OpenSSH ClientAliveInterval

Using an OpenSSH server's ClientAliveInterval, it is possible for the ssh server to send periodic "keep alive" messages to the ssh client, keeping the connection open indefinitely. This is useful when a firewall or other packet filtering device drops idle connections after a certain period of time. Note that this is different from the KeepAlive directive in ssh_config.

From the sshd_config manpage:

     ClientAliveInterval
             Sets a timeout interval in seconds after which if no data has
             been received from the client, sshd will send a message through
             the encrypted channel to request a response from the client.  The
             default is 0, indicating that these messages will not be sent to
             the client.  This option applies to protocol version 2 only.

Example (send "keep alive" messages every 5 minutes) on Red Hat Linux:

1. Add ClientAliveInterval 300 to /etc/ssh/sshd_config

2. Reload the sshd server configuration with /sbin/service sshd reload

Note: you may want to configure the ClientAliveCountMax value in sshd_config to set the number of times that "keep alive" messages are sent. If ClientAliveCountMax number of "keep alive" messages are not acknowledged by the ssh client, the connection is terminated by the ssh server. The default value of 3 should be sufficient for most users.

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Last modified: 12/02/2003