Eleven SSH Tricks
SSH is the descendant of rsh and rlogin, which are non-encrypted programs for remote shell logins. Rsh and rlogin, like telnet, have a long lineage but now are outdated and insecure. However, these programs evolved a surprising number of nifty features over two decades of UNIX development, and the best of them made their way into SSH. Following are the 11 tricks I have found useful for squeezing the most power out of SSH.
OpenSSH is the most common free version of SSH and is available for virtually all UNIX-like operating systems. It is included by default with Debian, SuSE, Red Hat, Mandrake, Slackware, Caldera and Gentoo Linux, as well as OpenBSD, Cygwin for Windows and Mac OS X. This article is based on OpenSSH, so if you are using some other version, check your documentation before trying these tricks.
You can encrypt X sessions over SSH. Not only is the traffic encrypted, but the DISPLAY environment variable on the remote system is set properly. So, if you are running X on your local computer, your remote X applications magically appear on your local screen.
Turn on X11 forwarding with ssh -X host. You should use X11 forwarding only for remote computers where you trust the administrators. Otherwise, you open yourself up to X11-based attacks.
A nifty trick using X11 forwarding displays images within an xterm window. Run the web browser w3m with the in-line image extension on the remote machine; see the Debian package w3m-img or the RPM w3m-imgdisplay. It uses X11 forwarding to open a borderless window on top of your xterm. If you read your e-mail remotely using SSH and a text-based client, it then is possible to bring up in-line images over the same xterm window.
SSH looks for the user config file in ~/.ssh/config. A sample might look like:
ForwardX11 yes Protocol 2,1
Using ForwardX11 yes is the same as specifying -X on the command line. The Protocol line tells SSH to try SSH2 first and then fall back to SSH1. If you want to use only SSH2, delete the ,1.
The config file can include sections that take effect only for certain remote hosts by using the Host option. Another useful config file option is User, which specifies the remote user name. If you often log in to a machine with ssh -l remoteuser remotehost or ssh remoteuser@remotehost, you can shorten this by placing the following lines in your config file:
Host remotehost ForwardX11 yes User remoteuser Host * ForwardX11 no
Now, you can type ssh remotehost to log on as user remoteuser with the ForwardX11 option turned on. Otherwise, ForwardX11 is turned off, as recommended above. The asterisk matches all hosts, including hosts already matched in a Host section, but only the first matching option is used. Put specific Host sections before generic sections in your config file.
A system-wide SSH config file, /etc/ssh/ssh_config, also is available. SSH obtains configuration data in the following order: command-line options, user's configuration file and system-wide configuration file. All of the options can be explored by browsing man ssh_config.
SSH can use gzip compression on any connection. The default compression level is equivalent to approximately 4× compression for text. Compression is a great idea if you are forwarding X sessions on a dial-up or slow network. Turn on compression with ssh -C or put Compression yes in your config file.
Another speed tweak involves changing your encryption cipher. The default cipher on many older systems is triple DES (3DES), which is slower than Blowfish and AES. New versions of OpenSSH default to Blowfish. You can change the cipher to blowfish with ssh -c blowfish.
Cipher changes to your config file depend on whether you are connecting with SSH1 or SSH2. For SSH1, use Cipher blowfish; for SSH2, use:
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
Join Linux Journal's Mike Diehl and Pat Cameron of Help Systems.
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- The Firebird Project's Firebird Relational Database
- Stunnel Security for Oracle
- My +1 Sword of Productivity
- Managing Linux Using Puppet
- Non-Linux FOSS: Caffeine!
- SUSE LLC's SUSE Manager
- Murat Yener and Onur Dundar's Expert Android Studio (Wrox)
- Doing for User Space What We Did for Kernel Space
- Google's SwiftShader Released
- Parsing an RSS News Feed with a Bash Script
With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide