I recently acquired some old hardware and was working on giving it a purpose when I felt a particular set of problems could be solved by using a physical disc to install the operating system on one of the machines. So, I burned a DVD. This particular set of projects began in part with my youngest son (11) working towards his computer merit badge for scouts. His younger sister (8) became quite interested in what we were doing and would ask questions between cartwheels. When it came time to burn a DVD they thought I was crazy.
Daughter, “Dad, you’re going to BURN a DVD?” Thinking I was going to get out matches and start a file she yells, “Mom! Dad’s going to BURN a DVD!!!”
I then explained that I wasn’t going to burn it by starting a fire, I was going to use lasers.
I should have had my camera ready, the expression on her face was priceless.
Things have changed over the years in how we use technology. One of my favorite go-to apps that used to be a routine part of my workflow has recently entered back into my workflow, FileZilla. With all the machine repurposing I’ve been doing, there’s been a significant need to move files around on the network.
After TechSNAP 350 I knew I didn’t want to use Samba unless absolutely necessary. It wasn’t because there’s a risk to my particular network, but I want to make sure I’m using best practices in my home environment. From a speed standpoint FTP kicks SMB’s butt, so I started looking at FTP. As I was working through a few articles and a couple of tutorials, I realized how awesome, old, and insecure the protocol is. By this point I had installed FileZilla, but before getting it to run I had a thought. If I chose to not use SMB to resemble best practices how was FTP following best practices? The answer was simple, it wasn’t.
I was looking forward to reusing FileZilla for nostalgic reasons. It brings me back to an era when static HTML was acceptable and there’s something about watching files upload in its queue that just warms my heart.
Because I was managing these systems remotely as much as possible, I was getting more comfortable working in SSH. So, I thought, SSH runs on port 22. What happens if I tell FileZilla to connect on port 22?
So I imputed the server information, specified port 22 and Bob’s you’re uncle, I was in! Not only was I in, but the transfer rates were considerably closer to what you get from FTP as opposed to SMB. I had secure, screaming-fast transfers across my network.
I had one of those OH-WOW moments immediately followed by a feeling of “I’m sure everyone else knows this already.” I had just discovered that I never need to use FTP again because it’s baked in to SSH as SFTP. While it may not be new to the community, it certainly was new to me.
So I decided to test this outside my network to see what would happen. I spun up a droplet at DigitalOcean and got transmission working. Then, I set it up to participate in tormenting one of my favorite distro’s ISO file. I then tested downloading that ISO from the Downloads directory to my machine using SFTP. Performance and security as expected.
I’m sure this is one of those things that’s common knowledge among professionals and most hobbyists, but it was something I hadn’t learned yet and I’m both excited and hesitant to share. I’m excited because this is freakin’ awesome! And hesitant because I’ve been poking around with Linux for more than a decade and never have I realized this was possible.
This makes me wonder, what other basic tools have I been missing?
As it turns out there’s not that much difference between me and my eight-year-old. I just used SSH to transfer files. It doesn’t sound nearly as cool as using lasers to burn a disc. In this house we have a lot of learning to do.