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The Giraffe logo, a giraffe wearing glasses

Giraffe CircleCI

Gracefully Integrated Remote Access For Files and Execution

A long neck to reach far-away places


Giraffe is a Java library that integrates local and remote file system access with command execution behind a common, familiar API. It combines new classes for command execution with remote implementations of the java.nio.file API introduced in Java 7.

SshHostAccessor ssh = SshHostAccessor.forPassword("", "giraffe", "l0ngN3ck");

try (HostControlSystem hcs = {
    Path logs = hcs.getPath("server/logs");
    Files.copy(logs.resolve("access.log"), Paths.get("log/example-access.log"));

    Command archive = hcs.getCommand("server/bin/", "--format=zip", "logs");

Get Giraffe

Giraffe is available from Maven Central.

With Gradle:

repositories {

dependencies {
    compile 'com.palantir.giraffe:giraffe-ssh:0.10.1'
    // or 'com.palantir.giraffe:giraffe-core:0.10.1' for local features only

Why Giraffe?

Why did we write Giraffe and why might you use it?

While working on deployment and test tools we found many situations where we wanted to write code that worked easily on both the local host and remote hosts using SSH. This required at least three different APIs with different abstractions:

  1. Native Java functionality (with third-party utilities) for local files
  2. Native Java functionality or commons-exec for local command execution
  3. An SSH library (sshj, jsch, ganymed-ssh2) for remote file manipulation and command execution

This led to duplicated abstraction layers in our projects and complicated code that had to know what type of host it was targeting.

With Giraffe, a single library is required and there are only two APIs: native Java functionality for files and an intentionally similar API for command execution.


The closest equivalent to Giraffe is XebiaLabs's Overthere. In our view, Giraffe has two major benefits when compared to Overthere:

  1. It uses the standard java.nio.file API introduced in Java 7
  2. It's offered under the Apache 2.0 license instead of the GPLv2

That said, Overthere supports more protocols and supports Windows, which may make it more appropriate for your use case.


In general, any release of Giraffe is supported until a newer version is released. Users should update to newer versions as soon as possible.

Occasionally, we continue to provide bug fixes and support for the previous major version series after a new major version release. These releases are listed below. We support old releases for at most 6 months after a new major version release.

No supported old releases at this time


Giraffe builds with Gradle and is configured to use Eclipse as an IDE:

$ ./gradlew eclipse     # generate Eclipse projects
$ ./gradlew build       # compile libraries and run tests

See ./gradlew tasks for more options.