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Project 2: Accessing Your VM With SSH


  • ip 
  • hostname
  • ifup
  • ssh 
  • scp


In this lab you'll practice ways to login to your VM and get move files back and forth from your workstation to your VM. These are essential skills for an administrator. Console access to many Linux machines is not practical, either because the machine is locked away somewhere (e.g. a server) or because it's a VM with a clunky console interface (e.g. a cloud server) or because the console can only be accessed with special hardware (e.g. a smartphone, Raspberry Pi). Making the most of remote access also enables you to have access to your home machine from anywhere. 

Assign a Static IP Address

Having a static IP address is not strictly required for SSH access, but it makes things a whole lot easier. Your IP address assignment is available here:

This step guides you through assigning your address to your VM. Your VM has an IPv4 address assigned by DHCP and an IPv6 address assigned by SLAAC. Those protocols are covered more extensively in CIS-192. You can see what addresses you have assigned using the ip command: 

$ ip addr
1: lo: <LOOPBACK,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 65536 qdisc noqueue state UNKNOWN group default 
    link/loopback 00:00:00:00:00:00 brd 00:00:00:00:00:00
    inet scope host lo
       valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever
    inet6 ::1/128 scope host 
       valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever
2: ens160: <BROADCAST,MULTICAST,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 1500 qdisc pfifo_fast state UP group default qlen 1000
    link/ether 00:50:56:bd:03:e3 brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff
    inet brd scope global ens160
       valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever
    inet6 2607:f380:80f:f830:250:56ff:febd:3e3/64 scope global dynamic 
       valid_lft 2591924sec preferred_lft 604724sec
    inet6 fe80::250:56ff:febd:3e3/64 scope link 
       valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever

I've bolded the interfaces and the IP addresses in the output of ip addr

Adding an IPv6 Address

With IPv6 every interface will have multiple assigned IP addresses. You don't have to lose your old address to assign a new one. Using the address information provided to you run the following command to add another IPv6 address:

$ sudo ip addr add 2607:f380:80f:f830:191::X/64 dev ens160 

Replace "X" with the last digit(s) of your assigned IP address. 

Changing your IPv4 Address

Execute the following command to change your IPv4 address. 

$ sudo ip addr replace 172.20.191.X/16 dev ens160 

Replace "X" with the last digit(s) of your assigned IP address. 

Verify Your Address

Now you should re-run ip addr to verify that you have set your addresses correctly. 

ip addr

Making your IP Address Permanent

The changes you just made will be lost if you reboot. In order to preserve them you must edit the configuration file on Ubuntu that is read when the machine starts. That file is /etc/network/interfaces. The default interfaces file looks like this: 

# This file describes the network interfaces available on your system
# and how to activate them. For more information, see interfaces(5).

# The loopback network interface
auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

# The primary network interface
auto ens160
iface ens160 inet dhcp

Edit the file to look like this:

# The loopback network interface
auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

# The primary network interface
auto ens160 
iface ens160 inet static 
  address 172.20.191.X

iface ens160 inet6 static
  address 2607:f380:80f:f830:191::X
  netmask 64

WARNING: Copy-and-paste introduces subtle errors into your interfaces file. You are better typing this information in manually. Triple check the file. Once you're convinced that you have the right information reboot the VM:


If your VM doesn't boot properly it's probably because there's an error in your interfaces file. Run the following command to help you find where your error is: 

$ ifup ens160 
/etc/network/interfaces:10: unknown method
ifup: couldn't read interfaces file "/etc/network/interfaces" 

The error above is telling you that your problem is on or near line number 10. 

Setting your Hostname

When you install Ubuntu the installer asks you to give a hostname. You can change those later if you wish. You can alter your host name using the hostname command. Hostname with no arguments prints the current hostname:

$ hostname 

You can set the hostname too: 

$ sudo hostname newname

The change isn't permanent. If you want to make the change permanent you must put your new hostname into the /etc/hostname file. It's very important that you also make sure your hostname is listed in /etc/hosts. If it's not you will see funny errors when you run the sudo command. The hosts file is discussed in the next section. 

The Hosts File

Before there was such a thing as DNS every hostname of every computer on the entire Internet was listed in a file /etc/hosts. A copy of that file was placed on every computer and someone was responsible for keeping it maintained. That system has obvious problems with scale but instead of being replaced, DNS just adds a layer on top of it. Your /etc/hosts file is still a piece configuration. Even Microsoft Windows has a hosts file it's located in C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\hosts. Here's an example of a hosts file from your VMs: localhost ubuntu-server

# The following lines are desirable for IPv6 capable hosts
::1     ip6-localhost ip6-loopback
fe00::0 ip6-localnet
ff00::0 ip6-mcastprefix
ff02::1 ip6-allnodes
ff02::2 ip6-allrouters

The hosts file is where the special name "localhost" gets its meaning. Also, by adding the name of your computer to the hosts file Linux ensures you'll be able to refer to your computer by name even if it doesn't have a DNS entry. The hosts file takes precedence over DNS so if you place a host name in there Linux will use it without question. Be careful when you do that because it can cause some very hard to find problems. 

Using SSH

How you use SSH depends on your workstation's OS. Here are brief instructions for the most popular OSes. If you already have an SSH client and know how to use it you can skip this section. The CIS machines have PuTTY and FileZilla installed. 

On Mac OS X and Linux

Linux and MacOs have native SSH clients. You can SSH into your machine from the command line:

$ ssh student@<vm-name> 

You can also copy files from the command line: 

$ scp <source> <destination>


Copy a file to your VM:

$ scp /path/to/myfile student@<vm-name>:/path/to/destination 

Copy a file file from your VM:

$ scp student@<vm-name>:/path/to/file /path/to/local/destination

On Linux you can use nautilus or your favorite file manager to browse remote files just like they were local. In your file manager enter your VM as a file URL:


Now you can use drag-and-drop to transfer files.

On Windows

Windows doesn't have a native SSH client. There are two programs you can download on Windows that will help you. 
  1. PuTTY - Gives you command line access
  2. FileZilla - Uses SFTP to move files 
WARNING: IF YOU DOWNLOAD FILEZILLA FROM SOURCEFORGE THE INSTALLER CONTAINS MALWARE. I recommend that you download the ZIP file, not the Windows installer. When you use drag-and-drop from FileZilla be sure to enter port number 22 at the top of the window. Otherwize FileZilla will attempt old-style insecure FTP. 

IPv4 or IPv6

If you are inside of the CIS network (in rooms 828, 829 or the CIS area of the STEM center) you can access your VM directly via IPv4. If you're outside of the CIS network you may be able to access your VM directly depending on whether your Internet provider gives you an IPv6 address or not.  Here's how to tell:

On Windows Command Prompt:

> ipconfig /all

On Mac/Linux:

$ ip addr 

If you see an IPv6 address that begins with the number "2" then you're all good with the 21st century. Otherwise you're stuck with IPv4. 

Logging In 

If you are directly connected you can login to your VM directly with SSH:

you@yourmachine# ssh student@<vm-name>

    <enter funny Cabrillo>


If you are not directly connected you must login via Opus:

you@yourmachine# ssh -p 2220 <my-unix-username>@opus.cis.cabrillo.edu

    <enter your UNIX password>

you191@opus# ssh student@<vm-name>

    <enter funny Cabrillo>


Use one of the above procedures to login to your VM. 

Transferring Files 

Transferring files will be important for this class. You should know this procedure by heart. Unfortunately if you're using IPv4 like me there's extra steps. For this lab you'll bring the /etc/issue.net file onto your local computer, edit it and put it back. Be careful to follow these steps exactly. 

Direct Method

Step 1: Copy /etc/issue.net into your current directory:
you@yourmachine# scp student@<vm-name>:/etc/issue.net .  

Step 2: Edit the local copy
you@yourmachine# nano issue.net 

Step 3: Put it back into a temporary location
you@yourmachine# scp issue.net student@<vm-name>:/tmp/

Step 4: Move it back to /etc (note this is done from your VM)
student@ubuntu# sudo cp /tmp/issue.net /etc/issue.net

Opus Method

Step 1: (From Opus) Copy /etc/issue to your Opus home directory
you191@opus# scp student@<vm-name>:/etc/issue.net .

Step 2: Copy issue.net to your workstation (note the capital -P)
you@yourmachine# scp -P 2220 <you191>@opus.cis.cabrillo.edu:/home/cis191/<you191>/issue.net . 

Step 3: Edit the local copy
you@yourmachine# nano issue.net

Step 4: Put the local copy back on Opus
you@yourmachine# scp -P 2220 issue.net <you191>@opus.cis.cabrillo.edu:/home/cis191/<you191>/

Step 5: Put the new Opus copy into a temporary location on your VM
you191@opus# scp issue.net student@<vm-name>:/tmp/ 

Step 6: Move it back to /etc (note this is done from your VM)
student@ubuntu# sudo cp /tmp/issue.net /etc/issue.net

Take a screenshot of the issue.net file on the desktop of your home computer.

Lab Questions

  1. What is the IP address and hostname of your VM? 
  2. List, in order, the machine and directory locations that your issue.net file traveled through in order for you to edit it. Use absolute paths, including for Mac and Windows if that's what you used. 
Turn in the answers to your lab questions on Canvas.

Turn In

  1. A screenshot of issue.net on the desktop of your home computer. 
  2. Answers to the questions
IMPORTANT: Leave your VM powered on. I will ping it during the grading. 


  • 5 points showing that you have successfully moved issue.net
  • 10 points for answers to the questions. 
  • 5 points if your VM is pingable on the assigned address.