What is OpenSSH? How to enable & use OpenSSH on Windows 10

If you are a hardcore developer, you might have already noticed that Microsoft has finally added support for SSH connections on Windows 10. It is an integration of OpenSSH on Windows 10 which comes with the release of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. With this, users now get an option to ditch the SSH client software like PuTTY to connect to a local or a server hosted on the Internet. If you are new to this, let us first discuss what SSH or Secure Shell is.

What is OpenSSH

SSH or Secure Shell is nothing but a general protocol similar to FTP or HTTP that is used to send data from a source to a destination. But here, the data sent is strongly encrypted. OpenSSH is highly popular amongst developers working on Linux machines as it allows them to access and control a remote server in a network.

Before we begin, I would like to make a note that this feature is available as a BETA and might show some glitches at times.

Steps to enable OpenSSH on Windows 10

With Windows Features:

Navigate to Settings > Apps > Apps & Features or go to this URL :

ms-settings:appsfeatures

Now, click on Manage optional features.

Select Add a feature. This will navigate you to a new page.

OpenSSH on Windows 10

Scroll down to OpenSSH Client (Beta) and OpenSSH Server (Beta).

Install both of them and restart your PC

This will download & install all the components in this path:

C:\Windows\System32\OpenSSH

Now you can use Powershell or Command Prompt (CMD) to navigate to the given path and then start working with SSH as you do on Linux.

With Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL)

First of all, open Start Menu and type Windows Features and then select Turn Windows Features On and Off.

Tick Windows Subsystem for Linux and click on OK.

Navigate to the Microsoft Store now and search for Ubuntu.

Install this app.

Now search Ubuntu in Start or from Cortana to run the Linux Bash Command Line to use the SSH Capabilities.

Currently, this feature is brought to Windows 10 with the help of Win32 Port by Microsoft itself. The version currently available with Windows 10 Fall Creators Update is 0.0.19.0, but if you go to their GitHub repository, you will find that the latest version is 0.0.24.0 which is newer than the one inbuilt and hence will be far more stable. You can read more about installing it via the Powershell in their GitHub documentation linked above.

It finally looks like Microsoft is leveraging the use of Open Source technologies by integrating them directly into Windows 10 and making it better for developers. This makes Terry Myerson’s (Executive Vice President of the Windows Developers Group at Microsoft) statement true, that-

“Windows 10 is the best damn devbox on the planet.”

And we can’t wait for more useful features like this to be added to Windows 10 inbuilt!

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Ayush has been a Windows enthusiast since the day he got his first PC with Windows 98SE. He is an active Windows Insider since Day 1 and is now a Windows Insider MVP. He has been testing pre-release services on his Windows 10 PC, Lumia, and Android devices.