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name Punditsdkoslkdosdkoskdo

How to reliably keep an SSH tunnel unlocked?

I use an SSH tunnel from work to go around various idotic firewalls (it's ok with my boss :)). The problem is, after a while the ssh connection usually hangs, and the tunnel is broken.

If I could at least monitor the tunnel automatically, I could restart the tunnel when it hangs, but I haven't even figured a way of doing that.

Bonus points for the one who can tell me how to prevent my ssh connection from hanging, of course!

On your own mac or linux machine configure your ssh keep the server ssh alive every 3 minutes. Open a terminal and go your your invisible .ssh in your home:

cd ~/.ssh/ 

then create a 1 line config file with:

echo "ServerAliveInterval 180" >> config

you should also add:

ServerAliveCountMax xxxx (high number)

the default is 3 so ServerAliveInterval 180 will stop sending after 9 minutes (3 of the 3-minute interval specified by ServerAliveInterval).

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All stateful firewalls forget about a connection after not seeing a packet for that connection for some time (to prevent the state tables from becoming full of connections where both ends died without closing the connection). Most TCP implementations will send a keepalive packet after a long time without hearing from the other side (2 hours is a common value). If, however, there is a stateful firewall which forgets about the connection before the keepalive packets can be sent, a long-lived but idle connection will die.

If that is the case, the solution is to prevent the connection from becoming idle. OpenSSH has an option called ServerAliveInterval which can be used to prevent the connection from being idle for too long (as a bonus, it will detect when the peer died sooner even if the connection is idle).

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Sounds like you need autossh. This will monitor an ssh tunnel and restart it as needed. We've used it for a couple of years and it seems to work well.

autossh -M 20000 -f -N your_public_server -R 1234:localhost:22 -C

More details on the -M parameter here

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