How To Mount a Remote Directory With SSHFS on a Linux

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How can I mount a remote directory with ssh on a Linux bases system? How do I use SSHFS to mount remote file systems over SSH on a Ubuntu or Debian/RHEL/CentOS/Arch Linux system?

SSH is a secure protocol and you can use it to mount a directory on a remote server or local laptop with the help of the SSHF service. With SSHFS you can mount remote server file system to your local development workstation/laptop powered by Linux.

More on SSHFS

sshfs is a filesystem based on the SSH file transfer protocol. It is used on a client system i.e. you need to install sshfs package on your local computer/laptop powered by CentOS/RHEL/Ubuntu/Debian/Arch Linux. No need to install anything on server ( You only need an openssh server installed on server side. Our sample setup:

Fig.01: Our sample setup

Fig.01: Our sample setup

Installing SSHFS on a Ubuntu/Debian/Mint Linux

Type the following apt-get command:

sudo apt-get install sshfs

Sample outputs:

[sudo] password for nixcraft:
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
The following NEW packages will be installed:
0 upgraded, 1 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
Need to get 41.7 kB of archives.
After this operation, 138 kB of additional disk space will be used.
Get:1 trusty/main sshfs amd64 2.5-1ubuntu1 [41.7 kB]
Fetched 41.7 kB in 1s (27.8 kB/s)
Selecting previously unselected package sshfs.
(Reading database ... 247545 files and directories currently installed.)
Preparing to unpack .../sshfs_2.5-1ubuntu1_amd64.deb ...
Unpacking sshfs (2.5-1ubuntu1) ...
Processing triggers for man-db ( ...
Setting up sshfs (2.5-1ubuntu1) ...

Installing SSHFS on an Arch Linux

Type the following command:

sudo pacman -S sshfs fuse

Installing SSHFS on a RHEL (Red Hat)/CentOS Linux

First, turn on EPEL repo and then type the following yum command to install FUSE-Filesystem to access remote filesystems via SSH on a CentOS/RHEL:

sudo yum install fuse-sshfs

Sample outputs:

Loaded plugins: auto-update-debuginfo, protectbase, rhnplugin, security
This system is receiving updates from RHN Classic or RHN Satellite.
Setting up Install Process
0 packages excluded due to repository protections
Resolving Dependencies
--> Running transaction check
---> Package fuse-sshfs.x86_64 0:2.4-1.el6 will be installed
--> Processing Dependency: fuse >= 2.2 for package: fuse-sshfs-2.4-1.el6.x86_64
--> Running transaction check
---> Package fuse.x86_64 0:2.8.3-4.el6 will be installed
--> Finished Dependency Resolution
Dependencies Resolved
 Package                   Arch                  Version                     Repository                           Size
 fuse-sshfs                x86_64                2.4-1.el6                   epel                                 52 k
Installing for dependencies:
 fuse                      x86_64                2.8.3-4.el6                 rhel-x86_64-server-6                 71 k
Transaction Summary
Install       2 Package(s)
Total download size: 123 k
Installed size: 115 k
Is this ok [y/N]: y
Downloading Packages:
(1/2): fuse-2.8.3-4.el6.x86_64.rpm                                                              |  71 kB     00:00
(2/2): fuse-sshfs-2.4-1.el6.x86_64.rpm                                                          |  52 kB     00:00
Total                                                                                  173 kB/s | 123 kB     00:00
Running rpm_check_debug
Running Transaction Test
Transaction Test Succeeded
Running Transaction
  Installing : fuse-2.8.3-4.el6.x86_64                                                                             1/2
  Installing : fuse-sshfs-2.4-1.el6.x86_64                                                                         2/2
  Verifying  : fuse-sshfs-2.4-1.el6.x86_64                                                                         1/2
  Verifying  : fuse-2.8.3-4.el6.x86_64                                                                             2/2
  fuse-sshfs.x86_64 0:2.4-1.el6
Dependency Installed:
  fuse.x86_64 0:2.8.3-4.el6

How do I mount the remote file system?

The syntax is

sshfs user@server /path/to/mountpoint
sshfs user@server /path/to/mountpoint options

First, create a directory using mkdir command:

sudo mkdir /mnt/server1

I’m going to mount file system using root user and you need to type root password when prompted:

sudo sshfs root@ /mnt/server1/
##  OR use ssh key based login ##
sudo sshfs -o IdentityFile=~/.ssh/keyfile /mnt/server1/

Sample outputs:

Password for root@freebsd10:

Verify it:

sudo df -h

Sample outputs:

Filesystem              Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/mapper/wks05-root  487G  114G  350G  25% /
none                    4.1k     0  4.1k   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
udev                     17G  4.1k   17G   1% /dev
tmpfs                   3.4G  1.9M  3.4G   1% /run
none                    5.3M     0  5.3M   0% /run/lock
none                     17G  160k   17G   1% /run/shm
none                    105M   50k  105M   1% /run/user
/dev/sda1               239M   89M  138M  40% /boot
root@     20G   12G  6.8G  64% /mnt/server1

To access and/or to see the remote file system, run:

sudo -s
cd /mnt/server1
ls -l

Sample ouputs:

Fig. 02: sshfs in action

Fig. 02: sshfs in action

Dealing with “Permission denied” error and recommended procedure for mounting the remote directory

If you get an error that read as cannot access server1: Permission denied, add yourself to a group called fuse:

$ sudo gpasswd -a "$USER" fuse
Adding user nixcraft to group fuse

Next, create a mount point inside your own home directory:

$ mkdir $HOME/server1
$ ls -ld !$
ls -ld $HOME/server1
drwxrwxr-x 2 nixcraft nixcraft 4096 Mar  8 04:34 /home/nixcraft/server1

To mount the remote file system, enter:

sshfs -o idmap=user  root@ $HOME/server1
ls -l $HOME/server1
Fig.03: Using sshfs without root access on local laptop/desktop

Fig.03: Using sshfs without root access on local laptop/desktop

How do I unmount the remote file system?

The syntax is:

sudo umount /mnt/server1
## OR ##
fusermount -u /mnt/server1

Verify it:

df -h

How can I permanently mount the remote file system by updating /etc/fstab?

Edit the /etc/fstab file, enter:

sudo vi /etc/fstat

The syntax is:

userNameHere@FQDN_OR_IP_HERE:/path/to/source/  /local/mountdir/  fuse.sshfs  defaults,_netdev  0  0


Add the following entry at the bottom of the file:

sshfs#root@ /mnt/server1

Another example with additional options:

sshfs#$root@ /mnt/server1 fuse defaults,idmap=user,allow_other,reconnect,_netdev,users,IdentityFile=/path/to/.ssh/keyfile 0 0

Recommend option for on-demand mounting if you are using systemd: /mnt/server1  fuse.sshfs noauto,x-systemd.automount,_netdev,users,idmap=user,IdentityFile=/home/vivek/.ssh/id_rsa,allow_other,reconnect 0 0

Save and close the file. Where,

  1. root@ : Remote server with sshd
  2. fuse : File system type.
  3. idmap=user : Only translate UID of connecting user.
  4. allow_other : Allow access to other users.
  5. reconnect : Reconnect to server.
  6. _netdev : The filesystem resides on a device that requires network access (used to prevent the system from attempting to mount these filesystems until the network has been enabled on the system).
  7. users : Allow every user to mount and unmount the filesystem.
  8. IdentityFile=/path/to/.ssh/keyfile – SSH key file.