Using aliases for SSH


An extremely helpful feature of ssh is the ability to define aliases using its configuration files:

  • ~/.ssh/config
  • /etc/ssh/ssh_config

~/.ssh/config contains configuration that is only available to your user and any user can create one for themselves.
/etc/ssh/ssh_config contains configuration that applies to all users of the system and only administrators can modify it.

Note: ~/.ssh/config should only have read and write access rights by its owner only!
Be sure to execute the following after your create it:

chmod 600 ~/.ssh/config;

Example 1 – Creating an alias for a host name:

Assuming we are too bored to type the full domain of a server, we can define a shorter name as follows:

Host bf
    HostName bytefreaks.net

by having this configuration lines in your ~/.ssh/config file, you can shorten the command ssh bytefreaks.net; to ssh bf;.

Example 2 – Creating an alias for a host name with specific username:

In the next example, we create a new alias that not only will automatically set the host name but also the username

Host bf
    HostName bytefreaks.net
    User george

by having this configuration lines in your ~/.ssh/config file, you shorten the command ssh [email protected]; to ssh bf;.

Example 3 – Creating an alias for a host name with specific username and port:

In the next example, we create a new alias for a specific host name, username and ssh port number

Host bf
    HostName bytefreaks.net
    User george
    Port 22300

The above will shorten ssh [email protected] -p 22300 to ssh bf;.

Example 4 – Creating an alias for a host name with specific username and identity file:

Host bf
    HostName bytefreaks.net
    User george
    IdentityFile /path/to/needed/private/key/id_rsa

The above will shorten ssh [email protected] -i /path/to/needed/private/key/id_rsa; to ssh bf;

For more information on the capabilities of the configuration files, please review the following documentation page as it has a whole lot more of useful information: http://man.openbsd.org/cgi-bin/man.cgi/OpenBSD-current/man5/ssh_config.5

Repeated note: ~/.ssh/config should only have read and write access rights by its owner only!
Be sure to execute the following after your create it:

chmod 600 ~/.ssh/config;
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