Emergency shell access with tmate

Sending Keys

Now you only have to send the SSH ID or URL to the other participants of the session. The best way to do this is to use chat and mail or share via a service such as Nextcloud. The final option you could consider is an error-prone transmission by telephone.

The participants you invited and entrusted with an ID or URL do not need to install tmate or tmux. You don't need to use the same distribution or even use Linux: FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, and Mac OS X can also serve as a basis – only Windows is left out in the cold.

When the other party now enters the transmitted SSH ID/URL, the terminal shows what the person seeking help is seeing in the terminal themselves. Commands and their results run back and forth between the computers in fractions of a second. In the session with read and write access, all parties can enter data themselves; in the restricted session, only the host can write; the participants remain restricted to reading.

If you no longer need the split terminal, it is advisable to end the session by entering exit. If you just close the terminal, the other side will still have access to the computer – a potential security risk.

Conclusions and Outlook

If the GUI fails to launch, remote session support with tools such as TeamViewer or AnyDesk falls flat. Among other things, tmate plays to its strengths on such occasions and makes it possible to access the remote computer via a shell without great effort.

In addition, tmate offers all the benefits of tmux, but eliminates the need to manually set up an SSH connection when sharing the terminal. This makes it suitable not only for supporting remote computers, but also for pair programming, for example. A developer types code into a terminal, while a colleague reads it to validate the input. This way of working detects errors at an early stage and ensures high-quality code.

The developers are currently thinking about making it possible to transfer files according to the SCP [5] principle. So far, you have to use a service like transfer.sh [6] within tmate. Session logging is also on the developers' roadmap.

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