SecureCRT on OS X – The best of both worlds!

Update: Apparently VanDyke is embarking on a project to port SecureCRT to OS X! I have some more information in this post:

I’ve been using SecureCRT since version 2.2 (beta 4), and on the Windows platform it has consistently been the best terminal emulator and ssh client I have ever used. One of the hardest things I had to deal with when I switched to an Apple OS X PowerPC based laptop last year was losing the functionality of SecureCRT. Apple’s Terminal application is OK, in the way that the Cygwin ssh client is on Windows: It works, but it isn’t something I recommend. SecureCRT had recently added tabbed sessions, to which I quickly became addicted; and the loss of that was painful.

JellyfiSSH made life bearable. JellyfiSSH is a ssh configuration manager that allows you to store connection details and quickly access them via the Dock or the JellyfiSSH menu. As a SysAdmin, this made it a lot easier to quickly connect to the dozens of servers I access on a daily basis. Still, without tabbed sessions, my digital workspace can get pretty cluttered. For all my google’ng I still haven’t found a decent tabbed ssh client for OS X.

Last week I purchased one of the new Core 2 Duo 17″ MacBook Pro laptops, and a new world of possibilities has been opened up to me. Yes, it can boot to Windows, but that is only useful to me in extreme circumstances. Yes, I have Parallels, but I am I finding that little things like USB flash drives don’t work with it and that annoys me.

Then there is CodeWeavers CrossOver Mac. While not a perfect tool, yet, it does let me do something I have craved since making the switch: I can run SecureCRT on OS X and get my tabbed sessions back! Not only that, but I can copy over my session files from my WinBlows desktop and be pretty much set up in minutes.

CodeWeavers CrossOver Mac is an Intel-based Mac only product; so this option wasn’t available to my PPC laptop or desktop. It installs itself much like any application, and upon installation seems to create a default Windows 2000 ‘bottle’. A ‘bottle’ is a directory hierarchy containing all the files for an instance of their virtual environment. Bottles are smaller than Parallels virtual environments because they are not a full virtual disk volume, they are simply a directory containing the necessary libraries and your installed software. For example, the XP emulation bottle I have SecureCRT and SecureFX installed within is only 29M whereas the Parallels XP virtual environment I have is 2.8G. A difference of two orders of magnitude; or 100x as big, to the less scientifically inclined. CodeWeavers CrossOver Mac has a software installation wizard with a large list of known supported applications. SecureCRT was not on the list, but it installed quite easily as an unknown application. One of the things I like about CodeWeavers CrossOver Mac is the seamless keyboard emulation for the X11 environment that is used to run Windows applications. A while back I tried the X11 port of Visual SlickEdit for OS X and I found there to be annoyances with copy-and-paste, as well as other difference inherent with it being a X11 application running on OS X. The folks at CodeWeavers seem to have conquered this, and all the Windows keyboard shortcuts seem to work flawlessly for SecureCRT under CrossOver Mac.

There is only one real problem that I have discovered so far. SecureCRT uses crtl-insert and shift-insert for copy and paste, in so that the standard Windows shortcuts do not interfere with applications inside the terminal emulation window. So, what’s my problem? The MacBook Pro laptop keyboard doesn’t have an insert key! While SecureCRT does support mouse copy-and-paste, it is disabled by default. I’ve enabled it, but after eight years of being used to shift-insert and ctrl-insert it may take me a while to adapt. 🙂

Both CrossOver Mac and SecureCRT have trial versions. If you are on an Intel based Mac, and are hungry for a tabbed window ssh solution, I strongly encourage that you give them both a try. It isn’t as slick as a native ‘Carbon based’ Mac application, but it is functional and easy to use; and isn’t that the real goal?

Should you happen to purchase CrossOver Mac could I ask a favor? Could you list me as the referral for the purchase? I don’t get a commission, but they will extend my product support. The email address to list is

Happy geeking!


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