PuTTY has been the standard SSH utility for all of my Windows based workstations since approximately 2002. It is a clean, easy to use, lightweight utility that reliably allows various SSH/SSL functionality from a Windows client. However, PuTTY has grown to become a very strange and atypical application. The last version published was in April of 2007 (that is LITERALLY 7 years ago). It has a gigantic list of feature requests and bug fixes. Yet, it is still unexplainably the mainstay and flagship SSH client… And I really just don’t understand why that is. I mean really… 4 years? There are two Microsoft OS releases in that time that a developer should be considering features and usability within. I simply don’t get it.
Well, I’m initiating a changing of the fucking guard.
Vast amounts of Google research has yielded me a very sufficient and actively developed fork of PuTTY called “KiTTY“. KiTTY is obviously based on PuTTY’s source, so it retains all the reliable and usability – but it also adds a slew of new and highly requested features that seem to be destined to never reach a build of PuTTY. Some of the biggest for me are:
- Session based username/password saving
- Send to tray functionality
- Transparency (not the “real” transparency… it overlays the wallpaper. But at least it’s trying!)
Sadly, even in it’s actively maintained state, KiTTY does not support a tabbed interface. I MUST have a tabbed interface. I have searched the ends of the internet for a GOOD and FREE client for SSH that can support a tabbed interface. This simply does not exist in a single package. You can fork out some cash for something like SecureCRT; or you can use something sub-par like Poderosa. But meh, who wants to do either of those things??
One has to resort to a connection manager software, such as Putty Connection Manager, Super Putty, or (by far the best) mRemoteNG. I strongly recommend mRemoteNG. It has a vast amount of configurability, supports VNC, RDP, and other protocols on top of the SSH capabilities; and it runs very well and seemingly bug free on a Windows 7 installation. The other two certainly cannot say that.
mRemoteNG even allows you to choose a custom path for your PuTTY executable (so, browse to kitty.exe) 😛
I followed these steps for an awesome tabbed SSH experience like no other; with support of multiple protocols, high amount of configurability, and even transparency! I recommend every sysadmin do the same thing. I’m sick of PuTTY being the undeserved king of this realm.
- Download KiTTY and save it wherever you like
- Download mRemoteNG installer, install it
- Open mRemoteNG and then click on Tools, Options. Click the “Advanced” button on the bottom right.
- Set your custom PuTTY executable path to your KiTTY executable
- Create some sessions, set the protocols, even save the usernames and passwords if you like
- Triumphantly raise your hands in the air, as you have the best possible SSH setup known to man. Here’s a screenie of my setup at home. I disabled transparency because my laptop doesn’t perform very well with it enabled.