@exnihilo.witness - Termius tutorial - Witness Report - 2018/08/20

in #witness-category6 years ago (edited)

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Welcome back to @exnihilo.witness’s witness report of 20/08/2018

For those who don’t know why @siavach and @elmetro are witness, it is highly recommended to read our Witness Proposal

Today I do not want to make a post with statistics, advancements of tasks or even a follow-up of the next steps.

Today I want to write because I'm angry 😡
On the last April we were so angry when we missed our first and only block that we had to do something so that it would never happen again, no never.

Today I want to share with you the solution we found so that it does not happen anymore, today I'll introduce you the mobile application called Termius.

As much to say that I am not an expert of Termius, it is a software that I have just discovered and which in the end is very useful to the job of a witness.
The idea is to share with you my experience of Termius hoping that it can be as useful to another witness as it was for me. If you notice an error or a forget, I hope that this post will at least correct me, so feel free to post comments, I will read them all, promised. That being said, let's go.

Why using Termius?

Some bloggers and some witnesses, especially those of the top 20 are professionals, that means they make a living with this activity. Assuming that 8 hours is the working time of an office worker, one could assume that professional witnesses spend 8 hours a day on their "work" in the blockchain
@exnihilo.witness as its name suggests, we start from scratch, we are amateurs, it means that we have a professional life outside Steem and we have a real job, in the "real" life. We cannot be all day or all night in front of our server. A DApp like Steemit him, is witnessed from everywhere in the world, a block can be produced at any moment, finally every 3 seconds rather, but 24/24 and 7/7. In case of an emergency or a problem on Steem, the duty of a witness is to be available at any time to analyze and solve the bugs. This in order to avoid missing a block that would be waiting for treatment.

The professionals can afford to have a second backup server and sometimes even a third that manages the first two.
@exnihilo.witness, we are ranked 218, at this rank we do not have enough blocks to have the necessary budget to set up a backup of our witness server. This means that if our server that produces blocks is down, our witness node will not switch to a second server that takes over the work of producing and validating the Steem Community posts. In other words, if we start missing a block, we will miss all the next blocks.

That's why server monitoring is a matter of life and death for a witness like us.
Since we are not already financially self-sufficient with our only server, we needed to be more available, more agile and more scalable.

I ask you the questions we asked ourselves. How to connect to our server at any time? What do we have permanent in our pocket, even on vacation? Small clue... it is not a Swiss knife.

What is Termius?


Termius is a free mobile phone application which allow SSH access to your remote server in your pocket. In other word, Termius is a portable server management system that works for you in any situation.

  • You can sync hosts across every device.
  • You have terminals with live previews.
  • You can personalize your keyboard to adapt your favorite command line.

How to use Termius?

First of all, you will see that Termius is a very friendly using app and very easy to understand. I have installed and run it in 30 minutes without any documentation. So feel free to adapt the tutorial to your personal way of connection and settings.

1. Setup

The connexion setup will depend on the way you are going to connect to your remote server. Depending on the security you want to bring to your server, you will have more or less connection parameters. Termius is quite complete from this point of view and allows to consider all possibilities.

As for us the security is an important subject, to connect to our remote server from a PC, we are using the SSH protocol, a personalized port number, a private key without passphrase and a non-root user without password.
We are not using password neither passphrase with PC and it is fine like that, but with mobile phone and Termius it is a little bit different. As we do not know personally the Termius developpers, we have preferred to use passphrase with the Termius connexion. If you are in the same case, we highly recommend you to do same.

In this section you will see:
• How to setup a private key with passphrase.
• How to setup a host using ssh connection.

a) Install Termius on your smartphone

Install Termius from App Store or Google Play by clicking on the pictures and lunch it.

b) Create a private key

Press on « Keychain »

Press on « + »

You can import a private file from iTunes. But it is very not recommended to copy your private key on the cloud, so please do not use this option.
You can also generate a private key directly in Termius but we do not recommend it as you do not met personally the Termius developers. We have chosen to generate the private key on a PC and to copy past it in Termius, so select the option « Paste Key »

c) Set the private key

  • Name: Choose a name for your key. It is not very important, you can use for example « steem witness with passphrase »
  • Private: Edit the private key file on your PC, be careful to generate a private key which use a passphrase. Send it to yourself by email for instance. Copy it and paste it here. Don’t forget to delete you email from your mail box.
  • Passphrase: We recommend you to leave blank this field. It is more secure to enter your passphrase at each connection than to store it here.

Press « Save »
And come back to the Keychain menu.

You should now be able to see your « Keychain » representing your private key. Let's leave that aside for the moment, we'll need it later.

d) Create a Host

Press on « Hosts »

Press on « + »

Select the option « New Host »

e) Set the Host

  • Alias: Choose a name for your host. It is not very important, you can use for example « steem witness pass »
  • Hostname: Write the IP address of your server, it should be something like 195.xxx.xxx.xxx
  • Group: You can leave blank this one
  • Tags: You can leave blank this one
  • Backspace as CTRL+H: Don’t select this one.
  • Use SSH: This one must be selected as we are connecting to our server with SSH protocol.
  • Use Mosh (Beta): Do not select this one.
  • Port: The default port of SSH is 22, but if like us you have changed it, write here the port number you are using.
  • Username: Write here the user which is connecting to your server. The default user is root, but if like us you are using a different user, write him here.
  • Password: We are not using password for connection, we have leaved blank this one. If you are using a password, it is highly recommended to not store it here and to enter it at each connection.
  • Key: Select the key that we have just created before.
  • Use Telnet: As we are using SSH, do not select this one.

Press « Save »
And come back to the Hosts menu.

You should now be able to see your « Host » representing your server connection.

2. How to use the terminal

a) Connect to the server

Go into the Hosts menu press on the host that you just have created

As we are using a passphrase a screen which ask you to enter your passphrase should open.

Check that your connection data is correct (in yellow in the picture). It should be in the following format
< user >@<ip_adresse>:<port_number>

Press « Connect »

If you also use a password, a second window which ask you to enter your password should open just after.

Now you have access to you server via a termial command line.
You should have your usual prompt (in yellow in the picture). It should be in the following format
< user >@<server_name> :~$

From there, you can have fun, you have access to your server as on your PC.
A true story as an example of use. Last week I was on vacation at lake of Madine,
a lake that is worth seeing if you are in the area. Very pretty and the local farmers will sell you excellent plums for cheap. In short, I was on the beach, and the community heats up on https://steem.chat/channel/witness. It was absolutely necessary to quickly upgrade Steem from version v0.19.5 to version v0.19.6. Of course, thanks to @someguy123 nothing complicated, he updated the docker image that just had to install and restart. I can tell you that I did the upgrade on the beach between 2 lemonades and a mini-golf.

Now it's still a smartphone and therefore a small screen and a small keyboard, if you do not know what you're looking for or if you need to analyze a problem it can be a little bit complicated. This is where Termius is very convenient anyway, the developers have made available keys and shortcuts that prove to be very useful. Here are the main ones, in any case those I use personally.

b) Keyboard shortcuts

The one I use the most. This little blue button turns the screen into a trackpad. Dragging your finger up simulates the up-arrow key on the keyboard and sliding your finger down simulates the down-arrow key on the keyboard. As you will understand, this allows to navigate in the history of the previous command entered. As most of the time I connect to the server to check my logs, this shortcut avoids having to type on the small keyboard of the phone.

These keys are the equivalent of the alt, tab, ctrl, etc. of the keyboard of your PC. To see them all, you can navigate from right to left on them.
The ctrl key followed by the d key is very useful for closing the connection before closing the application. Remember to do it for security reasons but also because I noticed the connection was consuming quite a lot of the phone's battery.
The tab is also very useful to avoid typing the entire file names.

The arrow on the left closes the terminal without closing the connection in case you need to return to the application.


In the end Termius proves to be a portable way of connecting and monitoring its server. It is a very effective application and free of charge.
If you are a little witness it will allow you to avoid missing several blocks in a row. However, this is not the solution to everything, if there is a problem on the blockchain, Termius cannot avoid you to miss a block. But it will be your best friend to solve the problem if your PC is not at hand.


If you like our posts or just us, you can support our witness project by voting with this link.

1 Steemian + 1 Steemian = 11 Steemians


Uncomplicated article. I learned a lot of new things. I signed up and voted. I will be glad to mutual subscription))))

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