Friday, March 13, 2015

Multiple SSH Tunnels on Login in OS X with Meerkat vs. SSH Tunnel Manager

Tried out a couple of apps to automate SSH tunneling today in OS X: Meerkat and SSH Tunnel Manager. Both are free apps that allow you to automatically SSH into multiple servers using those connections for multiple SSH tunnels.


Pros: free app that was abandoned but is still downloadable and free license provided by its author. Tested and seems to work at least partially in OS X 10.9.

Cons: is no longer maintained. I had one connection work and another not work. I manually killed one of its ssh processes and it didn't seem to restart it, at least not within a short time.

How to get setup:

  1. Download Meercat.
  2. Open the dmg and drag into Applications.
  3. Control-click open.
  4. Right-click on taskbar to mark as open on login.
  5. Use the wizard and plus buttons on each tab to setup your SSH connections and tunnels (read up on SSH tunneling to understand more).
  6. Mark everything to automatically open on start.
  7. Go to Quote, so that it will complain about a license.
  8. Download the Meercat license from the same page.
  9. Rename the file to zip, because it is a zip.
  10. Double-click to unzip.
  11. Double-click on the uncompressed license file which will install itself into Meerkat.

SSH Tunnel Manager

Pros: free app. Tested and seems to work in OS X 10.9. Much more featureful than Meerkat in terms of the encryption, etc. options to use with ssh. I manually killed one of its ssh processes and it restarted it quickly.

Cons: UI is not very polished and a little more complicated.

How to get setup:

  1. Download/install SSH Tunnel Manager from the App Store.
  2. Right-click on taskbar to mark as open on login.
  3. Here are some example instructions for configuration.
  4. Click options button and check auto connect.


These are just a few of the options available. Also, just manually using SSH to tunnel or something like autossh to automatically restart might be a good solution.

Built-in Support

If you plan to manage a database, the database management application might already have built-in tunneling support, e.g. PG Admin and DB Visualizer (pro only).

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