VPN or SSH?

I know this won’t make any sense to many of my readers, but I found out something utterly cool tonight.

I am getting ready to head out on a trip and am taking my trusty dusty notebook computer. The one I use every 4 months when I go on a trip. This is an old 750 MHz machine with a 12″screen. Definitely not the desktop replacement most people are looking for. I also end up putting on a new distribution of Linux just about every time I take it out just so I have something new to play with.

Tonight I was chatting with one of the members of the Pensacola Linux Users Group about getting ready for my trip. I told him I could not go to bed because I felt like there was something I was missing to be ready. One of the biggest things is that I really need access to a few of my files this week, but I did not want to just copy all my documents to the notebook, nor did I want to pick and choose the 100 most important files that I may not need at all.

I asked him if I could set up a VPN in 30 minutes or less. He seemed hopeful that it might be possible. I think he is an optimist. I told him what it was I wanted to accomplish and said I could do it with SSH and SCP if I could just get a VPN set up. He then said I simply needed to do some port forwarding in my router and have the traffic sent to the box I wanted to touch internally.

I did not realize it was so simple. So here is how it works if you would like to do the same. I won’t go into the details of each step. I will assume you have about the same amount of knowledge that I have in this and that, like me, you simply need someone to help you connect the dots. Therefore, I am not writing this for my parents sake.

This assumes also that you have SSH working internally. Port forward port 22 in your router to the internal machine you want to go to. Know your external IP address and then just ssh into the external IP like you normally would an internal IP to get to the machine you want. You can get you external IP given to you by visiting www.ipchicken.com. So you would do: ssh username@xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx. That is, the username on the computer you are SSH’ing into. Then the xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx is the external IP address of your home network which you got from www.ipchicken.com. You will be prompted for your username’s password. You might also be told that the SSH keys are new and asked if you are sure you want to take that step.

SCP works the same as normal. Just substitute the external IP address for the home network and you are in.

For me, I prefer a GUI solution. So I am using gFTP on the notebook. Then I connect to port 22 with my username/password combo. Then change the protocol to SSH2. ¬°Viola! I am connected and can browse my home folder’s file structure. I can then pull anything over that I want, or put anything on the machine at home.

That simple. Whod’ve thought?

Now I can go to bed.

2 thoughts on “VPN or SSH?”

  1. I can’t bring myself to do that. I have 6 years use tied up into OOo. And, I don’t travel enough to make it worth committing my life to it.

    I am also, categorically against any mentality that requires a person to be on line to use software. Though you won’t see me go without touching the Internet for much more than 24 hours if I can help it, there is the possibility that I would be without phone connection for days at a time. At least I can use my documents on the original computer where they reside if I have them on my end and not at Google.

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