Posts Tagged ‘ssh’

MongoDB: connect remotely

August 8, 2016 Leave a comment

I have a Digital Ocean VPS running MongoDB. There is a web application on this machine that is on port 80. MongoDB is hidden from the outside world and can only be accessed internally. There is also an SSH port where I can log in.

How to connect to my MongoDB server from home? Say I want to use a graphical client, e.g. MongoChef. The client runs on my home machine and I want to connect to MongoDB with it on my DO VPS. How to do that?

I found the solution here. In short: we connect securely to our database through an SSH tunnel.

Make sure that:

  • you can SSH into your Mongo droplet
  • your MongoDB is bound to localhost

For connecting, I use this script:

cmd="ssh -p ${REMOTE_SSH_PORT} -L ${LOCAL_PORT}:localhost:${REMOTE_MONGO_PORT} user@your.remote.ip"
echo "#" $cmd
echo "# connect on your home machine to port ${LOCAL_PORT}"
echo "# example:    mongo --port ${LOCAL_PORT}"

The default SSH port is 22, but it’s a good idea to change it. With the command “ssh -p ${REMOTE_SSH_PORT} user@your.remote.ip” I could log in to my VPS. However, MongoDB was not accessible from outside, thus executing “mongo --host your.remote.ip --port ${REMOTE_MONGO_PORT}” failed.

The SSH tunneling above works as follows. On your home machine you open the port ${LOCAL_PORT} that is connected to your remote machine via the SSH port ${REMOTE_SSH_PORT}, and the connection is tunneled to localhost:${REMOTE_MONGO_PORT}, where localhost means the remote machine where we logged in with SSH.

So, when you execute the script above, you’ll have to log in to your remote machine via SSH. Then open a new terminal and type “mongo --port 2345” and voilá, you are connected to MongoDB on your remote machine!

If you use a Mongo client (e.g. MongoChef), then simply create a new connection and specify localhost with port 2345. Connect, and you are in.

It works as long as you are logged in in a terminal via SSH. When you log out, the local port closes that is tunneled to your remote machine.

tmux: a screen alternative

March 18, 2016 Leave a comment

A few days ago I wrote about the awesome tool screen. Then, some of my readers namely “i90rr _” and Rodnee suggested that I should try tmux (thanks for the tip). Actually, I tried it years ago, but since I didn’t have to work with SSH too much, it was not integrated in my daily routine. However, a few days ago I bought a Digital Ocean VPS to do some Python webapp development and now I do need ssh :) And without screen / tmux it would be a pain.

So, after screen, let’s see tmux.

tmux: an advanced and friendly terminal multiplexer

The scenario is the same:

From machine A, which is your local machine, you want to SSH to a remote server.

Log in with SSH:

ssh -p PORT USER@

Specify the port if the SSH daemon is not on port 22. In the case of screen I used screen twice, but now I think it’s not necessary. First just use “ssh”. To keep the connection alive between machines A and B, it’s a good idea to use this alias:

alias ssh='ssh -o ServerAliveInterval=60'

More info about it here.

Once you are logged in to machine B, make sure that you have a recent version of tmux installed. More info here. And now just start tmux and use it :)

My config file

A big advantage of tmux over screen is its sane configation system. You can find my ~/.tmux.conf file here, I won’t copy it here.


My tmux looks like this:

In the top right corner I also display my hostname and IP address, but it’s blurred out on the screenshot.


A very special feature of screen / tmux is the ability to detach. It means that you have several tabs open within tmux (tmux calls them “windows”), and pressing “Ctrl-b d” you can close tmux. However, the programs in its tabs are still running, they are not terminated! You can close SSH, even restart your local machine, it doesn’t matter. When you log in again to machine B with SSH, you can attach to this tmux session and voilá, there you have your tabs and every program is running.

For instance, you launch a program on the server that runs for hours. Just detach, and attach a few hours later to see the result of this program. Or, you log in to a remote server from home, launch some programs, detach, shutdown your local machine, go to your workplace, log in again with SSH and attach to tmux, and you continue where you left off at home.

I don’t want to write a tmux tutorial because others have already done it much better. So let’s see some links:



I use two simple scripts to make re-attaching easier. The first one is called “tm”:

#!/usr/bin/env bash

# tm

tmux list-sessions
echo "# tmux attach -t 0"

The second one is called “tm0”:

tmux attach -t 0

If you don’t give your tmux session a name (I don’t) then your session has ID 0. When I log in again to the remote server first I run “tm” to see the running sessions. Normally I only have one session, so its ID is 0. With “tm0” I can attach to it and continue my work in tmux. Easy peasy :)

Summary: to detach, press “Ctrl-b d”, and close SSH. To continue your work, log in with SSH, check sessions with “tm”, and attach with “tm0”. Easy peasy :)

Categories: bash Tags: , ,

keep SSH connections alive

March 17, 2016 Leave a comment

You connect to a server via SSH, you take a coffee, and when you come back your terminal is stuck. If you are inactive for a while, your connection is cut by the server.

I use a very simple solution. Add this to your ~/.bashrc file:

alias ssh='ssh -o ServerAliveInterval=60'

This way the client sends a null packet to the server every minute, just to keep the connection alive.

You could also do this in different configuration files (see here).

Categories: bash Tags: , ,

screen: a game changer tool for ssh

March 15, 2016 3 comments

Recently I discovered the tool screen and it’s simply awesome. It’s “a wrapper that allows separation between the text program and the shell from which it was launched. This allows the user to, for example, start a text program in a terminal in X, kill X, and continue to interact with the program.” (source)

Here, in this post I want to show how to use screen with ssh and how it can simplify your daily work.

If you ssh to a server and you are inactive for a while, the server disconnects you. It depends on the server, but most of them are configured this way. Annoying. Or, if you launch a process on the server in the foreground and you want to do something else on the server, what do you do? Log in again in another terminal?

Screen can solve all these problems for you. Here is the figure of an SSH connection:


We will use screen twice. First, we will launch it on machine A. This screen instance will guarantee that the connection won’t be broken even if you are inactive. Fine. Second, we will launch screen on machine B too. This second screen will allow us to open virtual tabs on the server! For instance, you want to work with two Midnight Commanders. You start copying something that takes a long time. No problem, just open a new “tab” and continue working on the server. You don’t need to log in again!

You will need two configuration files. Here is the first one that must be copied to machine A, to your HOME folder. Here is the second one that you need to put on machine B, also in your HOME folder. Don’t forget to rename them to “.screenrc”.

Log in with SSH
For logging in I use this script:

echo "# screen closed"

For instance, you have a VPS whose IP is You installed SSH on port 2222. Then, the first line could be “screen -t my_vps ssh -p 2222 -t me@ screen“. It will start screen on localhost, but upon login it will also start screen on the remote server.

Here is a screenshot of the bottom left corner:


By default, screen commands can be activated with Ctrl-a. However, we have two screen instances, so on machine B I changed the shortcut to Ctrl-b. It’s also displayed in the corner, so there is no need to memorize it. As can be seen on the figure, on the server I have two virtual tabs open.

Use cases
Now, what can we do with all this? If you want to open a new virtual tab on the server, press “Ctrl-b c” (hold Ctrl and press b, release both and press c). To close a tab just press “Ctrl-d” (like in any terminal).

Change between tabs: Ctrl-b-b (hold Ctrl, then press b twice). Or, use the ID of the tabs: “Ctrl-b 0” (first tab), “Ctrl-b 1” (second tab), etc.

You can also detach screen, but I will write about that later.


Categories: bash Tags: ,

Installing Vagrant on Windows

January 15, 2014 Leave a comment

You have a Windows machine and you want to use Linux (e.g. Ubuntu) in it. That is, you want to install an Ubuntu VM (virtual machine) inside Windows. You want to use the command line only, thus you don’t need any graphical interface. Maybe you have a weak laptop where a graphical VM wouldn’t even run normally. In addition, you want to get it done quickly, you have no time to download an Ubuntu image and go through the installation process. What to do?

Use Vagrant. Vagrant is a tool for building complete development environments. We will use Vagrant with VirtualBox, so we need to install both.

Install VirtualBox
Visit and select Downloads on the left side. Download and install the latest version for Windows hosts. You can also install the Extension Pack. Make sure to install the version that matches with the previously installed VirtualBox version. We won’t work with VirtualBox directly, but Vagrant is built on top of it, so Vagrant will need it.

Install Vagrant
Visit and install the Windows version. For the curious, Vagrant is written in Ruby. It is very likely that you will have to restart your computer after the installation. After the restart, you can use the command “vagrant” in the shell, it is added to the PATH by the installer.

Basic usage of Vagrant
As indicated in the official guide, using vagrant is very easy.

I suggest that you should create a dedicated directory for your first Ubuntu VM, C:\vagrant for instance. Enter this directory, open a terminal (with the command “cmd“) and execute the following commands:

c:\vagrant> vagrant init precise32
c:\vagrant> vagrant up

The first command downloads a basic Ubuntu 12.04 LTS image. The second command starts the VM.

Now it’s time to log in to the running VM:

c:\vagrant> vagrant ssh    # there is a chance that it won't work...

Well, if it doesn’t work for you under Windows, here is alternative solution: use Putty. Details: hostname:, port: 2222, username: vagrant, password: vagrant.

Some other useful commands:

c:\vagrant> vagrant status  # Is the VM running?
c:\vagrant> vagrant halt    # stop the VM; counterpart of "vagrant up"

Use Bash as your shell
The default Windows shell “cmd” is quite lame. If you want to use a better shell, install the Cygwin environment, which is a Unix compatibility layer for Windows. It’s enough to install the default packages, but don’t forget to add the “openssh” package too. In my case, I installed the 64-bit version and added the “c:\cygwin64\bin” directory to my PATH. After this you can launch the command “bash” and execute these commands:

$ cd /cygdrive/c/vagrant
$ vagrant status    # Is it running?
$ vagrant up        # if it was not running
$ vagrant ssh       # thanks to the openssh package, it works now
...                 # work with the VM
$ vagrant halt      # stop it if you don't need it anymore

Using Vagrant under Linux


Using scp (secure copy)

November 19, 2010 Leave a comment


You want to use scp but you always forget how to parametrize it.



scp  file  user@host:to_where


scp  user@host:from_where  to_where 

Where to_where and from_where are paths.

Categories: bash Tags: , ,