I found a great new version of an old tool I’m used to using: PuTTYtray
For those of you who don’t know what putty is, it’s “a free implementation of Telnet and SSH for Win32 and Unix platforms, along with an xterm terminal emulator.” Most of my non-techie friends are probably even more confused now than they were before. The easiest way for me to explain it is it’s like DOS (the black screen where you entered commands via text entry) on steroids over the internet. SSH allows me to to do a lot of things – mainly manage webservers (and other Unix / Linux boxes) over the internet.
One of the great features of SSH is something called SSH tunneling. Essentially, it allows you to tunnel all communications from an application (or multiple) through a server. This is great for communicating through firewalls – which allows you to surf sites that might be blocked, get to a mailserver you couldnt normally get to, or many other things.
One of the frustrating things about tunneling is the need to set-up the connection everytime, then having it show up as a big window on your screen and how it takes up space on your taskbar. The version of putty I’m writing about solves the latter issue by allowing you to minimize putty to you tray (along with some other patches).
Enough talk – here’s a link to PuTTYtray: Developers Homepage
I’ll follow up with another reply post on how to configure PuTTY to automatically connect to a predefined server. The technique involves setting up keys (for authentication) so you don’t have to enter a password every time and setting up a quicklink shortcut that loads the connection.