Table of contents of the article:
When we began our adventure in the field of Linux systems, having few systems to manage (ten) we relied on the simple, free and very famous Putty that allowed us to connect remotely in SSH to our customers' systems to carry out the classic routine operations at command line.
However, over time, and with the Boom we have had since 2015, this dozen systems became hundreds, and to date thousands and working in a shared shared environment, for multiple operators, it would have been impossible to continue to use an excellent tool for the occasions of a freelance or private, but reductive and limited thinking from an enterprise perspective with the need not only to be able to complete the administration functions of Linux systems, but also to do it in the fastest, most efficient, easy way possible.
In this regard, we have focused on what today seems to be the only valid and noteworthy solution, faithful companion of every system administrator who needs to have infinite tools in a single tool to facilitate work, namely Mobaxterm.
What is Mobaxterm?
MobaXterm is a package of amazing tools for programmers, webmasters, IT administrators and virtually any user who needs to work on Linux, Unix or Mac operating systems such as. Provides a command line terminal to interact with the underlying system. Before delving into what MobaXterm is and how to install it for free on your computer, we will examine all the various features it offers to its users.
MobaXterm is yours Ultimate toolbox for remote processing . In a single Windows application, it provides loads of tailored features for programmers, webmasters, IT administrators, and virtually any user who needs to manage their remote jobs more easily.
MobaXterm provides all the important ones remote network tools (SSH, X11, RDP, VNC, FTP, MOSH, ...) ei Unix commands (bash, ls, cat, sed, grep, awk, rsync, ...) on the Windows desktop, in a single portable exe file which works immediately.
There are many benefits to having an application All-In-One network for your remote activities, such as when using SSH to connect to a remote server, a SFTP graphical browser it will automatically appear to edit your remote files directly. Your remote applications will also smoothly appear on the Windows desktop using the embedded X server.
First, MobaXterm provides not a terminal but the ability to open multiple terminals within a single window in tabbed mode. Each terminal can be for example for different purposes; one terminal can be connected to a remote shell via ssh while another is ftp to some other host.
MobaXterm allows you to start remote sessions. You can choose to create SSH, Telnet, Rlogin, RDP, VNC, XDMCP, FTP, SFTP or Serial sessions. Each session you start is automatically saved and displayed in the left sidebar.
When you run an SSH, TELNET or RLOGIN / RSH session you will be able to view your remote applications directly on your local Windows PC. In an SSH session, there is no need to set the “DISPLAY” variable as MobaXterm uses X11 forwarding to facilitate and protect your work.
SFTP graphic panel
Once connected to a remote host, the left panel changes to a Windows File Explorer-like view. By default it points to the home directory of the logged in user but you can change it by following the terminal folder by selecting the “Follow terminal folder” checkbox at the bottom. I used it strictly to download or upload files from my laptop to remote host locations. This is a really cool feature and it saves a lot of time since I don't have to open another session for ftp.
Definitely one of the most convenient features for the massive management of entire pool of machines in blocks of 16. Write once, execute everywhere: this tool allows you to execute the same commands on multiple servers at the same time.
MobaXterm allows you to start network daemons for remote access. No additional tools or runtimes are required to use these daemons. Although it may be a minor functionality in terms of utility, it does well understand the caliber of the project and the instrument.
MobaXterm offers some useful tools for system administrators, developers, webmasters and all users who need to work efficiently with their computer.
Remote Unix Desktop (XDMCP)
Thanks to MobaXterm you can work on your remote Solaris desktop as if you were working locally on your Windows computer using the XDMCP protocol.
Remote Windows Desktop (RDP)
Take control of your remote Windows computers / servers using the RDP protocol. Many RDP configuration settings are available in the session manager.
Support for macros
You can record macros in the MobaXterm terminal: everything you type in the terminal will be recorded to be able to play it later on other servers. This functionality is of infinite utility. Think of that difficult and complex syntax to memorize, you can save them with very eloquent names like “Search large files and sort”, “RAID status”, “Convert webp” and the like. Not only commands, but also code snippets to copy and paste into, for example, the wp-config file for us who work a lot on WordPress.
This is one of my favorites as by supporting many extensions, both programming and scripting language types, it greatly simplifies writing and maintaining your code. The possibility of changing the color schemes with a series of predefined schemes or through complete customization from scratch (custom) is an added value especially for those systems engineers who spend many hours at the end, perhaps in the night shifts, where the color scheme usually is he prefers low light such as white on black rather than black on white.
The MobaXterm embedded terminal can highlight syntax or use keyword coloring, even if you're connected to a remote server that doesn't support colors. This is especially useful when analyzing log files, modifying code, or trying to detect important keywords. You can even easily create your own syntax definitions.
MobaXterm Professional Edition gives you access to the “Customizer” software. This program allows you to generate customized copies of MobaXterm with your logo and default settings.
What are the real advantages of using Mobaxterm for a systems engineer?
The advantages are many and they are very important and impacting. If this were not the case, we would not have continued over the years to renew the license (economic at about € 50 / year) with extreme satisfaction, such as to dedicate a post also on our blog.
Listing them all would be very very expensive, so I am going to list with a bulleted list those that in my opinion are the valid reasons to embrace this fantastic tool and its very cheap license. Moreover, we find it highly unlikely that a system administrator really uses all the features made available and always in constant evolution.
However, from our experience in the field these are the reasons why we will continue to renew the license.
- You can have an ordered and organized list of all Hosts. Managing systems, especially when there are many, is not easy. A phone call arrives from the customer, asks you to check a process, you have to log in. What's the password? What is the customer? But are you referring to the Web server or the mail server? The function on the left sidebar allows you to graphically and visually organize the hosts with their mnemonic information, labels and nice icons that can also be customized.
- You can forget your passwords. We know that using the same password is wrong, just as we know that remembering tens of them is difficult and hundreds impossible, let alone thousands. Mobaxterm allows you to save the last successful SSH login, storing port, username and password. The next time, just double-click the icon to find yourself successfully connected to the desired host, without having to set up SSH authentication via public key.
- Transfer files directly with a drag and drop. Forget ineffective (not always available) systems like FTP or SFTP to transfer files to the host you're connected to. Forget the boredom of opening Filezilla or similar, remembering usernames and passwords and solving connection problems such as those with the firewall, active or passive transfer and the like. With Mobaxterm you will be able to browse the filesystem of your host graphically and use the classic drag and drop function to start file transfer with Secure Copy (SCP) within Mobaxterm without having to use third-party clients.
- Launch X-based graphical installations. Graphically use Linux or Unix systems equipped with the X graphical system, exporting graphical sessions to the local MobaXterm X server.
- Uses Remote Desktop, VNC for graphical sessions.
- Export and import settings and hosts on other corporate hosts. Periodically updates the settings of the entire systems staff, exporting and importing the Mobaxterm configuration (and all the host credentials) on all the workstations used for system management. The whole company synchronized in little effort for maximum efficiency.
- Export the mobile configuration to Termius. If you need to keep your smartphone updated with all company systems, you have the option to export the configuration and re-import it on Termius, the best client for mobile (iOS and Android) and allow you to manage the entire fleet.
- Copy and paste functionality on multiple terminals. We covered this above and it is really a strong point, when you find yourself having to do maintenance on clusters from hundreds of systems in a rather short time, without having to resort to systems like Ansible or Puppet.
The work of a linux systems engineer, often made up of urgent urgencies, downtime, and a profession with a very high level of responsibility, becomes much simpler, easier and more serene, without excel sheets, with annotated passwords, multiple tools to do different operations, and with a management of hosts and customers really well done and organized.
You arrive at the end of the working day with much more peace of mind, less stress and above all you realize that you have been much more productive, and company budgets are affected, obviously positively.
Free version and Commercial version.
Mobaxterm is offered in two editions, a completely free and a commercial one, with the features you can see below. If you use the software professionally, it is always recommended to purchase the professional version, given the extremely low cost of the license, for less than a coffee a week. It goes without saying that it is a very complete and professional tool and that in fact it is not even at all comparable to tools like Putty.
If you are interested in testing it, even in the Free version, we encourage you to do so, certain that once embraced and tested for a couple of hours you will never go back.
The only flaw, if we want to call it that is that it is a specific software for Microsoft Windows and does not run on MacOS or Linux, however the quality is so high, which justifies an emulation or virtualization environment such as Parallels, VirtualBox or VmWare just to make turn this jewel.