You can run a one-line command in bash on the remote server you ssh to. There
is all sorts of cool things you can do with an ssh client, learn more in
hacking with ssh post.

ssh [email protected] [command]

The command is passed as an argument to ssh. If the command is anything but a
single word, you are encouraged to wrap it with a single quote character (').
If the username is the same as your current machine username you can omit it.

ssh the-internet 'ls /'

That's a very cool feature, considering that you can connect to both the output
and the input of the command.

ssh -t the-internet 'read -pecho\>\  x; echo $x'
echo> hello

The -t option above is necessary to make the echo> prompt appear on the
screen. But even without that option, we can still interact with the input of
the read command.

Copying a file over the server

A file can be uploaded to or downloaded from the server easily if we have
access to execute commands.

echo 'Hello world!' > /tmp/message
cat /tmp/message |ssh the-internet 'cat - > /tmp/remote-message'
ssh the-internet 'cat /tmp/remote-message'
Hello world!

Copying large files fast

With a little help from our friend gzip we can even upload/download large
files. We are using a file containing only zeros, and therefore very easy to
zip, but in reality, text files are usually easy to zip as well, therefore this
method is useful.

ssh the-internet 'du -Dsh /var/tmp/large'
1.0G    /var/tmp/large

Now using gzip we can zip the file and send the zipped file to gunzip on
our local machine to extract:

time ssh the-internet 'gzip --stdout /var/tmp/large' | gunzip > /var/tmp/large

real    0m19.457s
user    0m5.468s
sys     0m0.715s

We have the large file in our local machine in no time :tada: :

du -sh /var/tmp/large
1.1G    /var/tmp/large

Advanced downloading using pv

Suppose you want to see the progress of the file being downloaded, or have more
control the rate of download.

There is a relatively large file on our server called random.

ssh the-internet 'du -Dsh /var/tmp/random'
217M    /var/tmp/random

We can see a progress bar when downloading the file (this requires pv to be

ssh the-internet 'cat /var/tmp/random' | pv -s217m | cat - > random
 103MiB 0:00:14 [7.81MiB/s] [=====>        ] 47% ETA 0:00:15

The -s217m tells pv about the size of the file, if not given the percentage
cannot be calculated.

Or we can limit the download rate to 1 MB using -L1m:

ssh the-internet 'cat /var/tmp/random' | pv -s217m -L1m | cat - > random
20.0MiB 0:00:20 [1.00MiB/s] [>             ]  9% ETA 0:03:17

Running a command on multiple servers

There are times when we want to run a repatitive command on multiple servers,
we can automate this using ssh. In fact that's how

One use-case might be to change password for a user on multiple machines. Let's
change password for user terminator:

echo -e "supersecure\nsupersecure" | ssh the-internet 'sudo passwd terminator'
New password: Retype new password: passwd: password updated successfully

We can type in the hosts to change the terminator password on:

xargs -IHOST sh -c 'echo "supersecure\nsupersecure" | ssh HOST "sudo passwd terminator"'
New password: Retype new password: passwd: password updated successfully
New password: Retype new password: passwd: password updated successfully

Or we can automate that and provide the list of hosts:

xargs -IHOST sh -c 'echo "supersecure\nsupersecure" | ssh HOST "sudo passwd terminator"' < hosts
New password: Retype new password: passwd: password updated successfully
New password: Retype new password: passwd: password updated successfully

Persistent ssh session

Now let's see how we can make use of a combination of ssh and tmux. tmux
can be used to have an on-going shell in your server that multiple people can
connect to.

To start a session called mysession:

ssh -t the-internet 'tmux new-session -ds mysession'
Connection to the-internet closed.

The -t tells ssh client to allocate a tty device for using with the tmux

Now anyone with ssh access to that server can connect to the session.

ssh -t the-internet 'tmux attach -t mysession'
[detached (from session mysession)]
Connection to the-internet closed.

It is important to detach from the tmux session rather than exit from it if you
want to keep it open for the next time.

You can get a list of clients connected to that session at the moment:

ssh -t the-internet 'tmux list-clients -t mysession'
/dev/pts/1: mysession [150x36 xterm-256color] (utf8)
Connection to the-internet closed.

Connecting to a server using a hop

In case we want to access a third server that is only accessible from a hop

ssh -tA hop 'ssh the-internet'
[email protected]:~ $

Without -t ssh won't allocate tty, the session still works though. When -A
is passed the ssh agent is forwarded to the hop, it is only necessary if the
hop server doesn't have public key access to the-internet host.

There is a better way of doing this using the -J option of ssh client, see
the hacking with ssh post for more