The Best Tabbed SSH Solution in Windows 7

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 4 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) :-P

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.

  1. Download KiTTY and save it wherever you like
  2. Download mRemoteNG installer, install it
  3. Open mRemoteNG and then click on Tools, Options. Click the “Advanced” button on the bottom right.
  4. Set your custom PuTTY executable path to your KiTTY executable
  5. Create some sessions, set the protocols, even save the usernames and passwords if you like
  6. 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.