There are a lot of machines that I have ssh acces to; virtual machines (both in vmware and virtualbox), linodes (personal, work, projects), production systems, etc.. All told there are probably over 200 systems out there which I will need to ssh into at some point in the future. Sometimes I go years without logging in.
Some of these systems have domain names, but most are just random IPs over some vpn. I can never remember how to get in and have to spend time figuring out what box it is that I need to access
Of course I have ssh keys setup and I use different key pairs for different roles and uses. This has created a rather complex ~/.ssh/config.
I have tried to keep a list of systems in the config with an alias:
Host abc123 HostName 127.0.0.1 Port 1234 User username
Substitute sane values and about 200 of these and you rapidly create a large unmanageable mess.
Try to manage a large /etc/hosts file and you see first hand why dns was invented.
I even tried using scripts to pull information from puppet sources, linode api’s and even systems posting back on my public IP.
Obviously it became a mess
emacs to the rescue.
One day after being particularly frustrated when I couldn’t get into a box, I was adding yet another entry to ~/.ssh/config only to realize it was in there twice already, I decided to turn this problem into a nail so I could use my universal hammer, emacs.
(defun jgk/xterm-ssh (host) "Spawn a xterm with a ssh to the host" (start-process-shell-command "*org-xterm-ssh*" "ssh-xterm" "xterm" "-e" (concat "'ssh -AY " host "'")))
I now have an org file for each project I work on and can create links that will let me ssh into a system with a ‘click’
[[elisp:(jgk/xterm-ssh "firstname.lastname@example.org")][Magical Mystery Machine]]
Since it is in org mode I can now categorize and tag these links. I can take notes and use tramp to open directories.
I am slowly adding systems in as I need them. I have found the ability to keep notes and a basic log of what and why I was there to be invaluable.
If you need to access a lot of random systems you should try this, it has made my life sane