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date Fri, 08 Jan 2016 23:53:34 +0200
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.\"  -*- nroff -*-
.\"
.\" Author: Carson Harding
.\" Copyright (c) 2002 Carson Harding. All rights reserved.
.\"
.\" Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without
.\" modification, are permitted.
.\"
.\" THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED BY THE AUTHOR ``AS IS'' AND ANY EXPRESS OR
.\" IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES
.\" OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE ARE DISCLAIMED.
.\" IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHOR BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT,
.\" INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES (INCLUDING, BUT
.\" NOT LIMITED TO, PROCUREMENT OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS OR SERVICES; LOSS OF USE,
.\" DATA, OR PROFITS; OR BUSINESS INTERRUPTION) HOWEVER CAUSED AND ON ANY
.\" THEORY OF LIABILITY, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, STRICT LIABILITY, OR TORT
.\" (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE OR OTHERWISE) ARISING IN ANY WAY OUT OF THE USE OF
.\" THIS SOFTWARE, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.
.\"
.\" $Id: autossh.1,v 1.21 2008/03/28 16:58:21 harding Exp $
.\"
.Dd Jul 20, 2004
.Dt AUTOSSH 1
.Os
.Sh NAME
.Nm autossh
.Nd monitor and restart ssh sessions
.Sh SYNOPSIS
.Nm autossh
.Op Fl V
.Op Fl M Ar port[:echo_port]
.Op Fl f
.Ar [SSH_OPTIONS]
.Sh DESCRIPTION
.Nm
is a program to start a copy of ssh and monitor it, restarting it as
necessary should it die or stop passing traffic.
.Pp
The original idea and the mechanism were from rstunnel (Reliable SSH
Tunnel). With version 1.2 of
.Nm
the method changed: 
.Nm
uses ssh to construct a loop of ssh forwardings (one from local to
remote, one from remote to local), and then sends test data that it
expects to get back. (The idea is thanks to Terrence Martin.)
.Pp
With version 1.3, a new method is added (thanks to Ron Yorston): a
port may be specified for a remote echo service that will echo back
the test data. This avoids the congestion and the aggravation of
making sure all the port numbers on the remote machine do not
collide. The loop-of -forwardings method remains available for
situations where using an echo service may not be possible.
.Pp
.Sh CONTROLLING SSH
.Pp
.Ss SSH exits
.Pp
.Bl -tag -width Ds
.Nm
tries to distinguish the manner of death of the ssh process it
is monitoring and act appropriately. The rules are:
.Bl -tag -width Ds
.It 1.
If the ssh process exited normally (for example, someone typed
"exit" in an interactive session), 
.Nm
exits rather than restarting;
.It 2.
If 
.Nm
itself receives a SIGTERM, SIGINT, or a SIGKILL signal, it assumes
that it was deliberately signalled, and exits after killing the child
ssh process; 
.It 3.
If
.Nm 
itself receives a SIGUSR1 signal, it kills the child ssh process and starts
a new one;
.It 4.
Periodically (by default every 10 minutes),
.Nm
attempts to pass traffic on the monitor forwarded port. If this fails, 
.Nm
will kill the child ssh process (if it is still running) and start a new one; 
.It 5.
If the child ssh process dies for any other reason, 
.Nm
will attempt to start a new one.
.El
.Pp
.Ss Startup behaviour
.Pp
If the ssh session fails with an exit status of 1 on the very first 
try, 
.Nm
.Bl -tag -width Ds
.It 1.
will assume that there is some problem with syntax or the connection 
setup, and will exit rather than retrying;
.It 2.
There is a "starting gate" time. If the first ssh process fails within
the first few seconds of being started,
.Nm
assumes that 
it never made it "out of the starting gate", and exits. This is to handle
initial failed authentication, connection, etc. This time is 30 seconds
by default, and can be adjusted (see the AUTOSSH_GATETIME environment
variable below). If AUTOSSH_GATETIME is set to 0, then both behaviours 
are disabled: there is no "starting gate", and autossh will restart even 
if ssh fails on the first run with an exit status of 1.
.El
.Pp
.Ss Continued failures
.Pp
If the ssh connection fails and attempts to restart it fail in
quick succession, 
.Nm
will start delaying its attempts to
restart, gradually backing farther and farther off up to a
maximum interval of the 
.Nm
poll time (usually 10 minutes).
.Nm
can be "prodded" to retry by signalling it, perhaps with
SIGHUP ("kill -HUP").
.Pp
.Ss Connection setup
.Pp
As connections must be established unattended, the use of 
.Nm
requires that some form of automatic authentication be set up. The use
of RSAAuthentication with ssh-agent is the recommended method. The
example wrapper script attempts to check if there is an agent running
for the current environment, and to start one if there isn't.
.Pp
It cannot be stressed enough that you must make sure ssh works on its
own, that you can set up the session you want before you try to
run it under 
.Nm 
.
.Pp
If you are tunnelling and using an older version of ssh that does not
support the 
.Fl N
flag, you should upgrade (your version has security
flaws). If you can't upgrade, you may wish to do as rstunnel does, and
give ssh a command to run, such as "sleep 99999999999".
.Sh OPTIONS
.Bl -tag -width Ds
.It Fl M Ar port[:echo_port]
specifies the base monitoring port to use. Without the echo port,
this port and the port
immediately above it (
.Ar port
+ 1) should be something nothing else is
using. 
.Nm 
will send test data on the base monitoring port, and
receive it back on the port above. For example, if you specify "-M
20000", 
.Nm
will set up forwards so that it can send data on port
20000 and receive it back on 20001.
.Pp
Alternatively, a port for a remote echo service may be specified. This
should be port 7 if you wish to use the standard inetd echo service.
When an echo port is specified, only the specified monitor port is
used, and it carries the monitor message in both directions.
.Pp
Many people disable the echo service, or even disable inetd, so check
that this service is available on the remote machine. Some operating
systems allow one to specify that the service only listen on the 
localhost (loopback interface), which would suffice for this use.
.Pp
The echo service may also be something more complicated: perhaps
a daemon that monitors a group of ssh tunnels.
.Pp
Setting the monitor port to 0 turns the monitoring function off, and
autossh will only restart ssh upon ssh's exit. For example, if you are
using a recent version of OpenSSH, you may wish to explore using the
.Cm ServerAliveInterval
and
.Cm ServerAliveCountMax
options to have the SSH client exit if it finds itself no longer 
connected to the server. In many ways this may be a better solution than 
the monitoring port.
.It Fl f
causes autossh to drop to the background before running ssh. The
.Fl f 
flag is stripped from arguments passed to ssh. Note that there is a crucial
a difference between
.Fl f 
with autossh, and
.Fl f
with ssh: when used with
.Nm
ssh will be unable to ask for passwords or passphrases.
.It Fl V 
causes 
.Nm 
to display its version number and exit.
.Sh ENVIRONMENT
Other than the flag to set the connection monitoring port,
.Nm 
uses environment variables to control features. ssh seems to be 
still collecting letters for options, and this seems the easiest
way to avoid collisions.
.Bl -tag -width Ds
.It Ev AUTOSSH_DEBUG
If this variable is set, the logging level is set to to LOG_DEBUG, and
if the operating system supports it, syslog is set to duplicate log
entries to stderr.
.It Ev AUTOSSH_FIRST_POLL
Specifies the time to wait before the first connection test. Thereafter
the general poll time is used (see AUTOSSH_POLL below).
.It Ev AUTOSSH_GATETIME
Specifies how long ssh must be up before we consider it a successful
connection. The default is 30 seconds. Note that if AUTOSSH_GATETIME
is set to 0, then not only is the gatetime behaviour turned off, but
autossh also ignores the first run failure of ssh. This may be useful
when running autossh at boot.  
.It Ev AUTOSSH_LOGLEVEL
Specifies the log level, corresponding to the levels used by syslog;
so 0-7 with 7 being the chattiest.
.It Ev AUTOSSH_LOGFILE
Specifies that
.Nm
should use the named log file, rather than syslog.
.It Ev AUTOSSH_MAXLIFETIME
Sets the maximum number of seconds that the program should run. Once
the number of seconds has been passed, the ssh child will be killed
and the program will exit.
.It Ev AUTOSSH_MAXSTART
Specifies how many times ssh should be started. A negative number
means no limit on the number of times ssh is started. The default
value is -1.
.It Ev AUTOSSH_MESSAGE
Append message to echo message sent when testing connections.
.It Ev AUTOSSH_NTSERVICE 
(Cygwin only.) When set to "yes" , autossh sets up to run as an NT
service under cygrunsrv. This adds the -N flag for ssh if not already
set, sets the log output to stdout, and changes the behaviour on ssh
exit so that it will restart even on a normal exit.
.It Ev AUTOSSH_PATH
Specifies the path to the ssh executable, in case it is 
different than the path compiled in.
.It Ev AUTOSSH_PIDFILE
Write autossh pid to specified file.
.It Ev AUTOSSH_POLL
Specifies the connection poll time in seconds; default is 600 seconds.
If the poll time is less than twice the network timeouts (default 15
seconds) the network timeouts will be adjusted downward to 1/2 the
poll time.
.It Ev AUTOSSH_PORT
Sets the connection monitoring port. Mostly in case ssh appropriates
-M at some time. But because of this possible use, AUTOSSH_PORT
overrides the -M flag. A value of 0 turns the monitoring function off.
.Sh AUTHOR
.Nm
was written by Carson Harding.
.Sh SEE ALSO
.Xr ssh 1 ,
.Xr ssh-add 1 ,
.Xr ssh-agent 1 ,
.Xr ssh-keygen 1 ,
.Xr cygrunsrv 1 .