Functions of shell account?


Despite a little familiarity with SSH and Unix, I’m really not sure what cool or advanced functions I can perform on my Dreamhost shell account.

So far, I’ve used it for uploading and downloading files, plus setting permissions, but I’m curious what other uses exist.

Things like word processors, file utilities, or any remote terminal applications would be great. So far, I’ve only found Xcalc and Xfm, is it possible to load other programs like Xemacs? Where can I find out what is currently available on default Dreamhost shells, or more info on what I could set up?

Any help would be appreciated, I know this is kind of vague…


A few things I’ve used the shell account for:

  • Local editing, using vim or emacs. This way I can edit html/code/whatever without having to make the edits on my system and then upload them to the server.

  • Mutt email client for quick email checks. Can work with m* IMAP accounts or can access your shell user’s email directly from the ~/Maildir folder. Generally nice and quick, I’ve become a big fan of Mutt.

  • Compiling newer versions of Perl/Python/PHP/etc. I’ve installed lots of local Perl modules for use in my CGI code, as well as a local setup of Spamassassin for my account. I’ve also compiled a local version of OCaml to play with its CGI programming tools.

There are loads of other uses, but those are the ones I’ve used most often. You can do just about anything on your shell account which you can do on any other Linux user account, as long as it doesn’t involve running persistent (server) applications. And if there are any X applications on the servers I doubt Dreamhost would appreciate the large bandwidth usage they would impose if you ran them remotely. There may be some other restrictions in the Dreamhost TOS/AUP, and if you try to do something which runs for too long (a particularly long compile, for example) your processes may be killed if the server is busy. But in general, the shell access is very useful if you want to tweak things a bit here and there.

Hope this helps…


I personally use WinSCP for SFTP capability. I use the “in-place” editing a lot - it automatically downloads, runs a local editor, and uploads the saved result.

Though evenually I was to move to a system wherein I use SVN to have version control over my files. I haven’t figured out a good workflow vis a vis using SVN with one-click installs and upgrades.

Free unique IP and $67 off with promo code [color=#CC0000]FLENSFREEIP67[/color] or use [color=#CC0000]FLENS97[/color] for $97 off. Click here for more options