Assignment 2: Supporting Multiple Clients

In this part of the project, your main goal will be to allow users to send messages to each other. You will also implement a couple extra messages that will make your server compliant enough to test with existing IRC clients.

Since you will be supporting multiple users, you will now have to spawn a new thread for each user that connects to your server. This, in turn, may result in race conditions in your code. You must identify the shared resources in your server, and make sure they are protected by adequate synchronization primitives.

The messages you have to implement are presented in suggested order of implementation. Nonetheless, once you’ve implemented Connection Registration, the remaining messages are mostly independent of each other.

Connection Registration

Implement connection registration, as described in [RFC2812 §3.1], with the following exceptions:

  • You must implement the NICK, USER, and QUIT messages. You must not implement the PASS, SERVICE, or SQUIT messages. You do not need to implement the OPER and MODE messages yet (you will implement them in the next assignment).

  • In the NICK message, you must implement the ERR_NONICKNAMEGIVEN and ERR_NICKNAMEINUSE replies.

  • You can ignore the <mode> and <unused> parameters of the USER message.

  • In the USER message, you must implement the ERR_ALREADYREGISTRED, and ERR_NEEDMOREPARAMS. Note: You will need to support the ERR_NEEDMOREPARAMS reply in several other messages. It will pay off to write a function that validates the number of parameters in a message, and returns an ERR_NEEDMOREPARAMS reply if the number of parameters is insufficient.

  • After a connection has been registered, the RPL_WELCOME reply must be followed by the RPL_YOURHOST, RPL_CREATED, RPL_MYINFO replies (in that order). For the RPL_MYINFO reply, the user modes are ao and the channel modes are mtov.

  • The ERROR message sent in reply to a QUIT must include this error message:

    Closing Link: HOSTNAME (MSG)

    Where HOSTNAME is the user’s hostname and MSG` is the <Quit Message> parameter provided in the QUIT message. If none is provided, the default is Client Quit

Take into account the following:

  • The NICK and USER messages can be received in any order, and a connection is not fully registered until both messages have been received (and neither contain any errors)

  • If you receive any message other than NICK or USER before the connection registration is complete, you must send a ERR_NOTREGISTERED reply if that message contained a supported command (i.e., one of the commands we are asking you to implement in this project). Otherwise, you should just silently ignore that message. Take into account that, once registration is complete, this behavior will change (see ERR_UNKNOWNCOMMAND below)

  • The NICK command can also be used after the connection registration to change a user’s nick.

  • You can safely skip the QUIT command and revisit it later, as no other commands depend on it.

  • Most IRC servers send the replies corresponding to the MOTD and LUSER messages after the welcome messages are sent. Most of our tests expect this but, until you implement MOTD and LUSER, you can get away with simply sending the following replies verbatim:

    :hostname 251 user1 :There are 1 users and 0 services on 1 servers
    :hostname 252 user1 0 :operator(s) online
    :hostname 253 user1 0 :unknown connection(s)
    :hostname 254 user1 0 :channels formed
    :hostname 255 user1 :I have 1 clients and 1 servers
    :hostname 422 user1 :MOTD File is missing

    This will be enough to pass the connection registration tests (they check that the correct replies are sent, but don’t actually check whether they contain accurate information).


Implement messaging between users, as described in [RFC2812 §3.3], with the following exceptions:

  • The only supported <msgtarget> is nicknames.
  • You must implement the ERR_NORECIPIENT, ERR_NOTEXTTOSEND. and ERR_NOSUCHNICK replies.

Take into account the following:

  • If user user1 sends a sequence of PRIVMSG messages to user2, then user2 must receive them in the same order that user1 sent them.
  • If users user1 and user2 each send a single message to user3, the messages are not expected to arrive in the same order that user1 and user2 sent them.


Implement the PING and PONG commands, as described in [RFC2812 §3.7.2] and [RFC2812 §3.7.3], with the following exceptions:

  • You can ignore the parameters in PING, and simply send the PONG response to the client that sent the PING message.
  • You must silently drop any PONG messages you receive (do not send a ERR_UNKNOWNCOMMAND reply)

Take into account the following:

  • Implementing PING and PONG is essential to testing your server with real IRC clients. IRC clients will sent PING messages periodically and, if they do not receive a PONG message back, they will close the connection.


Implement the MOTD command, as described in [RFC2812 §3.4.1], with the following exceptions:

  • You can ignore the <target> parameter.

Take into account the following:

  • Your server should read the “Message Of The Day” from a file called motd.txt in the directory from where you ran the server.
  • If the file does not exist, you must return a ERR_NOMOTD reply.


Implement the LUSERS command, as described in [RFC2812 §3.4.2], with the following exceptions:

  • You can ignore the <mask> and <target> parameters.
  • You must return the replies in the following order: RPL_LUSERCLIENT, RPL_LUSEROP, RPL_LUSERUNKNOWN, RPL_LUSERCHANNELS, RPL_LUSERME
  • You do not need to support the ERR_NOSUCHSERVER reply

Take into account the following:

  • You must send the replies even when they are reporting a zero value (i.e., ignore this from [RFC2812 §5.1]: “When replying, a server MUST send back RPL_LUSERCLIENT and RPL_LUSERME. The other replies are only sent back if a non-zero count is found for them.”)
  • An “unknown connection” is any connected client that isn’t fully registered (i.e., any client that hasn’t successfully sent NICK and USER).
  • The number of users in the RPL_LUSERCLIENT reply is the number of registered users (i.e., all open connections, minus unknown connections).
  • The number of clients in the RPL_LUSERME reply is the total number of connections, including unknown connections.


Implement the WHOIS command, as described in [RFC2812 §3.6.2], with the following exceptions:

  • The command must accept a single parameter: a nick (i.e., there is only a single <mask>, and it must be a nick; ignore the <target> parameter)
  • Ordinarily, the WHOIS command can be used without parameters, so the RFC does not not require a ERR_NEEDMOREPARAMS reply in this case. However, since we do not support WHOIS without parameters, if you receive such a message you should silently ignore it (i.e., don’t send any reply back at all)
  • You must only send back the following replies, in this order: RPL_WHOISUSER, RPL_WHOISSERVER, RPL_ENDOFWHOIS.
  • You must supply a value for parameter <server info> in RPL_WHOISSERVER, but we won’t be checking its contents.
  • You must support the ERR_NOSUCHNICK reply.

Take into account the following:

  • You will be implementing RPL_WHOISOPERATOR, RPL_WHOISCHANNELS, and RPL_AWAY in the next assignment.


If, after registering correctly, your server receives any message not described here (or in the next assignment), you must return a ERR_UNKNOWNCOMMAND reply.


Your code must pass the “Robustness” suite of tests (see Testing your Implementation for instructions on how to run the tests). These tests check that your code does not crash in certain corner cases (e.g., when using messages that are 511, 512, or 513 bytes long), and when commands include arbitrary amounts of whitespace. This is not specified in the RFC, but most production IRC servers are able to deal with the kind of messages sent by the “Robustness” tests.