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Setting up rmate with Sublime Text for remote file editing over SSH

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If you want to be able to edit files using your local Sublime Text 2 / 3 app over SSH, you can use rmate which is a small remote connection script developed originally for TextMate.

This is how it goes:

  • Install the rsub plugin for ST, which is available through Package Control too.
  • Add a remote forwarding line under the right host in your ~/.ssh/config file to enable the connection:
Host myfancyvps
  RemoteForward 52698 localhost:52698

Or if you want it to work on all your SSH connections you can also set it with a wildcard:

Host *
  RemoteForward 52698 localhost:52698
  • SSH in to your remote: ssh myfancyvps
  • Download rmate: curl https://raw.githubusercontent.com/aurora/rmate/master/rmate > rmate
  • Move it in place: sudo mv rmate /usr/local/bin – you can put in ~/bin too if you only want to set it up for yourself, but sharing is caring :)
  • Make it executable: sudo chmod +x /usr/local/bin/rmate
  • Profit: rmate .profile – make sure you have an open ST2 window to enable listening!

The main reason why I really like this is because you can also sudo rmate with system config files and be able to actually save them back, as opposed to editing via an SFTP client where you need to log in with root to be able to do this.

Also, don't forget to open the port in your iptables if you have a restrictive firewall policy: -A INPUT -p tcp --dport 52698 -j ACCEPT. Also you have to do iptables-save and iptables-restore to make these settings persistent after reboot.

A slightly annoying caveat is that a port can't be shared with other people if you happen to be logged in at the same time, so you might have to set up separate ports in iptables with the first port number in the RemoteForward setting matching it (the local port should remain the same). In this case you have to specify the port number in each call though: rmate -p 52699. So probably the best is to create an alias in your .profile: alias rsub='rmate -p 52699', but in this case you also need to add: alias sudo='sudo '. By adding that trailing space you make sure that the sudo'd command is also checked for alias substitution, so doing sudo rsub my_system_config_file will still work.


Hero image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stiefkind/41808172592