The problem 1.0

I'm working on a server that only supports two-factor auth (keypair auth is disabled). So every time my SFTP client wants to upload a file, it asks me for a token... after 3 minutes that becomes a not_very_nice UX.

The solution 1.0

So I learned about SSH multiplexing and now I can open one master connection manually (from the terminal), and all other ssh connections can be multiplexed on top, like so:

$ ssh example_com_master
Verification code: (/me enters the token code)
Password: (/me enters my pass)
Welcome to Ubuntu 14.04 blah blah....
Last login: Wed Oct  1 11:24:15 2014 from

Then, from another terminal, or by another piece of software:

$ ssh my.example.com
Last login: Wed Oct  1 16:34:45 2014 from

So, mission accomplished, no more entering 2FA token. And no password, for that matter, SSH FTW!


Host example_com_master
  HostName my.example.com
  User username
  PubkeyAuthentication no
  ControlMaster yes
  ControlPath ~/.ssh/sockets/example_com
  ControlPersist 10

Host my.example.com
  HostName my.example.com
  User username
  PubkeyAuthentication no
  ControlMaster no
  ControlPath ~/.ssh/sockets/example_com

Problem 2.0 (TLDR)

Some software (e.g. PyCharm IDE) use their own SSH library / binary / whatever! Meaning that nothing I type in ~/.ssh/config will affect it, AFAIK.

That's my current problem: is there a way to "trick" such software into using an already existing master connection?

An idea: because you can usually configure software to use a different port to connect to, I was wondering if it might be possible to set up some kind of tunneling that will multiplex incoming connections onto existing master. But my foo has failed me...


Main purpose is to connect to remote Python interpreter/debugger.

edit 2:

All the ports are closed other then 22 and 80. It is, however, possible to do:

remote$ ssh localhost:2222
(password or securekey login, both work)

but 2222 in only open for connections from localhost, and admins won't open any additional ports, saying "anyone could use it".

  • I might be misunderstanding your problem, but can't you get around it with a local ssh mount? That would turn your sftp action into a local copy, with the ssh being handled by the mount process which you can control.
    – Belrog
    Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 18:51
  • I should have mentioned that in the question... I need the SSH to run remote Python interpreter / debugger. I actually do have a sshfs mount in place for file sync :)
    – frnhr
    Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 18:54
  • I'm assuming you are working on some very specific bits of hardware remotely? Remote development is really painful. A local VM would be a better idea if you can make it work.
    – Belrog
    Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 18:59
  • True dat! But on this particular project there are several complications with setting up a local environment that can't be easily solved :(
    – frnhr
    Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 19:03
  • @Belrog I converted your answer to a comment. Please only post an answer if it actually answers the question. To ask for clarification, post a comment. That's what they're for.
    – terdon
    Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 19:22

1 Answer 1


Quite an interesting problem you've got.

The real solution would be to ask your sysadmin for help first.

If that's not an option, the next best thing is to have pyCharm's libssh or whatever it uses (I did some googling and couldn't figure it out) parse your `~/.ssh/config'.

If that's not possible, you might be able to run your own ssh daemon on the remote host listening on the loopback address and connect to it with a local forward.

To setup an unprivileged ssh daemon (copied from a link on the SF answer):

  $ pwd
  $ mkdir -p etc var/run
  $ cp /etc/sshd_config etc
  $ vi etc/sshd_config
  [Set `Port 2230']
  [Set `HostKey /home/<USER>/etc/ssh_host_rsa_key']
  [Set `UsePrivilegeSeparation no']
  [Set `PidFile /home/<USER>/var/run/sshd.pid']
  $ ssh-keygen -t rsa -f /home/<USER>/etc/ssh_host_rsa_key -N ''
  Generating public/private rsa key pair.
  Your identification has been saved in /home/<USER>/etc/ssh_host_rsa_key.
  Your public key has been saved in /home/<USER>/etc/ssh_host_rsa_key.pub.
  The key fingerprint is:
  02:5d:02:5d:e8:2e:c6:b9:4c:d9:93:6c:13:ef:5d:61 hein@vmbert2k8
  $ /usr/sbin/sshd -f /home/<USER>/etc/sshd_config -D

Now forward a local port to it (you will be logging in with 2fa here):

 ssh -L 2230:localhost:2230 example_com_master

And direct pyCharm to localhost:2230. You can also setup keypair auth on your custom sshd.

Note that this is a long shot, and your sysadmin may not appreciate it.

There's a big chance that pyCharm already uses OpenSSH for its ssh implementation. If that's so, adding multiplexing support to pyCharm would be way easier than the workaround I've proposed.

  • Thanks for the answer. The admins probably aren't going to allow me to run my own sshd (I doubt there is even a port available). But if I could get a separate sshd running on the server then I think I might not need to multiplex anything, just configure the server for keypair auth. Or are there some benefits that I missed?
    – frnhr
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 20:35
  • You're right about not needing multiplexing at all :). Also, I know I would be pissed off if a user did something like that without asking me first. Also if you're going to ask the sysadmin anyway, a much saner solution would be to not require 2fa from localhost. That's what I usually do anyway.
    – GnP
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 21:10
  • :) And if there were no 2fa from localhost, can the tunneling solve the problem?
    – frnhr
    Commented Oct 7, 2014 at 0:23
  • Exactly, if you don't require 2fa from localhost, connecting via a tunnel is like connecting locally. The sshd_config magic for it is Match Address PasswordAuthentication yes Probably followed by a single Match in a line of its own to close the section, if you're not adding this at the end of the file.
    – GnP
    Commented Oct 8, 2014 at 17:37

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