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Old 02-21-2015, 04:54 PM   #1
RobInRockCity
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Accessing Command Line


I have a VPS and it has SSH access.

Is there some way that I can do command line on my VPS without having root access?

(I would like to start learning Linux command line!)


Rob
 
Old 02-21-2015, 06:07 PM   #2
jstephens84
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you absolutely can. You will need to setup another user and a group that will have sudo access then add the new user to it, then setup a password for that new user.

Code:
visudo
Then press SHIFT+G to go to the bottom of the file. Then Add the following
Code:
%sudoers ALL=(ALL) ALL
This will allow for all users in the group called sudoers to run all command but require them to use a password. YOu can replace sudoers with and group name.

now lets create the group sudoers
Code:
groupadd sudoers
now lets create your user and setup a passwd
Code:
/usr/sbin/useradd -m -G sudoers myuser
passwd myuser
now logout and try to login with the user name that you just created. you can replace myuser with any username that you like.
 
Old 02-21-2015, 06:24 PM   #3
RobInRockCity
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jstephens84,

Thanks for the reply, but that way over my head...

Let me explain what I am trying to do, and maybe that will help.

I have a MacBook and I just got a VPS. I can get root access but don't have it currently, nor do I want it for my VPS.

Today I discovered that when you "copy" files in cPanel's File Manager that it changes the files "modified_on" date which is blasphemous to me!!

Based on a little research, it seems that if you do cp -a file.txt{,.bak} that it will make a copy of the file and not screw with the modified_on timestamp - which is what I expect!!!

So, this all got me to thinking... "Maybe I should man up and try and not only learn Linux but some command line Linux in my free time, and if I could find a way to do commands like just mentioned from my Mac and have them work on my VPS, then that would be better than being stuck with cPanel's limitations!!

I don't know or understand how I would get my MacBook to talk to my remote VPS - which runs CentOS 6 - and do it in a secure manner.

So that is what I am trying to figure out - understanding I don't know an ounce of Linux or its command line!!

Thanks,


Rob
 
Old 02-21-2015, 06:42 PM   #4
jstephens84
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Ok that makes a little more sense in what you are asking for. Basically you need to know how to use ssh. SSH stands for secure shell and is a method to securely connect to any unix / linux server that runs openssh remotely. When I say remotely I mean any host other than your machine you are sitting at. (Course you can even ssh locally into your own machine.)

so from a terminal type in the following
ssh username@vps_server. Some VPS systems will require that you use a key file to access the ssh box. to do that you will need to type in the following from a terminal
ssh -i /path/to/key username@vps_server

hope this helps.
 
Old 02-21-2015, 06:54 PM   #5
RobInRockCity
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jstephens84 View Post
Ok that makes a little more sense in what you are asking for. Basically you need to know how to use ssh. SSH stands for secure shell and is a method to securely connect to any unix / linux server that runs openssh remotely. When I say remotely I mean any host other than your machine you are sitting at. (Course you can even ssh locally into your own machine.)

so from a terminal type in the following
ssh username@vps_server. Some VPS systems will require that you use a key file to access the ssh box. to do that you will need to type in the following from a terminal
ssh -i /path/to/key username@vps_server

hope this helps.
Okay, some progress!

Well, I know a little about SSH. This past week I was able to set up CyberDuck on my MacBook to connect to my VPS using an SSH Public Authentication Key.

So in my world, SSH was just the protocol I use to securely upload/download files from my VPS.

But as far as using SSH to do command line, I haven't a clue!


It sounds like I can use my "cPanel_username@my-vps-ip-address to connect to my VPS?

Can I use the Private Key on my MacBook and the Public Key on my VPS to connect to my server over SSH?


I think what is confusing me, is that when I do this using CyberDuck, the app handles most of this.

In CyberDuck, I enter my VPS's IP, Account Username, and then my Passphrase on my Private Key and CyberDuck connects me to my Web Root on my VPS.

It is unclear how I get my MacBook to talk to my VPS in a similar way - for example how keys or a password would be set up and work.

Sincerely,


Rob
 
Old 02-21-2015, 07:41 PM   #6
astrogeek
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobInRockCity View Post
It sounds like I can use my "cPanel_username@my-vps-ip-address to connect to my VPS?

Can I use the Private Key on my MacBook and the Public Key on my VPS to connect to my server over SSH?


I think what is confusing me, is that when I do this using CyberDuck, the app handles most of this.
Yes, (probably) assuming that your cpanel_username is actually a user account on the VPS.

If the VPS allows password login then all you should need to do is open a terminal on the Mac (not sure what they call it), type slogin cPanel_username@my-vps-ip-address and enter the password when prompted.

If the VPS is configured to only allow public-key authentication, then you will need to pass the key (identity file) along with the login using the -i option I think.

Your VPS provider probably has a help page available as well.

Not sure what CyberDuck is except a gooey-front-end application that "makes things easy" and obscure how totally easy they really can be!

Good luck!
 
Old 02-21-2015, 09:40 PM   #7
RobInRockCity
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astrogeek View Post
Yes, (probably) assuming that your cpanel_username is actually a user account on the VPS.

If the VPS allows password login then all you should need to do is open a terminal on the Mac (not sure what they call it), type slogin cPanel_username@my-vps-ip-address and enter the password when prompted.
If I type that, will my VPS login credentials be 100% safe?

If I log in with a username and password, am I guaranteed that my login credentials won't get stored anywhere?

(Ever since I found out that FileZilla stores your username/password in plain-text in a .xml file on your computer, I TRUST NO ONE!!!)


Quote:
Originally Posted by astrogeek View Post
If the VPS is configured to only allow public-key authentication, then you will need to pass the key (identity file) along with the login using the -i option I think.
What is an "identity file"?

How would you create one?

When I log in to my VPS - using CyberDuck - so that I can upload files, I type in my VPS IP, VPS username, check "Connect using Authentication Keys"and then a file window opens and I have to select my Private Key file, and then finally I have to enter the Passphrase which protects my Private Key on my laptop.

Could I basically do the same thing logging in with SSH alone?


Quote:
Originally Posted by astrogeek View Post
Not sure what CyberDuck is except a gooey-front-end application that "makes things easy" and obscure how totally easy they really can be!

Good luck!
Yes, CyberDuck is an FTP client for Macs and supposed more secure than FileZilla!!!


I feel very nervous about entering in my VPS Username and Password after reading up about FileZilla.

It makes me untrusting of everything I do...

I would *prefer* to log in to my server using the Public/Private Key Pair I created for CyberDuck. That way I can keep my VPS Username and Password safe.

If I new I could 110% trust entering them into Terminal, and know that they wouldn't be saved anywhere or couldn't get hacked while being sent over the Internet, then I would love to use and learn SSH command-line.


------
I don't mind using my web browser to log into WHM and cPanel, because I understand and trust how an SSL certificate and https connections work.

However, I need a much better understanding of how all of this SSH stuff works before I start typing in credentials to my VPS!!

Sincerely,


Rob
 
Old 02-21-2015, 11:40 PM   #8
astrogeek
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobInRockCity View Post
If I type that, will my VPS login credentials be 100% safe?

If I log in with a username and password, am I guaranteed that my login credentials won't get stored anywhere?

(Ever since I found out that FileZilla stores your username/password in plain-text in a .xml file on your computer, I TRUST NO ONE!!!)

What is an "identity file"?

When I log in to my VPS - using CyberDuck - so that I can upload files, I type in my VPS IP, VPS username, check "Connect using Authentication Keys"and then a file window opens and I have to select my Private Key file, and then finally I have to enter the Passphrase which protects my Private Key on my laptop.

Could I basically do the same thing logging in with SSH alone?
The "identity" file would be the same key file that you use in Cyberduck.

You need to understand that filezilla, cyberduck and all those other programs are just front-ends that hide but still use the identical ssh services that you can use directly in a terminal. Those programs add the pointy-clicky interface and some perceived convenience, but they add zero security - the security is entirely provided by the underlying ssh handlers.

The difference is entirely on your computer - the network transactions and everything downstream are identical. Filezilla and cyberduck and other programs may store your password, but ssh does not and from a terminal there is nothing between you and the network to store them, so it is always more secure.

Last edited by astrogeek; 02-21-2015 at 11:41 PM.
 
Old 02-22-2015, 12:05 AM   #9
RobInRockCity
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astrogeek View Post
The "identity" file would be the same key file that you use in Cyberduck.
Okay.


Will I need to enter my Passphrase on the Private key as well?


Quote:
Originally Posted by astrogeek View Post
You need to understand that filezilla, cyberduck and all those other programs are just front-ends that hide but still use the identical ssh services that you can use directly in a terminal. Those programs add the pointy-clicky interface and some perceived convenience, but they add zero security - the security is entirely provided by the underlying ssh handlers.

The difference is entirely on your computer - the network transactions and everything downstream are identical. Filezilla and cyberduck and other programs may store your password, but ssh does not and from a terminal there is nothing between you and the network to store them, so it is always more secure.
So if I type ssh my_vps_username@my_vps_ip then I don't have to worry about my credentials being blasted out onto the Internet in plain-text, huh??

(Sorry for being so paranoid, but after learning that FileZilla has been a scam for years, I'm sort of gittery...)


------
If you don't mind, a few related questions...

a.) Once I log in to my VPS over SSH using Terminal, will a "session" exist where I stay logged in?

(I hope I wouldn't have to type in the bolded string above for every command?!)


b.) Apparently you can use PuTTY on a Mac.

Is PuTTY safe to use? (e.g. Does it pull any crap like FileZilla storing credentials on my hard-drive??)


c.) Is there any real benefit to using an SSH Client App over Terminal?

Some things I have read online make it sound like Terminal sucks and requires LOTS of typing and re-typing to do basic things...

Chances are if I use SSH, it will be for simple things like copy -p file.tx{,.bck} or that rsynch thing, or whatever, but I still don't want to spend all day typing!

Sincerely,


Rob

Last edited by RobInRockCity; 02-22-2015 at 12:06 AM.
 
Old 02-22-2015, 12:16 AM   #10
Miati
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobInRockCity View Post
c.) Is there any real benefit to using an SSH Client App over Terminal?

Some things I have read online make it sound like Terminal sucks and requires LOTS of typing and re-typing to do basic things...

Chances are if I use SSH, it will be for simple things like copy -p file.tx{,.bck} or that rsynch thing, or whatever, but I still don't want to spend all day typing!

Sincerely,


Rob
At first glance, it will appear that using the terminal is slower, clunkier and requires more brain power to do similar things in the gui.
All I can really say (without launching into a multi-page argument) is that with experience and usage, the terminal actually becomes much more powerful then the gui. You will be able to accomplish much more in a shorter time then pointing and clicking.
This link gives a decent example of why terminal is very helpful and is a good guide to bash.
This blog post also has a hefty amount of links to documentation as well.

Last edited by Miati; 02-22-2015 at 12:20 AM.
 
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Old 02-22-2015, 12:37 AM   #11
astrogeek
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobInRockCity View Post
Will I need to enter my Passphrase on the Private key as well?
Yes, but it will prompt for your passphrase after you enter the ssh command line.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobInRockCity View Post
So if I type ssh my_vps_username@my_vps_ip then I don't have to worry about my credentials being blasted out onto the Internet in plain-text, huh??
Nope - if your command begins with "ssh", then everything that follows will be over a secure connection - that is what ssh does.

If you had to enter a port number different than 22 in cyberduck then you will need to add that too, with -p.

I assume Mac has man pages, so see man ssh for all options, but the basic command should be something like:

Code:
ssh my_vps_username@my_vps_ip -i path/to/keyfile -p 1234
... where the -p xxxx is only required if different than 22.

And the -i keyfile may not be necessary either, depending on your local configuration - try it with and without.

After you hit enter it should prompt you for your passphrase, if applicable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobInRockCity View Post
(Sorry for being so paranoid, but after learning that FileZilla has been a scam for years, I'm sort of gittery...)
All the gooey front ends for basic services are scams, in my opinion!


Quote:
Originally Posted by RobInRockCity View Post
a.) Once I log in to my VPS over SSH using Terminal, will a "session" exist where I stay logged in?
Yes, you will be in a secure shell (terminal) - that is what ssh means, "Secure SHell".

To logout and close the secure connection just type "exit" then hit the enter key.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobInRockCity View Post
b.) Apparently you can use PuTTY on a Mac.

Is PuTTY safe to use? (e.g. Does it pull any crap like FileZilla storing credentials on my hard-drive??)
But why would you? What do you perceive that Putty would get you that a terminal does not - other than stored passwords?

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobInRockCity View Post
c.) Is there any real benefit to using an SSH Client App over Terminal?

Some things I have read online make it sound like Terminal sucks and requires LOTS of typing and re-typing to do basic things...
None at all - as I said above, all the client apps are scams anyway (probably too strong a word, but they are totally unnecessary!).

All the power and all the flexibility and all the freedom are in the shell - and it is NOT hard - and it is NOT strange! It is the native user interface for all your computer's services.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobInRockCity View Post
Chances are if I use SSH, it will be for simple things like copy -p file.tx{,.bck} or that rsynch thing, or whatever, but I still don't want to spend all day typing!
You won't.

If you can get past that well learned mental block, you will spend less time BY FAR doing things in a terminal than you waste starting and pointing and clicking and wondering if you can trust all those gooey apps!

M$ and Apple sell glitz built on top of a kernel and service layers. They teach you to use the glitz interface instead of the shell (the native interface) and they warn you away from the shell spreading the propaganda about how difficult it is! They do this because they sell glitz and if you should ever find out that the glitz is unnecessary they can't continue to sell it to you.

Last edited by astrogeek; 02-22-2015 at 12:45 AM.
 
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Old 02-22-2015, 01:06 AM   #12
RobInRockCity
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miati View Post
At first glance, it will appear that using the terminal is slower, clunkier and requires more brain power to do similar things in the gui.

All I can really say (without launching into a multi-page argument) is that with experience and usage, the terminal actually becomes much more powerful then the gui. You will be able to accomplish much more in a shorter time then pointing and clicking.
I'm up to the challenge if you guys will be patient with me!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Miati View Post
This link gives a decent example of why terminal is very helpful and is a good guide to bash.
This blog post also has a hefty amount of links to documentation as well.
Wow! Thanks!!

I started reading the first link - very well written for a computer geek!!

Sincerely,


Rob
 
Old 02-22-2015, 01:19 AM   #13
RobInRockCity
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astrogeek View Post
Yes, but it will prompt for your passphrase after you enter the ssh command line.
Is it correct that when I created the passphrase for my Private Key using ssh-keygen, that OS-X stores the Passphrase as a hash in OS-X's Keychain?

If so, that would mean my Passphrase is doubly protected, right? (i.e. Hash that can't be Reverse-Engineered and then Encrypted)


Quote:
Originally Posted by astrogeek View Post
Nope - if your command begins with "ssh", then everything that follows will be over a secure connection - that is what ssh does.
If I ever accidentally typed this what would happen...
Code:
my_vps_username@my_vps_ip

Quote:
Originally Posted by astrogeek View Post
If you had to enter a port number different than 22 in cyberduck then you will need to add that too, with -p.
Actually CyberDuck defaults to Port 22, I think.


Quote:
Originally Posted by astrogeek View Post
I assume Mac has man pages, so see man ssh for all options, but the basic command should be something like:

Code:
ssh my_vps_username@my_vps_ip -i path/to/keyfile -p 1234
... where the -p xxxx is only required if different than 22.

And the -i keyfile may not be necessary either, depending on your local configuration - try it with and without.
Is there anything wrong with cheating and dragging and dropping filepaths into Terminal to save typing? (e.g. dragging and dropping my Private Key)


Quote:
Originally Posted by astrogeek View Post
After you hit enter it should prompt you for your passphrase, if applicable.
Okay.


Quote:
Originally Posted by astrogeek View Post
All the gooey front ends for basic services are scams, in my opinion!
Ha ha.


Quote:
Originally Posted by astrogeek View Post
Yes, you will be in a secure shell (terminal) - that is what ssh means, "Secure SHell".

To logout and close the secure connection just type "exit" then hit the enter key.
Do I have to worry about anything being cached in Terminal or some plist file?

(I thought I read something tonight about doing a "cmd + option + Q" to flush something...)


Quote:
Originally Posted by astrogeek View Post
But why would you? What do you perceive that Putty would get you that a terminal does not - other than stored passwords?
Good point. I just saw so many Mac and Linux people raving over PuTTY I figured maybe I would want to use it?


Quote:
Originally Posted by astrogeek View Post
None at all - as I said above, all the client apps are scams anyway (probably too strong a word, but they are totally unnecessary!).

All the power and all the flexibility and all the freedom are in the shell - and it is NOT hard - and it is NOT strange! It is the native user interface for all your computer's services.
I can see where it is more powerful. And I suppose command line is a great way for my to learn and understand Linux as someone who is totally new to a non-Windows, non-OS-X environment.


Quote:
Originally Posted by astrogeek View Post
You won't.
Just being sure, because if someone gets my cPanel username and password they "have the keys to the kingdom"!!!



Quote:
Originally Posted by astrogeek View Post
If you can get past that well learned mental block, you will spend less time BY FAR doing things in a terminal than you waste starting and pointing and clicking and wondering if you can trust all those gooey apps!
I buy most of that argument except for file paths which can get pretty squirrely!


Quote:
Originally Posted by astrogeek View Post
M$ and Apple sell glitz built on top of a kernel and service layers. They teach you to use the glitz interface instead of the shell (the native interface) and they warn you away from the shell spreading the propaganda about how difficult it is! They do this because they sell glitz and if you should ever find out that the glitz is unnecessary they can't continue to sell it to you.
True.

Thanks for all of the patience and encouragement tonight, astrogeek, and everyone else!!

I feel motivated to keep up with this stuff - other than I have so much on my plate now!

But I'm up to the challenge as long as I have some mentors who can help from time to time.

Thanks,


Rob
 
Old 02-22-2015, 03:08 AM   #14
astrogeek
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobInRockCity View Post
Is it correct that when I created the passphrase for my Private Key using ssh-keygen, that OS-X stores the Passphrase as a hash in OS-X's Keychain?

If so, that would mean my Passphrase is doubly protected, right? (i.e. Hash that can't be Reverse-Engineered and then Encrypted)
No I don't think so. If you created it with ssh-keygen then the passphrase is encoded within the key itself.

But then, I don't know what Mac may or may not do with its keychain.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobInRockCity View Post
If I ever accidentally typed this what would happen...
Code:
my_vps_username@my_vps_ip
Nothing at all. You would probably get an error message something like "Command not found".

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobInRockCity View Post
Actually CyberDuck defaults to Port 22, I think.

Is there anything wrong with cheating and dragging and dropping filepaths into Terminal to save typing? (e.g. dragging and dropping my Private Key)
Actually, port 22 is the ssh service default port - cyberduck just uses what ssh already provides.

Yes there is something wrong with dragging and dropping... It reinforces bad habits and blocks you from learning the superior and faster shell methods of navigating and referencing files and paths - without all that typing and without moving your hand to the mouse or touchpad!

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobInRockCity View Post
Do I have to worry about anything being cached in Terminal or some plist file?

(I thought I read something tonight about doing a "cmd + option + Q" to flush something...)
Well, most shells will be configured to keep a history file for most commands that you type - and that is usually a good thing, but you can turn it off if you like.

But the history will never include ssh login keys or password - those do not even enter the stream.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobInRockCity View Post
Good point. I just saw so many Mac and Linux people raving over PuTTY I figured maybe I would want to use it?

I can see where it is more powerful. And I suppose command line is a great way for my to learn and understand Linux as someone who is totally new to a non-Windows, non-OS-X environment.
Those who rave over it are those still trapped in the gooey paradigm, who have not yet tried to overcome that crippling mental block!

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobInRockCity View Post
Just being sure, because if someone gets my cPanel username and password they "have the keys to the kingdom"!!!
They are infinitely more likely to get it from cPanel itself than from an SSH connection.

And you also need to realize that what you call your "cpanel username and password" are almost certainly just your server account username and login password - cpanel is just another glitzy gooey that hides that fact along with most of the functionality otherwise available to you!

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobInRockCity View Post
I buy most of that argument except for file paths which can get pretty squirrely!
You just don't yet know your way around the filesystem, or the facilities provided by the shell to make navigation and path references fast and easy. Surely you don't think you have to type them all!

For example, in my shell I just looked for a file...

Code:
ls -l /usr/share/doc/mobile-broadband-provider-info-20120614/mobile-broadband-provider-info.SlackBuild
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 3731 Jun 24  2012 /usr/share/doc/mobile-broadband-provider-info-20120614/mobile-broadband-provider-info.SlackBuild
You don't think I typed all that do you?

You just need to learn how to use the simple tools already at your fingertips!

I bet you had to learn how to use all the gooey tools too. You weren't born knowing them either were you? This is no more difficult, and much more useful...

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobInRockCity View Post
Thanks for all of the patience and encouragement tonight, astrogeek, and everyone else!!

I feel motivated to keep up with this stuff - other than I have so much on my plate now!

But I'm up to the challenge as long as I have some mentors who can help from time to time.
You are welcome, and good luck!

As with all things, you will get out what you put in. But most importantly, stop trying to convince yourself that it is difficult - it isn't! Propaganda...

Concentrate on just learning your way around in a shell and the basic concepts and methods of filesystem navigation.

A good place to start is the Rute Exposition and Bash Beginners Guide.

And learn to use the man pages - they are always available and your best friend!
 
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Old 02-22-2015, 05:23 AM   #15
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