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: http://www.ghostwheel.com/blog/2008/10/28/securecrt-on-os-x/


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. πŸ™‚

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 cknight@ghostwheel.com

Happy geeking!

-Chris

25 Replies to “SecureCRT on OS X – The best of both worlds!”

  1. Ok, I’m a cheap bastard. While I like some of the features of SecureCRT, I don’t like paying $99 for a few features as I already use PortablePutty on a USB drive for most of my needs.
    That’s about 8 music CD’s, 100 iTunes downloads, or two seasons of Buffy (got to love those references)

    1. I am using SecureCRT almost daily since about 15 years. It is an essential tool for me. The productivity loss over Putty (which got its name from the serial handler getty and not from clay πŸ˜‰ and such is very well worth the $99. Btw, just upgraded to 7.2 OSX version.

      Btw, I never became a friend of vi either. I am using Editpad Pro. Unfortunately, there is no editor in the similar league available for OSX, so I am using Editpad Pro under Parallels.

  2. I make enough money from my tools that I don’t mind buying the ones I like. After all, if I were a cheap bastard I wouldn’t have a 17″ Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro. πŸ™‚

    -Chris

  3. I do well enough, but never had the drive to force myself to go beyond. I’m a sysadmin in a nice job with low stress and a lot of nice people….. and it doesn’t hurt that it pays well. But with a wife, three kids, one in college and one about to go, there’s not a lot of spare change, so i’m….er….frugal, yeah, that’s it.

    And a 17Ò€³ Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro. is an “investment”. Tax deductible no less.

  4. Low stress… I’m trying to picture that… Nope, I can’t imagine low stress at work. My only low/no-stress times are scuba diving and Burning Man. πŸ™‚

  5. Hey Chris, just wondering does zmodem send and receive work in this setup? Its my second favorite feature in SecureCRT. The first being the tabs.

  6. Howdy Robert,

    Upon your prompting I have tested zmodem transfers. SecureCRT, under CrossOver Mac, seamlessly receives zmodem downloads from my FreeBSD server. There does appear to be a problem with uploads though. I go to the Transfer/Zmodem Upload List menu, and when I select files to Add to the upload list they are not added to the list.

    I need to install SecureCRT into my BootCamp partition and test it under ‘real’ Windows XP to make sure it is a problem with CrossOver Mac and not with the latest release of SecureCRT.

    -Chris

  7. I’ve gotten securecrt 5.5.3 to work but not the latest 6.0 version. I wish I could get it to work.

  8. http://bradbrown.org/?p=10
    Came across this blog today that mentions VanDyke software is finally thinking about releasing an OS X version of SecureCRT. I just emailed the person listed in the address to find any details, because this is by far the most exciting thing I’ve come across on the mac in quite some time.

  9. I too was looking for a SecureCRT type program when I tripped across your blog here via google.(i.e. “secureCRT for macintosh”) I’d never heard of Codeweaver’s CrossOver Mac application. MOST interesting indeed. Will download and try it out a bit, and if I purchase YES I’ll be SURE and reference your email listed above. MANY THANXX for blogging this particular column!

  10. try using JellyfiSSH with iTerm it has tabs and will get you closer to securecrt. I contacted Vandyke a few months back and had myself added to the list for when the beta is released because like you like a lot of the features. I wish someone would port teraterm for OS X also as it is my tool of choice with – ttssh2.sourceforge.jp/

  11. Chris,
    Great post. I am considering using CrossOver Mac also, as my works web portal is IE-only and it seems to work well using IE 6.0 inside a win98 bottle. I tried installing SecureCRT 6.1.4 in an winxp bottle, and I copied over my config/sessions from my windows box, and it sort worked. My connections kept getting disconnected due to what it called possible key/encryption problems. I then built a new winxp bottle and installed the 6.0.3 SecureCRT and now, I can’t connect to anything. I am about ready to give the 5.5.4 client, but am hesitant to go that far back.

  12. Howdy Rick,

    I’ve actually stopped using SecureCRT under CrossOver. Ever since VanDyke admitted they were working on a native OS X port I’ve just been making due with Terminal and JellyfiSSH. Hopefully I don’t have long to wait. πŸ™‚

    -Chris

  13. Any news from VanDyke? Their FAQ page still says “Is SecureCRT Year 2000 Compliant?”

    I’ve used sCRT (or CRT) since the days trumpet winsock when Y2K might have been an issue, and Im really, really missing it.

    BTW, how do you *not* stress at burning man? Maybe I always tried to participate too much.. πŸ˜‰

    1. My key to enjoying Burning Man is accepting that it is too big for one person. I will not see everything. I will not find all my friends. I will not be able to participate in every cool project or event. What I will see, and will do, and who I will meet will be amazing and memorable and will very likely affect my outlook on life in some small and enjoyable way.

  14. Ok, this was posted on 2006/12/01. Over three years later and this has not been ported and does not exist. End of story.

  15. This worked OK with SSH? I get the dialog box to Accept & Save the certificate, then nothing. SecureCRT believes its connected (meaning I can “disconnect”), but it never asks for a password or produces any other output. I tried a couple devices; a Cisco router and an Linux server. Same thing. I also tried reinstalling in a new XP bottle instead of the original 2k bottle to no avail.

    1. I’ll be honest, I haven’t been using SecureCRT under CrossOver Mac in over a year, quite possibly two. The information in my original post is very possibly no longer useful. My CrossOver Mac support/upgrade subscription is long expired, so I can’t load it up and try to see if the current release of SecureCRT works under the current release of CrossOver Mac.

      If it is any consolation, I checked in with VanDyke software and they hope to have early beta versions of SecureCRT for OS X ready for in-house testing by summer.

      -Chris

  16. Hasn’t anyone heard of Emtec’s ZOC. It’s great on the MAC. I’ve given up Securecrt and Putty for good !

  17. In SecureCRT the area to remap your keys is Tools -> Keymap Editor.

    I used the ‘end’ key.
    Create one combo with ctrl+ ‘end’ for copy.
    Create another with shift+ ‘end’ for paste.

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