If you have used SSH to connect to a remote machine before, you know the procedure: open a terminal, type in the SSH command and the host IP, enter the password. This is probably easy for a single connection, but if you are a system administrator looking after several remote machines and have a need to manage multiple SSH connections, you will need a better and easier solution. You need PAC Manager.
PAC is an application written in Perl/GTK and is short for Perl Auto Connector (PAC). It provides a GUI that allows you to manage multiple SSH connections easily.
Head over to its SourceForge page and download the installer for your distro. You can either download the .deb or .rpm build or the source code and compile it yourself. In Ubuntu, you just have to double-click on the deb file to install it.
To get started, run PAC and click the “New Connection” icon at the top left of the menu bar.
It will prompt you to first enter a Name for the connection, after which you can enter the connection details like Host, username, password etc.
If you select the dropdown under the Method, you will be able to see the extensive connection protocols supported by PAC. SSH is the default option, but you can select Mosh, FTP, rdesktop, Telnet, VNC, or even WebDAV as well.
And if you play around with the settings in the left menu bar, you will find tons of configuration options that you can add, like “Pre Exec” (commands to execute before running this connection), “Post Exec”, running remote commands etc. Personally, I have no use for these advanced settings as I am not a power user, but it is a good thing that these options exist for advanced user.
Once you have added a connection, it will show up in the left pane of the main screen. You can then double click on it to connect to the remote machine. PAC comes with its own terminal so you can control everything in PAC.
When administering several SSH connections, there is an option for you to add each connection to a cluster. A cluster is basically a group of SSH connections where you can control all of them from one central area. Simply right click at the terminal and select “Add to Cluster”.
If you prefer, you can also detach each connection into a standalone terminal window so you can arrange them side by side or move to another monitor. This is a pretty useful and it doesn’t clutter up PAC with multiple tabs.
Another feature of PAC manager is that it comes with Keepassx support. That means, if you have a keepassx password database (.kdb), you will be able to connect it to PAC and have it auto-retrieve username and password from your database. To set it up, simply head over to its Preferences page and select the “KeePassx Options” menu.
What we have covered above is only a small part of what PAC Manager is able to do. PAC Manager. There are still tons of features that we are not able to cover in this article. It doesn’t matter if you are a casual or advanced user, I am sure you will love PAC Manager.
If you rather use a web-based solution to manage your SSH connections, check out FireSSH.