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This article has some todo items:
  • Add instructions for using SSHFS with more desktop environments.
  • Extra details would help.

SSHFS (SSH File System) is a secure shell client used to mount remote filesystems to local machines. SSHFS uses Filesystem in Userspace (FUSE) to mount filesystems in a location users can easily access, and accesses files over the SFTP protocol.



Since SSHFS uses FUSE it will need to be enabled in the kernel.

KERNEL Enabling FUSE in the kernel
File systems  --->
   [*] FUSE (Filesystem in Userspace) support
When enabling a built-in (non-modular) feature or driver in the kernel remember a recompile will be needed and the new kernel loaded into memory (system reboot) before changes will take effect. This step should be completed before moving on to other sections in this article.

USE flags

There are currently no available USE flags for SSHFS.


Use the emerge command to ask Portage to install net-fs/sshfs:

root #emerge --ask net-fs/sshfs


Permissions may need to be set, or mounting may produce a "fuse: failed to open /dev/fuse: Permission denied" error. Try first, and come back to this section, if necessary.

If the above error is encountered, first create a group for those who will be allowed to use SSHFS, then add the accounts that will use it, to the group:

root #groupadd crypto
root #usermod -aG crypto $USERNAME

Log user out then in, if needed, to apply new group permissions.

Now create the /etc/udev/rules.d/60-fuse.rules file and add the following contents:

FILE /etc/udev/rules.d/60-fuse.rules
KERNEL=="fuse", NAME="%k", MODE="0666", GROUP="crypto"

Reload fuse module, for changes to apply:

root #modprobe -r fuse
root #modprobe fuse
root #ls -l /dev/fuse
crw-rw-rw- 1 root crypto 10, 229 Nov  8 22:29 /dev/fuse



In order to use SSHFS, an SSH daemon needs to be running on the remote machine, the sftp subsystem may need to be activated, and at least one user must be configured to be able to access the machine via SSH.

To mount a remote file system locally, the right credentials will be needed. If no user name is given on the command line, the current user name will be used by default. For example, if the user larry is currently the active user on the system, and this command is run:

larry@example $sshfs remotehost:/home/larry ~/remote_mount

The username larry will be sent to the remote system, so the credentials for access to a remote account named larry will be needed. After entering the password for larry, this would mount the remote home directory of the user larry to a directory ~/remote_mount on the local machine. The previous command is the equivalent of running this command:

larry@example $sshfs larry@remotehost:/home/larry ~/remote_mount

To change the user, put the name of the user before the IP address to domain name. For example, to login to the remote system using the remote system's root user name and password, use:

user $sshfs root@remotehost:remotehost:/ ~/remote_mount

Root access must be enabled on the server for this.


If a user can sudo on the remote host to another user, it may be possible to access files as that user on the remote host (if the access to sudo does not need a password). For example, if a user can su to root on the remote host without entering a password, mount with:

user $sshfs -o sftp_server="/usr/bin/sudo /usr/lib64/misc/sftp-server" larry@remotehost:/path/to/remote/system /path/to/local/sshfs/mount

These paths are valid for a default Gentoo installation on the remote host, they may need to be changed if the server is running other distributions.

This may not be a particularly secure method of accessing the server, caution advised.


To unmount a directory with SSHFS use the fusermount command with the -u option:

larry@example $fusermount -u /path/to/local/sshfs/mount

Permissions based options

In order to have read/write access to a mounted remote directory the allow_other and/or allow_root options may be needed, depending on if the user is root or a regular user. Simply enable as shown below (replace allow_other with allow_root, if root).

larry@example $sshfs -o allow_other larry@remotehost:/path/to/remote/directory /path/to/local/sshfs/mountpoint

Alternatively, the uid, gid, and umask options can be used to further fine tune permissions. When setting multiple options at the same time use a space separated list after a single -o.

CODE umask, uid, gid options
-o umask=M
    set file permissions (octal)

-o uid=N
    set file owner

-o gid=N
    set file group
The use of these options may output an error, "fusermount3: option allow_other only allowed if 'user_allow_other' is set in /etc/fuse.conf". In this case, just uncomment the "user_allow_other" line in that file and try again.

Automating the connection

For remote file systems that need to be mounted frequently, it is the sign in process may be automated. Automation can be achieved by using a public/private SSH key pair combined with a mechanism to mount the remote filesystem on a specific event (user login, or system boot for example).

The first step is to setup the SSH key pair on the local and remote machines. Visit the Passwordless Authentication section of the SSH article for further instructions on how set up an SSH key pair. When finished return to this article.

After the key pair has been created and properly set up, determine what event will be used to start the connection automatically. It is common for a system to attempt to remotely mount a file system upon user login or system boot. Controlling the sshfs mount depends on what software the user will be implementing in their local environment. There are several ways to handle the task.


sshfs can be used inside a system's /etc/fstab file. This enables over-the-network filesystems to be assigned to act as local filesystem mounts. Filesystems using sshfs require slightly different mount options, so be sure to look at the man page to be sure the options are correct in each use case. A example of using sshfs in fstab:

FILE /etc/fstabAdding sshfs to fstab
# Automatically mount ~/Music on connection
sshfs#SERVER_USER@remotehost:/SOURCEDIR /home/USER/Music fuse user,_netdev,idmap=user,transform_symlinks,identityfile=/home/USER/.ssh/id_rsa,allow_other,default_permissions,uid=1000,gid=1000 0 0

Login shells

Most shells include support for commands to be executed during user login or logout. This section will provide examples on how to automate the connection using built in shell script.

Before proceeding, it is necessary to know which shell is being used. Execute the following command as the user of interest to determine which shell is being used:

user $echo $SHELL

Possible output:

  • /bin/bash for bash
  • /bin/sh for sh
  • /bin/tcsh for tcsh (csh)
  • /bin/zsh for zsh
For more information on available shells see the Shell article.

When using a bash shell, create a ~/.bash_login and ~/.bash_logout files in the user's home directory and add the sshfs command to the file.

user $touch ~/.bash_login ~/.bash_logout

Mount on shell login:

FILE ~/.bash_loginAdding sshfs mount to bash login shell
# Added to mount a remote directory at user login
sshfs larry@remotehost:/path/to/remote/directory /path/to/local/sshfs/mountpoint

Unmounting on shell logout:

FILE ~/.bash_logoutAdding sshfs unmount to bash logout shell
# Added to unmount a remote directory at user logout
fusermount -u /path/to/local/sshfs/mountpoint
user $touch ~/.profile
FILE ~/.profileAdding sshfs mount to sh login shell
# Added to mount a remote directory at user login
sshfs larry@remotehost:/path/to/remote/directory /path/to/local/sshfs/mountpoint
user $touch ~/.zlogin
FILE ~/.zloginAdding sshfs mount to zsh login shell
# Added to mount a remote directory at user login
sshfs larry@remotehost:/path/to/remote/directory /path/to/local/sshfs/mountpoint
Tcsh (Csh)
user $touch ~/.login
FILE ~/.loginAdding sshfs mount to tcsh or csh login shell
# Added to mount a remote directory at user login
sshfs larry@remotehost:/path/to/remote/directory /path/to/local/sshfs/mountpoint

Desktop environments

Most desktop environments include methods for automatically starting programs.


Openbox uses the autostart file located in each user's home directory.

FILE ~/.config/openbox/autostartAdding sshfs mount Openbox autostart file
# Added to mount a remote directory at user login
sshfs larry@remotehost:/path/to/remote/directory /path/to/local/sshfs/mountpoint &
It is important to include the & (ampersand) on the end of commands issued inside Openbox's autostart file.

See also

  • CurlFtpFS — allows for mounting an FTP folder as a regular directory to the local directory tree.
  • SCP — an interactive file transfer program, similar to the copy command, that copies files over an encrypted SSH transport.
  • SSH — the ubiquitous tool for logging into and working on remote machines securely.
  • SFTP — an interactive file transfer program, similar to FTP, which performs all operations over an encrypted SSH transport.

External resources