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bitlbee(8) System Manager's Manual bitlbee(8)


BitlBee - IRC gateway to IM chat networks


bitlbee [-I] [-c configuration file] [-d configuration directory]

bitlbee -D [-i address] [-p port number] [-n] [-v] [-c configuration file] [-d configuration directory]

bitlbee -h


BitlBee is an IRC daemon that can talk to instant messaging networks and acts as a gateway. Users can connect to the server with any normal IRC client and see their 'buddy list' in &bitlbee.

bitlbee is normally started as a system service (with init scripts, systemd units or equivalent). It can also be run as an inetd(8) / xinetd(8) service or a stand-alone daemon with the options below.

To use it, connect to it with an IRC client with a command such as "/connect localhost"


Run in inetd(8) mode. This is the default setting for historical reasons, but not the recommended one (See ForkDaemon below).
Run in Daemon mode. In this mode, BitlBee forks to the background and waits for new connections. All clients will be served from one process. This mode is also useful for debugging.
Run in ForkDaemon mode. This is similar to ordinary daemon mode, but every client gets its own process. Easier to set up than inetd mode, and without the possible stability issues. This is the recommended runmode for most use cases.


-i address
When running in daemon mode, specifies the network interface (identified by IP address) to which the daemon should attach. Use this if you don't want BitlBee to listen on every interface (which is the default behaviour).
-p port number
When running in daemon mode, specifies the port number on which BitlBee should listen for connections. 6667 is the default value.
Wehn running in daemon mode, this option prevents BitlBee from forking into the background.
Be more verbose. This only works together with the -n flag.
-c path to other configuration file
Use a different configuration file.
-d path to user settings directory
BitlBee normally saves every user's settings in /var/lib/bitlbee/. If you want the settings to be stored somewhere else (for example, if you don't have write permissions in the default location), use this option.
Show help information.


To get a complete list of commands, please use the help commands command in the &bitlbee channel after connecting to bitlbee.


inetd(8), inetd.conf(5)

For more information on using BitlBee, once connected, you should use the help command in the &bitlbee channel.


Of course there are bugs. If you find some, please report them at


This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software Foundation, Inc., 59 Temple PLace, Suite 330, Boston, MA 02111-1307 USA


Wilmer van der Gaast <>
19 May 2010