I have to set up a tunnel between two hosts.

For this I use ssh in this way:


after that, I log in to my SSH_SERVER.

How can I avoid this feature?! I have only to set up a tunnel. I don't have to login into my SSH_SERVER...

I've tried the -N option, but it kept my shell busy.

  • SSH -N -L xx:xx:xx user@server & <-- have you tried that before ?
    – Lawrence
    Commented Nov 12, 2013 at 7:45
  • Hey, you have right. I've tried on another host and the -N option works. So I've discovered that the problem is on my ssh client (I don't know why, and I will search the reason). Thanks a lot!
    – Bau Miao
    Commented Nov 12, 2013 at 9:41
  • 2
    man ssh shows how: ssh -f -L 1234:localhost:6667 server.example.com sleep 10 && irc -c '#users' -p 1234 pinky The -f option backgrounds ssh and the remote command ``sleep 10'' is specified to allow an amount of time (10 seconds, in the example) to start the service which is to be tunnelled. If no connections are made within the time specified, ssh will exit. ```
    – lionello
    Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 7:02

3 Answers 3


As said in other posts, if you don't want a prompt on the remote host, you must use the -N option of SSH. But this just keeps SSH running without having a prompt, and the shell busy.

You just need to put the SSH'ing as a background task with the & sign :

ssh -N -L 8080:ww.xx.yy.zz:80 user@server &

This will launch the ssh tunnelling in the background. But some messages may appear, especially when you try to connect to a non-listening port (if you server apache is not launched). To avoid these messages to spawn in your shell while doing other stuff, you may redirect STDOUT/STDERR to the big void :

ssh -N -L 8080:ww.xx.yy.zz:80 user@server >/dev/null 2>&1 & 

Have fun with SSH.

  • 31
    You can also use ssh option -f instead of & and io redirection.
    – tkrennwa
    Commented Nov 13, 2013 at 13:49

-f -N is what you are looking for:


From the ssh man page:

-f Requests ssh to go to background just before command execution. This is useful if ssh is going to ask for passwords or passphrases, but the user wants it in the background. This implies -n.

-N Do not execute a remote command. This is useful for just forwarding ports (protocol version 2 only).

-n Redirects stdin from /dev/null (actually, prevents reading from stdin). This must be used when ssh is run in the background.

  • 8
    Once the tunnel is set up, how do you close it with this method?
    – magnetik
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 8:02
  • 25
    @magnetik and @neu242 the better is to use "master socket" ssh -N -f -M -S /tmp/file-sock -L port:server:port_to user@... so you can kill the connexion later with ssh -S /tmp/file -o exit user@.... (or kill). That way, no need to ps. You can tell to automatically create that file in ~/.ssh/config.
    – Metal3d
    Commented Dec 14, 2015 at 13:47
  • 3
    I mean "control socket" and not "master socket"
    – Metal3d
    Commented Dec 14, 2015 at 13:56
  • 18
    It should be ssh -S /tmp/file-sock -O exit, not -o en.wikibooks.org/wiki/OpenSSH/Cookbook/…
    – fetsh
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 15:08
  • 1
    This should be the accepted answer. Commented Apr 16, 2022 at 8:49

This is my experience of using ssh for connecting a computer without static ip address from a remote computer.This is required to manage projects in server (serving in LAN) with no static ip to use

Requirement for setup and demo:

  • Linux in with an ssh server with static IP ( call it boss.com )
  • Linux in with an ssh/web server with no static IP. (call it target)
  • Linux / Android phone with JuiceSSH

Ensure the following is in /etc/ssh/sshd_config:
GatewayPorts yes

Run following in target computer to use boss.com:1008 as web address for target

ssh -R 1008: [email protected]

Now you can excess target web server as boot.com:1008 from any device (try with browser from your mobile device)

Run following in target computer to connect target computer via ssh(at 2048 port)

ssh -R 1008: [email protected]

Now you can excess target computer with following command

ssh [email protected]:1008

Or use JuiceSSH from android phone to test

Accessing server with root password is not good idea.

Create user mytunnel in boss.com
replace root with mytunnel in above examples

Lastly do following to ensure that mytunnel user can do only tunneling work via boss.com

  • in /etc/passwd in boss.com, replace shell of mytunnel from /bin/bash to /bin/false

  • add -f -N in above commands
    ssh -f -N -R 1008: [email protected]
    ssh -f -N -R 1008: [email protected]

  • Now, user mytunnel can use only ssh-tunnel functionality from server

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