BlackBerry SSH Tutorial: Connect to Unix Server using MidpSSH for Mobile Devices

by Ramesh Natarajan on April 30, 2009

Blackberry Bold PhoneA while back we discussed about 12 powerful PuTTY add-ons. When you are working on production support or on a critical project that require 24×7 support, it is essential that you connect to the remote Linux server from anywhere. I found having a SSH client on my phone is very convenient for a quick status check and troubleshooting.

MidpSSH is a SSH and Telnet client for mobile device.

This is a step-by-step guide on how to connect to a Linux server from blackberry phone using MidpSSH software.

1. Download MidpSSH on BlackBerry Phone

From the blackberry browser, go to http://www.xk72.com/wap and click on ‘Latest Development Release (v1.7.3)’ as shown in the Fig below. This will display several download options for blackberry phone. Select the BlackBerry Build OS 4.x as shown in the Fig below.

  • SSH1 Build
  • SSH2 Lite Build MIDIP 2.0 MIDIP 1.0
  • SSH1 Lite Build
  • BlackBerry Build OS3.x OS 4.x
  • BlackBerry Enterprise Only build
  • No Obfuscation Build

MidpSSH Website - Download Page

Fig: MidpSSH (SSH Client) Download Page for BlackBerry


When you select download, you may get a warning message — “The application does not contain a signature. It might not be from a trusted source. Do you want to proceed?”. Select ‘Yes’. This will start the download automatically as shown below.

Download MidpSSH to BlackBerry Phone
Fig: Download MidpSSH Software directly on BlackBerry Phone

2. Install MidpSSH on BlackBerry Phone

After download, it will automatically install the application and give you the following installation successful message. Click on ‘OK’, which will display the MidpSSH icon on the blackberry home screen as shown below.

Install SSH Client on BlackBerry Phone
Fig: Install MidpSSH on BlackBerry Pearl

3. Create a new SSH Client session and connect to Linux Server from Phone

Create a SSH client connection by giving the ip-address of the Linux server you would like to connect to from your blackberry phone as shown in the Fig below.

  • Alias – Enter the connection name.
  • Host – Enter the ip-address of the server.
  • Type: SSH, Telnet. Select SSH.
  • Authentication: For SSH Connection Only. Optional. Leave this empty.
  • Username: Enter the linux user name.
  • Password: Enter the linux account password.
  • Connection Type: Default, TCP/IP, BES, WiFi. Select Default.


Once the session is created, select the session using the trackball, which will give the option to connect as shown in the Fig below. This will prompt the message — “The application MidpSSH has attempted to access a low-level network connection. Would you like to allow this?.” Select “Yes” for this message, which will connect to the remote Linux server.

The default font size on the SSH client is very small. This makes the Linux prompt really tiny and practically not readable even with a 20/20 vision. The solution is simple — increase the font size.

Create SSH Session and Connect from BlackBerry Curve
Fig: Create MidpSSH Session and Connect

4. Change the MidpSSH Font Size, Background and Foreground Color

To make the Linux prompt and command output readable, you can increase the Font size. From the MidPSSH menu -> Select Settings -> Select Fonts and set the following values accordingly as shown in the Fig below.

  • Font Size: Tiny, Device, LCD 3×6 etc. By default Tiny is selected. Changed this to Device.
  • LCD Font Mode: RBG or BGR.
  • Foreground Color
  • Background Color


Apart from the Fonts, the Setting menu has the following options as shown in the Fig below.

  • Network
  • Interface
  • Fonts
  • SSH
  • Restore Defaults

SSH Client Font Change for BlackBerry Pearl
Fig: Change MidpSSH Font and Color Settings

5. Enter Linux Commands on MidpSSH Client session

There are two methods to execute Linux command on the MidpSSH client.

Method 1: Type Linux Commands Interactively

From the MidpSSH client, when it is connected to the Linux server, click on the blackberry trackball, which will display the input-menu as shown below. Select ‘Type’, which will allow you to interactively enter the Linux commands.

Telnet/SSH Client Type Command on BlackBerry Strom
Fig: Interactive Typing in BlackBerry SSH Client

Metod 2: Enter Multiple Linux Command Together

From the MidpSSH client, when it is connected to the Linux server, click on the blackberry trackball, which will display the input-menu. Select ‘Input’, which will allow you to enter multiple Linux commands. Once you’ve entered all the command you can execute them together as shown below.

In the example below, three commands — clear, pwd and cat /etc/redhat-release are executed one-by-one in a batch mode.

Multiple Linux Commands on SSH - BlackBerry Phone
Fig: Enter Multiple Linux commands together


One final word of caution, for those who have mastered the art of checking emails on blackberry while driving, may be tempted to use MidpSSH client while driving. Please don’t touch your phone while driving. Be responsible and use hands-free device to talk. If you think I’m joking about this caution, you have to see the kind of activities people do in their car while stuck in traffic on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles.


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{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

1 roko May 4, 2009 at 12:36 pm

Hi Ramesh ! thanks for this information. I never could connect to SSH server using midpSSH from my pearl blackberry. I always received the message “session error. Writer: open tunnel – failure”

I am not sure but it seems my carrier doesn’t support SSH protocol…

Any clue ?

2 Ramesh Natarajan May 8, 2009 at 5:07 pm

@Roko,
The steps I gave above using MidpSSH works without any issues for me on blackberry pearl. I’ve tried with both Verizon and AT&T provider without any issue. I have no idea why you got that error message. Keep us posted if you’ve resolved your problem.

3 Diksen May 17, 2009 at 9:03 pm

Hi Ramesh!

Please inform me how to set my midpssh to another port;
for example I want to connect to port 234 on my host.

Thank you

4 Anonymous May 24, 2009 at 9:34 pm

I have the same error, using midpssh to connect my local address at work. “session error. Writer: open tunnel – failure”

any clue??

5 Alan Chandler May 27, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Just got it all working on Blackberry Curve thanks to your instructions (I only found the software this morning after thinking such a thing would be useful). I was having real problems figuring out how to get the symbol screen up to type in > so I could type cat – > key.pub, but the input method makes it easy.

To the anonymous poster who has tunnel failure – remember “local address at work” needs to be visible from the internet, since your incoming connection is via your telecoms provider. I am working at home behind a nat gateway and it took me a few seconds to realise that meant I could only get to the machine that the nat gateway port forwards the ssh port to – even though I am sitting right next to my “hidden” workstation. That meant I had to re-enable password authentication for the first connection so that I could get on to ultimately dump the public key to a file. I have now diabled it again and can connect fine via key only

6 Marc June 2, 2009 at 12:57 pm

I have developed a customized version of midpssh for blackberry which adds a couple of features that I find extremely useful.

- The SYM key turns on type mode. Good for when you frequently escape from it without meaning to.
- If you are in type mode, SYM key maps to CTRL key. Pressing it once will act is if you have held it down for the next keystroke. For example, in a screen session you would type discretely: “SYM” “a” “n” to change to the next window.
- If you are in type mode, pressing the trackball acts like the ESC key. Useful for you us vim fans out there, and those of us who use set -o vi in bash.

You can find the jads here (I /think/ this is the right version….)
http://dev.khalidine.com/misc/midp/

7 Ramesh Natarajan June 4, 2009 at 12:47 am

@Diksen

Regarding Your question: How to connect to a different SSH port number using midpSSH?
 
Answer From the midpSSH FAQ Document: “Host – the host name of the server to connect to (required). Note that you can include a port number in here if necessary by appending a colon and then the port number to the host name, eg. myserver.com:993″
 
@Alan,
Thanks for your comments and answers to the problem ‘anonymous’ has faced while installing ssh client on his phone.
 
@Marc,
I find that the default midpSSH itself satisfies all my needs. Thanks for your comment.

8 tom e gunn June 27, 2009 at 9:29 am

does anyone know how, or if it is even possible to open a tunnel with midpssh once you connect to your ssh server?

9 carlo June 29, 2009 at 1:41 am

i’mtrying to set up midpssh in mine bb 8900 curve but when i connect it display this error:

Session error:
Writer: Timed out

I setted up the APN correctly, and i have tried all the midpssh option, but it don’t work…

10 roko June 30, 2009 at 7:41 am

At last I could connect to my server using midpssh in my blackberry curve 8310 with movistar Venezuela mobile operator.

I just needed to configure the APN (Options -> Advanced -> TCP)

The APN I use is: internet.movistar.ve
without user neither password

I hope this help some venezuelan guys \m/

11 bobby July 1, 2009 at 2:30 pm

whenever connecting to any server i get the following error:

Authentication failed.
available methods are: publickey,gssapi-with-mic,password

This has really frustrated me, this would be amazing to get a blackberry SSH client to work!

12 aman July 9, 2009 at 5:50 am

Hi, tried Midssh on mine 3-4 blackberry, but it never seem to be working,
but this release is working..

Thanks

13 bobby July 9, 2009 at 10:28 am

was there any need for changes/adjustments on the server side? What are some openly available sites I can ssh into to test this out?

14 boody July 15, 2009 at 4:17 pm

Marc, Thanks for the update- this is really helpful. One thing I’m seeing that I can’t figure out is scrolling up twice while in a screen session seems to be the equivalent of ctrl-a ctrl-a (switch to prev window).
I see this in all versions of midpssh. Do you know why this happens and more importantly how to fix it?

15 boody July 15, 2009 at 5:17 pm

…also, the backspace key seems to be disabled in this version…

16 sp July 18, 2009 at 12:15 pm

On Blackberry tour – get the following error.
Writer: Invalid URL parameter.

17 Bambang July 22, 2009 at 7:24 pm

Hi Ramesh,
I’ve same problem with carlo, i’mtrying to set up midpssh in mine bb 8900 curve (javelin) os v4.6 (platform 4.2.0.76) but when i connect it display this error:

Session error:
Writer: Timed out

I setted up the APN correctly, and i have tried all the midpssh option, but it don’t work…

18 clivarclivar August 27, 2009 at 2:30 am

As to “session error. Writer: open tunnel – failure” problem,
When you set up the
“Connection Type: Default, TCP/IP, BES, WiFi. ”
Just choose WiFi. Then you might login successfully.
I had the same “failure” problem, but now at least works well for me.
Good luck!

19 Matthew Huntley August 27, 2009 at 10:57 am

I am trying to setup this app. It installed, but I am unable to get to my host.
I get a :
Session Error
Writer: Unable to open connection.

I am on a BlackBerry Curve over Sprint. I was hoping that this would allow me to access internal hosts, as traffic such as web browsing can access internal hosts, and have to hit a Proxy to browse outside the company.

Thanks,
Matt

20 Dusty Edwards August 28, 2009 at 5:36 pm

Works great on my Curve … Thx for this awesome tut my friend.

21 Jordan September 1, 2009 at 6:21 am

Works like a champ on my Tour as long as the connection type is set to TCP/IP.

22 midpssh September 5, 2009 at 6:34 am

midpssh can be a pain configuring for public key authentication: you need an open terminal where you make the app type in your key. I didn’t find any other way to access my own key, which is very disturbing. GRRR.

I’d rate it 3/5 as proper config is hell, and no tunnel support is definitely one star off.

Cheers

23 Julio September 18, 2009 at 7:50 am

When I try to connect to a SSH port 443 using midpSSH I receive a note:
Session Error. Writer: Cannot open socket connection on port 443.

24 Bergson Perez November 22, 2009 at 4:33 pm

hi,

I received the next error when a try to access from by BB to a linux server, I ‘m using midpssh:

session report:
IN:82 bytes
OUT:0 bytes
Total 82 bytes

Bergson Perez Cabrera

25 nblity December 21, 2009 at 1:13 am

how to set the port

26 Guntur December 24, 2009 at 7:42 pm

it seems not working on my BB Bold 9000 with OS 5.0.0.411 leaked..

how to solve this?

or is there any other tools? I really need putty.. :(

27 Paul Grenyer January 1, 2010 at 10:08 am

I’ve got MidpSSH installed on my blackberry bold (Vodafone), but when I connect I get a Session Report: In 1.34KB, OUT: 0 bytes, Total: 1.34 KB (Just like Bergson Perez above). When I dismiss it the interface appears to indicate I’ve connected to the server ok, but pressing the trackball gives me no options and clicking the blackberry button gives me only the option to close.

Any ideas?

28 BSL4-geek January 5, 2010 at 1:23 pm

MidpSSH using Mobile Network vs WiFi network
I’m running MidpSSH 1.6.0 on my new BB 8350i running 4.6 OS with wifi. I connect to a closed internal network via wifi and need telnet access to devices on the network. Unfortunately, it seems like the MidpSSH is tied only to the Mobile Network and can’t be switched to the wifi network like the browser can. There is no way the internal network will ever touch an external one, so internet access to it is out of the question. I’ve tried everything in the settings for the BB and MidpSSH. Any ideas for a workaround?

29 BSL4-geek January 5, 2010 at 1:42 pm

MidpSSH using Mobile Network vs WiFi network

Downloaded the latest version and found the new WiFi setting. Doing better now, please diregard previous post. Thanks.

30 Manish January 16, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Hi Ramesh – I am not a networking guy and have a simple question. Our Unix servers are behind the firewall and can only be accessed within the company network or with VPN or Citrix. Can MidpSSH be used to access these servers from the mobile device.

31 BILAL January 21, 2010 at 1:50 am

Hi Ramesh,… thank for share with me and the other
but i have problem, when i use a session it always come a messages like
” Session Error
writer :APN is Not specified ”
i have one question for you from where my BB can touch a Network, if the network not available a wifi.
sorry about my English

32 Andrei Dragomir February 4, 2010 at 1:54 pm

I’m having the same problem as Paul Grenyer and Bergson Perez with the “Session Report: In 1.34KB, OUT: 0 bytes, Total: 1.34 KB”. Seems to be related to how the connection is made, through wifi for example it works great whereas through regular GSM connection it gives the session report and no connection is made.

33 marc February 4, 2010 at 5:57 pm

Boody- I have found that too, but if you switch to scroll mode in the menu itseems to correct it.

I am working on a completely new interface designed specifically for blackberry – I’ll post a link here once it’s up.

The backpsace key issue seems to have started in the last few weks – I noticed it after I updated to a more recent 4.6 os install on my Bold; I don’t have a build based on the one you have above which corrects this, but the new version I’m building does have this fixed (as awell as quite a few new features that take advantage of the bb platform).

34 boody February 4, 2010 at 6:44 pm

@marc- VERY excited about the prospect of a better-working midpssh. Are you planning on leaving in the ‘ctrl’ functionality with the sym button- VERY useful and actually I’d stick with the current version if it was removed. Also, are you developing a version that will work in OS 5.x?

35 marc February 4, 2010 at 6:58 pm

@boody – the equivalent with a bit more I hope. Specifically I am trying to make sure *all* special function keys are bindable in user configurable manner to keystrokes/functions/macros (such as volume, mute, convenience keys).

I am currently building it for 4.3 and later – once I have that working, I’ll branch off a 4.7 (with touchscreen) and 5.x series (touchscreen + other new goodies that 5.0 brings). Currently it’s working in a very rudimentary form – that is, I can define settings and sessions, and connect. The custom key mapping is not in, but I’d still say I’m at about 75% complete for a first version.

It’s unfortunate that i need to build for prior to 5.0. That version brings support for custom fonts, which wold provide a much more efficient and easier-to-manage method of displaying the terminal than is currently used. A few other fun toys too… but there are far too many people who are stuck with 4.x (including me) for a while yet.

36 name February 4, 2010 at 10:16 pm

I am really really looking forward to the 5.0 release!!! I just need ssh that’s all :D

37 marc February 5, 2010 at 10:32 am

Some experimenting has shown that this 4.x release I have in development *does* work on a 5.x device without any issues. I’ll be posting updates and plans to my blog some time today, at http://marcparadise.com.

38 boody February 5, 2010 at 10:37 am

you deserve much praise!

39 marc February 5, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Ramesh – Thanks for being so tolerant of the side-conversation here :)

More info on BBSSH, the successor to MidpSSH:
Early Screenshots
Project Announcement
And features/future: BBSSH Roadmap and Overview

40 chaplinis February 21, 2010 at 11:12 am

Well, hi, I got a BB curve 8900 but when I run the aplication and then go to the session option, there is nothing!!! nothing apears, My curve uses a 4.6.1 and I download the 1.7.3 midpshh version. But nothing happens, everytime I tried to use the midpssh on the session part nothing shows up… there is no “alias”, “host”, or anything… Please help me finding the problems I dont know what else to do…????

Chaplinis

41 Rakesh February 23, 2010 at 11:10 pm

Great job!! it worked for meon GPRS enabled Blackberry ..but not worked on EDGE service …..
Thanks

42 anil March 1, 2010 at 12:27 am

Hello

When i try to ssh to a local server(server on local network with private ip) or a live server) i am getting following error
Session Error
Writer: Timed out

Any remedy i am using cure 8520

43 Vishwas March 18, 2010 at 3:46 am

For Curve 8900, Bold 9700 etc:
You need to enable APN settings on Options > Advanced Options > TCP/IP.
Enable APN settings.
For APN address, username, password contact your service provider.
e.g. http://www.filesaveas.com/gprs.html

44 ret March 22, 2010 at 5:00 pm

Hi,
I have the same error of Andrei Dragomir and other

session report:
IN:82 bytes
OUT:0 bytes
Total 82 bytes

I set the session ConnectionType:Wifi but I have always this error …what can I do?
I use Edge and Wifi GPRS I dont’ know how to set on blackberry 8520

45 david1970 June 8, 2010 at 4:41 pm

im having troublw with it on my bb8330 over sprint… always sez i need to add port number and or incorrect address. tried to access tcp/ip but no option was found. any help would be great

46 Alex July 7, 2010 at 11:58 pm

I am using v5.0.0.681 on my blackberry bold. when i was trying to connect to my ubuntu ssh server. it said session error
writer: java.io.IOException
is there a solution for this?

47 Marc Paradise July 8, 2010 at 9:46 am

ALex, might I recommend midpssh’s successor for Blackberry? BBSSH can be found at bbssh.org. if you have the sane problem on that client, you can use the “send feedback” option that’s in the app.

48 Alex July 9, 2010 at 6:32 am

I can use BBSH Now
Thanks a loooooot.
By the way do you know is there a pure linux shell run on blackberry OS.
I used one on my iphone, it is quite good.

49 randy October 12, 2010 at 11:18 am

Blackberry Pearl 8100, v4
I couldn’t believe seeing my AIX server command prompt!
Awesome! Thank you for the tutorial.

50 Steve B. December 6, 2010 at 1:32 pm

Hi Ramesh-

I’ve successfully downloaded MidpSSH v1.6 onto my BlackBerry and created a session profile. When I attempt to make a connection, I receive the following error:

!Session Error
Writer: Invalid URL parameter.

Any insight you can provide to resolve this matter is appreciated. Thanks.

51 Marc Paradise December 7, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Hi Steve B – I recommend instead using bbssh. Bbssh is free and open source, is actively developed, designed for blackberry, and has its origins in midpssh.

You can grab it at bbssh.org; or you can try out the latest beta (recommended) at http://dev.bbssh.org/bbssh (visit from your bb to download OTA)

If you still have connection problems then, use Send Feedback from within the app and I’ll be able to help you out directly.

52 Paul January 21, 2011 at 8:07 am

Hi everyone.I successfully download and installed midpSSH and BBSSH.
i followed all the settings that is on this thread but i still get an error.
for both midpSSH and BBSSH i get this error: Session Error Writer: Timed out

im assuming that i got all the settings correct because its trying to connect.
on the other hand, i really dont know how this works on the server/computer side.
i am using freeSSHd as my gateway to access my pc. i tried using puTTY and it worked just fine.

i just dont understand what else am i missing or what is wrong why i cant connect to my computer.

how do i set up my computer for me to be able to access my files using my blackberry bold 9700?

53 Axiz April 29, 2011 at 12:27 am

BBSSH works fine with my 9700 bold.

54 lexx June 14, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Thanks for the app – it’s very handy.

55 Joel August 6, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Thanks for the information.

I have been able to install the application on my BB 9700 bold running OS5.

56 Aparna August 23, 2011 at 5:26 am

Really helped me a lot…..in installing the BBSSH in my blackberry

57 Sarutobi Sasuke January 4, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Hay everyone!
I’m using the bb curve!
And dowdloaded the SSH or BBSSH and installed it succesfully to.
I have a Big Question to ask lol.

A player on a mud game (mud name = Aardwolf) is using this client to connect to aardwolf and he plays the game thru there

Q: how do I?
What setting does he have or port/gate to connect to aardwolf

I am not good at trobleshooting at all and would love help. Please. And thank you :) :D :p

58 Deven July 14, 2012 at 9:41 am

Hi ramesh,

I am getting session Error. Invalid parameter.

I am using blackberry Curve 8250 os 5.1.

This app work on this O/S?

Please suggest.

Thanks
Deven.

59 vineeta August 24, 2012 at 3:54 am

where and how to get ip address of my server i cant understand :(

60 bashir October 2, 2012 at 8:55 am

This is very nice and the instruction is fairly simple to follow, however, does anyone able to import ssh private key? just wondering if this feature is something to be considered in the next release.

61 Marc Paradise October 2, 2012 at 2:13 pm

bashir – bbssh supports private keys. You can import them from BBSSH’s main screen by displaying the menu and choosing Private Keys.
After you import them they are available for use in setting up connections.

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