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March 8, 2024

Introducing a New Desktop Chat App: Developments from Linux Mint


IRC-based support tool will replace Hexchat

A new IRC client (but don’t call it an IRC client) is being developed by Linux Mint.

The Ubuntu-based distro currently includes Hexchat in its default software set. IRC isn’t as trendy as Discord or Telegram but it is a free, open standard that no single entity controls, is relatively low-bandwidth, interoperable, and efficient.

But as I reported in February: Hexchat is no more.

Hexchat calling it quits presents Linux Mint with both a challenge and a chance for improvement.

The challenge: “Do we keep including an IRC client, and if so, what purpose does it fulfill?” The opportunity: “Are we able to enhance it with a superior substitute?”.

And so…

Have you ever pondered why Linux Mint furnishes an IRC client as part of its base installation? The primary reason is to provide an opportunity for its users to engage in discussion, seek advice, and obtain assistance from other Linux Mint users in a somewhat immediate manner.

The discussion does not necessarily need to be conducted via IRC. Linux Mint provides numerous support options, including a very popular forum.

Given that the official IRC channels of the platform are still frequently used by developers and users for providing support, answering questions, and connecting on common interests, does the downfall of Hexchat have to signal an end to IRC completely?

This scenario sparked a thought process among the developers.

Currently, IRC is not very user-friendly. It requires knowledge of confusing, peculiar commands. The onboarding procedure is cryptic. Moreover, the protocol does not inherently have capabilities such as media sharing, which can be incredibly advantageous during troubleshooting, clickable links, and other contemporary conveniences.

IRC remains a quick, established, open, and adaptable protocol. While it may lack the flashiness of Discord, it is not burdened by frivolous social additions or business conditions. Its free and immediate use without requiring sign-up makes it perfect for spontaneous needs.

The development has started on a brand new dedicated chat room app to replace Hexchat, aptly named Jargonaut.

The objective of Linux Mint is not to create a robust IRC client or even an IRC client in general. Instead, Jargonaut is a chat application that coincidentally uses IRC as its fundamental chat protocol.

The need for users to understand what IRC is or to learn its syntax is eliminated as Jargonaut won’t respond to standard IRC commands nor permit users to join other channels. Upon launching the app, Linux Mint’s official support channels are immediately ready for interaction.

A real-time support chat app built on IRC — with additional bells:

“[Jargonaut] will support pastebin/imgur via DND, uploading your system specifications, troubleshooting and many features which have nothing to do with IRC,” states Linux Mint leader Clement Lefebvre in the distro’s most recent monthly update.

“Hexchat was an excellent IRC client that assisted us in making a relatively good support chat room. We’re optimistic that Jargonaut will enable us to improve this chat room and make it far easier to use.”

This seems interesting!

Like most of Linux Mint’s home-grown XApps the new app is hosted on Github, which is where you should go to check in on Jargonaut’s current status, check out the code and compile it, or contribute to its development with your own fair hands.

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