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I'm working in a Uni project where I have to connect to a server (Linux) to get some files for my project. I was told that I have to use ssh or OpenVPN in order to get access to the files I need. I've used PuTTy in campus (using Win) and my user and pass are working but when I go home I'm not really sure how to access the server (using Mac). I was told that I have to open a connection using OpenVPN then use any FTP client (like filezilla) to download my files. So I downloaded OpenVPN and Tunnilblick, but I don't know how to make them work. I looked everywhere for any tutorial that could explain anything but unfortunately didn't find any clue. Could any one please help explaining how to get access and download the files I need?


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OpenVPN is used to connect to a network using the Internet. If your Uni's server is on their network (highly likely), it probably means it can't be connected to directly from the internet. Your prof should have given you information on how to connect to the VPN. Once you're in the network, you'll be using SSH to transfer files back. – n0pe Jul 4 '11 at 14:58
All what I know is the server name that got the files I need, my user and pass. In the past I used to connect to my account with Fugu where I use different server name -I don't know if this helps. Or perhaps I should use the Uni domain as remote? – Ansd Jul 4 '11 at 19:18
For OpenVPN, whoever runs the OpenVPN server (as I do for ours) should have client configuration files they can give you to make that work. If they can't give you those, you were either given bad information (i.e., you're not really supposed to use OpenVPN), or they should find someone else to run the server. – Mike Renfro Jul 5 '11 at 1:55
up vote 1 down vote accepted

I found a very nice explanation of how to use OpenVPN from University of Essex IT geeks.

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You have several options:

ssh, via terminal

If you have openSSH installed, you can create a connection to the remote server like so:

ssh username@remote.server

You will be prompted to accept the ssh key and you will be asked to enter your password. Note that this WON'T work if you need to be part of the University's network in order to connect. In that case, see the next option.

Using OpenVPN

I've never personally used openVPN so I cannot comment on exactly HOW to use it (ie where to click). However, once it is installed you will most likely be asked to enter the name of the network (and location) along with login credentials. Once connected, you are essentially "part of" your university's network and will be able to ssh.

FTP (deprecated)

FTP is useful but is old and insecure. It does not encrypt network traffic so anything you send out (including passwords) can be read by anyone. I recommend you use sftp (ssh).

PuTTy will probably be able to solve all your problems. Download and use it.

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Thanks anyway.. – Ansd Jul 5 '11 at 21:30

For a Mac, if you only need PuTTY-style text access, use Terminal and ssh as @MaxMackie indicated. IF you need more explicit instructions, you can use these instructions I wrote for our users as a starting point, and replace the username and hostname as appropriate.

For file transfers, I'd recommend Fugu. You can use these other instructions I wrote for our users as a starting point, and replace the username and hostname as appropriate.

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Cyberduck is a very good SSH/SFTP client for the Mac. You really want to use SFTP instead of FTP-over-VPN, it's much easier.

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