25. Nov. 2016 by Marek
Since day one, Retrospective aimed to make your interaction with remote servers as smooth and simple as possible. You didn’t necessarily have to possess any knowledge or skills related to working on *NIX systems through terminal. This was awesome, as anyone could start to search and monitor logs on remote servers without any entrance barrier. However, there are many advanced users that know the ins and outs of the terminal environment and who have even developed some scripts and tools which help them in their daily work. Release 4.0.0 invites these, so called, Console Ninjas to have a look at the new cool Retrospective feature - SSH Console.
SSH Console is a fully-fledged terminal emulator capable of connecting to remote servers with the use of the SSH protocol. The Console primary emulates control sequences from xterm but also supports a subset of vt100. Thanks to this, you get all the fancy colors and line drawing characters commonly present in a good terminal software. A cool thing about SSH Console is that the SSH connection is established straight away using the credentials configured for the specific host in Retrospective. No more tedious typing of username and password when connecting to your remote servers. Finally you can focus on getting the job done without any distractions!
It is not uncommon that different remote servers or even different accounts on the same server are configured with different terminal encodings. Usually you are forced to configure your terminal software in a way it understands the encoding of the remote host. SSH Console has a nice surprise for you in this context. By default, the Console tries to guess the remote encoding by analyzing some environment variables. Thus, usually you do not need to configure anything and can just go straight to business. Of course it may happen that the guess of remote encoding is wrong, therefore you can always override it in the Host Manager.
Tabs of SSH Console can be exploded/imploded as any other tabs in Retrospective which allows you to adjust them to the needs of the given program that is executed in the Console. For example, when editing a big configuration file with nano, it is good to have a lot of vertical space. Exploding of SSH Console tabs is also very convenient when you need to make some action on a remote host that calls for log monitoring. For example you need to deploy a new version of your application, so in the first tab, you start monitoring of the application server log file and in the second tab you open the SSH Console and make the deployment. Thanks to exploding, both tabs can be placed side by side, so any log changes are instantly visibly after deployment.
SSH Console has several more features that are worth mentioning. Firstly, it supports Alternate Screen Buffer similarly to other feature-rich SSH clients such as PuTTY or iterm2 on MacOS. Thanks to this, the screen contents are saved between opening some typical console programs such as nano, vi, nmon or midnight commander. It is very handy when you list the contents of a directory, then open some file and after closing it you’d like to recall the directory contents. It’s quite common to copy some text in and out of a console, thus other features provided by the SSH Console are:
Quick copy/paste mode that allows you to copy/paste text with the use of left/right mouse buttons
Keyboard shortcuts that allow you to copy/paste with the well-known shortcuts: ctrl+c/ctrl+v.K/li>
It is also definitely valuable that SSH Console is capable of supporting Alternate Character Set which ensures that line drawing characters in programs such as nmon or midnight commander are properly displayed even when single byte encoding (e.g. latin1, latin2) is configured on the remote server.
Grouping hosts into clusters – typically your servers are deployed in some physical topology, e.g. clusters, or are just simply logically grouped into some entities. Host Manager provides you now with a functionality of grouping hosts into clusters which, especially in the case of a large number of hosts, makes it a lot easier to manage hosts configuration.
Managing of local search resource consumption – when doing local searching, Retrospective core engine squeezes all the juice from your machine to get the search done as soon as possible. This involves all the CPU horse power of your computer … and sometimes it’s just not what you expect. Therefore in this release, we’ve introduced a preference that lets you control how many simultaneous threads can work on local searching thus impacting how many of your CPU cores will be dedicated to local searching in Retrospective.
Local filtering improvements – in the previous releases local filtering was always case sensitive – now you can decide whether the case of letters should be checked or not. Also now you are able to match the date visible in the first column of Result Table, while previously only the content of the log entry was taken into account during local filtering.
Looking at the above features, it’s apparent that not only Console Ninjas have a good motivation to reach out for the new Retrospective release. Of course, naturally we are Console Ninjas ourselves, but that hasn’t prevented us from ensuring that SSH Console can be used even by a novice. Just open the SSH Console to any of your hosts in Host Manager and see how easy it can be to do some basic work in the *NIX environment. If you’re not sure how given command works, you can always type “man ” that will display the command’s manual.
Whether you are a Console Ninja or not, we encourage you to give the 4.0.0 release a try. The synergy of the Console-way with the simplicity of Retrospective features will be apparent instantly after trying to incorporate the SSH Console into your everyday work. This is just one of those power combos that you simply need to have in your tools arsenal ;). But beware! If you stare too much into the /dev/null ... it can start to stare back at you.