Setting up SSH for Remote Development

Choosing an SSH Implementation

Wing can either use the same command line tools that you use outside of Wing to connect to your remote systems, or you can use Wing's builtin SSH implementation to manage your secure SSH connections.

Using OpenSSH or PuTTY Executables

Wing can invoke the OpenSSH or PuTTY command line tools to implement secure access to remote systems. This is the default approach because it often makes the most sense to connect to remote systems the same way that you already do outside of Wing.

The following commands are used: ssh and scp (with OpenSSH) or plink.exe and pscp.exe (with PuTTY on Windows).

Wing looks for these tools on the PATH on the machine where it is running, and on Windows it also searches for PuTTY and Cygwin-provided ssh (in that order) in common installation locations, if it cannot find them on the PATH.

If Wing cannot find ssh or plink.exe it will fall back to using its built-in SSH implementation. If you instead want to use a command line OpenSSH or PuTTY executable then you will need to add its directory to your PATH or use Wing's Remote Development > SSH Implementation preference to specify the full path of the command. If this is set, Wing also tries to find scp (or pscp.exe for PuTTY on Windows) in the same directory as the specified ssh or plink.exe executable.

Using Wing's Built-in SSH Implementation

If you don't have OpenSSH or PuTTY on your system, or you want to avoid using them, you can ask Wing to use its own built-in SSH implementation to connect to your remote systems. This is done by setting Wing's Remote Development > SSH Implementation preference to Built In.

This implementation will try to use a private SSH key if present on your system, or you can specify one in the remote host configuration you will create in Wing. If no private SSH key is found or specified, Wing will attempt to authenticate with a login password.

Setting up SSH Access

To work with a remote host, you first need to set up secure SSH remote access outside of Wing Pro. You can configure this in any of the following ways:

(1) Create and use an SSH key pair and store your SSH private key into the keychain provided by an SSH user agent (such as OpenSSH's ssh-agent or PuTTY's pageant), so that SSH connections can be established without repeatedly reauthenticating.

(2) Create and use an SSH key pair by typing in your passphrase to unlock your private key whenever it is needed.

(3) Log into the remote system via SSH by typing your login password as needed.

The configuration of the sshd server on the remote system controls whether or not SSH key pairs and/or login passwords are allowed for authentication. This may depend on your company's security policy.

If you choose option (1) you will authenticate outside of Wing, using the keychain managed by your system's SSH user agent, before establishing a connection to the remote host. Depending on your security configuration, your system may store credentials and unlock your private key automatically at login, it may prompt to unlock your key when it is used by Wing, or it may be necessary for you to load your key into the SSH user agent manually before Wing tries to connect to the remote host.

If you choose option (2) or (3), Wing will prompt you for your private key passphrase or your login password as needed, once per session. See How Wing Stores Passphrases below for details.

Important: Option (1) is the only choice that works with OpenSSH on Windows. All three options work in all other cases.

If you cannot already log into the remote host using one of these options, please refer to SSH Setup Details before going any further.

How Wing Stores Passphrases

If you have configured your SSH client to require a passphrase to unlock your private key, or if you password authenticate with the remote system, then Wing will prompt you to enter these as needed.

Passphrases are stored in memory so they can be reused as needed, for example to reconnect to the remote host after the connection is dropped, or to start an SSH tunnel for a new debug session.

However, passphrases entered into Wing are never written to disk and thus must be re-entered each time Wing is restarted.

In the event that Wing fails to connect to a remote host, cached passphrases are purged and must be reentered. You can also force Wing to purge any cached credentials from the Remote Hosts dialog, by right-clicking on the host and selecting Clear Cached Credentials.

If you don't want Wing to ask for passphrases, you will need to create an SSH key pair and load your private key into an SSH user agent (option (1) above). This is described in SSH Setup Details.

Preventing Access to an SSH User Agent

To prevent Wing from ever trying to access a keychain provided by an SSH user agent like OpenSSH's ssh-agent or PuTTY's pageant, you can uncheck the Remote Development > Allow Access to SSH User Agent preference.

When this is done, you may need to specify which SSH private key to use in your Wing remote host configuration, and Wing will prompt for your SSH private key passphrase or login password, as needed.

Custom SSH Connection Responses

Some SSH configurations require additional responses on the command line, before the SSH connection can be made. For example, you may be prompted to select a two-factor authentication method.

In this case, you can configure your responses using Connection Responses under the Advanced tab in your remote host configuration. Responses may either be automatic with fixed values that are given in the configuration or collected from the user.

This is only relevant if you are not using Wing's built-in SSH implementation. See Configuring Remote Hosts for details.