I have 3-5 SSH sessions running 24/7 on my desktop on a dedicated monitor. I use SSH throughout the day, and wouldn't be caught dead using Putty or any of the free solutions I have tried.
I'm going to warn you now, this post is going to be huge (That's what she said!) so if you don't get turned on by SSH, you might want to skip this post. Maybe you will find this more interesting.
I have been using a product called SecureCRT for probably 10 years at this point. A license is $99 w/ one year of updates or $139 w/ 3 years of updates. It isn't cheap, and I don't recommend it to most people who just use SSH occasionally, but if you use it on a daily basis, I highly recommend getting it.
If I still have your attention, I'll explain why I love this product so much.
SecureCRT works on Windows, Mac, Linux, and IOS natively. This is a big deal for me as I use multiple platforms and having the same product across them is a huge advantage. For most, it just means it works on whatever they are using.
Real ANSI Color Support
Many SSH clients have very poor support for ANSI characters and color. Configuring them to support drawing characters or color is difficult and sometimes impossible. If you ever have seen this before, you know what I mean.
With SecureCRT not only is this easy, you can create a template or global session settings so this is how it defaults on new sessions.
This is a very useful feature most people don't appreciate. SecureCRT has very good support for color schemes.
This becomes very handy in ways that might not be obvious. In my case, I use the color schemes to give me a visual clue what server I am on. I have a color scheme for the full nodes I manage, and my witness nodes, as well as other servers. This visual clue goes a long way when you working in multiple sessions or haven't slept in 3.5 days.
I am going to assume that since you have read this far, you know what a web browser is and likely have more than one tab open right now. Tab support for SSH is really helpful when running many SSH sessions concurrently and want to keep things organized. Not only do you have tabs, you can make groups and organize them in interesting ways.
If you have used Screen or Tmux you likely can visualize this.
Need a way to format long and complex commands before sending? SSH echos every key stroke to the server as you type it. It is also easy to accidently do a rm -rf in the wrong folder.
The command window feature allows you to format commands prior to sending them.
I don't use this feature often, but it can be handy when doing awk/regex and other mind destroying tasks.
Built in SSH-Agent
If you are using an SSH Key (which you better well should be!) and are using a passphrase on that key (yes, you should do this as well), then you will need to enter the passphrase whenever you log into a new session. I frequently open and close SSH sessions and move around servers. Some stay up 24/7, some I just use for a little while.
SSH Agent is a solution that allows you to cache your password between sessions for a short time. It's generally confusing to setup and most people don't even use or know about it. SecureCRT does this natively and without any setup. It also allows you to set certain settings globally like your default SSH key so you don't have to configure every new session.
If you have a lot of servers to connect to, SecureCRT does a good job at organizing them and grouping them for easy access and management. I have a few groups in my configuration.
- Web Servers
- Mail Servers
- Raspberry Pi
- VMWare Servers
Some of these are nested, and grouped by business. This comes in real handy once you have 5-10 servers to look after. Especially when a friend asks you to log into their server to help them with something, you can easily setup a session and group properly.
Support for ED25519 SSH Keys
Most people use RSA keys, most people are fine with that. ED25519 is the same as RSA but uses twisted Edward curve. The reason this is important is many believe the NSA has compromised or weakend the RSA algorithm to easily snoop SSH traffic without access to the private key or encryption keys.
ED22519 is what I recommend all new SSH keys use and even go so far to replace RSA keys with this algorithm. You can read more about ED25519 if you want your brain to hurt.
Twisted Edwards Curve
One feature I use often is the ability to quickly sFTP to an existing session. You just have to right click the tab and say open an sFTP session. There is also another product that takes this integration further with a GUI client. I never used it but have been considering picking it up recently.
It even supports Drag/Drop transfers.
One thing I use a lot is the ability to connect to services without opening up firewall ports. If I have an insecure service or something I don't want to be left open to the public, I can just quickly create a tunnel and whenever I am connected via SSH I can access the service.
A good example of this is the server monitoring I use, I don't want this to be open to the public nor do I want to bother writing firewall rules. As long as I have a session open via SSH I can access it as if it was on my local LAN. I use this frequently for Jupyter Notebooks hosted remotely.
Cut & Paste
This is something that is critical when working with SSH, and you want it to just work. You can quickly select text by highlighting it and paste is just a right click.
Real-time keyword highlighting
This feature is really slick, you can setup syntax highlighting for error messages and custom regex for whatever you want. See special colors when your witness node produces a block!
There are many other features I won't get into detail but makes this a huge time saver for SSH monkeys.
- Python Scripting
- Script Recording
- Powerful Logging Features
- Firewall Options
- Enviroment Variables to make config templates
- Windows Scaling
- Deep MonoSpaced Font Support
- Huge Terminal Emulation Selection and custmization
- Create SSH Keys
- Paste Confirmation Dialog
They have a 30 day trial and it is one of those products you don't know what you were missing until you see what it can do.
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