Using SSH to log in
Just as a butterfly emerges from its coccoon to explore the great wonders of the world, you, too, will also uncover the great wonders of Linux with the SRCF by your side. In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to log in to a UNIX-like shell and use the basics of the command line.
Much of the functionality offered by the SRCF is accessible via a text-mode ‘shell’ interface on our server — using this interface you can manipulate files on your website directly, as well as running other programs such as email software. When you get an SRCF account, you can connect to the server and issue commands by typing them. If you’re not used to this, don’t worry — it’s much less primitive than it sounds and very powerful!
Because you are remotely accessing our servers, as opposed to your own computer, we will need a communication protocol. The most widely used one is called SSH, secure shell protocol.
Linux or macOS
If you’re running a Unix-based computer (including macOS) then logging in is easy as it’s built into the system:
- Start your terminal
- Type in
- Enter your password when prompted
If you’re running a system without a native console, such as MS Windows, then things are slightly trickier. Not much though, you just have to go and get a console program. We recommend the PuTTY application, downloadable for free here.
- Run PuTTY
- Enter the server name as
shell.srcf.net, the protocol as SSH (port 22) and click to connect
- Enter your username and SRCF password when prompted
Now you’re in! Let’s see what this terminal is capable of!
ls. You should see a bunch of text printed in the
terminal. These are your directories and files. By default, you start
out in your home directory once you log in. The absolute path is
/home/CRSid. You should, at minimum, see a
public_html folder. As
you may have already discovered
ls stands for list! You can pass in
additional flags to change its output:
Now, try runnng
pwd. This stands for print working directory. Think
of this as a street sign. Right now, you’re somewhere in the middle of
complex and multi-layered file system on our shell server, which happens
to be your home directory.
pwd tells you where you are in this
The last command we’ll try is
cd public_html. This changes your
public_html. You’re now on a different street!
public_html directory is special. Any content placed here will be
served by our web server, Apache. Check out the tutorials to learn what
You can use
cd with either absolute or relative paths.
. represents your current directory. So
cd . should not do anything,
you can verify with
pwd to see if you’re in the same
directory. If you want to move up a directory you can use
If you want to go to your home directory you can use
~ has a special meaning like
.. does, it points to your home
directory. Can you guess what
cd ~/public_html does? Try it out and
see if you were right!
If you’re interested in what else you can do with the shell, check out our more advanced tutorial.
If you have any suggestions for how we could improve this documentation
please send us an email at
email@example.com or submit a Pull Request
Last modified on Tuesday Jul 13, 2021 by Charlie Jonas