Shell in a box

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Shell in a Box allows you to control a computer over the network using a Linux console in a web page. To do it, find out your distribution and proceed accordingly.

Contents

[edit] SUSE 12.1-13.1

[edit] Get it

  • Download shell in a box from google
wget http://shellinabox.googlecode.com/files/shellinabox-2.14.tar.gz
tar xvzf shellinabox-2.14.tar.gz
yast -i make gcc
cd shellinabox-2.14
./configure && make && make install
  • make sure the firewall is open, here is an example for SUSE Linux:
rcSuSEfirewall2 stop
  • you are not allowed to log in as root, so make sure you have at least one ordinary user. Add a user name user like this:
useradd -m user
passwd user
  • call shell in a box
cd /tmp
shellinaboxd &

[edit] Make it persistent

You want the shell in a box daemon shellinaboxd to be started when booting your machine, so

  • add the following line to /etc/init.d/boot.local:
shellinaboxd &
  • configure the firewall to always open up port 80 or stop it persistantly:
chkconfig SuSEfirewall2_setup off
chkconfig SuSEfirewall2_init off
  • configure apache to start on boot
chkconfig apache2 on

[edit] Use in a web server

You probably want shell in a box to be reachable via port 80 (so you can use it from within a typical corporate network) and you may want to run a web server on the same machine. So here is how you integrate shell in a box into an Apache2 web server

  • install apache2, in this example for SUSE Linux 12.1:
yast -i apache2
  • enable a reverse proxy. To do this, edit /etc/sysconfig/apache2 and add the following words to APACHE_MODULES: proxy proxy_http. In the end your line may read like this:
APACHE_MODULES="actions alias auth_basic proxy proxy_http authn_file authz_host authz_groupfile authz_default authz_user autoindex cgi dir env expires include log_config mime negotiation setenvif ssl userdir php5"
<IfModule mod_proxy.c>
<Location /shell>
    ProxyPass http://127.0.0.1:4200
</Location>
</IfModule>

[edit] Ubuntu

[edit] Get it

  • Download shell in a box from google
wget http://shellinabox.googlecode.com/files/shellinabox-2.14.tar.gz
tar xvzf shellinabox-2.14.tar.gz
apt-get update
apt-get install gcc
apt-get install make
cd shellinabox-2.14
./configure && make && make install
  • you are not allowed to log in as root, so make sure you have at least one ordinary user. Add a user name user like this:
useradd -m user
passwd password
  • call shell in a box
cd /tmp
shellinaboxd &

[edit] make it persistent

To start the shellinabox daemon after reboot add the following line to /etc/crontab:

@reboot root /usr/local/bin/shellinaboxd &

This will start the daemon only on reboot as a background job.

[edit] Use in a web server

You probably want shell in a box to be reachable via port 80 (so you can use it from within a typical corporate network) and you may want to run a web server on the same machine. So here is how you integrate shell in a box into an Apache2 web server

  • install apache2
apt-get install apache2
  • enable apache's proxy module:
a2enmod proxy
  • do
ln -s /etc/apache2/mods-available/proxy_http.load /etc/apache2/mods-enabled/proxy_http.load
<Location /shell>
    ProxyPass http://127.0.0.1:4200
    Allow from 127.0.0.1
</Location>
  • restart apache
/etc/init.d/apache2 restart
  • test if the module has indeed been loaded:
# apache2ctl -t -D DUMP_MODULES 2>&1 | grep proxy_http
 proxy_http_module (shared)

[edit] TroubleShooting

[edit] cannot read valid certificate

Symptom: ShellInABoxD does not start, it tells the error message:

Cannot read valid certificate from "certificate.pem". Check file permissions and file format.

Reason: See http://code.google.com/p/shellinabox/issues/detail?id=59. ShellInABoxD tries to create a file certificate.pem in the folder where it is started as user nobody:

/tmp # ll certificate.pem 
-rw------- 1 nobody nogroup 2794 Aug  5 07:53 certificate.pem

Solution: Start shellinaboxd in a directory that every user can access, e.g. /tmp:

cd /tmp
shellinaboxd &

[edit] forkpty() failed

Symptom
When you surf to the shellinabox page you see an error message
forkpty() failed
Reason
shellinabox makes use of pseudo-terminals. If your server is on a virtualization platform that shares these resources, they can get used up by other customers of your server's hoster.
Solution
Go to a hoster that uses full virtualization or paravirtualization, but not containering.

[edit] minus sign

Symptom
The minus sign does not work if you type it on the keypad.
Solution
I could fix this by using Safari instead of FireFox

[edit] See also