AutoSSH is a program to start a copy of ssh and monitor it, restarting it as necessary should it die or stop passing traffic.


sudo apt install autossh


autossh [-V] [-M monitor_port[:echo_port]] [-f] [SSH_OPTIONS]


    -M specifies monitor port. Overrides the environment
       variable AUTOSSH_PORT. 0 turns monitoring loop off.
       Alternatively, a port for an echo service on the remote
       machine may be specified. (Normally port 7.)
    -f run in background (autossh handles this, and does not
       pass it to ssh.)
    -V print autossh version and exit.

Environment variables are:
    AUTOSSH_GATETIME    - how long must an ssh session be established
                          before we decide it really was established
                          (in seconds). Default is 30 seconds; use of -f
                          flag sets this to 0.
    AUTOSSH_LOGFILE     - file to log to (default is to use the syslog
    AUTOSSH_LOGLEVEL    - level of log verbosity
    AUTOSSH_MAXLIFETIME - set the maximum time to live (seconds)
    AUTOSSH_MAXSTART    - max times to restart (default is no limit)
    AUTOSSH_MESSAGE     - message to append to echo string (max 64 bytes)
    AUTOSSH_PATH        - path to ssh if not default
    AUTOSSH_PIDFILE     - write pid to this file
    AUTOSSH_POLL        - how often to check the connection (seconds)
    AUTOSSH_FIRST_POLL  - time before first connection check (seconds)
    AUTOSSH_PORT        - port to use for monitor connection
    AUTOSSH_DEBUG       - turn logging to maximum verbosity and log to


Generate a keypair on client

ssh-keygen -o -a 100 -t ed25519 -C "NAME-FOR-YOUR-CLIENT"

Upload the public key to the server.


Open the following file with your preferred editor /etc/systemd/system/autossh-tunnel.service

The config below connects on port ‘2222’ to the target server and creates a local forward on port ‘5000’ routing traffic to the client on port ‘22’ (SSH).


ExecStart=/usr/bin/autossh -N -i /home/<USER>/.ssh/id_ed25519 -M 0 -o "ServerAliveInterval 5"  -o "ServerAliveCountMax 3" -R 5000:localhost:22 <USER>@<TARGET-SERVER> -p2222


After the configuration is set, test it by manually connecting the SSH tunnel and accepting the SSH signature of the server. Next enable AutoSSH it with systemctl enable autossh-tunnel.service and reboot to test again.

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