Using SSH the right way

22 May 2015

I hate PUTTY. There I said it. It is difficult to use. It look like something a Windows user would use to connect to remote systems because the default terminal sucks. As a proud Linux user(though Ubuntu; pardon me, Linux puritans), I have always loved the terminal. Typing commands, and the reams of text output that comes gives me a satisfying feeling. If I can connect to from the terminal without much hassle, why would I use a stylised application that doesn’t have a normal copy and paste option?

So how do you setup the whole apparatus that will let you ssh into a remote system? Here goes: (I’m using an Amazon EC2 instance as an example)

  • First of all find the .ssh folder in your home folder. If you don’t have a config file in it, create one
  • In the config file, add the following lines:
    Host *host-nickname*
          HostName *your-remote-server-ip*
          User *your-username*
          Identityfile *your-pem-file*

    That’s it, done! Now you can simply type ssh host-nickname to access the remote shell. For other remote hosts, the Identityfile may be replaced with a password.

This is a much better way than running ssh -i your-pem-file your-username@your-remote-server-ip because of the following reasons:

  • No need to type long commands. You could of course use aliases, but this is much more cleaner. Mainly because, the aliases don’t need to be loaded when the shell loads.
  • scp is much more easier. Simpy run scp host-nickname:/your/remote/file/location /your/local/file/location to download files.
  • Editing remote file using emacs becomes possible.
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