[Linux] : Shellinabox – A web based access to your SSH Terminal

Updated on September 2, 2017

In this tutorial we shall see how to install Shellinabox (Pronounced as “Shell In A Box”) for remote access to Linux SSH terminal using AJAX/JavaScript and CSS enabled web browsers. Assuming that your Linux server is enabled with Firewall and allows only necessary ports (says HTTP(s)), then Shellinabox is an ideal solution to provide web based Shell terminal to users.

Installing Shellinabox on Linux

By default, Shellinabox package is included in all Linux distribution repositories including Debian, Ubuntu and CentOS. Make sure that your repository is enabled and available to install shellinabox.

On Debian and Ubuntu

root@ubuntu:~# apt-cache search shellinabox
 shellinabox - publish command line shell through AJAX interface
root@ubuntu:~# apt-get install shellinabox
 Reading package lists... Done
 Building dependency tree
 Reading state information... Done
 The following NEW packages will be installed:
 Setting up shellinabox (2.14-1) ...
 Processing triggers for ureadahead (0.100.0-16) ...

On RHEL, CentOS and Fedora

Configure yum repository on RedHat based distributions. Next you need to configure EPEL Repository:

How to enable EPEL Repo:

For EL5:

[root@centos export]# rpm -Uvh

For EL6:

[root@centos export]# rpm -Uvh

For EL7:

[root@centos export]# rpm -Uvh

Then install shellinabox using the following yum command.

#yum install shellinabox
 Loaded plugins: security
 Setting up Install Process
 Resolving Dependencies
 --> Running transaction check
 ---> Package shellinabox.x86_64 0:2.14-27.git88822c1.el5 set to be updated
 --> Finished Dependency Resolution

Configure Shellinabox

Shellinabox has a built-in web server that runs as a web based SSH-Client and listens on port 4200. For security reasons, you may change this default port to a random port (For eg: 4312 or whichever is free). By default a new self-signed SSL certificate gets created automatically under “/var/lib/shellinabox” to use HTTPS protocol.

How to find which port is free

#telnet localhost <port_no>
#netstat -anp | grep <port_no>

On Debian & Ubuntu

#vim /etc/default/shellinabox
# TCP port that shellinboxd's webserver listens on

On RHEL, CentOS & Fedora

# vi /etc/sysconfig/shellinaboxd
# TCP port that shellinboxd's webserver listens on

Start Shellinabox service daemon

Once the configuration is completed, you can start the service by issuing following command:

On Debian & Ubuntu

#service shellinabox start

On RHEL & CentOS

#service shellinaboxd start

Verify the Service

Check if the service has started properly and listens on port 4200 (port might be different based on the above configuration) using netstat command as shown below:

root@ubuntu:# netstat -anp | grep shellinabox
 tcp        0      0  *               LISTEN      31331/shellinaboxd

How to use Shellinabox on the browser

Open up your web browser and navigate to https://server-ip:4200. Now you should be able to see a web-based SSH terminal as shown below prompting for login. You can login using your SSH username and password and upon successful, you would be presented a shell prompt.

Login through ShellInABox to SSH terminal

Upon logout:

Logout of ShellInABox

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