Remote Access Using PuTTY and FileZilla


This document provides details on how to access on-site facilities from a remote Windows machine. For more detailed information on the underlying SSH (secure shell) technology upon which this is based, and for solutions for other platforms, see CUN/14.

Step One - Requirements

  1. A PC with a working installation of Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000 or XP
  2. A working Dial-up or broadband connection to your preferred ISP.
  3. A valid username and password on the ROE unix domain.

Step Two - Installing/Configuring Software

Two main packages are used to facilitate remote access:

PuTTY is a Windows based SSH client which can be used to create secure encrypted tunnels through the ROE firewall. These tunnels can be used to allow access to a number of services - we will focus here principally on e-mail and intranet access.

FileZilla is a Windows based file transfer client which can also use the SSH protocol to access files through the firewall.

Both programs have been repackaged with an installation/configuration interface specific to the ROE. In all cases, the packages can be run by simply downloading and launching the executable. Few, if any, choices will be given during the installation (this is by design - to simplify the process and help ensure consistency).

If you are using a machine managed by the IT Support Group, it should already have PuTTY and FileZilla installed. In that case, you only need to run the relevant configuration programs from the following links:

*Note that this configuration assumes that your e-mail inbox resides on the new Exchange server Hermes. Users with mailboxes still on Mercury (the old Exchange server) can continue to use their existing remote access setup (probably using Mindterm) in the meantime or use this alternative configuration program. Users with mailboxes on the Linux mail server should be able to run Pine or Mutt in the PuTTY console without the need for tunnels being configured.

If you are using a machine which is not managed by the IT Support Group and does not have PuTTY or FileZilla installed, the following installers can be used to carry out both the installation and configuration (assumes you have the necessary rights to install software).

Step Three - Configuring client software

E-mail access

To send and receive e-mail, you can simply configure your software to use localhost as both IMAP and SMTP server. Consult the documentation for your software on how to achieve this. If you have previously been accessing your e-mail using Mindterm/Outlook Express, there should be no need to change the configuration - just run PuTTY instead of Mindterm before running Outlook Express.

Intranet web access

Configure your web browser to use the automatic proxy configuration file:

This will cause your browser to use the ROE web cache to access internal web servers (e.g. intra, helpdesk, saturn) but go directly to any other pages. The location for changing this setting varies from browser to browser, here are locations for some of the more common browsers.

Browser Configuration
Browser Setting
Internet Explorer 4

View | Internet Options | Connection | Automatic Configuration | Configure...

Internet Explorer 5+

Tools | Internet Options | Connection | Dial-up settings | Settings....


Tools | Internet Options | Connection | LAN Settings....

(Note that you can define different settings for different dial-up and/or LAN configurations)

Mozilla FireFox 1.5 Tools | Options | General | Connection Settings
Netscape 4/6

Edit | Preferences... | Advanced | Proxies | Automatic Proxy Configuration


Step 4 - Using the Software

Once your software is installed and configured, using it is fairly straightforward. We will now describe some common tasks and how to achieve them.

Accessing e-mail

First, run up PuTTY if it is not running already. The simplest way is to use one of the shortcuts in your start menu (e.g. Start | All Programs | Putty | ROE-ssh0). Note that ssh0 and ssh1 are aliases and will always point to externally available SSH servers. When prompted, enter your Unix username and password. Once the login is complete, the PuTTY window can be minimised. Your Outlook Express (or alternate e-mail program) should now work as normal.

Accessing an intranet web server

If PuTTY is not already running, start it as described above under "Accessing e-mail". You should now be able to connect to any intranet sites which are configured in the autoconfig.pac file (e.g. intra, helpdesk, saturn). Note that you need to specify the full name of the server when entering the URL (e.g. rather than just http://intra).

Some commonly used URLs which you might wish to access remotely include:

Downloading a file from the project volume

Run up FileZilla. Open up the site manager (using the left hand toolbar icon or via File | Site Manager...). Double click on the relevant site definition - in this case "ssh0 (/net/vulcan/Projects)" or "ssh1 (/net/vulcan/Projects)". Enter your unix password when prompted (this may seem counterintuitive as you are accessing a Windows server but the initial connection is to the unix ssh server). You should then be presented with a typical two-pane view - local filesystems on the left, the remote filesystem on the left. You can navigate both of these panes in the usual way (double clicking on folders to drill down). Note however that double clicking on a file in either pane will initiate a transfer of that file to the directory currently displayed in the other pane. Multiple files/folders can be transfered (in either direction) by selecting them then right clicking to choose either upload or download. Transfers can also be initiated using "drag and drop" from one pane to another. All of this should be fairly intuitive to anyone familiar with managing files using Windows Explorer. Note however that over slow connections there may be a significant delay (in particular when browsing folders containing lots of files).

Downloading a file from a different volume

Note that Site Manager defines sites for Windows home directories and Project volumes. These are there as a convenience - in practice, any network share which is visible from the unix network can be accessed in this way. Use one of the predefined sites to connect as above, then enter the path to the files you want in the "Remote Site" box and press enter. Note that the unix path to the filesystem must be used, not the more familiar Windows path (e.g. to access F:\temp use /net/jupiter/sys/temp). Once this is done, you may wish to save that configuration for future use using File | Copy connection to Site Manager.

Looking up the staff list

While there may be several other ways of accessing this information, if you happen to have PuTTY running already it is quick and simple to look up ROE staff information by typing "staff [search string]" in the PuTTY console.

Running X applications

Assuming you are running X-server software (e.g. eXceed) on your local PC, simply run the X application from the PuTTY terminal window. Note that you should not attempt to configure the DISPLAY setting (e.g. using setenv or xdisplay) as ssh handles this automatically.