The open-source IRC client HexChat has announced its final ever release.

HexChat 2.16.2 arrives with a small selection of bug fixes and new features for its long-standing fans to enjoy, but also bad news: after almost 12 years of continued development the party is over.

“This will be the last release I make of HexChat,” app maintainer TingPing says in a blog post announcement. “The project has largely been unmaintained for years now and nobody else stepped up to do that work.”

Prior to this one, HexChat’s previous release was back in 2021. That release was accompanied by a call for help to try and keep development of the client (in particular its Windows builds) going.

Alas, that sorely-needed help did not materialise for this user-friendly GTK IRC app that started out as a fork of XChat (remember that?).

“I want to say thank you to all of the contributors, users, and chatters I’ve interacted with over the years. HexChat was a very important and formative project for me; I started contributing to it as a teenager, learned so much, met many great people, and it led to greater things in my life.”

“It is hard to let go but the time has come for me to move on.”

Changes in HexChat 2.16.2:

  • /server now uses TLS by default (with flag to disable)
  • Preferences dialog is now a modal
  • Support for the extended-monitor
  • Support for SCRAM SASL mechanisms
  • Option to hide nickname from window title
  • Max server password length increased to 1024
  • Python updated to 3.8 (Windows)
  • Installer options for start menu and app shortcuts (Windows)
  • Bug fixes

You can download the latest final release from the project’s website (where Windows installers are provided), or get it from Flathub.

All of HexChat’s code, data, documentation, and dependencies have been moved over to GitHub. The logic being these “…will be there until the end of Microsoft”.

Of course, nothing is truly dead in open-source, as TingPing notes: “Forks of the project are welcomed. Nobody can stop the code from living on”.

Do you still use IRC?

Despite a declining popularity in an era of modern messaging platforms, IRC (Internet Relay Chat) remains a reliable, low-barrier way to engage in real-time communication with people across the world.

Although HexChat may not see any future releases the current version will continue to work until it doesn’t, and a handful of actively maintained desktop IRC clients for Linux are available for those looking to switch, including Polari, Smuxi, and Konversation.

Did you ever use HexChat? Do you have memories of IRC? Do you still use it? Share your thoughts, memories, and opinions down in the comments.

h/t Chris

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