Manage your secure shell connections from the GNOME panel

Jack Wallen
Dec 23, 2009
Updated • Dec 5, 2012

I work with secure shell all the time. Day in and day out I am administering personal machines and client machines with the help of ssh. After a while opening up a terminal window and entering the command to connect to all of these clients gets old. And we all know saving time and effort equates to saving money. So any tool that can help make your daily administrative life easier is a good thing.

One tool to help you manage your secure shell connections is the GNOME SSHmenu tool. This helpful application adds a small applet to the GNOME panel that allows you to make secure shell connections with a single click. And not only does this applet make it easy to connect, it also stores multiple connections, so all of your ssh connections are just a click away. In this tutorial I am going to show you how to install GNOME SSHmenu and set up your secure shell connections so you can take advantage of this handy tool.


If you fire up Synaptic and do a search for "ssh-menu" (no quotes), you will see two entries:

  • ssh-menu
  • ssh-menu-gnome

You will need to install both of these applications. So mark them both for installation and click the Apply button. Once these packages are installed you are ready to begin.

Adding the applet

Because this is an applet, not so much a stand-alone application, you need to add the applet to your GNOME panel in order to make it available for use. To do this right click the GNOME panel and select Add to Panel. From this new window you can select the SSH Menu Applet entry and then click the Add button. When you do this a window will appear asking if you want to manually add your hosts, or if you want to give the applet a shot at auto-configuring your connections. This auto-configuration reads your ~/.ssh/known_hosts file in order set up your connections.

Figure 1

Of course you might not want all of your connections listed in the applet. For that you can select to manually configure your connections. If you make that choice the window will be dismissed and the SSH applet will appear in your panel (see Figure 1). As you can guess, the SSH applet is indicated by the "SSH" (no quotes).

Manually adding hosts

Figure 2

In order to make your connections you first have to add hosts. Do do this left click the SSH applet and select Preferences. From the Preferences window (see Figure 2) you can add, edit, copy, and remove hosts. You can also (from the Options tab) back up your ssh connections configurations, enable "tear-off" menus, enable "open all windows", and enable "open all tabs". click the Add Host button.

Figure 3

When you click Add Host a new window will open (see Figure 3)where you enter the following information:

Title: Name of the connection (this will appear in the SSH applet menu).

Hostname: Address for connection. If you connect with a different username will be in the form username@address.

Geometry: This dictates to the applet the size of the terminal window to open. To make this easy for you can open a terminal, size it to the exact proportions you want, click the Grab button, and then click on that pre-sized terminal window.

Profile: Select Default from this.

If you want to make sure your configuration works, click the Test button and a terminal window will open to your connection.


Now that you have the applet configured for a connection click the OK button to dismiss the preferences window, left click the applet, select the connection you just created, and wait for the prompt in the window that will open to request your password. Congratulations, you now have your first host set up in the applet. You can create as many as you like and then just select the one you want to connect to from the list.

Final thoughts

This simple tool has made my administration life so much easier. No more opening up terminals and typing ssh commands (or bothering with bash aliases). Now all of my secure shell connections are nothing more than a click away.


Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Lawrence Knowlton said on February 6, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    I did not see the applet listed in my Fedora Core 14 gnome available applets after installing it, nor did I see the non-applet version listed in my applications list anywhere. Any ideas? Thanks!

  2. Reverend Egg Plant said on December 27, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    For anyone who went off to try this without using Synaptic, rather using apt-get from a shell session, you’ll need to use sshmenu and sshmenu-gnome.

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.