So I SSH into a Ubuntu server and try to open the file in a Mac program (Coda) and get an error:

Couldn't get a file descriptor referring to the console

Using the command

open myfile.html

This works in a Mac terminal. I hope there are common Unix commands that provide a way to bridge this so I can open directly and edit/save in the editor of my choice on the Mac.

3 Answers 3


The open command on Linux is unrelated; it is (on most distributions) another name for openvt, which starts a program in a new text console (a feature that isn't used much nowadays).

The command corresponding to OSX's open, on a modern Linux system, is xdg-open. However, that would open the file in a program running on the remote Linux machine, not locally on the Mac.

SSH provides a way to run remote commands from a remote prompt. It doesn't directly provide a way to access remote files. Most unices, including OSX, allow a remote directory to be mounted over SSHFS. You can create a directory on the Mac, say ~/ubuntuserver, and make the remote files accessible under this directory:

sshfs ubuntuserver.example.com: ~/ubuntuserver

There may be a Mac GUI for that (I wouldn't know).

To avoid authentication hassles, it is recommended to use a public key for authentication, and if your SSH is recent enough to support it, to activate master/slave connections in ~/.ssh/config.


open is an OS X command. When SSHing you are running commands on Ubuntu, not OS X.

You want to open a file locally? I believe Coda has SFTP support built in (so you could eschew the terminal entirely). Failing that, scp the file to your local system and open locally.

  • yes looks like I can only sftp in via code, which was wha tI was doing.
    – welovedesign
    Apr 4, 2012 at 9:25
  • I don't understand what I should do...
    – user226950
    Apr 14, 2017 at 12:12

Typically on a Linux shell you would use cat, more, or view to view a text file. But since you are looking at html you could also use links to see a nicer view of it. These are are "terminal applications", that work in a text interface.

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