Why My 5-Year-Old Loves SSH

I’m going to steal my own thunder, so the bitheads can get it out of their system. This is less about technical prowess and more about practical application.

A couple years ago I bought an HP micro-tower for $50. It’s a 1.6GHz or thereabouts, a gig of ram, and I’ve swapped out the hard drive for a 1TB SATA. I recently discovered that it’s the perfect fit for my stereo cabinet.

Also tucked behind the stereo cabinet are my WiMAX modem and wifi router, which serve internet to the house, and to the microtower over ethernet. This makes it a perfect multimedia station.

But who wants to see a big chunky screen in the living room, or walk over to the stereo every time they want to see what’s on Pandora or listen to some of their ripped CD collection?

I installed openssh on pretty much everything in the house before I got around to installing anything else, so I use ssh -X user@box.local to remote into the box. Then starting gnome-panel from a command line gives easy access to GUI-fied parts of the system, as well as making it easy to open up multiple windows from a single connection.

So why does my fiancee love SSH? Why does my 5-year-old think it’s magically amazing? Because without any fuss at all, it enables me, an overgrown end-user to remote control the stereo from any room in the house over wifi, including volume controls, playlists, the works, in a local-looking window.

Gnome-panel is configured to start on the bottom of the screen, because the local machine (my laptop) has the panel at the top of the screen. The two are happy to overwrite one another, but that can get annoying fast.

So basically, I get all of the responsiveness of vnc, with a fraction of the lag, and none of the funky scrolling-around or screensize limitations. And I’ve got a shortcut on the panel to xtightvncviewer localhost with a password-less login, restricted to localhost. So I can VNC in as a backup if needed.

My fiancee loves that she can start Pandora or turn down the volume from wherever it suits her.

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