When trying to connect to an IRC server in Irssi, I get the following error:

root Erroneous Nickname: Reserved for services

I don't know how to change the nickname before the connection is established. I'm currently connected to one server, where I have my proper nick, but when trying to connect to another server with connect irc.foo.com, which should open another connection, it's trying with the nickname root.

How do I change this nickname?

  • 3
    I don't think it's a good idea to run IRSSI from root.
    – kzh
    Jun 15, 2011 at 22:08

3 Answers 3


You can use Irssi's -n option to specify your nick:

irssi -n test123

Or you can go to the bottom of your $HOME/.irssi/config file and in the settings section, change the entry "nick".

  • An alternative to changing the configuration file directly (entry "nick") is from within an Irssi session: /set nick SomePreferredNickname and /save (documentation, near "User information" (though it is somewhat broken and incomplete)). Similar for entry "user_name": /set user_name SomePreferredNickname and /save. Jun 2, 2021 at 12:04
  • Though changing the global nick name permanently may not be a good answer to the question here(?). Jun 2, 2021 at 12:05

You can use the command:

irssi -n nickname1234 

and to change the default nickname after you are connected

/SET default_nick = <nick>, defaults to user_name

/SET alternate_nick = <nick>, defaults to <default_nick>

/SET user_name = <user>, defaults to your login name

/SET real_name = <name>, taken from /etc/passwd by default

  • Can you back it up with a reference to documentation? Jun 2, 2021 at 12:02
  • default_nick is way out of date. It is just nick now. It changed in October 2000 (not a typo - more than 20 years ago). Version 0.7.96 (2000-10-19): "Changes ... /SET default_nick -> /SET nick" Jun 2, 2021 at 12:09
  • After some consideration (e.g., based on some actual testing), someone might want to update this answer. And specify which version of Irssi was used for testing. Jun 2, 2021 at 12:11

In a terminal, go to the user home directory and cd into the .irssi directory.


touch config

Paste in the following:

servers = (
    address = "irc.freenode.net";
    chatnet = "freenode";
    port = "6667";
    use_ssl = "no";
    ssl_verify = "no";
    autoconnect = "yes";

chatnets = {
  Freenode = {
    type = "IRC";
    autosendcmd = "/msg nickserv identify yourname yourpass";

channels = (
  { name = "#test-channel"; chatnet = "Freenode"; autojoin = "Yes"; }
  { name = "#private-test-channel"; chatnet = "Freenode"; password = "yourpass"; autojoin = "Yes"; }

settings = {
  core = { real_name = "real name"; user_name = "user name"; nick = "yourusername"; };
  "fe-text" = { actlist_sort = "refnum"; term_force_colors = "yes"; scrollback_time = "7day "; };
  "fe-common/core" = { theme = "default"; };
  • 1
    There is no reason to not use TLS, copy pasting settings without understanding them is a generally bad idea. I'll edit the answer
    – Yarek T
    Dec 6, 2019 at 10:14
  • Some of those settings may already exist in the ~/.irssi/config file. What is the consequence of duplicate entries? Jun 2, 2021 at 10:28
  • What is the purpose of touch config? Is it really necessary? Doesn't the ~/.irssi/config file already exist if Irssi has been run and Irssi doesn't care about the modification date? (Not rhetorical questions.) Jun 2, 2021 at 10:31

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