Internet Relay Chat
Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is one of the older widespread messaging protocols. You can use it to have a virtual "room" where you can speak up (write) and everyone else can "hear" (read) you.
IRC is similar to the popular IM networks, but ordinarily used for chat rooms rather than instant messaging. Servers are distributed and can be run by anyone, so IRC is a very free place. It houses help channels for almost all major Linux distributions, as well as rooms devoted to just about every topic imaginable. Channels have "operators" who can kick or mute anyone in the room. It also features the ability to send files.
Before you get started, you'll need an IRC client, say, kopete. Once it is installed, use it to log onto a running IRC server. They often use a domain name of the type irc.[somename].com. Some servers require passwords to get on, but there are many public servers available.
Once logged in, you can type commands by using a preceeding slash:
- /list to see what channels are active and how many people are on each.
- /help to see a list of commands, and for specific usage of a command, type /help [COMMAND].
- /away lunch marks your status as away and gives the reason lunch.
- /back removes your away status.
Some helpful commands
/join #<channel> -- Join the specified channel. E.G.: /join #Slackware would bring you into the channel #slackware.
/server <server address> -- Connect to the specified server. E.G.: /server irc.freenode.net would connect to the freenode network
/nick <nickname> -- will change the alias that you are using E.G.: /nick Whosit1932 would make everyone see you as Whosit1932. Nicks change frequently, and are often used to convey the status of its owner. For example, "BuzzLightyear_afk" (away from keyboard), or "Kermit_hangover".