The fine folks behind Tianocore/EDKII work hard to create a community in which BIOS developers can thrive; some of their efforts are listed here:
I’m willing to bet that one of the least-used methods of community is the #edk2 IRC channel. It would be great if we could change that—imagine dozens (hundreds?) of BIOS developers working together via IRC, carrying on discussions and exchanging files, making us more productive and our jobs easier.
What is IRC?
Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is one of the oldest, nerdiest, most obscure, and most powerful of Internet protocols. It is a world-wide system of networks, each comprised of a distributed cluster of servers, which work together to provide real-time chat and arrange secure file transfer services. It predates all other chat apps (e.g. AIM, Skype, ICQ, Yahoo instant messenger, etc.) by many years/decades—IRC began in 1988. It is free, highly configurable, and powerful—advanced users do things like create bots to automate tasks.
How Does it Work?
To take advantage of IRC, you first have to get an IRC client, though nowadays that can be as simple as opening a new browser tab. With your IRC client, you connect to an IRC network. Each network is made up of many servers which collaboratively provide the network’s IRC services. Once connected, you join an IRC “channel”. It is in the IRC channel that all the magic takes place—chatting with everyone else in the channel, initiating private chats, and even exchanging files.
The #edk2 channel is hosted on the “Open and Free Technology Community” (OFTC) IRC network. OFTC describes itself in the following way:
- The Open and Free Technology Community was founded at the
- end of 2001 by a group of experienced members of the Open
- Source and Free Software communities; it is aimed at
- providing these communities with better communication,
- development, and support infrastructure. Our goal is to
- provide stable services to members of the community in any
- part of the world, while listening closely to their needs
- and desires.
Here’s a brief screenshot of some recent activity in the #edk2 channel, as displayed in the mIRC IRC client:
Of note here is the GitHub IRC bot appearing and notifying everyone in the channel that some commits have taken place in the EDKII source repository.
IRC has been improved, extended, and refined over the last thirty years. I cannot explain here all the different types of advanced usage cases possible—things like bots, scripting, user modes, channel modes, and the many different commands. Allow me to give you a couple options: 1) a quick way to dive into the #edk2 IRC channel which takes about three seconds and doesn’t require you to install any software, and 2) a slightly more advanced option.
The good news is that people have recognized that IRC can be complex, and so there is a simple browser-based way to try out IRC:
- Go to https://webchat.oftc.net/?channels=edk2
- Enter a nickname: any unique name to identify yourself will do
- Click “Connect”
That’s it! No passwords, or registration, or giving anyone your email address. You’re now in the #edk2 IRC channel. On the right side of your browser window you’ll see all the other participants in the channel. The cursor will be blinking at the bottom—just start typing and press <enter> to say something to the channel. Remember to use good etiquette. When you’re finished, just close your browser window.
If you’re willing to invest more time in getting to know IRC and the #edk2 IRC channel, consider installing an IRC client. I’m a Windows-user, and the must-have IRC client for Windows is, and has been since 1995, mIRC. It is super-powerful, but also supports users who simply want to join a channel and say something.
Other OSes have a plethora of IRC clients available.
There is a great website, irchelp.org, to help get you acquainted with IRC if you’re not already.
Metcalfe’s Law states that “the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system.” This is also true for an IRC channel like #edk2. There’s not much value if only a handful of people are there. With more people participating, the value grows exponentially. The least you can do is give it a quick try, using the Basic method, above. And while you’re there, if you see me, say hello!