Using Weechat with Glowing Bear for IRC

July 2, 2019

Last month, I had a new addition to my toolbox - Glowing Bear, which has been a really nice improvement, allowing me to access Weechat (hosted on a server) through my browser. Here’s how I set it up.

But, before we begin - the curious folks might ask, “What had you been using all this time?”

Previously, I could directly ssh using mosh - mobile shell, which supports intermittent connectivity, which is to say that it allows me to retain the session if the network breaks in between. into my server, and attach to a screen session which ran weechat, using the command:

mosh USERNAME@SERVER_IP -- screen -D -RR weechat

“This is pretty neat, why would you want to change it?

“Latency” - It was not pleasant, so much so, that I started running two instances of weechat - one locally for chatting, and the one on the server for listening to messages when AFK Away From Keyboard . It was getting pretty unmanageable, so I decided to look for alternatives. Luckily, one of my friends, Armageddon, pointed me towards Glowing Bear - which provides a nice web frontend to weechat.

Setting Up Glowing Bear

Glowing Bear has pretty decent documentation available at!/.

The basic architecture is somewhat similar to the pub-sub architecure - weechat ‘relays’ (publishes) all messages at a particular port on a machine where glowing bear can then ‘listen’ for the messages (subscribe).

“Can’t other people listen to my messages?”

If you’re running glowing bear with a local instance of weechat, you shouldn’t worry too much. However, if connecting to a remote instance, you must encrypt all communications between your browser and WeeChat.

Since Glowing Bear uses TLS for encryption, it means that we need to put up a signed certificate. They recommend using Let’s Encrypt for getting a certificate, which is really easy. Just install certbot and run:

certbot certonly --standalone -d DOMAIN_NAME

Once the certificates are generated, the only thing was to make them visible to weechat:

mkdir -p ~username/.weechat/ssl
cat /etc/letsencrypt/live/DOMAIN_NAME/{fullchain,privkey}.pem > ~username/.weechat/ssl/relay.pem
chown -R username:username ~username/.weechat/ssl/

Now, the only issue with me was that I did not have superuser access to the box I was running weechat into, and therefore could not access cert files. But, After talking to my wonderful host at coolFire, I came to know that certificates I’m using for my Apache VHost should be enough to encrypt my communication (through port 443) and I need not start an encrypted relay from weechat. coolFire was also gracious enough to throw in some voodoo of course, by which I mean that I didn’t understand it and give me a custom URL for running my weechat instance.

Now, let’s start a WeeChat relay:

/set y0ur_StRonG-pa$sw0rd:of*choice
/relay add weechat 9001 # Note that this is NOT encrypted.

For connecting to Glowing Bear, I use port 443 - which allows me to encrypt my connection. Note that this isn’t entirely safe, because the fellow users on my host can still monitor port 9001, which is unecrypted and only protected by a password. But, I can manage this level of risk! :-)

Icing over cake

I run glowing bear on qutebrowser, through which I can access the whole interface without ever having to leave the comfort of my keyboard. \o/

Further TODO’s

Glowing Bear’s notification system is a little weird - it just stops notifying me out of the blue. Remember my friend, Armagaeddon - he actually has a weechat plugin for channeling remote notifications to local systems, but it turned out that the script will take some additional work to work with macOS.

Another thing that I want to do is employ a chat logger - I’ve had some pretty interesting conversation with people, and they just wash away as soon as I restart weechat. This should be pretty easy to do, but I’ve had too much on my plate to care right now.

Using Weechat with Glowing Bear for IRC - July 2, 2019 - Rahul Jha