If you are using a Linux local computer, the simplest way to connect to a remote server via SSH is using openSSH client in your Terminal.

Table of Contents

Connecting to a remote server

Connecting to a remote server with a private key is very straightforward:

ssh -i <private key file> <username>@<public IP or public DNS>

This is an example:

ssh -i ./privatekey.pem [email protected]

If the terminal shows this question: Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no/[fingerprint])?, type yes to save the fingerprint of the key.

If your remote server doesn’t use port 22 for SSH, type -p [[PORT]] at the end of the command.

ssh -i ./privatekey.pem [email protected] -p 2222

Execute a command on the remote server

You can also execute a command on the remote server just when it connects, simply type it at the end:

ssh -i ./privatekey.pem [email protected] cat /etc/os-release

* You may need to add ;exit to automatically close the connection when previous command ends its execution.

Redirecting ports with SSH

If you want to use a non-encrypted service (like VNC), you can encrypt it with SSH, doing port forwarding.

ssh -i ./privatekey.pem -L <LOCAL-PORT>:127.0.0.1:<REMOTE_PORT> [email protected]

-L stands for “local redirection”. This is an example using VNC default port:

ssh -i ./privatekey.pem -L 5900:127.0.0.1:5900 [email protected]

Then, you can access remote VNC with IP 127.0.0.1 and port 5900 (127.0.0.1 is an special IP which refers to the device itself, in this case your local computer).

X11 forwarding

You can also open remote X programs through SSH (remote server needs to have been installed the X Window System). Check line: X11Forwarding yes inside /etc/ssh/sshd_config (on the server).

ssh -X <username>@<server>
# or for trusted X11 forwarding
ssh -Y <username>@<server>

Then, you can run any X program from the remote machine.

Using ~/.ssh/config file

Creating this file, you can add aliases to your connections, so you don’t need to remember server info all the time:

Host your_alias
  HostName ip
  User user
  Port 22
  IdentityFile full/path/to/privatekey

Then, you simply type ssh your_alias to connect.