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Registered my nick on Freenode and used Irssi on a linux box at work (work@1.2.3.4) a couple months ago, then I wanted to check back on a channel today at my home laptop using Irssi but can't use my nick.

After /connect chat.freenode.org:

03:21 !hitchcock.freenode.net *** Looking up your hostname...
03:21 !hitchcock.freenode.net *** Checking Ident
03:21 !hitchcock.freenode.net *** Found your hostname

At this point, it assigns my nickname (toraritte), but then suddenly

03:21 !hitchcock.freenode.net *** No Ident response
... bunch of other stuff ...

and toraritte gets changed to toraritt1 with the message

03:23 -!- Mode change [+i] for user toraritt1
03:23 -!- Irssi: Your nick is owned by purple [~work@1.2.3.4]

I tried /msg NickServ IDENTIFY toraritte password, get

03:27 -NickServ(NickServ@services.)- You are now identified for toraritte.

but still unable to change my nick to toraritte.

The solution is probably something very basic and I just wasn't able to put 2 and 2 together yet.

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Use /msg nickserv release (twice) or /msg nickserv ghost to kick off the other person, at which point you should be able to change your nickname using /nick.

(Using release will only force-change their nickname to Guest, which is perhaps more polite if the other connection belongs to an actual person.

Whereas using ghost will outright disconnect them from the network, which is more suitable if the other connection is your own but got "stuck" e.g. due to internet connection loss.)

On freenode you also have the /msg nickserv regain command, which is like release+/nick in theory, but ends up being ghost+/nick in practice, due to *handwave* reasons.


On IRC, accounts are not necessarily tied to nicknames. This varies among networks, but Freenode in particular used to be known for separating the two concepts more than other networks of the time.

Therefore, identifying to an account only gives you channel-related privileges (among those, the privilege to disconnect anyone who's using your "registered" nickname), but it doesn't directly influence the nickname that you're using.

(This is largely because account registration isn't part of the IRC protocol as such – NickServ is a separate piece of software that the network had to install. And depending on which software they chose, NickServ on different networks will behave slightly differently as well.)

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  • ghost was the way to go in my case (3 paragraph) and it worked right out of the bat. Thanks also for the additional notes; it makes much more sense know.
    – toraritte
    Nov 28 '20 at 14:34

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