When I think of all of the tools I use on a regular basis to do my job more effectively, there are a handful that stand out as being the most useful of all. As I get the chance, I plan on writing a least a short homage to each one in turn. In my line of work, it is much more common to notice the things that break, or go wrong, or just don’t work as advertised; it is much less common to appreciate the things that just work.
With that in mind, it is only fitting that I start with one of the most useful and reliable programs I have ever used: Putty. Most of you are probably familiar with this little gem, but for those of you who aren’t: a little information is in order.
Putty is a combination SSH, Telnet, and Rlogin client, as well as terminal emulation software. I first discovered this program at some point back when I started hating–with a blind rage–Microsoft’s built-in Hyperterminal application. I soon had switched to Putty full-time, and haven’t ever had the urge to even investigate other options. I don’t know if the writers of Putty are rich, but if they aren’t they damn well deserve to be.
I use Putty daily for doing all of my Cisco console work, as well as for all SSH connections to both Cisco and Unix devices. On the Cisco side, it just works nicely allowing for a variety of customizations as well as easy cutting-and-pasting of code to and from Notepad or whatever you use (Complex ACL editing, etc.) On the *nix side, one of the nicest features is the X‑11 forwarding which allows you to tunnel back X11 applications, via SSH, to your local client (assuming you are running *nix locally, or have an X11 window manager of some sort running. We happen to use Exceed, but there are free versions available.)
The amount of customization you can do to Putty, from auto-magical window labeling, to key-strokes and shortcuts, to saved session information, etc. is a beautiful thing. At home, for lab work, I have settings saved for all of my console-server connections so that I just have to “point-and-click” to open any of my myriad devices.
I could probably go on and on, but suffice it to say that this little gem of a program should be in your arsenal if it isn’t already. It is one of the first programs I install on any machine from which I plan on doing serious work.
Putty can be found at: Putty Downloads Page and is well worth a look.