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Introduction to sshoogr

June 03, 2013

The sshoogr is a Groovy-based DSL library for working with remote servers through SSH. The DSL allows:

  • connecting,
  • executing remote commands,
  • copying files and directories,
  • creating tunnels in a simple and concise way.

The library was jointly developed by Aestas/IT ( and NetCompany A/S ( to support the quickly growing company’s operations and hosting department.

Using sshoogr in Groovy scripts

The easiest way to use sshoogr in a Groovy script is by importing the dependency using Grape.

import static com.aestasit.ssh.DefaulSsh.*

The entry point for using the DSL is the remoteSession method, which accepts an SSH URL and a closure with Groovy or DSL code:

remoteSession('user2:654321@localhost:2222') {
  exec 'rm -rf /tmp/*'
  exec 'touch /var/lock/'
  remoteFile('/var/my.conf').text = "enabled=true"

For more use cases, please refer to the following sections or to the examples folder in this repository.

Remote connections

The remoteSession method accepts an SSH URL and a closure, for example:

remoteSession("user:password@localhost:22") {

Inside the closure you can execute remote commands, access remote file content, upload and download files, create tunnels.

If your connection settings were set with the help of default configuration (see “Configuration options” section), then you can omit the URL parameter:

remoteSession {

Furthermore, it is possible to override the default values in each session by directly assigning host, username, password and port properties:

remoteSession {

  host = 'localhost'
  username = 'user2'
  password = '654321'
  port = 2222



The SSH’s URL can be also assigned from withing the remote session declaration, like so:

remoteSession {

  url = 'user2:654321@localhost:2222'



The actual connection to the remote host will be executed upon the first command or file access, and, naturally, the connection will be automatically closed after the code block terminates.

You can explicitly call connect or disconnect methods to control this behavior:

remoteSession {

  // explicitly call connect

  // do some stuff

  // explicitly disconnect

  // explicitly connect again



In the next section, we will see how to execute remote commands.

Executing commands

The simplest way to execute a command within a remote session is by using the exec method that just takes a command string:

remoteSession {
  exec 'ls -la'

You can also pass a list of commands in an array:

 'ls -la',

The exec behavior can also be controlled with additional named parameters given to the method. For example, in order to hide commands output, you can use the following syntax:

exec(command: 'ls –la', showOutput: false)

The additional Parameter names are specified in the “Configuration options” section for the execOptions. They can all be used to override default settings for specific commands.

In the same way, you can also define common parameters for a block of commands passed as an array:

exec(showOutput: false, command: [
 'ls -la',

Also you can get access to command output, exit code and exception thrown during command execution. This can be useful for implementing logic based on a result returned by the remote command and/or parsing of the output. For example,

def result = exec(command: '/usr/bin/mycmd', failOnError: false, showOutput: false)
if (result.exitStatus == 1) {
  result.output.eachLine { line ->
    if (line.contains('WARNING')) {
      throw new RuntimeException("Warning!!!")

Two additional methods that you can use around your commands are prefix and suffix. They are similar to using the prefix and suffix options in execOptions or named parameters to exec method.

prefix("sudo") {
  exec 'ls -la'
  exec 'df -h'

And with suffix:

suffix(">> output.log") {
  exec 'ls -la'
  exec 'df -h'
  exec 'date'
  exec 'facter'

File uploading/downloading

The simplest way to modify a remote text file content is by using remoteFile method, which returns a remote file object instance, and assign some string to the text property:

remoteFile('/etc/yum.repos.d/puppet.repo').text = '''
  name=Puppet Labs Packages

Each line of the input string will be trimmed before it’s copied to the remote file. For text file downloading you can just read the text property:

println remoteFile('/etc/yum.repos.d/puppet.repo').text

Uploading of a single file can be done in the following way:

scp "$buildDir/test.file", '/tmp/test.file'

This method only works for file uploading (from local environment to remote). You can also write the example above in a more verbose form with the help of closures:

scp {
  from { localFile "$buildDir/test.file" }
  into { remoteFile '/tmp/test.file' }

A whole directory can be uploaded by using the remoteDir and localDir methods of scp.

scp {
  from { localDir "$buildDir/application" }
  into { remoteDir '/var/bea/domain/application' }

In similar fashion, you can download directories and files:

scp {
  from { remoteDir '/etc/nginx' }
  into { localDir "$buildDir/nginx" }

You can also copy multiple sources into multiple targets:

scp {
  from {
    localDir "$buildDir/doc"
    localFile "$buildDir/readme.txt"
    localFile "$buildDir/license/license.txt"
  into {
    remoteDir '/var/server/application'
    remoteDir '/repo/company/application'

During any upload/download operation, local and remote directories will be created automatically.


If inside your build script you need to get access to a remote server that is not visible directly from the local machine, then you can create a tunnel to that server by using the tunnel method:

tunnel('', 8080) { int localPort ->

All code executed within the closure passed to the tunnel method will have access to a server tunnel running on localhost and randomly selected localPort, which is passed as a parameter to the closure. Inside that tunnel code you can, for example, deploy a web application or send some HTTP command to remote server:

tunnel('', 8080) { int localPort ->
  def result = new URL("http://localhost:${localPort}/flushCache").text
  if (result == 'OK') {
    println "Cache is flushed!"
  } else {
    throw new RuntimeException(result)

The tunnel will be closed upon closure completion. Also, you can define a local port yourself in the following way:

tunnel(7070, '', 8080) {
  def result = new URL("http://localhost:7070/flushCache").text

Configuration options

The following list gives an overview of the available configuration options:

  • defaultHost, defaultUser, defaultPassword, defaultPort (defaults to 22) - Default host, user name, password or port to use in remote connection in case they are not specified in some other way (through url, host, port, user or password properties inside the remoteSession method).
  • defaultKeyFile - Default key file to use in remote connection in case it is not specified through the keyFile property inside the remoteSession method.
  • failOnError (defaults to true) - If set to true, failed remote commands and file operations will throw an exception.
  • verbose (defaults to false) - If set to true, the library produces more debug output.

The sshOptions may also contain a nested execOptions structure, which defines remote command execution (see “Executing commands” section) options. It has the following properties:

  • showOutput (defaults to true) - If set to true, remote command output is printed.
  • showCommand (defaults to true) - If set to true, remote command is printed.
  • maxWait (defaults to 0) - Number of milliseconds to wait for command to finish. If it is set to 0, then library will wait forever.
  • succeedOnExitStatus (defaults to 0) - Exit code that indicates commands success. If command returns different exit code, then build will fail.
  • outputFile - File, to which to send command’s output.
  • appendFile (defaults to false) - If outputFile is specified, then this option indicates if data should be appended or file should be created from scratch.
  • failOnError (defaults to true) - If set to true, failed remote commands will fail the build.
  • verbose (defaults to false) - If set to true, library produces more debug output.
  • prefix - String to prepend to each executed command, for example, ”sudo“.
  • suffix - String to append to each executed command, for example, ”>> output.log“.

There is also a nested scpOptions structure, which defines remote file copying options (see “File uploading/downloading” section). It has the following properties:

  • failOnError (defaults to true) - If set to true, failed file operations will fail the build.
  • showProgress (defaults to false) - If set to true, library shows additional information regarding file upload/download progress.
  • verbose (defaults to false) - If set to true, library produces more debug output.

Advanced usage

Creating a SshDslEngine instance

If you need to embed sshoogr into your own DSL or another library you may need to use internal classes instead of default static methods. The main library’s classes are SshDslEngine and SshOptions, which need to be imported before the library can be used:

import com.aestasit.ssh.dsl.SshDslEngine
import com.aestasit.ssh.SshOptions

To create a simple instance of the engine with the default options you can just use the following instruction:

def engine = new SshDslEngine(new SshOptions())

The engine instance gives access to the remoteSession method.

Populating SshOptions

A more verbose example of creating a SshOptions object can be found below:

import com.aestasit.ssh.log.SysOutLogger


options = new SshOptions()
options.with {

  logger = new SysOutLogger()

  defaultHost = ''
  defaultUser = 'user1'
  defaultPassword = '123456'
  defaultPort = 2233

  reuseConnection = true
  trustUnknownHosts = true

  execOptions.with {
    showOutput = true
    failOnError = false
    succeedOnExitStatus = 0
    maxWait = 30000
    outputFile = new File("output.file")
    appendFile = true

  scpOptions.with {
    verbose = true
    showProgress = true