How to Use the Chromebook SSH Client

Get Secure Shell on your Chromebook

Secure Shell is one of the best tools to enable you to log into a remote computer. Most often this is used to work on a remote server, but there are also times when you might need to gain access to a desktop machine. With Secure Shell (otherwise known as SSH), you have such power at your fingertips.

But don’t think that just because you use a Chromebook you aren’t able to make use of such an important piece of technology. In fact, because Chrome OS (the operating system that powers Chromebooks) is based on Linux, it enables you to easily make use of the Secure Shell system. Let’s find out how to gain access to that very tool.

Secure Shell Extension

The easiest method of using SSH from a Chromebook is by way of a third-party extension, called Secure Shell Extension. With this add-on, you can not only login to your remote machines (via the ssh command), you can also securely copy files to and from those same remote machines (using the Secure FTP command, sftp).

How do you install that extension? Easy. Here are the steps:

  1. Open the Chrome browser on your Chromebook.

  2. Press the Menu button, and select More tools > Extensions.

    Screenshot of the chromebook menu.
  3. Select the three horizontal lines in the upper left corner, then select Open Chrome Web Store.

    Screenshot of the Open Chrome Web Store link.
  4. Type Secure Shell Extension in the search bar.

  5. Press Add to Chrome, associated with Secure Shell Extension.

    Screenshot of the Add to Chrome button.
  6. When prompted, press Add extension.

    Screenshot of the Add Extension button.

How to Use Secure Shell Extension

You should now see a new icon in your Chrome browser toolbar. Follow these steps to create a new connection:

  1. Press the Secure Shell Extension icon in the Chrome toolbar.

    Screenshot of the Secure Shell Extension icon.
  2. From the drop-down, choose Connection Dialog.

    Screenshot of the Connection Dialog entry.
  3. In the resulting window, fill out the necessary information for the connection.

Connect over SSH

In order to create a new connection, you’re only required to fill out the following details:

  1. First, type the username you’ll log in with and either the IP address or domain of the remote host. For example, if you need to log into a remote machine with the IP address 192.168.1.166 and a username jack, type jack@192.168.1.166.

    Screenshot of the New Connection window.
  2. Once you fill out that information, the extension will automatically fill out the username and hostname below the username@hostname line. After you’ve filled out that line, press Enter on your keyboard and, when prompted, press Allow (to give the extension permission to open ssh links).

    Screenshot of the Allow button.
  3. Type yes, and press Enter on your keyboard to continue with the connection. Type the password for the remote user, and press Enter on your keyboard.

    Screenshot of the SSH password prompt.
  4. You should now find yourself on the terminal window of the remote machine.

When you’re finished working on the remote machine, type exit, and press Enter on your keyboard. You will then be prompted to type x to complete the exit from the extension.

Reconnecting

One nice thing about the Secure Shell Extension is that it will remember your connections. Select the extension icon (in the Chrome toolbar), and you’ll see your saved connections listed. Choose an entry, and type the remote user password for that machine to login.

Screenshot of the newly added connections.

If, instead, you need to connect to a different machine, open the Connection Dialog, and press [New Connection]. Fill out the same information you did before (with the username/IP address for the new remote machine), and your new connection is ready. When you have more than one connection saved, all of those connections will be listed (for quick access) in the Secure Shell Extension drop-down.

That’s all there is to it. With the assistance of a simple third-party extension, you can gain easy and secure access to your remote machines--all from your user-friendly Chromebook.