Pluggable Shell User
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plushu is a shell, intended for use as a dedicated SSH user, whose commands are entirely specified by installed plugins.

It is inspired by the interface used by Dokku to create a Heroku-in-a-box server for building and running web apps.


Although it's not a strict requirement, plushu is meant to be used with Git installed, as this allows plushu to install plugins via git clone and determine versions with git describe.

Installing plushu

To do all this in one line: sudo bash <(curl

This is the standard flow for installing plushu on a server:

Step 1: Get the core

Clone the plushu repository into a new directory that will be used as the home directory for the plushu user. To put it in the standard home location:

sudo git clone /home/plushu

Step 2: Set up the user

Once you have the plushu root on your system, run the installer script to create the plushu user and do other integration.

sudo /home/plushu/

By default, will:

  • use the directory containing as PLUSHU_ROOT
  • create a user named "plushu" (if not already present) with the plushu shell script as its login shell and PLUSHU_ROOT as its home
  • set the plushu user as the owner of PLUSHU_ROOT
  • Make ~/.ssh and ~/.ssh/authorized_keys for the plushu user, if they don't already exist
  • create a link to the plushu shell script in /usr/local/bin
  • Set the clone's git repo to ignore all unrecognized files (so adding files won't affect the status of the working tree)

Configuring plushu

Adding authorized keys

Like Dokku or GitHub, you'll need to upload authorized public keys for each user you want to have access to plushu.

Assuming you are already set up with an identity for root access, you can add authorized keys for plushu with a command like:

ssh "cat >>/home/plushu/.ssh/authorized_keys" <~/.ssh/

By default, plushu does not discriminate between authorized keys in any way. If you need this (for instance, to have administrative and normal users based on the key being used), you should install a plugin and edit authorized_keys accordingly.

Note that, if you don't disable port forwarding, agent forwarding, or X11 forwarding globally, you will likely want to do it for each key in authorized_keys. See next section.

Restricting ssh

By default, sshd allows users to forward ports, agent credentials, and streams from the local machine. There are also options, disabled by default, to allow X11 forwarding and device tunneling. These features will allow users to bypass the plushu shell and perform actions that you would likely otherwise want restricted.

To change these at the system configuration level, you must edit /etc/ssh/sshd_config to set these options (optionally under a Match User plushu line to limit the restictions to only the plushu user):

AllowTcpForwarding no
AllowStreamLocalForwarding no
AllowAgentForwarding no
X11Forwarding no
PermitTunnel no

This is the recommended way to restrict the plushu user, as it is managed by files the plushu user does not normally have write access to (and it appears to be the only way to restrict access to StreamLocal forwarding).

You may also use options before each key in the authorized_keys file to disable port, agent, and X11 forwarding, as well as preventing execution of .ssh/rc if present:

no-port-forwarding,no-agent-forwarding,no-X11-forwarding,no-user-rc ssh-rsa (etc...)

This can be used if editing the global sshd configuration is not an option for whatever reason, or if you only want to restrict these features for certain keys, or if you just want to specify restrictions redundantly.

Accessing plushu

On installation, plushu creates a user whose login shell is the base plushu script. You use ssh -t followed by arguments as your plushu command. (The '-t' option makes it so that SSH requests a full TTY when executing the command: you don't strictly need it if your commands aren't interactive, but it's a good basis

So, for example, if you would use this on the server:

plushu help

You would use this on the client:

ssh -t help

See for ways you can create a shortcut for this.


To get the list of plugins installed in plushu:

plushu plugins

To read the README for any given plugin:

plushu help <plugin>

To get Plushu's version:

plushu --version

(The short alias -v works as well.)

Plushu reads its version based on the Git revision currently checked out, so it will not work if PLUSHU_ROOT is not a Git repository.