network. On IRCNow, MaxNickLength is 16.

Options Block

[Options]
        AllowRemoteOper = no
        ChrootDir = /var/ngircd
        CloakHost = %x
        CloakHostSalt = <abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz>
        DefaultUserModes = i
        NoticeBeforeRegistration = yes
        OperChanPAutoOp = no 
        RequireAuthPing = yes
        SyslogFacility = daemon

For security reasons, we do not want to allow remote opers. Each team appoints their own opers, so you might not trust an oper on another server.

We want to chroot to /var/ngircd to prevent a security compromise.

We will cloak the host using a unique salt; contact another sysadmin for the exact salt. If not linking to a network, you can leave it commented for a random salt each time it runs or you can provide your own random salt.

User mode +i keeps the user invisible so that /whois does not show all channels a user has joined. This helps reduce stalking and harassment.

Receiving a notice before registration can help with debugging with netcat. It is necessary for hopm. We're going to log using syslog (see below).

SSL block

 
;[SSL]

This entire block should be commented. When you are ready to set up SSL/TLS encryption, un-comment the entire block.

WARNING: Do not send passwords or sensitive data over this server until SSL is set up.

Operator Block

You may have as many Operator Blocks as you like, one for each Operator.

[Operator]
        Name = username
        Password = password

Please use a long, random string for your password.

If you uncomment Mask, your hostmask must match the operator hostmask in order for the /OPER command to be accepted. If it differs at all, then your /OPER command will be rejected. If you don't want to check the hostmask, leave Mask commented out.

For more security, you can uncomment Mask and have it match your vhost. However, please be aware that this will make it impossible to authenticate if you ever have to connect from a different IP address.

Server Block

[Server]

The server block is used to connect to other servers to form a network. You can have multiple server blocks. See: Link your ngircd

You are finished editing ngircd.conf

MOTD file

Create the Message of the Day in /etc/ngircd/ngircd.motd. Here is a suggested template:

IRCNow - The Users' Network

IRCNow is the network of the user, by the user, for the user.

 * No porn / illegal drugs / threats of violence
 * No slander / libel / gambling
 * No spam, illegal cracking, or DDoS
 * No copyright infrigement

You must agree to our terms of service and our privacy policy 
to use this network:

https://wiki.ircnow.org/index.php?n=Terms.Terms

Only 5 connections per IP address. If you need help, please speak with staff on #help.

Configuring syslog

All log messages from ngircd should go to /var/log/ngircd.log . Insert these three lines starting at line 3 (at the top) in /etc/syslog.conf:

!!ngircd
*.*                                                     /var/log/ngircd.log
!*

This directs all logs from ngircd to go straight to /var/log/ngircd.log.

Next, create the file /var/log/ngircd.log and restart syslogd:

$ doas touch /var/log/ngircd.log
$ doas rcctl restart syslogd

Chroot

We need to set up the chroot for ngircd. Let's copy the files into the chroot:

$ doas mkdir /var/ngircd/etc/
$ doas cp /etc/resolv.conf /var/ngircd/etc/
$ doas cp -R /etc/ngircd /var/ngircd/etc/
$ doas chown -R _ngircd:_ngircd /var/ngircd/
$ doas rm -r /etc/ngircd
$ doas ln -s /var/ngircd/etc/ngircd /etc/ngircd
$ doas mkdir -p /var/ngircd/usr/local/share/doc/
$ doas cp -R /usr/local/share/doc/ngircd/ /var/ngircd/usr/local/share/doc/
$ doas chown -R _ngircd:_ngircd /var/ngircd/usr/local/share/doc/ngircd/

This will create a symlink so that only one set of configuration files needs to be maintained inside and outside of the chroot. Otherwise, ngircd will require two sets of configuration files, one inside and the other outside of the chroot.

Starting ngircd

To start ngircd via rcctl:

doas rcctl enable ngircd
doas rcctl start ngircd

Next, use your IRC client to connect to the server. Join a few channels and chat inside.

Troubleshooting

If you run into any errors, you can test to see if your configuration file has errors:

$ doas ngircd -t

To run ngircd in debug mode:

$ doas ngircd -n

Check /var/log/ngircd.log to see if ngircd is listening on the correct IP addresses and ports. Connect to those ports using your IRC client to verify that the server is working as intended.

Remember, if you are connecting using port 6667 without SSL, any eavesdropper can read all your text, including your passwords. Don't send any sensitive information until you have upgraded to SSL.

Reloading and Restarting ngIRCd

After you edit /etc/ngircd/ngircd.conf for a running ngircd server, you will need to reload the configuration file:

$ doas rcctl reload ngircd

Alternatively, you can run:

$ doas pkill -HUP ngircd

Reloading a configuration file will not disconnect any active connections. So, try to reload the configuration where possible instead of restarting the service.

To restart the ircd:

$ doas rcctl restart ngircd

WARNING: Restarting the ircd will disconnect all existing connections. So, try to restart ngircd only when absolutely necessary.

WARNING: ngircd appears to have a bug where the ircd will crash if you reload the configuration file while a message is being sent. Be careful to avoid reloading configuration files when many users are chatting.

See Also

  1. Configure SSL for ngircd to ensure secure connections
  2. Link your ngircd with another server to create a network
  3. Install anope to provide services
  4. Install achurch to test achurch services
  5. Configure hopm, an open proxy monitor to stop spammers.
  6. Configure acopm?, a minimalist open proxy monitor to stop spammers.