Linux Mint – An introduction to SSH

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SSH is one of those technologies where once you get accustomed to using it, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. The Linux shell is very powerful, and the power is magnified when you’re able to access a system remotely. With remote access software, the user will typically see the mouse cursor move around the screen as you access the machine, causing them to stop working until you’re finished with your connection. With SSH, you can actually connect to a system and not disturb the person sitting in front of it. To further illustrate the benefit of SSH, imagine that a family member or friend asks you to install FileZilla on their machine so that they can access an FTP site. You can get up, walk over to the machine, disturb the person, and install FileZilla, or you can obtain remote shell access and enter sudo apt-get install filezilla on their machine command in the background, without disturbing them. This is especially useful if you’re not in the same physical location.

In an enterprise network, using SSH is a very important style of administration. For example, if you have servers in a data center that you’re responsible for taking care of, you’ll likely use SSH to connect to them rather than walking into the data center and connecting a keyboard and display. In fact, most corporations that utilize Linux on servers or even on desktops often enable SSH by default, so that the administrators can benefit from the ease of administration.

When accessing a machine via SSH, you first open up a terminal window and then type the following command:

ssh jdoe@

As you can see, accessing a machine via SSH is simple. You execute the ssh command followed by the username you would like to use for the connection (the user account must exist on the target computer), and then you’re prompted for the password. After entering the password, your terminal switches to the one attached to the target system. You can then enter commands such as installing programs as if you were there with the machine.


Before continuing with the next activity, you may want to verify whether or not your firewall allows SSH, which typically uses port 22. Some networks include a dedicated firewall, and small and home office routers also typically include a firewall. Either one of these may prevent you from connecting between machines. It’s a good idea to ensure that SSH (port 22) is allowed in your environment before continuing.

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