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If you are constantly needing to SSH into multiple servers, it can real daunting to remember all the different usernames, hostnames, IP addresses, and even sometimes custom private keys to connect to them. It’s actually extremely easy to create command line shortcuts to solve this problem. There’s two major ways to do it, and we’ll discuss the pros and cons of each.
Method 1: Using SSH Config
SSH on *NIX machines, such as Linux or Mac, have default shortcut functionality right out of the box. It’s very straight forward to setup, too. For those two reasons, this is my preferred way of setting up SSH shortcuts. The first step is to navigate to your .ssh folder:
Following this, you’ll need to create a file called
config. Here’s how to do it with Vim:
From here, you can now create shortcuts. You can specify the hostname, username, port, and the private key. For a full list of options, please visit the official docs. Here’s an example of how to structure the file:
Host scotch HostName scotch.io User nick Host example2 HostName example.com User root Host example3 HostName 184.108.40.206 User userxyz123 Port 56000 Host droplet1 HostName droplet1.digitalocean.com User ec2-user IdentityFile /path/to/special/privatekey/droplet1.pem
Now, you can simply SSH into any of these servers with these simple commands:
ssh scotch ssh example2 ssh example3 ssh droplet1
If this isn’t working for you, trying changing the permissions of the config file like this:
chmod 600 ~/.ssh/config
Method 2: Create aliases for your shell
This method involves creating an alias for your shell (or terminal). You can use this for creating any type of shortcut you want, but a lot of people use them for SSH shortcuts. To set this up, you’ll need to navigate to your
.bash_aliases file (or some people do this in
.bash_profile). The following command will create the
.bash_aliases file if it doesn’t exist or just edit it if it already does using Vim.
Here you can add as many shortcuts as you want. Here’s how to add the same SSH shortcuts from above:
alias scotch="ssh firstname.lastname@example.org" alias example2='ssh email@example.com' alias example3='ssh firstname.lastname@example.org -p 56000' alias droplet1='ssh email@example.com -i /path/to/special/privatekey/droplet1.pem'
After you add those and save the file, you’ll need to “reboot” the aliases file with:
Once that is completed, you can now SSH into all of those same boxes by just typing the following:
scotch example2 example3 droplet1
This method provides additional flexibility that the first method might not be able to provide, but it really comes down to a matter of preference for most use cases.