Connecting to the Server and Joining #ubuntu-women
First of all, you need to make sure you have XChat installed. Go to the menu at the top of your screen, Applications -> Internet
If XChat IRC is there as seen below, you have it installed.
If not, launch Synaptic.
Synaptic is the graphical package management tool that you may have used before. XChat is located in the "Universe" repository. You can check if you have the Universe respository in your sources.list by going to Settings -> Repositories and see if you have "Ubuntu 6.06 LTS (binary) - Community Maintained (Universe)" checked. If it's not checked, check it, then close the window. Once back to the main Synaptic screen, hit Reload.
Now do a Search for xchat. When it comes up, click on the little box next to the name "xchat" and "Mark For Installation" then hit "Apply"
This will install XChat.
Once finished, launch XChat from Applications -> Internet as show above.
The above "Server List" screen will show up. The Nickname and other information will be the information you put in when creating your user on your computer. You can change these to anything you'd like, try to pick something non-offensive and unique.
In the "Networks" section of the window, scroll down until you find "Freenode" - there are hundreds of IRC servers on the internet that you may want to explore someday, but Freenode is where the Ubuntu IRC Channels are all located.
When you're ready, hit Connect.
Once you connect, the above window will pop up. You can use this to join the channel you want to join, or just uncheck the "Always show this dialog after connecting" and hit OK.
The only very important thing you look for here is a notice toward the bottom that might say something like this:
Your nick is owned by...
-NickServ(NickServ@services.)- This nickname is owned by someone else
If you have never registered the nickname you are using, this means that someone else uses that nickname - YOU CAN NOT USE IT. Think of a different nickname and type: /nick new_nickname_that_is_more_unique (where new_nickname_that_is_more_unique is your new nickname)
There is no chatting in this window, you now need to join a channel.
By typing /join #ubuntu-women as show above in the designated place and hitting enter you will join the channel called #ubuntu-women
The above screenshot shows what being in a channel looks like.
The same place you typed /join #ubuntu-women is where you want to type any text going to the channel. In this example I (elizabeth) said "hello :)" and pleia2 (another person in the channel) replied "hey elizabeth"
A few notes about the screen you're looking at:
All messages to the channel will show up in that main window in the middle.
The box above that main window that says "http://ubuntu-women.org | Welcome to Ubuntu Women! Please read our.." is the "Topic" of the channel. The topic generally tells you something about the channel you entered.
The list on the right shows you all the people who are in the channel. The different color dots next to the nicknames tell you about the "level" of the person in channel. In this example Chanserv, Ladyfrost, panickedthumb and pleia2 are "Channel Ops" - which means they are admins of the channel and can remove and silence disruptive members of the channel as they see fit.
Beyond the Basics
This short introduction got you connected to the server and into a channel where you can chat. From here there are hundreds of other things you can do.
Feel free to ask any questions about how to use XChat in the #ubuntu-women channel - we're there to help you get into the FLOSS community! I would encourage you to explore the help menus, check out the settings, and try to figure out how everything works.