Code Sorcery Releases Meerkat 1.0

June 3rd, 2008

Have you ever tried to set up an SSH tunnel? Chances are you either have no idea what that is, or you have tried, and are squirming in your seat now recalling the pain you suffered.

SSH tunneling is an extremely powerful means of establishing an encrypted (secure!) link between your computer and another computer, migrating selected network accesses from one computer to the other.

For instance, let’s say you’re a student, and you have a school library that provides all manner of online reference materials, such as encyclopedias, magazine indexes, etc. In order to prevent these resources from being accessed outside the school, the school may limit access to computers “inside the network.” If you have access to a shell account inside the network, you may be able to use SSH tunneling to “surf the web” from your shell account, even though you’re using Safari on your Mac to do all the web viewing. Nifty, huh?

I have configured something like this before and it’s extremely confusing and easy to get wrong.

Meerkat 1.0 from Code Sorcery Workshop, is a slick GUI interface around providing this type of functionality. It provides nifty luxuries such as named presets for tunnels, and allows for tunnels to be opened automatically when a particular app launches. Cool!

Congratulations to Justin Miller on reaching 1.0 with this product!

3 Responses to “Code Sorcery Releases Meerkat 1.0”

  1. ssp Says:

    I suppose once you have tried and succeeded making an SSH tunnel this isn’t as big a deal because the cursing has been done and the script has been saved, but it looks like a nice tool to start with.

    If you’re interested in tunneling / VPN stuff, the recent version 2 of Shimo may be interesting to look at. Not quite as simple as Meerkat, but able to tame Cisco VPN and some others as well. It appears to come with ssh support as well now.

    If you need such ssh tunnels regularly, it may be worth considering to do this transparently without a GUI application getting in the way. A few years back this took fiddling with NetInfo and xinetd, but I guess you can achieve the same with a bit less effort using a LaunchDaemon these days.

  2. ssp Says:

    P.S. Your live preview doesn’t like the URL in the LaunchDaemon link I added. It makes all the text following go AWOL.

  3. Justin Says:

    @Daniel: Thanks a ton for mentioning Meerkat!

    @ssp: You are right in that once you setup a particular, specific tunnel, chances are that you jot it down in a shell script or otherwise save it for next time to avoid the pain again. As a sysadmin, I’m in this position myself. But where Meerkat comes in is bringing up your IMAP tunnel every time you launch Mail, or tunneling to your home server’s VNC every time you start Screen Sharing and showing it in Finder’s sidebar just like a local server, or recognizing when you close and then later open your laptop someplace else and keeping things going, all the while giving you a non-intrusive Growl notification of how your tunnels are faring.

    As for the GUI, I gathered a lot of feedback to that effect and provided two features: remembering how you like to run it (in the sense of whether the main window is shown or not), and optionally running without a dock icon. UI be gone! :-)

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