UniTTY: A better way to SSH. And SFTP. And VNC!

Like all Linux users, you probably have certain tools you rely
on to get your job done. For example, if you’re a system
administrator, a web developer, or a hacker, a good "i">SSH client is a must. Add to that a nice, graphical
SFTP client and a VNC
client and you can do almost anything. What about a secure VNC
client — VNC tunneled through SSH? The latter would be great,
but it’s a pain to set up, right?

Meet UniTTY ( "http://www.3sp.com/products/applications/unitty/unitty.jsp" class=
an integrated SSH, SFTP, VNC, secure VNC, "i">rlogin, and telnet client. UniTTY
is free (albeit not open source), and is written in "i">Java, so it runs on Linux,
Windows, and Mac OS

Head to the Web site and download the 4 MB "i">UniTTY_linux.sh, which is obviously a shell script. This
script should work on nearly every Linux
distribution, as long as you have a working, up-to-date
installation of the Java Runtime Environment
(JRE) in place. After you download the file, make it executable
with chmod 744 UniTTY_linux.sh, and run the
script as root via "c">sudo./UniTTY_linux.sh. Follow the directions of the
wizard-style installer (how weird to see those in Linux!) to place
UniTTY on your machine.

Unfortunately, UniTTY doesn’t automatically add itself to
the Application menu, at least in
Ubuntu. For convenience, add a link yourself
or start the program from the command-line by typing in
/opt/UniTTY/UniTTY. (A helpful alias is

class="story_image"> "http://www.linux-mag.com/images/2007-02/diy/unitty-config.jpg"

Once the program opens, you’re presented with a blank
slate. To begin, select File& gt; New or press the "i">New button to open a new” Connection Profile” window
(see the image above). Click on the dropdown menu next to Scheme
and choose the type of connection to create: "i">SSH, SFTP, "i">VNC, or Secure VNC. After
selecting the connection type, fill in the other appropriate
information, and press Connect to be
connected to the remote machine of your choice. When you’re
finished, press the Save button and give
your connection a name. The next time you’d like to
re-connect with that same computer, choose "i">Open and select the saved connection.

Examples always make things clearer, so let’s set up an
SFTP connection. Press New, and choose” SFTP
(Secure file transfer over SSH)” as your scheme. On the left,
select Host under the Connection section. For Hostname, enter the
IP address or DNS name for the machine you wish to connect to. The
Port is most likely 22, so don’t change that, but do enter
the correct info for Username. If you intend to use a password,
make sure that option is selected; otherwise, choose "i">Private Key and point UniTTY to the correct file (a huge
time saver, and far more secure than relying on passwords, by the
way). If you want to set particular default directories for your
machine and the remote computer to which you’re connecting,
select SFTP under the Connection section on the left and fill in
the right paths. Finally, press Connect, and
a moment later you should be able to start downloading files.

Secure VNC is actually a bit complicated, and it would be nice
if UniTTY worked the way it’s supposed to. For now,
here’s how to tunnel VNC through SSH (it’s slightly
more complicated than it should be, but it’s not terrible).
Create a new connection and choose” SSH” for the Scheme. Enter the
hostname of the remote machine to which you want to connect, leave
the port at 22, and enter your username. Now choose Ports under the
Forwarding button on the left. Press
Add, select” Local forwarding,” and change
the Port to 5900 (VNC’s default).
Check” Forward to a different remote host,” enter the same hostname
you did previously, but make sure the Port is set to "c">5900. Press OK to close the” Add
Port Forward” window, and then check the box labeled” Start upon
connection.” Press Connect to SSH to the
remote box.

Now, press New again, but this time,
choose” VNC (Unencrypted)” for the Scheme. For Hostname, enter
localhost, and for Display/Port, choose
5900. Press Connect,
and VNC opens as another tab in UniTTY. However, this VNC
connection is tunneled through SSH, so everything is encrypted.

UniTTY has other great features that bear investigation,
including tabs, screenshots, full-screen views. For a free program
that happens to be cross-platform, UniTTY succeeds, and you should
check it out today.

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