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ssh - Secure Shell in 10 mins

ssh is a secure shell client to access remote terminal securely.

ssh on Linux


ssh client is available as a part of openssh-server package.

# install ssh client, server and ssh-agent
sudo apt install openssh-server

ssh usage syntax

# Basic usage     

# with custom PORT; default PORT:22


ssh -p 6789

ssh client for Windows: Putty


Original reference * Download Putty standalone version or installed version from * Run the PuTTY tool (putty.exe) * In the PuTTY tool, specify your username and the external IP address of the instance that you want to connect to in the Host Name field. Click open.

In the example below, the `username` is jane_doe and the external `IP` address is

You can however use only `[IP]` instead of the `[username]@[IP]` syntax.



User guide for connecting to server : ssh with putty For exploring more advanced option on putty continue reading.

This concludes the 10 min tutorial. Keep reading for advanced configurations with ssh.

Putty Fonts, Themes and Appearance: Customizing Putty with powerline

Powerline is a really nice looking command prompt and vim status bar. When working on my linux machine, it was very easy to install following the instructions. Trying to get it to work in Windows and PuTTY, however, took a bit of sleuthing. To add onto the complexity, the project has changed, and some of the information that is out there is outdated.

So, here is what I did to make it work: Follow the installation instructions for powerline

  • Download and install (double click for install menu) the DejaVu font in Windows. Some of the other fonts in the site worked, and others didn't. PuTTY seems to be picky on what fonts it will use, and the DejaVu font is a nice looking mono-spaced font, so it is a good starting point.
  • (Re)run PuTTY and create a new session with the following settings
    • Window-Appearance-Font = DejaVu Sans Mono for Powerline
    • Window-Appearance-Font Quality = ClearType
    • Window-Translation-Character Set = UTF-8
  • Verify your linux locale LANG=en_US.UTF-8 (mine was out of the box)
  • Verify that your .vimrc has set encoding=utf-8
  • Verify your term session is capable of 256 colors (TERM=xterm-256color)

In addition you can also customize the Colours > ANSI Blue to (RGB) = (108, 108, 187). This will lighten the blue shades of powerline fonts. Useful for Agnoster type arrow themes.

And that's it!

ssh authentication KEYS

Advanced usage with encryption KEYS. To use keys first you need to generate a key pair containing * public key [remains in server or the host] ; format .pub (Unix) and .ppk (windows Putty) * private key [used by client]

Usage Syntax for ssh connection with keys:



ssh -i /home/towshif/.ssh/AWS-Server2019-Key -p 6789

How To Set Up SSH Keys on Host and Client (Linux)

Now lets look at how to setup server and client to use keys. With keys you can also skip password for ssh login. 1. Step One—Create the RSA Key Pair

The first step is to create the key pair on the `client` machine (there is a good chance that this will just be your computer):

    ssh-keygen -t rsa

advanced usage:

    ssh-keygen -t rsa -f ~/.ssh/[KEY_FILENAME] -C [USERNAME]
  1. Step Two—Store the Keys and Passphrase

    Once you have entered the Gen Key command, you will get a few more questions:

    Enter file in which to save the key (/home/demo/.ssh/id_rsa):
    # You can press enter here, saving the file to the user home (in this case, my example user is called demo).
    Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase):

    Example: The entire key generation process looks like this:

    ssh-keygen -t rsa


    Generating public/private rsa key pair.
    Enter file in which to save the key (/home/demo/.ssh/id_rsa): 
    Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase): 
    Enter same passphrase again: 
    Your identification has been saved in /home/demo/.ssh/id_rsa.
    Your public key has been saved in /home/demo/.ssh/
    The key fingerprint is:
    4a:dd:0a:c6:35:4e:3f:ed:27:38:8c:74:44:4d:93:67 demo@a
    The key's randomart image is:
    +--[ RSA 2048]----+
    |          .oo.   |
    |         .  o.E  |
    |        + .  o   |
    |     . = = .     |
    |      = S = .    |
    |     o + = +     |
    |      . o + o .  |
    |           . o   |
    |                 |
    The public key is now located in /home/demo/.ssh/ 
    The private key (identification) is now located in /home/demo/.ssh/id_rsa.

    List the contents of ~/.ssh to view the key files. * Public key file: ~/.ssh/[KEY_FILENAME].pub * Private key file: ~/.ssh/[KEY_FILENAME] where [KEY_FILENAME] is the filename of the SSH key, which was set when the key was created.

    Restrict access to the private key so only you (this USER) can access it

        chmod 400 ~/.ssh/[KEY_FILENAME]

    Private keys can be used from different clients to connect to the host.

  2. Step Three—Copy the Public Key to Host Server that you want to access.

    Once the key pair is generated, it's time to place the public key on the server that we want to use. You can copy the public key into the new machine's authorized_keys file with the ssh-copy-id command. Make sure to replace the example username and IP address below.

    ssh-copy-id demo@

    OR copy manually like this or any way you prefer.

    cat ~/.ssh/ | ssh demo@ "mkdir -p ~/.ssh && chmod 700 ~/.ssh && cat >>  ~/.ssh/authorized_keys"

    Either one you choose you will see similar output as this

    The authenticity of host ' (' can't be established.
    RSA key fingerprint is b1:2d:33:67:ce:35:4d:5f:f3:a8:cd:c0:c4:48:86:12.
    Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)? yes
    Warning: Permanently added '' (RSA) to the list of known hosts.
    user@'s password:

    Remember to change permisson for public key to 700 on your remote server. Make sure you're logged in as the user for whom the key was created. Then, ensure your .ssh directory on the server, and the files it contains, have the correct permissions:

    chmod 700 ~/.ssh/[KEY_FILENAME].pub        
    # optional if you are only user
    chmod 600 ~/.ssh/authorized_keys

To Create ssh keys on Windows with putty use this reference:
SSH keys on Windows

Log In Using Your Private Key

You can now SSH or SFTP into your server using your private key. From the command line, you can use:

ssh SYSUSER@x.x.x.x

If you didn't create your key in the default location, you'll need to specify the location:

ssh -i ~/.ssh/custom_key_name SYSUSER@x.x.x.x

OR a more verbose syntax

# -l [USER]
# -p [PORT]
ssh -i /nfs/shared/users/nixcraft/keys/server1/id_rsa -p 4242 -l nixcraft

Retrieve Your Public Key from Your Private Key

The following command will retrieve the public key from a private key:

ssh-keygen -y

This can be useful, for example, if your server provider generated your SSH key for you and you were only able to download the private key portion of the key pair. Note that you cannot retrieve the private key if you only have the public key.

If you're using a Windows SSH client, such as PuTTy, look in the configuration settings to specify the path to your private key.

ssh Tips

Using ssh config file for easy login : More Info

Create a file config in ~/.ssh dir and you can populate it with the host login configurations that are frequently used by that machine. Note : passwords are not allowed to be saven in this file.

If config file doesnot exist create one

touch ~/.ssh/config
vi ~/.ssh/config

Set permissions on ~/.ssh/config

chmod 600 ~/.ssh/config

Sample basic config :

Host scotch
    User nick

Host example2
    User root

Host example3
    User userxyz123
    Port 56000

Host amazon1
    User ec2-user
    IdentityFile /path/to/special/privatekey/amazonKey
    ServerAliveInterval 60
    ServerAliveCountMax 30

For host "amazon1" there are ServerAliveInterval and ServerAliveCountMax options. * ServerAliveInterval option will refresh your session every 60 seconds in order to keep it open, * ServerAliveCountMax option specifies that this should only be performed 30 times, thus ensuring your session won’t time-out for at least 30 minutes of inactivity.

Using alias in .bashrc for ssh host enries

# in .bashrc file add this line 
alias dev='ssh -p 22000'

# then source it 
source ~/.bashrc

To connect

$ dev

Use as many alias as needed. For more info on alias use this reference

SSH Tunnelling

What is it?

Port Forwarding : Forward Tunnel

ssh -f -N -L 9906:
# -f puts ssh in background
# -N makes it not execute a remote command

Reverse SSH tunnelling

This section is in progress.

Google Cloud Comute Instance SSH connect