COM is not IRC


What is COM?

So you type 'irc' at the command prompt hoping to join your favorite channel and instead find yourself in this strange world where you have to press space to talk, the commands you expect don't work, and you can't even figure out how to quit (hint: try 'q'). This is 'COM' (aka, 'COMMODE' or just 'com').

COM is a chat program which is unique to SDF. The original version dates back to 1994 and it has been developed and used on the SDF servers ever since. Together with the '“bboard”' BBS it is one of the primary ways SDF users communicate with each other. Some features may be familiar to you from other programs, but many will be new to you. Most notably, COM is command-driven, meaning that you are in “command mode” by default and must hit a key (spacebar or enter) before you can talk. See below for additional commands, all of which are simply typed in from command mode.

So why did you get COM when you expected IRC? For reasons of security and concerns about abuse, IRC access is not allowed unless you are an ARPA member or higher.1) If you are reading this then it is likely you are not. For this reason when you type '“irc”' at the shell, COM will be launched instead. This allows new users an opportunity to interact with other SDF users and hopefully answer some of the questions they might have. Unlike IRC, COM is not network-based and only users who are currently logged into SDF can use it.

Basic rules of etiquette to keep in mind:

  • Many people idle in com. You can check idle times with 'I'. If the room has been quiet for a while, say hello but give people time to respond.

Things not to do:

  • Ask how to 'hack'.
  • Attempt to use any IRC commands (they won't work and may make you look foolish).
  • Repeat the same question over and over.

Getting started: a walkthrough

COM is based around 'rooms'. The default room you enter when you start the program is 'lobby', SDF's Welcoming Room.

Type “com” at the command line to start com. When com starts, you will be placed in 'lobby'. A list of users will be displayed. You will also be in command mode. In command mode, all you will is see the cursor; there will not be a prompt. Command mode allows commands to be run such as seeing a list of users.

In command mode, type w to see a list of users, the name of the room you are in, as well as the topography.

The output will look something like

[you are in 'FlyingDaggers' among 1]

Now, type l (lower case L) to see a list of rooms. The output will look something like

   room-name   #    created      time  topic
    spacebar  33  22-Dec-10  08:49:32  is rmj a goddamn artist?
       lobby   0  22-Dec-10  08:49:13  SDF's Welcoming Room
  FlyingDaggers   1  27-Dec-10  04:02:26
        roof   0  26-Dec-10  04:11:06  spacebar
        voip   1  26-Dec-10  18:58:40
   Tesseract   0  22-Dec-10  21:34:29  The Emptiness Between The Stars
   spacerbar   0  26-Dec-10  04:08:51
     techies   0  22-Dec-10  11:21:09

There seems to be a lot of users in the room “spacebar”. Let us join in on the fun, shall we? Type g and the name of the room to join.

:goto> spacebar

When entering the room, a list of users will be displayed. Now, let us say hello to the room.

Enter a space to enter input mode. When entering input mode, a prompt of your user name will appear. Say “hello” to the world and end the line with an enter key.

[wliao]    hello world!

The next thing you'll probably want to know is what people talked about before you entered so you can join in the chatter. Type r to get a short 18 line “r”eview of what was said last. If you want more context, press R. You will see a prompt like this:


Just type the number of lines you are interested in and finish with return; you'll get a scrollable history of said lines length.

When you are ready to quit, type q to leave com. You will see an “Unlinking TTY ..” message appear.


How do I use backspace in com?

Try '-' in command mode in com to toggle behavior. Or, use stty or 'bksp' to set the backspace correctly.

How can I be in com multiple times?

The basic rule is to be on a different server when entering com. Some common ways of doing this is to use screen, run ssh twice, etc.

How do I send private messages?

Use the s command in command mode: suser@host. Please note the @host portion; this is a required element of the command. If the user is in another room, add an optional host parameter to send the message: suser@host room.

How do I see what happened in the past?

Use the r key to review. Use R followed by a number to control how many lines of history to review. The p key can be used to see the history of another room: proomname. The p command can also take an optional number of lines to display: proomname number.

I see "<wliao@iceland DUMPs in 22 characters of 2 words in 3 lines>". What does that mean?

Use the r or R command. This feature does not work between SDF and SDF-EU users.2)

I see <wliao appears>. How do I do that?

Use the emote command in command mode. Use e followed by the action at the prompt: :emote> tests this out.

Why do I have to keep pressing the spacebar to talk?

Other keys can be used to enter input mode. Try the h to see what keys are not being used such as the enter key.

Why isn't anybody talking?

That's life. Harden up.

How do I hack?

Seriously? Really?

How do I log into my gf's hotmail/gmail/msn/facebook account?

Seriously? Really?

COM Commands

Here is a list of commonly used COM Commands. It only covers the basics, so refer to the online help (with 'h') or man page for more information. Some of the commands will not be available to pre-validated users.

  • e - emote
  • g - goto a room
  • h - command help
  • I - user idle query
  • l - list open rooms
  • L - post a link to com
  • p - peek into room
  • q - quit commode
  • r - room history
  • R - extended history
  • s - send private
  • w - who is in the room
  • W - who is in a room

Note: Although you type 'com' to start com, the man page is accessed with 'man commode'

$Id: comnotirc.html,v 1.11 2011/11/13 00:13:57 wliao Exp $

For validated users, there is free IRC access on weekends.
Same for 'U'info and 'i'gnore