Open Source

Review: ConnectBot SSH client for Android

The ConnectBot SHH client allows you to connect to your Linux machines from anywhere your Android phone can get a signal. Linux expert Jack Wallen calls this a must-have app.

If you have Linux boxes to administer, you know all too well how important it is to have the ability to secure shell into those machines to do your work. Secure shell is right at your fingertips if you are sitting at a Linux box (or a Windows box, thanks to PuTTY). If you need to get into that machine and take care of a maintenance task, are you out of luck if your only means of connecting is your Android smartphone? Not at all, thanks to the ConnectBot SSH client.

Requirements

  • Android phone with a data plan
  • Linux machine running an ssh server (openssh-server works great)

Who is the target market?

ConnectBot is for any Linux administrator who knows the importance of secure shell and who needs to be able to remote into a Linux box from anywhere there is a phone signal. If you are administering any type of Linux server that can be administered via command line, and you own an Android phone, ConnectBot is a must-have application.

What problem does it solve?

ConnectBot solves one issue: the remote connection to a Linux box serving up ssh connections when the user/administrator does not have a wired or a wireless connection available.

Standout features

  • Free
  • Simple to install from the Android Market
  • Easy to use keyboard shortcuts
  • Screen gesture support
  • Non-standard ssh port support. Private/public key export support.
  • Change font size with volume +/- keys.
  • Host edit with long-press. Command history access via trackball or scroll wheel.

What's wrong?

The biggest drawback to using ConnectBot (as with any phone-based secure shell client) is doing these admin tasks on the small screen of a smartphone. It's no easy feat to administer a server on a phone screen. And when you're trying to type out Linux commands on a smartphone keyboard, you start to feel like your life is running in slow motion; this is especially problematic when you have to run longer commands such as iptables chain rules.

Another issue is there is no <Ctrl> key on the Android keyboard; this can be a problem when you need to stop a command. Fortunately, most Android phones have a key that serves the same purpose (for instance, my HTC Hero uses a single push of the Trackball to send the <Ctrl> key.)

Competitive product

Bottom line for business

If you are a Linux admin and you use an Android phone, you need this application. Even if you only use ConnectBot a couple of times, you'll be glad you have it when no network connection is available.

User rating

If you have tried ConnectBot SSH Client for Android, please answer these poll questions.

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About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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