Monday, August 11, 2008

Useful UNIX tools for Win32

OK, it's been a while since I've posted. Being laid off and unemployed kind of hurts writing about work experiences. However, don't worry. I'm now at a new job in a new town.

Obtaining work responsibilities have been slow, so I've been reading and playing with software that I hope will help me in making my job easier later. One area I've been reading and trying to increase my knowledge in is remote access, predominantly SSH. I've found the following to be useful.

SSH Agent

I've known about shared-key authentication with SSH for a while, but I've been lame and not applied a passphrase to my key. Honestly, I wanted a quick way to log in, and skip the password. However, I finally was exposed to ssh-agent, which allows you to cache your key's passphrase so you only have to enter it once. After that, when you ssh into a host, ssh-agent will take care of your passphrase for you.

I'm using Cygwin for my shell on my PC, so I'm using the ssh-agent that comes with Cygwin. I hear you can use a program called Pageant to perform this for you PuTTY users.
I hate the command window that Cygwin defaults to. The copy/paste is terrible, as I think it borrows from cmd.exe. So, I found Puttycyg that gives the Cygwin command prompt a better look and feel. Now I actually get a copy/paste behavior that I like.

I've been spoiled with Mac OSX's iTerm for having tabbed terminal windows. Unfortunately, PuTTY and Cygwin spawn new windows, and their management gets cluttered. Right now, I'm trying Poderosa, mainly because it appears to be open source and managed by the Apache license. It tabs your Cygwin sessions, and apparently other SSH/Telnet sessions as well (but I haven't tried the latter). I found another alternative in Wintabber, but I haven't tried it yet. It appears to be free and have more features I'd be interested in, but I believe is closed source.

I'd be interested in your experiences with tabbed command/shell windows and other useful remote access tricks.

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