For IRC I understand some form of BSD is better. I'm thinking about FreeBSD, but what version should I go with if a host offers FreeBSD 4.x and 5.x. Last time I checked latest stable was 4.8 or something, what is the current latest stable version? Also, should I go with the latest stable version, an earleir version or a not yet fully stable version?
Freebsd 4.9 is the latest stable version and 5.2.1 is currently the latest version of the 5.x series. I am currently using 4.9 for my production boxes and the last I used 5.1 it was a bit buggy so I decided to stay in the 4.x series until 5.x becomes stable which isn't too far away. Unless you have a need for multiple processor support then 4.x should be good enough for you.
I've only used IRC with Openbsd but Freebsd should run just as well.
I've currently got 4.8-release, 4.9-release and 5.2-release
working with cpanel, and 4.9 woth directadmin.
I've encountered few issues, at least none which would
stop anyone using these for hosting etc.
both 'stable' and 'current' branches of freebsd are
development branches, so you should get an install
of the release versions (these are also what's shipped
on CDs). Then you only need to update any security
patches for that release - there are how-tos in
abundance for this.
PM me if you want any more info on the locations
of the above servers (different DCs) and views
on each setup/install/support etc