Archive for February, 2023

Saint Martyr Kirana of Solun (Thessaloniki) a Bulgarian macedonian saint martyred on 28 February 1751

Tuesday, February 28th, 2023


Saint Martyr Kirana (Kerana) was born in the first half of the 18th century 1731 A.D. in the Thessaloniki village of (Ossa) Avisona, in the family of pious Christians in Ottoman Macedonia which at that times was highly inhabited with Bulgarians who held that name of the time, and even today many Bulgarian have this archaic name.

A slim and beautiful girl, she was taken by a janissary (stolen kids from Bulgarian or other non-turkish nations who were grown and included in the Ottoman empire’s governance or army) who was a subashiya (tax collector who collected 10% of all the non-turks income) in her village with the idea to make her one of his wifes. After Kirana rejected him, he abducted her with a gang of janissaries.

He took her to Thessalonica, where his friends testified falsely that the girl had promised to become his wife and accept their faith. Kirana proved to be a brave and steadfast Christian – she neither wanted to marry the rapist nor convert to Islam. Because of this, she was chained and thrown into prison. The commandant of the fortress, Ali Bey, allowed the janissaries to enter to Kirana’s prison and torture her as they wished. As we read from her left Biography:

"One beat her with a tree, – another – with a knife, a third – with kicks, a fourth – with fists, until they left her near dead…

And at night the locksmith of the prison hung her by the arms and grabbed any tree found and beat her mercilessly…".


Thus, for a week, Kirana was severely tortured. On the seventh day (February 28, 1751) she died. And then a miracle happened –


"… a great light shone in the prison, came down from above from the roof like lightning, which surrounded the body of the martyr, spilled over the whole prison and illuminated it as if the whole sun had entered inside. It was then the fourth or fifth hour of the night (t . f. 10-11 o'clock at night)." In the morning, the Turks allowed the Christians to take the body of the martyr. They buried her outside the city, in the Christian cemetery there. Her clothes were divided among the faithful as sacred. Later, an unknown scribe compiled her life in Greek. The Church honors the memory of the holy martyr Kirana and commemorates her on February 28.

Biography source: Plamen Pavlov, Hristo Temelski Saints and spiritual leaders from Macedonia with minor modifications

Switching from PasswordSafe to Keepass database, migrating .psafe3 to .kdbx format howto

Thursday, February 23rd, 2023


I have been using PasswordSafe for many years within my job location as system administrator on the Windows computers I do use as dumb hosts to administrate remotely via ssh servers, develop code in bash / perl or just store different SysAdmin management tools and interfaces passwords. The reason behind was simply that I come out from a Linux background as I've used for daily Sysadmin job for many years GNU / Linux and there I always prefer GNOME (gnome GTK interface) in favour of KDE's (QT Library), and whence I came to work for the "Evil" Windows oriented world of corporations  for the sake of Outlook use and Office 365 as well as Citrix accessibility i've become forced by the circumstances to use Windows. 
Hence for a PasswordManager for Windows back in the years, I preferred the simplicity of interface of PasswordSafe instead of Keepass which always reminded me of the nasty KDE.
PasswordSafe is really cool and a handy program and it works well, but recetnly when I had to store many many passwords and easily navigate through each of it I realized, by observing colleagues, that KeePass as of time of writting this article is much more Powerful and easy to use, as I can see all records of a searched passwords on a Single screen, instead of scrolling like crazy with PasswordSafe through the passowrds.

I didn’t really feel like cutting and pasting every field for all my passwords (plus I started experiencing some PasswordSafe copy / paste passwords issues – maybe not related to PasswordSafe itself so this was the turning point I decided to migrate to Keepass.

For that, started looking at the import export functions for each program. 

After a quick search, I found few articles online explaining on how the migration of PasswordSafe to KeePass can be easily handled as the versions of Keepass and Password safe are moving all the time, of course usually some of the guides to be found online are never competely upto date, so I had to slightly modify one of the articles and come up with this one 🙂 .

  •  My PasswordSafe program that keeps my account password records and notes is version is
    V 3.59 built on May 28 2022 and is running on my Windows 10 OS 64 bit release
  • The installed KeePass version to where I have migrated the Pwsafe password database Successfully is 2.48 64 Bit
  1. Use the Password Safe function to export to XML file Format
    (File -> Export To -> XML Format )



  2. Import the text file into KeePass
    (File->Import From-> Password Safe XML file)



This process worked quite fine. All of the passwords were imported .
Despite the importing (expected small glitches – please recheck that all was imported fine, before joy), the process is quicker than copy/pasting every field for each entry.

For those of you who are more worried about security than I am, you know this is a very insecure method to transfer passwords. For others, you may wish to export the (unencrypted) text file to a Veracrypt – that is a Truecypt fork (as nowadays obsolete unmaintaned and probably insecury) – a Free Open-Source On-The-Fly Disk Encryption Software to prepare  Veracrypt  partition and / or use Eraser on the text file once you’re finished with it or use another of the free Veracrypt open-source (free software) alternatives such DiskCryptor or even the proprietary Windows BitLocker / CipherShed / Axcrypt or some other encryption alternative software for Windows XP / 2000 / 7 10 that is out there.

NB! Please  don’t do this on a public computer or a PC that you don't administrate.
You never know who might find your passwords or might be sniffing on your OS, as today there are so many devices that perhaps are hacked and listening and collecting password datas  🙂

That's it now I enjoy my KeePass but I'm thankful to PasswordSafe developers, who have easified my password management Virtual life for years 🙂
Any hints on how you migrated PasswordSafe to Keepass are mostly welcome. Also will be nice to hear of hard-core PasswordSafe hints or plugins that can power-up the password storage, maybe I can get convinced back to return back to PasswordSafe 🙂

Linux extending life time for a damaged hard drive server tricks on a live server. Force fcsk on next reboot.Read-only file system error solutions

Friday, February 17th, 2023


In our daily work as system administrators we have some very old Legacy systems running Clustered High Availability proxies using CRM (Cluster Resource Manager) and some legacy systems still using Heartbeat to manage the cluster instead of the newer and modern Corosync variant.

The HA cluster is only 2 nodes Linux machine and running the obscure already long time unsupported version of Redhat 5.11 (Ootpa) who was officially became stable distant year 1998 (yeath the years were good) and whose EOL (End of Life) has been reached long time ago and the OS is no longer supported, however for about 14 years the machines has been running perfectly fine until one of the Cluster nodes managed by ocf::heartbeat:IPAddr2 , that is  /etc/ha.d/resource.d/IPAddr2 shell script. Yeah for the newbies Heartbeat Application Cluster in Linux does work like that it uses a number of extendable pair of shell scripts written for different kind of Network / Web / Mail / SQL or whatever services HA management.

The first node configured however, started failing due to some errors like:

EXT3-fs error (device dm-1): ext3_journal_start_sb: Detected aborted journal
sd 0:2:0:0: rejecting I/O to offline device
Aborting journal on device sda1.
sd 0:2:0:0: rejecting I/O to offline device
printk: 159 messages suppressed.
Buffer I/O error on device sda1, logical block 526
lost page write due to I/O error on sda1
sd 0:2:0:0: rejecting I/O to offline device
sd 0:2:0:0: rejecting I/O to offline device
ext3_abort called.
EXT3-fs error (device sda1): ext3_journal_start_sb: Detected aborted journal
Remounting filesystem read-only
sd 0:2:0:0: rejecting I/O to offline device
sd 0:2:0:0: rejecting I/O to offline device
sd 0:2:0:0: rejecting I/O to offline device
sd 0:2:0:0: rejecting I/O to offline device
sd 0:2:0:0: rejecting I/O to offline device
megaraid_sas: FW was restarted successfully, initiating next stage…
megaraid_sas: HBA recovery state machine, state 2 starting…
megasas: Waiting for FW to come to ready state
megasas: FW in FAULT state!!
FW state [-268435456] hasn't changed in 180 secs
megaraid_sas: out: controller is not in ready state
megasas: waiting_for_outstanding: after issue OCR. 
megasas: waiting_for_outstanding: before issue OCR. FW state = f0000000
megaraid_sas: pending commands remain even after reset handling. megasas[0]: Dumping Frame Phys Address of all pending cmds in FW
megasas[0]: Total OS Pending cmds : 0 megasas[0]: 64 bit SGLs were sent to FW
megasas[0]: Pending OS cmds in FW :

The result out of that was a frequently the filesystem of the machine got re-mounted as Read Only and of course that is
quite bad if you have a running processess of haproxy that should be able to be living their and take up some Web traffic
for high availability and you run all the traffic only on the 2nd pair of machine.

This of course was a clear sign for a failing disks or some hit bad blocks regions or as the messages indicates, some
problem with system hardware or Raid SAS Array.

The physical raid on the system, just like rest of the hardware is very old stuff as well.

[root@haproxy_lb_node1 ~]# lspci |grep -i RAI
01:00.0 RAID bus controller: LSI Logic / Symbios Logic MegaRAID SAS 2108 [Liberator] (rev 05)

The produced errors not only made the machine to auto-mount its root / filesystem in Read-Only mode but besides has most
likely made the machine to automatically reboot every few days or few times every day in a raw.

The second Load Balancer node2 did operated perfectly, and we thought that we might just keep the broken machine in that half running
and inconsistent state for few weeks until we have built the new machines with Pre-Installed new haproxy cluster with modern
RedHat Linux 8.6 distribution, but since we have to follow SLAs (Service Line Agreements) with Customers and the end services behind the
High Availability (HA) Haproxy cluster were at danger … 

We as sysadmins had the task to make our best to try to stabilize the unstable node with disk errors for the system to servive
and be able to normally serve traffic (if node2 that is in a separate Data center fails due to a hardware or electricity issues etc.)

Here is few steps we took, that has hopefully improved the situation.

1. Make backups of most important files of high importance

Always before doing anything with a broken system, prepare backup of the most important files, if that is a cluster that should be a backup of the cluster configurations (if you don't have already ones) backup of /etc/hosts / backup of any important services configs /etc/haproxy/haproxy.cfg /etc/postfix/postfix.cfg (like it was my case), preferrably backup of whole /etc/  any important files from /root/ or /home/users* directories backup of at leasts latest logs from /var/log etc.

2. Clear up all unnecessery services scripts from the server

Any additional Softwares / Services and integrity checking tools (daemons) / scripts and cron jobs, were immediately stopped and wheter unused removed.

E.g. we had moved through /etc/cron* to check what's there,

# ls -ld /etc/cron.*
drwx—— 2 root root 4096 Feb  7 18:13 /etc/cron.d
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 Feb  7 17:59 /etc/cron.daily
-rw-r–r– 1 root root    0 Jul 20  2010 /etc/cron.deny
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 Jan  9  2013 /etc/cron.hourly
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 Jan  9  2013 /etc/cron.monthly
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 Aug 26  2015 /etc/cron.weekly


And like well professional butchers removed everything unnecessery that could trigger any extra unnecessery disk read / writes to HDD.

E.g. just create

# mkdir -p /root/etc_old/{/etc/cron.d,\


And moved all unnecessery cron job scripts like:

1. nmon (old school network / memory / hard disk console tool for monitoring and tuning server parameters)
2. clamscan / freshclam crons
3. mlocate (the script that is taking care for periodic run of updatedb command to keep the locate command to easily search
for files inside the DB to put less read operations on disk in case if you need to find file (e.g. prevent yourself to everytime
run cmd like: find / . -iname '*whatever_you_look_for*'
4. cups cron jobs
5. logwatch cron
6. rkhunter stuff
7. logrotate (yes we stopped even logrotation trigger job as we found the server was crashing sometimes at the same time when
the lograte job to rotate logs inside /var/log/* was running perhaps leading to a hit of the I/O read error (bad blocks).

Also inspected the Administrator user root cron job for any unwated scripts and stopped two report bash scripts that were part of the PCI tightened Security procedures.
Therein found script responsible to periodically report the list of installed packages and if they have not changed, as well a script to periodically report via email the list of
/etc/{passwd,/etc/shadow} created users, used to historically keep an eye on the list of users and easily see if someone
has created new users on the machine. Those were enabled via /var/spool/cron/root cron jobs, in other cases, on other machines if it happens for you
it is a good idea to check out all the existing user cron jobs and stop anything that might be putting Read / Write extra heat pressure on machine attached the Hard drives.

# ls -al /var/spool/cron/
total 20
drwx——  2 root root 4096 Nov 13  2015 .
drwxr-xr-x 12 root root 4096 May 11  2011 ..
-rw——-  1 root root  133 Nov 13  2015 root

3. Clear up old log files and any files unnecessery

Under /var/log and /home /var/tmp /var/spool/tmp immediately try to clear up the old log files.
From my past experience this has many times made the FS file inodes that are storing on a unbroken part (good blocks) of the hard drive and
ready to be reused by newly written rsyslog / syslogd services spitted files.

!!! Note that during the removal of some files you might hit a files stored on a bad blocks that might lead to a unexpected system reboot.

But that's okay, don't worry most likely after a hard reset by a technician in the Datacenter the machine will boot again and you can enjoy
removing remaining still files to send them to the heaven for old files.


4. Trigger an automatic system file system check with fsck on next boot

The standard way to force a Linux to aumatically recheck its Root filesystem is to simply create the /forcefsck to root partition or any other secondary disk partition you would like to check.

# touch /forcefsck

# reboot

However at some occasions you might be unable to do it because, the / (root fs) has been remounted in ReadOnly mode, yackes …

Luckily old Linux distibutions like this RHEL 5.1, has a way to force a filesystem check after reboot fsck and identify any
unknown bad-blocks and hopefully succceed in isolating them, so you don't hit into the same auto-reboots if the hard drive or Software / Hardware RAID
is not in terrible state
, you can use an option built in in /sbin/shutdown command the '-F'

   -F     Force fsck on reboot.

Hence to make the machine reboot and trigger immediately fsck:

# shutdown -rF now

Just In case you wonder why to reboot before check the Filesystem. Well simply because you need to have them unmounted before you check.

In that specific case this produced so far a good result and the machine booted just fine and we crossed the fingers and prayed that the machine would work flawlessly in the coming few weeks, before we finalize the configuration of the substitute machines, where this old infrastructure will be migrated to a new built cluster with new Haproxy and Corosync / Pacemaker Cluster on a brand new RHEL.

NB! On newer machines this won't work however as shutdown command has been stripped off this option because no SystemV (SystemInit) or Upstart and not on SystemD newer services architecture.

5. Hints on checking the hard drives with fsck

If you happen to be able to have physical access to the remote Hardare machine via a TTY[1-9] Console, that's even better and is the standard way to do it but with this specific case we had no easy way to get access to the Physical server console.

It is even better to go there and via either via connected Monitor (Display) or KVM Switch (Those who hear KVM switch first time this is a great device in server rooms to connect multiple monitors to same Monitor Display), it is better to use a some of the multitude of options to choose from for USB Distro Linux recovery OS versions or a CDROM / DVD on older machines like this with the Redhat's recovery mode rolled on.
After mounting the partition simply check each of the disks
e.g. :

# fsck -y /dev/sdb
# fsck -y /dev/sdc

Or if you want to not waste time and look for each hard drive but directly check all the ones that are attached and known by Linux distro via /etc/fstab definition run:

# fsck -AR

If necessery and you have a mixture of filesystems for example EXT3 , EXT4 , REISERFS you can tell it to omit some filesystem, for example ext3, like that:

# fsck -AR -t noext3 -y

To skip fsck on mounted partitions with fsck:

# fsck -M /dev/sdb

One remark to make here on fsck is usually fsck to complete its job on various filesystem it uses other external component binaries usually stored in /sbin/fsck*

ls -al /sbin/fsck*
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root  55576 20 яну 2022 /sbin/fsck*
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root  43272 20 яну 2022 /sbin/fsck.cramfs*
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root      9  4 юли 2020 /sbin/fsck.exfat -> exfatfsck*
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root      6  7 юни 2021 /sbin/fsck.ext2 -> e2fsck*
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root      6  7 юни 2021 /sbin/fsck.ext3 -> e2fsck*
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root      6  7 юни 2021 /sbin/fsck.ext4 -> e2fsck*
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root  84208  8 фев 2021 /sbin/fsck.fat*
-rwxr-xr-x 2 root root 393040 30 ное 2009 /sbin/fsck.jfs*
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 125184 20 яну 2022 /sbin/fsck.minix*
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root      8  8 фев 2021 /sbin/fsck.msdos -> fsck.fat*
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root    333 16 дек 2021 /sbin/fsck.nfs*
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root      8  8 фев 2021 /sbin/fsck.vfat -> fsck.fat*

6. Using tune2fs to  adjust tunable filesystem parameters on ext2/ext3/ext4 filesystems (few examples)

a) To check whether really the filesystem was checked on boot time or check a random filesystem on the server for its last check up date with fsck:

#  tune2fs -l /dev/sda1 | grep checked
Last checked:             Wed Apr 17 11:04:44 2019

On some distributions like old Debian and Ubuntu, it is even possible to enable fsck to log its operations during check on reboot via changing the verbosity from NO to YES:

# sed -i "s/#VERBOSE=no/VERBOSE=yes/" /etc/default/rcS

If you're having the issues on old Debian Linuxes  and not on RHEL  it is possible to;

b) Enable all fsck repairs automatic on boot

by running via:

# sed -i "s/FSCKFIX=no/FSCKFIX=yes/" /etc/default/rcS

c) Forcing fcsk check on for server attached Hard Drive Partitions with tune2fs

# tune2fs -c 1 /dev/sdXY

Note that:
tune2fs can force a fsck on each reboot for EXT4, EXT3 and EXT2 filesystems only.

tune2fs can trigger a forced fsck on every reboot using the -c (max-mount-counts) option.
This option sets the number of mounts after which the filesystem will be checked, so setting it to 1 will run fsck each time the computer boots.
Setting it to -1 or 0 resets this (the number of times the filesystem is mounted will be disregarded by e2fsck and the kernel).

 For example you could:

d) Set fsck to run a filesystem check every 30 boots, by using -c 30 

# tune2fs -c 30 /dev/sdXY

e) Checking whether a Hard Drive has been really checked on the boot


#  tune2fs -l /dev/sda1 | grep checked
Last checked:             Wed Apr 17 11:04:44 2019

e) Check when was the last time the file system /dev/sdX was checked:

# tune2fs -l /dev/sdX | grep Last\ c
Last checked:             Thu Jan 12 20:28:34 2017

f) Check how many times our /dev/sdX filesystem was mounted

# tune2fs -l /dev/sdX | grep Mount
Mount count:              157

g) Check how many mounts are allowed to pass before filesystem check is forced

# tune2fs -l /dev/sdX | grep Max
Maximum mount count:      -1

7. Repairing disk / partitions via GRUB fsck.mode and kernel module options

It is also possible to force a on boot via GRUB, but that usually is not an option someone would like as the machine might fail too boot if it hards to repair hardly, however in difficult situations with failing disks temporary enabling it is good idea.

This can be done by including for grub initial config

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash fsck.mode=force"

fsck.mode=force – will force a fsck each time a system boot and keeping that value enabled for a long time inside GRUB is stupid for servers as

sometimes booting could be severely prolonged because of the checks especially with servers with many or slow old hard drives. – will make the fsck try to repair if it finds bad blocks when checking (be absolutely sure you know, what you're doing if passing this options)

The options can be also set via editing the GRUB boot screen, if you have physical access to the server and don't want to reload the grub loader and possibly make the machine unbootable on next boot.

8. Few more details on how /etc/fstab disk fsck check parameters values for Systemd Linux machines works

The "proper" way on systemd (if we can talk about proper way on Linux) to runs fsck for each filesystem that has a fsck is to pass number greater than 0 set in
/etc/fstab (last column in /etc/fstab), so make sure you edit your /etc/fstab if that's not the case.

The root partition should be set to 1 (first to be checked), while other partitions you want to be checked should be set to 2.

Example /etc/fstab:

# /etc/fstab: static file system information.

/dev/sda1  /      ext4  errors=remount-ro  0  1
/dev/sda5  /home  ext4  defaults           0  2

The values you can put here as a second number meaning is as follows:
0 – disabled, that is do not check filesystem
1 – partition with this PASS value has a higher priority and is checked first. This value is usually set to the root / partition
2 – partitions with this PASS value will be checked last

a) Check the produced log out of fsck

Unfortunately on the older versions of Linux distros with SystemV fsck log output might be not generated except on the physical console so if you have a kind of duplicator device physical tty on the display port of the server, you might capture some bad block reports or fixed errors messages, but if you don't you might just cross the fingers and hope that anything found FS irregularities was recovered.

On systemd Linux machines the fsck log should be produced either in /run/initramfs/fsck.log or some other location depending on the Linux distro and you should be able to see something from fsck inside /var/log/* logs:

# grep -rli fsck /var/log/*

Close it up

Having a system with failing disk is a really one of the worst sysadmin nightmares to get. The good news is that most of the cases we're prepared with some working backup or some work around stuff like the few steps explained to mitigate the amount of Read / Writes to hard disks on the failing machine HDDs. If the failing disk is a primary Linux filesystem all becomes even worse as every next reboot, you have no guarantee, whether the kernel / initrd or some of the other system components required to run the Core Linux system won't break up the normal boot. Thus one side changes on the hard drives is a risky business on ther other side, if you're in a situation where you have a mirror system or the failing system is just a Linux server installed without a Cluster pair, then this is not a big deal as you can guarantee at least one of the nodes still up, unning and serving. Still doing too much of operations with HDD is always a danger so the steps described, though in most cases leading to improvement on how the system behaves, the system should be considered totally unreliable and closely monitored not only by some monitoring stuff like Zabbix / Prometheus whatever but regularly check the systems state via normal SSH logins. It is important if you have some important datas or logs on the system that are not synchronized to a system node to copy them before doing any of the described operations. After all minimal is backuped, proceed to clear up everything that might be cleared up and still the machine to continue providing most of its functionalities, trigger fsck automatic HDD check on next reboot, reboot, check what is going on and monitor the machine from there on.

Hopefully the few described steps, has helped some sysadmin. There is plenty of things which I've described that might go wrong, even following the described steps, might not help if the machines Storage Drives / SAS / SSD has too much of a damage. But as said in most cases following this few steps would improve the machine state.

Wish you the best of luck!


iSH, the best free SSH / Telnet client for iOS iPhone, iPad equivallent of MobaXterm and fully functional Alpine Linux emulator

Wednesday, February 8th, 2023


Since few months I've switched my old BLU r1 HD Phone (a great old low budget phone for its price) to a friend's iPhone 10 ( X ) who gifted it for me. Coming from Android world, everyone who has experience with it is a pain in the ass as some of the Apps, which are into Google's play store does not have the same equivalent into Apple's install Package manager tool AppStore. Some of the crucial tools which I was interested as a freshly new migrated user from Android to iPhone was to have a decent SSH / Telnet client and Terminal, with which I can easily connect to my Linux servers both home and work. 

As Android Phone user, to connect and manage my SSH sessions I used most often some of the most popular Connectbot / SSHDroid / JuiceSSH.
On Android I've usually installed all of these tools but most frequently used Connectbot, which quickly become my favourite SSH client for Android over time.

The reasons why I really loved Connectbot and used it on Android OS in short:

  • It is Completely free
  • Ad-free
  • Open-source (too bad not Free software but still step better)
  • Copy and paste text between Applications
  • Customizable interface (i.e. font size, keyboard layout, SSH auth agent, etc.)


I've seen some people used and preferred Termius but never myself really liked this client, as it was including some Advertisements or for don't remember why reason.
Switching to iOS mobile operating system, of course was quite a shock especially the moment I found out the standard loved SSH Remote Client programs are used are not available or have only a paid version. Thus it took me quite a while of a research and googling until I found some decent stuff.


Tried for a time with Termius as well but again, its Ads and lack of some functionality pissed me off, so I've moved on to Shelly.


Shelly is really not a bad tool but has limitation over the SSH sessions you can add and other limitations, which can only be unlocked with an "Upgrade", to its paid version, thus I decided after few weeks of attempts to make it my remote server management mobile tool for iPhone, I've dropped it off as well.

Then I found the Blink Shell App – Blink Shell is a professional, desktop grade terminal for iOS. As overall the tool is really great and is easy to use but again to have it used in its full power you need the paid version and until you pay for it every now and then you got interruption of your shell for some really annoying ads.
Thus even though I used it for a times this few tools with whom basicly you can do basic remote ssh / telnet session operations eventually,  started looking for a better SSH Client Free alternative for iPhone Users.

Then came a friend at home for a dinner my dear friend Milen (Static) and he show me iOS.
The moment I saw this tool I totally loved it, for its simplicity and its resemblance to a classical TTY Physical old Linux console I used back in the days and its ability to resemble easily any improved functionaltiy through simple screen (multiple session management) command tool or tmux.

Wait, what's iSH ? And why it is the Best SSH / Telnet client to manage your servers remotely on iOS Mobiles (iPhone and IPads) ? 

iSH is a project to get a Linux shell environment running locally on your iOS device, using a usermode x86 emulator.

In other wors iSH is Linux emulator with busybox and a package ports for many of the standard Linux tools you get by simple apt-get / yum or if I have to compare you get via the MobaXterm's advanced apt-cyg (Cygwin packages) tool capabilities.

Once iSH is installed it comes with pre-installed apk command line package management tool, with which you can install stuff like openssh-client / screen / tmux / mc (midnight commander) etc. apk, is an apt like command like tool which uses as a basis for installing its packages Alpine Linux repositories.
Alpine Linux is perhaps little known as it is not one of these main stream disributions, such as Fedora or Ubuntu, but for those more concerned about security  Alpine Linux is well known as it is a security-oriented, lightweight Linux distribution based on musl libc and busybox. What makes the Linux even more attractive and perhaps the reason why the iSH developers decided to use it as a basis for their iSH emulator is it being actively developed and its tightened security makes it a good compliment to the quite closed and security focused mobile platform iOS.

iSH is available straight from AppStore , so to use it install it and run it (it is really a great news that iOS does not require iphone to be jailbreak – ed, and it is an ordinary installable software straight from AppStore):
iSH, already comes with some of the standard programs you would expect in a Linux environment such as Vi, wget, zip / unzip, and tar.
However to fit it better for my use over ssh and improve its capabilities, as well as support and use multiple Virtual windows ssh, just like you do on a Linux xterm
run from ish shell: 

# apk add openssh-client
# apk add screen
# apk add vim
# apk add mc




I also like to have a Midnight Commander and VIM Text editor installed out of the box to be able to move around in Ncurses interface through my iPhone.


Note that, just like most GNU / Linux distributions, iOS shell will run a normal bash shell.
From there on to use iSH as my default SSH client and enable my just installed GNU screen some Windowing beauty for readability whence I use the screen with multiple ssh logins to different servers as well make the screen Virtual consoles to have ability for scroll back and scroll up of console text to work, I do set up the following .screenrc inside my /home/iPhoneuser

The .screenrc to setup on the iSH to easify your work with screen is as follows:

# An alternative hardstatus to display a bar at the bottom listing the
# windownames and highlighting the current windowname in blue. (This is only
# enabled if there is no hardstatus setting for your terminal)
hardstatus on
hardstatus alwayslastline
hardstatus string "%{.bW}%-w%{.rW}%n %t%{-}%+w %=%{..G} %H %{..Y} %m/%d %C%a "
# Enable scrolling fix the annoying screen scrolling problem
termcapinfo xterm* ti@:te@
# Scroll up
bindkey -d "^[[5S" eval copy "stuff 5\025"
bindkey -m "^[[5S" stuff 5\025

# Scroll down
bindkey -d "^[[5T" eval copy "stuff 5\004"
bindkey -m "^[[5T" stuff 5\004

# Scroll up more
bindkey -d "^[[25S" eval copy "stuff \025"
bindkey -m "^[[25S" stuff \025

# Scroll down more
bindkey -d "^[[25T" eval copy "stuff \004"
bindkey -m "^[[25T" stuff \004

You can download the same .screenrc file from here straight with wget from the console:

# wget

Run GNU screen manager


 # screen

You will end up with a screen session, to open a new session for Virtual Terminal use virtual keyboard from ISH and Press

CTRL + A + C

To open other Virtual Windows inside screen just press CTRL + A + C as many times as you need it, each session will appear ina small window on the down corner as you can see in screenshot


To move across the Screen unnamed 3 Virtual Windows 0 ash 1 ash and 2 ash use the Virtual keyboard

for next WIndow use key combination:

CTRL + A + N (where + is just to indicate you have to press them once after another and not actually press the + 🙂 )

For Previous Window use:

CTRL + A + P

Or use CTRL + A and type 

:number 3 (where number is the number of window)

The available iSH commands without adding any further packages which are part of the busybox install are as follows:

Available /bin/ directory commands:

arch  ash  base64  bbconfig  busybox  cat  chgrp  chmod  chown  conspy  cp  date  dd  df  dmesg  dnsdomainname  dumpkmap  echo  ed  egrep  false  fatattr  fdflush  fgrep  fsync  getopt  grep  gunzip  gzip  hostname  ionice  iostat  ipcalc  kbd_mode  kill  link  linux32  linux64  ln  login  ls  lzop  makemime  mkdir  mknod  mktemp  more  mount  mountpoint  mpstat  mv  netstat  nice  pidof  ping  ping6  pipe_progress  printenv  ps  pwd  reformime  rev  rm  rmdir  run-parts  sed  setpriv  setserial  sh  sleep  stty  su  sync  tar  touch  true  umount  uname  usleep  watch  zcat  

Available /usr/bin/ commands:    

awk  basename  beep  blkdiscard  bunzip2  bzcat  bzip2  cal  chvt  cksum  clear  cmp  comm  cpio  crontab  cryptpw  cut  dc  deallocvt  diff  dirname  dos2unix  du  dumpleases  eject  env  expand  expr  factor  fallocate  find  flock  fold  free  fuser  getconf  getent  groups  hd  head  hexdump  hostid  iconv  id  install  ipcrm  ipcs  killall  ldd  less  logger  lsof  lsusb  lzcat  lzma  lzopcat  md5sum  mesg  microcom  mkfifo  mkpasswd  nc  nl  nmeter  nohup  nproc  nsenter  nslookup  od  passwd  paste  patch  pgrep  pkill  pmap  printf  pscan  pstree  pwdx  readlink  realpath  renice  reset  resize  scanelf  seq  setkeycodes  setsid  sha1sum  sha256sum  sha3sum  sha512sum  showkey  shred  shuf  smemcap  sort  split  ssl_client  strings  sum  tac  tail  tee  test  time  timeout  top  tr  traceroute  traceroute6  truncate  tty  ttysize  udhcpc6  unexpand  uniq  unix2dos  unlink  unlzma  unlzop  unshare  unxz  unzip  uptime  uudecode  uuencode  vi  vlock  volname  wc  wget  which  whoami  whois  xargs  xxd  xzcat  yes  

If you're a maniac developer you can even use iSH, to do some programs development with vim with Python / Perl or PHP as these are available from the Alpine repositories and installable via a simple apk add packagename for security experts nmap and some security tools are also available but unfortunately not everything is still working as this project is in active development and iOS has some security limitations if OS is not ROOTED 🙂

Hence some of the packages you can install via apk manager will be failing actually.
There is a list of What works and what doesn't still on iSH on the project github wiki check it out here.

There is much more funny stuff you can do with it, and actually my quick research on how people use iSH on their phones lead me to some Videos talking about iOS and Ethical hacking etc, but I'll stop here as I dont have the time to dig deeper to it. 
If you know or have some good use of iSH or some other goody you are using as a hack please share in comments.

Enjoy ! 🙂