The first time you start HexChat you’ll see the Network List as seen below:
Here you can specify your global logon details. The Nick name will be your name visible in IRC channels (or second/third choice if it’s already taken), and the User name is how you identify yourself to the server. You can pick a server from the default list, or if it’s not there, you can add your own by clicking the Add button:
After you named it, click Edit... and specify the details of your connection. You need at least the following information to join to a certain group of people:
You can see an example below:
In this example, the server address is irc.foo.bar and the port is 6667. The channel of choice is #lobby. Favorite channels are joined to automatically upon connecting to the network. After you finished editing, click Close to return to the Network List. Now select the network you want to connect to and click Connect. After a successful connection you’ll see the following window:
If you don’t want to join a channel just yet, leave it as it is. If you know the channel name already, specify it with the second option. In case you want to browse through the channel list, select the third option. Then press OK to close this window. After you successfully joined a channel, you should see something like this:
That’s it, you’re online. Now you can learn more about HexChat and customize it for your needs. This website is a good starting point, but you can find a lot more on the net. Have fun!