Running IRC Meetings with MeetBot

3 minute read Published:

Running meetings is a black art at the best of times. Running them over IRC is a step more complex. Instead of audio, and people waiting turns, you’ve got a thousand monkeys typing a thousand thoughts. Async. On recommendation from @nslater’s involvement in another project, I gave MeetBot a try. It’s based on a venerable Python IRC bot called supybot, and while setup on debian is a piece of cake, it certainly wasn’t so obvious on my mac. Here’s how:

Installing SupyBot

Download supybot’s source and unpack it somewhere handy. Grab meetbot’s source too.

pushd /tmp
tar xvzf MeetBot-current.tar.gz
mv MeetBot-current/ircmeeting MeetBot-current/MeetBot/

Now we’re ready to install SupyBot along with required plugins.

mkdir ircbot && cd ircbot
virtualenv ircbot
source ircbot/bin/activate
which python pip
pushd /tmp/Supybot-
python install
mv /tmp/MeetBot-current/MeetBot ./ircbot/lib/python2.7/site-packages/supybot/plugins/MeetBot

Configuring SupyBot

There’s a wizard to do this, we have only a few answers to give but some items need to go in the config file afterwards.

Launch supybot-wizard and fill in the blanks!

  • Are you an advanced Supybot user? no
  • Create default directories? .
  • What IRC network will you be connecting to? freenode
  • What server would you like to connect to?
  • Does this server require connection on a non-standard port? n

The nickname you pick next will also be used for log and config files:

  • What nick would you like your bot to use? bottled
  • Do you need a password for the IRC server? n
  • Do you want your bot to join some channels when it connects? y
  • Which channels? #bottled #myotherchan

Setting up Plugins

From the last steps a bunch of plugin configuration has already been done. But we need a little bit more, including setting up:

  • ChannelLogger to support writing logs to disk
  • MeetBot to help chair our meeting and handle minutes

    Beginning configuration for Admin… Done! Beginning configuration for User… Done! Beginning configuration for Channel… Done! Beginning configuration for Misc… Done! Beginning configuration for Config… Done!

  • Would you like to look at plugins individually? y

  • What plugin would you like to look at? ChannelLogger

  • Would you like to load this plugin? y

    Beginning configuration for ChannelLogger… Done!

  • What plugin would you like to look at? MeetBot

  • Would you like to load this plugin? `y

    Beginning configuration for MeetBot… Done!

  • Would you like add another plugin? n

Securing the Bot

  • Would you like to add an owner user for your bot? y
  • What should the owner’s username be? <your_irc_handle>
  • What should the owner’s password be? yadayadayada
  • Would you like to set the prefix char(s) for your bot? y
  • What would you like your bot’s prefix character(s) to be? #

    All done! Your new bot configuration is fqdnbot.conf. If you're
    running a *nix based OS, you can probably start your bot with the
    command line "supybot fqdnbot.conf". If you're not running a *nix
    or similar machine, you'll just have to start it like you start
    all your other Python scripts.

Running the Bot

To start it, launch your python virtual env again as before, and just run supybot <your_bot_name.conf>. Then jump on IRC and PM your bot. You’ll need to authorise yourself user identify <admin> <passwd> before going further.

In the IRC channel you want to run a meeting, simply issue #startmeeting and follow on from there. Note how the bot changes topics, and make sure you use #info, #action and others liberally throughout the meeting. If you #link <some_url> this will be used as the base URL when the final logs and HTML output are generated.

Good luck!

Closing Thoughts

It was a real pain to install this the first time around. All the information is available but not in a single clean place. I almost completed a Node.js replacement in less time. More on that another time!