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ZNC - An advanced IRC bouncer

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Table of contents

Minimal Requirements


  • GNU make
  • pkg-config
  • GCC 8 or clang 5
  • CMake 3.13

Optional Requirements

SSL/TLS support:

  • openssl 0.9.7d or later
    • try installing openssl-dev, openssl-devel or libssl-dev
    • macOS: OpenSSL from Homebrew is preferred over system


  • perl and its bundled libperl
  • SWIG if building from git


  • python 3.4+ and its bundled libpython
  • perl is a build dependency
  • macOS: Python from Homebrew is preferred over system version
  • SWIG if building from git


  • This module needs cyrus-sasl2

Character Encodings:

  • To get proper character encoding and charsets install ICU (libicu4-dev)

I18N (UI translation):

  • Boost.Locale
  • gettext is a build dependency

Argon2 password hash:

  • libargon2

Installing ZNC

Installation from source code is performed using the CMake toolchain.

mkdir build
cd build
cmake ..
make install

You can use cmake-gui or ccmake for more interactiveness.

There is also configure.sh which should make migration to CMake easier: it accepts the same parameters as old ./configure, but calls CMake with CMake-style parameters.

Note for FreeBSD users: By default base OpenSSL is selected. If you want the one from ports, use -DOPENSSL_ROOT_DIR=/usr/local.

For troubleshooting, cmake --system-information will show you details.

Setting up znc.conf

For setting up a configuration file in ~/.znc you can simply do znc --makeconf or ./znc --makeconf for in-place execution.

If you are using SSL you should do znc --makepem

Special config options

When you create your ZNC configuration file via --makeconf, you are asked two questions which might not be easy to understand.

Number of lines to buffer per channel

How many messages should be buffered for each channel. When you connect to ZNC you get a buffer replay for each channel which shows what was said last. This option selects the number of lines this replay should consist of. Increasing this can greatly increase ZNC's memory usage if you are hosting many users. The default value should be fine for most setups.

Would you like to keep buffers after replay?

If this is disabled, you get the buffer playback only once and then it is deleted. If this is enabled, the buffer is not deleted. This may be useful if you regularly use more than one client to connect to ZNC.

Using ZNC

Once you have started ZNC you can connect with your favorite IRC-client to ZNC. You should use username:password as the server password (e.g. /pass user:pass).

Once you are connected you can do /msg *status help for some commands. Every module you have loaded (/msg *status listmods) should additionally provide /msg *modulename help

File Locations

In its data dir (~/.znc is default) ZNC saves most of its data. The only exception are modules and module data, which are saved in <prefix>/lib/znc and <prefix>/share/znc, and the znc binary itself. More modules (e.g. if you install some later) can be saved in <data dir>/modules (-> ~/.znc/modules).

In the datadir is only one file:

  • znc.pem - This is the server certificate ZNC uses for listening and is created with znc --makepem.

These directories are also in there:

  • configs - Contains znc.conf (ZNC's config file) and backups of older configs.
  • modules - ZNC also looks in here for a module.
  • moddata - Global modules save their settings here. (e.g. webadmin saves the current skin name in here)
  • users - This is per-user data and mainly contains just a moddata directory and a directory for each network configured.

ZNC's config file

This file shouldn't be too hard too understand. An explanation of all the items can be found on the Configuration page. Warning: it is better not to edit config while ZNC is running. Use the webadmin and controlpanel modules instead.

If you changed some settings while ZNC is running, a simple pkill -SIGUSR1 znc will make ZNC rewrite its config file. Alternatively you can use /msg *status saveconfig

Writing own modules

You can write your own modules in either C++, python or perl.

C++ modules are compiled by either saving them in the modules source dir and running make or with the znc-buildmod shell script.

For additional info look in the wiki:

Perl modules are loaded through the global module ModPerl.

Python modules are loaded through the global module ModPython.

Further information

Please visit https://znc.in/ or #znc on Libera.Chat if you still have questions:

You can get the latest development version with git: git clone https://github.com/znc/znc.git --recursive