For some tasks, I'm a Linux purist and refuse to budge from the command line. But other tasks could be made a bit more efficient with a GUI tool. One such task is having to log into a data center full of Linux servers. Instead of issuing the command USER@IP (where USER is a user name and IP is the server IP) over and over, wouldn't it be nice to have a simple, one-trick-pony GUI tool that would allow you to store those logins ? Fortunately, there are a few such tools available. The one I use the most is EasySSH. This particular take on the SSH GUI tool doesn't offer much in the way of bells and whistles, but it does a great job of keeping all my SSH logins saved, so a login is but a click away.
I know what you're thinking.
Yes. There is one major caveat to this tool. Anyone who has access to the tool can gain access to your servers. Why? Because usernames/passwords are required to be saved. So if you want to use this tool (which I do), do so only on a machine you trust and that can't (in any way) fall into the wrong hands. Even with that glaring security issue, EasySSH is an application you should consider for your busy Linux remote admin work. Let me show you how to install and use it. I'll be demonstrating on Elementary OS (as EasySSH was developed specifically for Elementary OS), but you can install the tool on any platform that supports Flatpak.
SEE: Securing Linux policy (Tech Pro Research)
Installation on Elementary OS is as simple as opening the AppStore, searching for EasySSH, and clicking Install. If you're not on Elementary OS but are running an OS with Flatpak support, you can open a terminal and issue the following commands:
sudo flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo sudo flatpak install flathub com.github.muriloventuroso.easyssh
Once installation is complete, you can check in your desktop menu for the application. If you don't find it (and you installed via Flatpak), start the app with the command:
flatpak run com.github.muriloventuroso.easyssh
That command alone could be considered a way to keep unwanted users from using EasySSH. However, chances are the app will appear in your desktop menu (regardless of installation method), so the command isn't actually necessary.
Using EasySSH couldn't be easier. Once you have the application open, click on the + button in the main window and fill out the information for your connection (Figure A).
Pay attention to the Group section. You can group servers to make them easier to manage. Say you have some servers in one physical location and others in another location. With EasySSH you can group them accordingly.
You also must fill out the username and password. Without this information the connection will fail. (You don't get a chance to type the credentials upon connection.) This is where that security concern comes into play. I would like to think the developer might consider adding the ability for a server to prompt for credentials. As that is not the case, you must fill out this information.
SEE: 20 quick tips to make Linux networking easier (free TechRepublic PDF)
It's also possible to create local and remote tunnels for your connection. To do this, click on the Advanced button and then click Tunnels. In the resulting window (Figure B), select Local or Remote, fill out the source and destination ports, and click Add Tunnel.
Once you've finished filling out the configuration, click Save and you're done. From the left navigation click the connection you want to make and then click the Connect button. EasySSH will navigate the authentication and you will find yourself logged into your remote machine (Figure C).
Although EasySSH is incredibly easy to use, it does have one rather annoying issue. That Tab button? The one where you are led to believe you can open up multiple tabs, each connected to a different server? It doesn't work as you'd think. If you have a connection made and you click the New Tab button, the new tab will open to the same server you're already connected to. If you have multiple tabs open to Server A and you click on Server B in the sidebar, all tabs will switch to Server B. Hopefully this is another issue the developer will address. However, I do believe this behavior is exactly what the developer planned. Maybe they'll consider adding the ability to make use of the tabs in such a way that each could connect to a different server. From my perspective, that would make the application far more useful to the busy Linux administrator.
Even with the caveat(s), EasySSH makes connecting to remote Linux servers incredibly easy. Just remember to use this only on a machine that you alone have access to. Do not allow others to log into the machine housing EasySSH; otherwise, you run the risk of ne'er-do-wells gaining entry into your Linux servers.
- How to combine SSH key authentication and two-factor authentication on Linux (TechRepublic)
- How to easily add an SSH fingerprint to your known_hosts file in Linux (TechRepublic)
- How to block SSH access for specific IP addresses (TechRepublic)
- How to use secure copy with ssh key authentication (TechRepublic)
- Source Defense says it has a fix for the one vulnerability that can compromise almost any website (ZDNet)
Does this tool sound like a time-saver that could streamline your admin tasks? Do you have a different SSH tool to recommend? Share your thought with fellow TechRepublic members.
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.