There are alternatives to IRC. All of these are small & easy to set up and run, but are Windows only, and host a single chatroom per server.
I could help you set up Ouka to run on a LAN rather than on the internet (just a matter of not ticking an option) (documentation
Plus I'll provide support with answering any questions and helping you learn all the finer points of using it. (I have been running it to host my chatroom for the last 3+ years)
You can use RoboMX
as a chat client, in offline mode, to join an Ouka hosted room anywhere on the internet or a LAN, provided you have either the room name+hash or IP/port of the chatroom. (PM's will not work, though)
Yes, they originally were developed to host and chat in chatrooms on the WinMX P2P network, but there is nothing that says you can't use it for this purpose, off the network, on your LAN.
There is a much older and smaller MXChatD. A command line server with much less features than Ouka, that can't connect to the winmx network at all, even if you wanted it to. It lacks a lot of the admin features that Ouka does, though. It's abandonware, I know the developer (sort of) and he doesn't mind if people use or distribute it. He's just never going to support it. It's light as a feather and I was able to host a chatroom with it on my 11 year old slowpoke 9x pc, with about 15 people actively chatting in it, with no signs of lag, over a 33.6k dialup connection.
If you want to modify an open source project using the same WPNP protocol, to make it suit your needs, and neuter it of all winmx network related stuff, there is also roboServe
, but I can't help you at all with using that, as I have never used it before. (RoboMX client is also open source and can be neutered, if you want)
None of these have any file sharing or transfer capabilities. They were developed for chat, only. (so there is no worries about getting yourself into trouble with P2P related file sharing issues)
And I saved the best for last...
There is also Martin's
IDE3 project, both chat client/server in a single portable app, with the added ability to work on code together and share a drawing board, if you are interested in that. It will support PM's, and was intended for online group collaboration between developers. Plus if someone actually has a use for it, it might just encourage him to start developing IDE4 sooner, rather than later.
screenshot:Suggestions for a Quick & Easy ircd for my private LAN
(this was on my old 9x machine, and it doesn't come with that colorful background)
Some info about IDE2
, an older version. (Martin was only 16 when he made this version)
I have a copy of IDE3 (blows away v2 in terms of features, functionality, stability, & security
) and Martin doesn't mind if I give it to anyone. In fact, I know he would be really delighted. (plus it's made by someone you know, so you know they are approachable to answer questions about its "secret" internal workings, and just how secure it is)