If you manage remote machines you have for sure some way to connect to them, to connect to Unix machines I’m used to open a terminal with my favorite terminal emulator (Terminator in these days), and from there ssh to other servers, for Windows RDP protocol as client i use Remmina (perhaps i’ll talk of it in a future article) and for FTP and SFTP i use Filezilla, but i’ve found recently another interesting software that could change my habitudes: PAC Manager, where PAC stand for Perl/Gtk approach to connections managing.
Ah, and i know that the title it’s in broken English, the phrase it comes from an old videogame.
PAC it’s available on the getdeb repository, so if you use Debian or ubuntu i suggest to add this repository with the following instructions:
- Install the getdeb package.
- Or configure the repository manually:Go to System-Administration-Software Sources, Third-Party Software tab, Add:
deb http://archive.getdeb.net/ubuntu oneiric-getdeb appsAdd the repository GPG key, open a terminal window and type:
wget -q -O- http://archive.getdeb.net/getdeb-archive.key | sudo apt-key add -
- Now you can install the package from the software center or from the terminal with the command:
sudo aptitude install pac
- If the application cannot be found, run this command and try again:
sudo apt-get update
For other distributions check the Download Page of the project, where you can find an rpm package and the sources.
Main Features of PAC
1) Simple GUI to manage/launch connections to remote machines.
This is the standard window with all the options available when you select to create a new connection, clicking on method (where there is selected ssh) you can select between the supported connection type of PAC:
Some of the available options are:
Launch at PAC start : So when you start PAC you can have some connection automatically started
Reconnect on disconnection :really useful to auto reconnect without waiting a second
Millisecond for automating char sending : Useful if you have firewall that close conenction inactive after XX seconds.
2) Configurable list of macros (commands) to send to connected client or to execute locally when connected..
This means that you can define macros for a connection, and once you connect to that machine, with a right click on the connection window you’ll be able to see the list of all the macros and choose one that will be run inside the session. This can be really handy if you do frequently some specific tasks, like doing scp from a remote machine to the local PC or to another server.
You can also define commands and macros to be executed just before PAC start the connection with that server or just after it close it.
3) CLUSTER connections
Another handy feature, this one means that you can open X connection toward different machines, than you can tell to PAC to create a new cluster (a group of connections) and add any of these connections to that cluster, now any command given to one of the machine in the cluster is replicated to all the others. Really useful if you work in farms of X machines and you need to give exactly the same commands.
Other features Include :
- Configurable list of conditional executions on connected machine via ‘Expect’:
- forget about SSH certificates
- chain multiple ssh connections
- automate tunnels creation
- Ability to connect to machines through a Proxy server!
- TABBED/WINDOWED terminals
- Wake On LAN capabilities
- Local and Global variables, eg.: write down a password once, use it ANY where, centralizing its modification for faster changes! use them for:
- password vault
- reusing connection strings
- Seamless Gnome/Gtk integration, i’ve tested it on XFCE without any problem.
- Tray icon for ‘right button’ quick launching of managed connections, screenshots and statistics on active connections.
With all these handy options PAC has really impressed me, we all know, why do a thing by hand if the computer can do it automatically ?
And with all the Macros and Expect options available you can automate a bunch of repetitive work.
This program could become my better working companion, it can handle a lot of different type of connection with advanced options not available in others clients of this type (at least for what i know), I’m installing it now on the Laptop that i use for work, hopefully this will speed up my daily work.
Suggested, at least for a test run, to all Sysadmin out there.
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