The Awesome Program You Never Should Use

I've been hesitating for a couple months about whether to mention sshpass. Conceptually, it's a horrible, horrible program. It basically allows you to enter an SSH user name and password on the command line, so you can create a connection without any interaction. A far better way to accomplish that is with public/private keypairs. But it's still something I find useful from time to time, and I'd rather mention it with all the warnings in the world than to pretend it doesn't exist.

So, sshpass—it's a simple tool, but in a pinch, it can be incredibly helpful. You use it with the user name and password as command-line arguments (with some variations, see the help screen in the screenshot), and it injects them into your ssh (or scp) command.

Again, this is a horribly insecure method for entering passwords. However, I find it particularly useful for setting up new machines, especially computers or devices in a closed environment. I've also used it to send files via scp to hundreds of machines in my local network that I'll never need to connect to again. It's a dangerous tool, but can be a lifesaver if you need it. Search your distribution's repositories, as it's available for most systems. And remember, don't ever use it!


Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.