December 27, 2013, 5:31 PM — I rely on ssh for connecting to dozens of servers. The problem is that my username is often different from one system to the next and I often have trouble remembering which username goes with which system. One easy way to keep them straight is to take advantage of a not-so-obvious SSH feature -- the SSH config file. By creating and configuring a ~/.ssh/config file, you can create a profile for each of the servers that you use and make connecting to those systems quite a bit easier.
For a basic example of how this works, say that I use a system named boson in the domain elemparticles.org and that I log into this server with the username higgs. I could use the command ssh firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternately, I could create a profile for the server that looks like this and then get by with just using the command ssh boson to log in.
Host boson HostName boson.elemparticles.com User higgs
If you don't have a .ssh directory or an ssh config file, you can start with commands like these and then edit the config file you have just created.
mkdir ~/.ssh chmod 700 ~/.ssh touch ~/.ssh/config
Once you've tested your first ssh login profile with a simplified ssh command such as ssh boson command, you can add as many additional profiles as suit your needs. In the example below, I've set up profiles for four separate systems, each with a different username.
Host boson HostName boson.elemparticles.com User higgs Host fermion Hostname fermion.elemparticles.com user dirac Host dweebs Hostname linuxdweebs.example.org User sandra Host solaris Hostname sug.history.net User shs
You might want to add other options to your profiles as well. The ServerAliveInterval and ServerAliveCountMax settings will allow you to establish keep alives for connections to those servers.
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