SSH mounting on MacOS X

For quite some time now I’ve been looking at a way to mount a remote location to my desktop through SSH. It would be extremely useful to me, as I generally make my “science” stuff run on a cluster whose filesystem is only available to me through SSH/SFTP – no FTP (of course), no SMB, no NFS, no nothing except SSH. It should be doable: Nautilus in any Gnome desktop does it just fine, thank you very much. Unfortunately, the Mac finder only knows some types of network locations: FTP, afp (the “Apple File Protocol”, which is not of much use except for home network AFAIK) and Samba. That’s all, folks. I’ve tried throwing every kind of username/password combination at its face, but nothing worked. So typically my workflow would involve working on the cluster in a terminal through SSH, then transfer back the results (data, figures, whatever) using Fugu (which is the only file transfer app I’ve tried that connected to this ssh server on the first try without a glitch, something that even Transmit did not achieve).
So when I read the description of the file transfer software Interarchy I thought I’d found the holy grail: it theoretically allows you to mount any kind of connexion (FTP, SMB but also SSH) to a “NetDrive” on your desktop. Happy, happy. I tried it right away.
Unfortunately, Interarchy does not perform an actual mounting of these connexions – instead it mirrors the content of the remote location on your local drive, and synchronizes the two in some way (I guess by somehow monitoring when things change locally or remotely). Unfortunately (again), if this system can work for websites and other small content, it quickly breaks down when we’re talking large bags of data – in my case, Interarchy happily went on to synchronize more than 20 gigs of files. Without telling me, mind you. I had to go to some kind of diagnostic window to understand what was going on. Bad. I used to think Apple’s iDisk synchronization was clumsy, but I have new respect for it now – it is at least done in a semi-smart fashion. I’m not saying Interarchy is a bad app, mind you – it’s apparently very powerful, is able to connect to lots and lots of protocols and the interface is pretty good (even if the column view was definitely buggy, scrolling it left trails of junk everywhere).
In the end I used a workaround – I created a hard link to my work account on another linux machine that 1) has the work filesystem mounted through NFS, and 2) allows Samba connexions. I mounted this other machine on my desktop as a Samba drive. The hard link worked, and now I can browse my work account with the finder. I’m still have small issues (sometimes – not always – the finder fails at noticing the creation of new files in an already-opened folder) but I’m pretty happy overall.

This entry was posted in Apple, Computer, Gnome, Mac, Science, Software, Technology. Bookmark the permalink.