The Raspberry Pi has a great price of $ 35, but that does not take into account most of the peripherals and other hardware that are required to use it.
Once you add up the price of screens, mice, keyboards, HDMI cables and other parts, it soon exceeds twice the cost of the plate alone.
You also have to consider the workspace: not everyone has a second desk or table to save the complete configuration of a Raspberry Pi desktop.
One solution to these problems is SSH, which means ‘Secure Shell’, and it offers you a way to avoid these cost and space requirements.
1. What is Secure Shell?
Wikipedia tells us that Secure Shell is “a cryptographic network protocol to operate network services securely through an unsecured network”.
I prefer a simpler explanation: it’s like running a terminal window, but it’s on your PC instead of the Pi, made possible through a WiFi / network connection that allows your PC and Pi to talk to each other.
When you connect your Raspberry Pi to your home network, you are assigned an IP address. Your PC, using a simple terminal emulator program, can use that IP address to ‘talk’ to your Pi and give it a terminal window on your computer screen.
This is also known as using your ‘headless’ Pi.
2. Terminal emulator
A terminal emulator does exactly what it says: it emulates a terminal on your computer. In this example, we are emulating a terminal for Raspberry Pi, but it is not limited to that.
I’m a Windows user, and since I started using Raspberry Pi I used a very simple terminal emulator called Putty .
Putty feels a little old school but he does his job very well. There are other emulator options, but this is free and reliable.
3. How to get Putty
Putty is free, so all you have to do is download it from here . You always have to download the .exe file.
One thing to keep in mind is that Putty does not install like other programs, it’s just an executable program / icon. I recommend moving this to your desktop for easy access.
4. Starting a terminal session
Open the Putty application and you will be presented with a small window: that’s Putty, nothing more and nothing less.
With your Raspberry Pi turned on and connected to your network, discover your IP address. For this I usually use an application like Fing or I find it manually by accessing the configuration of my router through my browser with 192.168.1.1.
Enter that IP address in the “Host Name” box, then enter “22” in the “Port” box. All you need to do now is click on ‘Open’ and you should see a terminal window appear in a few seconds.
5. Putty connects in series
Serial connections are really useful with Raspberry Pi. They allow you to access your Pi through some GPIO pins using a special cable or add-on, which connects to your PC via USB.
It is also very useful if you do not have a network available, which provides another way to access your Pi from your PC using Putty.
The configuration of a serial connection usually requires a chip and a special circuit, but most people use cables or accessories that have these integrated.
I have not had much luck with the various cables that are on the market, so instead I use my Wombat board from Gooligum Electronics, with its integrated serial chip, or the dedicated Debug Clip from RyanTeck.
6. Putty is forever?
While there are some limitations to using Putty in a desktop configuration, I personally managed them without a dedicated screen and keyboard since my introduction to the Raspberry Pi.
If you want to use the Raspbian desktop applications, then, of course, you will have to go the route of the screen, unless you take advantage of the power of the older brother of SSH, VNC.