Call for Help: SSH Port Forwarding
OK, world, this problem is officially beginning to tick me off. So I’m calling for help — maybe one of you fine readers out there knows how to solve it…
The ISP that hosts my mail server requires me to make my IMAP connections over SSH, to keep them from getting hacked. Now, in Windows I use Bitvise Tunnelier to make this easy as pie, but on my home Linux box, things aren’t so easy.
See, here’s the thing. I know how to use SSH to do a simple port forward from the terminal. But what I want to do is have the system create the port forward at startup, and have it run silently in the background — no terminal or user intervention required. This is so that I can log in and fire up my IMAP client (Mozilla Thunderbird) without having to go through the process of launching terminal, keying in SSH command, etc. I want the whole port-forwarding thing to just be taken care of behind the scenes — the way Tunnelier does on Win32.
I’ve spent weeks crawling the Net, reading FAQs and HOWTOs, browsing Usenet, and generally dorking out on this question, to no avail. I’ve solved pieces of it — I learned how to use ssh-agent, for example, to allow passwordless authentication — but I can’t find any instructions that bring it all together.
It’s extremely frustrating. I can’t be the only #()!(@ Linux user out there who wants to access IMAP via SSH, can I? Or do all the other ones just do it from the terminal every time, and figure that’s as good as it gets because they haven’t been spoiled by Tunnelier? I have no idea — all I know is that I can’t find answers one way or another.
So, in true LazyWeb fashion, I’m throwing out a challenge. Post either (a) instructions on how to do what I describe above (have Fedora Linux silently create a port forward at system startup), or (b) a link to those instructions elsewhere on the Web, in the comment thread of this post. I’ll give your solution a shot, and if it works, I will pay $10 via PayPal to the e-mail address of the person who submitted it. In the case of multiple submissions, first one received wins — and I’m gonna go by time posted to the comment thread, so put it there rather than sending it to me by e-mail (so that others having the same problem can benefit from having the solution publicly posted).
So, whaddaya say, world? If you’ve got a link that solves my problem it’s a quick way to earn some beer money for the weekend. Hit me.
UPDATE (7/8/2005): I should mention that before anybody got around to giving me a solution to my problem that met the criteria outlined above, Mozilla integrated SSH tunneling to the IMAP support in their excellent Thunderbird mail client. So now I just set a couple of preferences in Thunderbird and I’m good to go; no need to manually set up port forwarding. Thanks, Mozilla!