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OpenSSH vs Putty: What are the differences?


OpenSSH and PuTTY are two popular SSH (Secure Shell) clients that provide a secure way to establish a remote connection between a client and a server. While both OpenSSH and PuTTY serve the same purpose, there are key differences between the two that can affect their usability and functionality.

  1. Flexibility and Platform Support: OpenSSH is an open-source SSH client and server software that is primarily designed for Unix-like systems. It offers extensive compatibility and is bundled with most Linux distributions by default. On the other hand, PuTTY is a Windows-based SSH client that has been ported to other platforms, allowing it to be used on Windows, Unix, and even mobile environments.

  2. Graphical User Interface (GUI): PuTTY provides a user-friendly graphical user interface, making it easier for beginners to configure and manage SSH connections. In contrast, OpenSSH primarily relies on command-line interface (CLI) tools, which may be more suitable for advanced users or system administrators who prefer automation and scripting.

  3. Remote Port Forwarding: OpenSSH includes support for remote port forwarding, which allows network traffic to be tunneled securely between different hosts. This feature is useful in scenarios where clients need to access services running on remote servers without directly exposing those services to the internet. PuTTY also supports remote port forwarding, enabling similar functionality.

  4. SCP and SFTP Support: OpenSSH includes built-in utilities for secure file transfer, known as SCP (Secure Copy) and SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol). These protocols allow users to securely copy files between the client and server. While PuTTY does not have native support for SCP and SFTP, it can utilize third-party tools like PSCP and PSFTP to achieve similar functionality.

  5. Authentication Methods: OpenSSH supports a wide range of authentication methods, including password-based authentication, public key authentication, and keyboard-interactive authentication. PuTTY also supports these authentication methods along with additional options like SSH agent forwarding and passphrase-protected private-key files.

  6. Connection Profiles: PuTTY offers a feature called connection profiles, which allows users to save connection settings for future use. This simplifies the process of connecting to commonly accessed servers. OpenSSH, being a command-line tool, does not have a built-in connection profile feature. However, users can achieve similar functionality using SSH configuration files.

In summary, OpenSSH and PuTTY have several key differences. OpenSSH is a Unix-based open-source SSH client and server software that offers flexibility and platform support, command-line interface, remote port forwarding, SCP and SFTP support, diverse authentication methods, but lacks a graphical user interface and connection profile feature. PuTTY, on the other hand, is a Windows-based SSH client with a graphical user interface, connection profile feature, support for third-party SCP and SFTP tools, and similar authentication methods.

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    What is OpenSSH?

    It is the premier connectivity tool for remote login with the SSH protocol. It encrypts all traffic to eliminate eavesdropping, connection hijacking, and other attacks. In addition, OpenSSH provides a large suite of secure tunneling capabilities, several authentication methods, and sophisticated configuration options.

    What is Putty?

    It is an SSH and telnet client, developed originally by Simon Tatham for the Windows platform. It is open source software that is available with source code and is developed and supported by a group of volunteers.

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