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Chrome OS SSH Client – Now my ChromeBook is a Legitimate Work Machine

Chrome OS Aura UI with SSH Client Plugin

Chrome OS Aura UI screenshot with SSH Client Plugin

I wrote a few days ago that with the Chrome OS 20 dev release, old ChromeBooks like the CR-48 now get the new fancydancy Aura UI.  This basically handled my biggest complaint about the Chrome OS, in that it didn’t ever feel like it had a “home” – there was an insufficient origin point in the UI to fall back to or to start from.   The OS became a much more engaging companion, especially combined with its already-good combination of fantastic battery life and instant-on performance.

But that led me to my next complaint, which was that I couldn’t do any real work on the machine – i.e. I had no SSH client.  I had found some Java-based SSH clients before, but that is no good on Chrome OS as obviously CrOS doesn’t run Java.

But then, in reading Linus Torvalds’s post on Google+ today on what he thought of the new Aura UI, a commenter led me to the amazing Secure Shell for Chrome App.

The app is fast and clean, and allows one to use the normal Chrome bookmarks function to bookmark your SSH connections. SSH connections are made straight to the target machine (no proxy or server-side SSH client action here) which is perfect.  This means that when cruising around to the bazillion meetings I sometimes have at my IT job, I can use the corporate wi-fi to SSH in to local computers and still do work, leveraging the portability and battery life of the ChromeBook.  Nice to then not have to tote around a full-size laptop.   And also, to note, as the CR-48 is basically just as portable as an iPad but has a proper keyboard makes it so that I can actually work and type, and not be hobbled like a tablet user.

Makes one finally think that the Google boffins were on to something with this Chrome OS thing.  It’s absolutely not a replacement for a desktop OS at all, but for portability and instant-on use cases like meetings like this, it’s starting to be quite nice.

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11 comments on “Chrome OS SSH Client – Now my ChromeBook is a Legitimate Work Machine

  1. Stewart
    July 28, 2012

    Chrome OS already has a native ssh client. Press Ctrl+Alt+T to open the crosh shell. Then type ssh user@host . If you type ssh without any options it will open the ssh shell which gives you more options including key authentication and port forwarding, stuff that Secure Shell for Chrome app doesn’t yet support.

    • David
      February 15, 2014

      The crosh ssh client doesn’t support flags (like my favorite, -D, for guest wireless networks), so I still prefer the Secure Shell of Chrome app.

    • Meza
      May 21, 2014

      Someone bought a chrome book for me and thought it was a useless machine that i can’t use for my tech work.I kept it for months without using it because i could not ping or telnet.But after reading this,am back and will make good use of it.More tips on how to install mail programs will be appreciated.
      Thanks Stewart.

  2. Saqib Ali
    October 9, 2012

    is it possible to open multiple windows of SSH Shell so that I can connect to multiple SSH servers at the same time?

    • turbotad
      October 9, 2012

      Absolutely it is. I had this working on my CR-48 with no issues. Just ctrl+T up as many windows as you need.

      • Saqib Ali
        October 9, 2012

        ctrl+T only brings up a new blank Tab for me. How do I launch a new instance of the the Secure Shell app in that tab?

      • turbotad
        October 9, 2012

        I just ctrl+click on the app icon to open new tabs, or store SSH sessions as bookmarks and ctrl+click on multiple bookmarks to open in new tabs.

  3. Norman
    November 1, 2012

    Is there any xterm options or can I scp some file from remote to local?

  4. Steve Abatangle
    November 9, 2012

    ctrl+click on the app icon doesn’t work for me (version 23 of chrome os), but after poking around, I discovered that if you alt-click on the Secure Shell tab and pick Duplicate, you’ll get a new Secure Shell window. FWIW

  5. Benno
    December 6, 2012

    Thanks for the CTRL+ALT+T tip, I just got one of the newer Samsung Chromebooks and was pretty disappointed to discover that the SSH app in the Chrome web store has some issues running. As a UNIX admin that’s obviously a pretty big deal to me.

  6. razz
    September 7, 2013

    How do you store SSH or telnet sessions as bookmarks?

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