Chat & discussions

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Revision as of 03:12, 21 January 2019 by Madduck (talk | contribs) (Join the conference channel #linux.conf.au:matrix.org)
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The hallway track is not the only place to catch up with friends and meet new people. There are several ways to join online chat before, during and after the conference, in addition to the [/conference/social_media various social media presences].

Please be aware that although the chat channels are not an official part of the conference you should still adhere to the conference Code of Conduct, and if you have any issues please refer them to the channel admins.

The "chat" mailing list

Probably the "most authoritative unofficial" source of peripheral information and means to link up is the chat mailing list, to which everyone can post messages (unlike the moderated lca-announce list). You are greatly encouraged to sign up and read along, and don't be afraid to chime in or use it yourself if you want to share something with the other attendees.

Real-time communication

Traditionally, LCA attendees would connect using IRC, and the `#linux.conf.au/freenode` channel remains the most frequented forum for real-time communcation.

Recent years have given rise to additional forums, causing fragmentation between attendees. For a few years now, we've tried to close those chasms, by providing bridging between the most common channels:

  • IRC
  • Matrix
  • Slack

You will find more information on each of these below. At the bottom of the page, you can find more information about the responsible people to contact in case of problems, or ideas.


IRC

Join the `#linux.conf.au` channel on Freenode. A common server to connect to is `chat.freenode.net`.

Please try to configure your client such that it doesn't spam the channel with away messages or nick changes. Also, please consider using a nickname that lets people identify you, and/or set your real name (in your client), if you are comfortable with that.


IRC Clients

There are too many clients to mention over IRC's long history, but here are a few that are installable on your favourite Linux distro:

Matrix

Matrix is a relatively new open-source, federated chat platform packed with cool and familiar features, including rich-media exchange, collaboration tools, and state-of-the-art end-to-end-encryption

There's been a chat room on Matrix since LCA2017, and usage has been steadily growing. Part of the charm here is that the Matrix protocol allows for "bridges" to be established with other protocols, and so the room on Matrix is actually linked with the IRC channel, allowing IRC and Matrix users to interact. You can even use both, i.e. have a Matrix client (see below) on your phone for when you're about, but staying within your familiar IRC setup when working on your laptop.

Please be aware that certain functionality, such as file-sharing, does not properly work across these bridges (yet). However, plain-text chat does, and we're quite excited by the prospect of letting everyone choose their preferred provider/network/client, without splitting the community among islands.

How to use Matrix

You can run your own homeserver, but most people create an account on the main Matrix.org instance using the open source web based client Riot.IM. You only need to provide an email address during account creation for password recovery.

Once you are familiar with the web client, try out the open source mobile app (called Riot, formerly Vector):

Please be aware that the F-Droid version differs from the ones available from the proprietary repositories in that it uses polling, rather than the push notification services provides by Google and Apple, which require you to install their closed-source software utility stacks.

Join the conference channel #linux.conf.au:matrix.org

After you have registered an account on the Matrix server (or connected to your own Matrix instance), you can join the bridged room. Please note that the IRC channel is +r, meaning that you will need to identify with NickServ before joining, which is explained in the Matrix IRC bridge FAQ.

Important: due to a bug in the bridge code, when you establish a chat session with NickServ, please wait a minute after it joined the room before typing a command. If the bot does not respond, then leave the room, and start a new chat, and try again.

The steps are:

  1. (optional) choose your nickname by starting a chat with @appservice-irc:matrix.org and issuing the command !nick yournick. A good convention is to use your normal nickname (if you have one), and append [m];
  2. Start the chat with @freenode_NickServ:matrix.org;
  3. Wait until the bot joins the room;
  4. Wait another minute;
  5. Then send help register.

Once your nick is registered, you simply join #linux.conf.au:matrix.org using whatever client. You can either enter the address directly, or search for it in the room directory, or follow this link to an onboarding page.

Bridging to IRC

When you join the conference channel on Matrix you are connected not only to other Matrix users, but also to the IRC channel on Freenode.

Matrix users are usually indicated in the IRC channel with a [m] suffix on their nick. However you can still send direct and private messages to them as an IRC user.

One of the most enticing features of Matrix is that it builds on open standards and thus invites for such bridges to be written — there are plenty of clients, servers, services, SDKs, etc. already available, even though their statuses are mostly still alpha.

The bridges we use are provided by the team that develops Riot. They are themselves open-source, but we use their hosting for now. It's free, as the Riot people make money advising carrier-grade implementations, but please consider them "best effort". There may be occasional glitches and netsplits just like on the IRC networks, but it is a great way to provide a unified chat experience for conference delegates.

See below for contact details in case you have questions, comments, problems, or ideas.

Messaging BoF and Getting Help with Matrix

The place for support and (meta-)chat about this unified chat setup is #lca-matrix:matrix.org, which is also bridged to IRC at `#lca-matrix/freenode`.

You can also send a direct message to one of the channel admins, such as `madduck:madduck.net` (`madduck` on IRC) or `faulteh:matrix.org` (`faulteh` on IRC) for assistance.

Matrix is the new kid on the block and there is plenty to explore. If your interest has been piqued, keep an eye out for a BoF on libre unified communications or decentralisation.

Frequently asked questions

Is this an official offering of LCA?
No. This is entirely volunteer-run, but we obviously do hope to be able to make a good case for future years, if this proves a successful experiment.
Is Matrix intended to be an IRC client?
No. It's a rich communications infrastructure with features that IRC does not sport, such as end-to-end encryption, media sharing, voice & video chat, presence updates, and a few minor differences, such as making no difference between group chats and direct messages (which does simplify things…).
However, in order to prevent yet another clique (separation) within the conference community, we set up bridges between Matrix and IRC & Slack, so you *can* use Matrix to interact with IRC. However, if you just want a low-entry-barrier way to start using IRC, please see the list of clients above, especially the browser-based ones.
How do I control such aspects like my nickname on IRC through Matrix?
Start a direct chat with `@appservice-irc:matrix.org` and send `!help`. This will allow you to set your nickname, identify/authenticate with `NickServ`, and even send low-level IRC commands.
More information can be found https://github.com/matrix-org/matrix-appservice-irc/wiki/End-user-FAQ
Why are the IDs so weird rather than the ubiquitous `foo@example.org`?
The Matrix FAQ explains this. Also read the following points.

Slack

None of the people previously running the Slack bridge are still interested in doing so, and the statistics have shown a steady decline in the use of this proprietary protocol by our conference attendees. Therefore, there is no longer a Slack bridge. If you want to set one up, you can try to convince me to allocate time to you.