A replacement for IRC

Hi everyone,

In the spirit of making our community more welcoming and easier to access, I’d like to start the discussion regarding a replacement to the IRC channels for “real-time” discussions.

As such, I would be interested in knowing whether the following proposal would make sense, or whether other alternatives should be explored.


  • Non-closed/proprietary silo (i.e. no discord, slack, etc…)
  • (Easily) Accessible via web browser, don’t have to install a custom client
  • Good threading support
  • Markdown/html support, including pretty-printing of code snippets
  • Allow creating multiple chat rooms within a given space (to allow focused discussions)
  • Any other requirement ?


  • Setup a matrix.org homeserver for gstreamer.org
  • This would be federated with other servers
  • No user registration would be allowed on that server (except for admin), users can register on whichever other matrix server.
  • Current IRC channel would be bridged with the main matrix gstreamer room (for easy transition)

+1 for the Matrix !!


I personally never used matrix, its bad reputation among non-matrix users is most likely due to the bridge issues that endup polluting irc channels so much. But being federated makes its the only viable solution imho.

Matrix’s UI and various clients being finicky around threading, encryption and bridging as well, Zulip is a good option in my opinion. Seems like there is some option for IRC integration.

There is always the option to host lounge instance that reused gitlab accounts, but that in itself might be challenging idea for non devs, and it does not bring modernity, like code snippets syntax highlights, being able to share images, etc.

The lounge can host/handle images.

But yes, code snippet syntax higlights is definitely something we’d like.

Another issue with the lounge is that it wouldn’t offer any form of history (each user has its own history since he logged, as opposed to other solutions).

Matrix has the advantage that there are multiple clients and if someone feels like it they could even make one with an irssi-style UI.

Another good part about Matrix is also that it has a lot of big (including government) backers at this point, so there’s money involved which should at least make it possible to get rid of the worst UX problems normal users are encountering.

Bridging is always going to be awkward so I would vote against providing any kind of bridging to IRC or anything else. It provides a worse UX for everybody involved.

I don’t think there’s realistically any other option apart from Matrix nowadays. It’s not perfect, but everything else seems worse and has less momentum behind it.

In my experience, the UI is a disaster. It’s like someone tried to combine the worst aspects of forums, mailing lists and IRC in a single UI :sweat_smile: Or maybe I’m just too stupid to use it correctly.


If not Zulip, then Matrix gets my vote as well :smile:. Also +1 for no bridging. The bridging does not work and is completely unreliable.

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Some more requirements:

  • Decent mobile app
  • Always-on without needing to pay for a subscription to some third-party service
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+1 for the matrix option.

I have been connecting to IRC through the matrix bridge with the Element client, and the experience has been very good so far. Element’s clients has excellent cross-platform support for desktop, mobile and web.

@bilboed I would add having a chat history as a requirement

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Soooo… there is another option which is to enable the “chat feature” of discourse. Which essentially creates one channel per category.

Using Matrix internally has been less than ideal – the e2ee bits can be a bit finicky, and search is all client-side. That said, I guess it’s easy enough to interop with other Matrix things, so maybe that works.

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I’m have been using Matrix for the GStreamer real time communication for a while (IRC bridge). It is would be great to use all the native features of Matrix that you listed here. So I am all in for using Matrix.


I agree, for internal/company options there are better options though. We use mattermost for example and it’s been really good on that front.

But for a more public system, the requirements are different. E2EE is not a major requirement (I understand it works great for a DM though).

Regarding search… I do not think having long term search history is a hard requirement. It’s great for going over what happened recently, but for entries/information that should be kept long term that should be transferred to a more appropriate location (discourse topic, documentation, …).

Furthermore some people expect discussions on irc/chat to be “ephemeral” in some way.

Another feature I would very much like to have is an easy integration for audio/video chat.

As observed during the conference/hackfest, a face-to-face conversation can have a much higher bandwith in terms of information exchange.

And being able to share a screen to show something is also great.

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had no idea, though arguably useless if you are all using mixed clients.

The Matrix bridge just went down: 139 people left and 79 people were left afterwards. So about 2/3 of all “IRC” users are actually there with the Matrix bridge and are already using Matrix anyway.

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Was that supposed to be encouraging ?