How-To chat using encrypted modern protocols from your Amiga

Hello fellow nerds! Do you miss chatting with your friends while they moved on to modern computers, while you stayed in the golden age of the Amiga computer? No need to worry. This is a small guide on how to use most modern chat protocols using your Amiga and the magnificent IRC daemon Bitlbee.

What you need

A Raspberry Pi 3 or some other computer with two Ethernet cards. In my case I've used the Pi connected to my WiFi and the Ethernet port to a switch and on the switch I connected the Amigas with Ethernet cards. Since I am the paranoid type I segment my network in a quirky way so WiFi (without VPN) would not work for other solutions I use with my Amigas, so I just bought a cheap ass USB-Ethernet card and hooked it up to the Pi. (The bandwidth is totally enough for Amigas - I promise). On the Pi i run Raspbian GNU/Linux.

Set the Amiga-side Ethernet-card to a static IP and this IP will be the router you're gonna use.

In my case eth0 is the Amiga-side and eth1 is my LAN side (wlan0 if you use WiFi to connect to your network).

Depending on you linux-system and if you use systemd or not this is done either in the old-school /etc/network/interfaces file or in the /etc/dhcp/dhclient.conf on modern flavors.

In the Amiga you should install your favorite IRC client. I use AmIRC, like back in the days - It's an awesome software.

You will also need to install Bitlbee on the any Linux computer in the world. I also installed the ZNC IRC bouncer to make it possible to connect several Amigas (or other computers or phones) to the same IRC session, making messages appear on all clients. This is optonal.

Another tool that is useful is stunnel to make the Amigas connect to your Rpi machine un-encrypted and let the stunnel connect to the IRC-server if it use SSL. Hence, traffic will be mostly encrypted leaving the Amiga-world at least.

What is Bitlbee?

Bitlbee is on one side a perfectly normal IRC server, and on the back-end it can use the wonderful libpurple (Pidgin) to connect to a shit-load of different chat services. Even IRC. :)

For some protocols it can be more or less cumbersome. For example I had to compile some libpurple plugins myself.

The built-in ones for ICQ, Jabber and IRC.

I suggest that you hit the internet waves and surf to the Bitlbee website for more information on how you set the Bitlbee up!

It's a bit cumbersome at some points, but well worht it. I've been running it constantly for about 10 years now... With very few problems. It's mostly vendors changing their protocols making me have to wait for a while until there is an Open Source solution in the form of a libpurple plugin.

What is ZNC?

ZNC is an IRC bouncer - these are mainly used to keep IRC sessions alive if they run on a stable enough internet connection, while the client you use can live on a flimsy connection. E.g. cellular network or something like that. This will make the IRC servers around the world think that you never lost connection and the most important thing: no-one can steal your nick-name :D

But... ZNC ha another awesome side-effect. It has powerful authenticaton posibilities if you like me care about encryption and security. And it also distribute your activites on your IRC client to all other logged in IRC client sessions of yours. In effect giving you full chat history on all devices.

I use ZNC for SSL-IRC with authentication of my logins. And it in turn connects to the Bitlbee session.

You do not need this software, but I thought I could mention it at least.

Read up on how to use ZNC here:

How to set-up the cumbersome software chain

When you have installed (or even compiled) the stuff you need on your Linux machine to run the Bitlbee-IRC to IM-bridge let's focus on the Amiga-side.

Alternative 1 - No ZNC, no SSL encryption

Configure AmIRC to connect to the ethernet card's IP of your Raspberry Pi on port 6667, which Bitlbee listens to by default. - If you installed Bitlbee on the Raspberry Pi router itself. Otherwise read the other article about setting it up as a router to make it route IRC traffic to some other machine running your Bitlbee instance.

Alternative 2 - No ZNC, but SSL encryption because you run Bitlbee somewhere

Since the Amiga is way too slow to deal with SSL in a good way let the fast ARM processor of the Raspberry Pi router do the hard work, while you enjoy chatting with your friends.

Set-up stunnel to connect your Raspberry Pi to the Linux machine running the Bitlbee intance with Bitlbee configured to use SSL encryption.

Add a file in your /etc/stunnel/ folder called bitlbee.conf and it should look something like this:

accept=<Rpi Amiga-side ethernet IP>:6667

Where you replace <Rpi Amiga-side ethernet IP> with the IP of the ethernet card facing the Amigas. The host machine for the Bitlbee instance can be localhost or the local IP of the Raspberry Pi route or any other machine. Probably you use another machine somewhere. Since stunnel acts as a bridge the Raspberry Pi does not need to be configured as a router - But I guess you probably want it to. See this article:

Got it?

That's about it. And this is how you can chat securely over internet with all your friends using your Amiga and Bitlbee!

Back to the index:

Kind regards,

Your nerd friend AiO