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It will take you more than 10 minutes to just choose the ircd to use. Not to mention configuration and maintenance.

I looked through the ircds available in Debian repositories the other day and they didn't look very fresh. So you might also have to package them from source and make sure that stays up to date.

Hosting your own services has some appealing security qualities (like being able to put them in your VPN) but it's far from a panacea and definitely harder than signing up for Slack/Gmail/GitHub.

Saved you the search; ngircd

I was looking at InspIRCd and UnrealIRCd which seem to be popular among smaller IRC networks. Any reason for that? Are they better suited for public networks?

The popularity of InspIRCd mostly comes from its modularity and out-of-the-box modules [1]. If you're looking for an ircd to replace Slack in terms of feature-parity, InspIRCd would probably give you the best start.

I used ircu until a few years ago, but these days it has mostly rot (maintenance, git/release tarballs code not matching, ...), and InspIRCd is pretty great if you need the customization.

[1] https://wiki.inspircd.org/2.0/Modules

Seconding ngircd

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