How To Run / Execute Command Using SSH

How do I run a command using ssh under UNIX, OS X, *BSD, and Linux operating systems?

The SSH client program can be used for logging into a remote machine or server and for executing commands on a remote machine. When command is specified, it is executed on the remote host/server instead of a login shell. The syntax is as follows for executing commands over ssh:
Tutorial details
Difficulty level Easy
Root privileges No
Requirements None
Est. reading time 2m
ssh user1@server1 command1
ssh user1@server1 'command2'
# pipe #
ssh user1@server1 'command1 | command2'
# multiple commands (must enclose in quotes #
ssh admin@box1 "command1; command2; command3"

The ssh client will login to a server called server1, using user name called user1 and run a command call command1.

Examples: run commands over ssh

Get remote server date and time:

ssh user1@server1 date

Find out remote server disk space usage:

ssh user1@server1 'df -H'

Find out remote server kernel version and Linux distro names:

ssh root@nas01 uname -mrs


ssh root@nas01 lsb_release -a

Sample session:

Animated gif 01: Running commands using ssh client

Animated gif 01: Running commands using ssh client

Run a script called /scripts/

ssh operator@oracle1  '/scripts/'

Run sudo or su command using the following syntax:

## sudo syntax ##
ssh -t user@hostname sudo command
ssh -t user@hostname 'sudo command1 arg1 arg2'
## su syntax ##
ssh user@nas01 su -c "/path/to/command1 arg1 arg2"
# RHEL/CentOS specific #
ssh user@nas01 su --session-command="/path/to/command1 arg1 arg2"
ssh vivek@nixcraft.home.server su --session-command="/sbin/service httpd restart"

Without the -t option you will get an error that read as “sudo: Sorry, you must have a tty to run sudo on a Linux and Unix“.

Running and executing multiple ssh command

Create a new file named commands.txt using the cat command:
cat > commands.txt
Append command you wish to run:

df -H

Next execute commands remotely using ssh command from local file called commands.txt:

ssh server_name < commands.txt
ssh user@server_name < commands.txt
ssh admin@ls.backup < commands.txt
How to run and execute commands using ssh on Linux or Unix

How to run multiple ssh command when using shell scripts

The multi-line command syntax is as follows and need to take help of Here document feature provided by bash:

echo "Local system name: $HOSTNAME"
echo "Local date and time: $(date)"
echo "*** Running commands on remote host named $_remote ***"
ssh -T $_remote <<'EOL'
	echo "Server name is $name"
	echo "Server date and time is $now"
	echo "Server uptime: $up"
	echo "Bye"

Run the script:

A few ways to execute commands remotely using SSH on macos unix bsd system

Multi-line command executing using Heredoc feature of bash

Summing up

Various ways to execute commands remotely using SSH
Purpose Syntax Examples
Single-line ssh command ssh $user@$host command ssh admin@ec2-server uptime
Executing several commands ssh user@server "command1; command2; script1" ssh vivek@linode-server "ls /etc/resolv.conf; date"
Running a command with sudo ssh -t user@host sudo command ssh -t jobs@backup sudo /scripts/
Run commands from a local file ssh user@hostname < file cat cmd.txt
git clone url
cd project
ssh vivek@ls.www-db-1 < cmds.txt
Use Heredoc bash feature to run many commands ssh -T $HOST << EOL ssh -T admin@freebsdnas << EOL
df -H
echo "$var"
echo "$HOSTNAME"
Multi-line command using Heredoc when you need to assign variables ssh -T box1<<'EOL' ssh -T vivek@server1<<'ENDSSH'
echo "$var"

Please note that when you pass the -T to ssh when you wish to disable pseudo-terminal allocation. On the other hand, we can force pseudo-terminal allocation bypassing the -t option to ssh to execute arbitrary screen-based programs on a remote machine, which can be very useful. For instance, when implementing menu services. Multiple -t options force tty allocation, even if ssh has no local tty. See ssh man page online or read it locally by typing the man command:
man ssh

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🐧 6 comments so far... add one

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6 comments… add one
  • Bill Oct 20, 2015 @ 9:41

    Typo with the lsb_release command. Where you have it as host, not command.

    • 🐧 Vivek Gite Oct 20, 2015 @ 19:00

      Thanks for the heads up. The faq has been updated.

  • sumon Nov 25, 2015 @ 13:11

    how can I run/execute ‘nm-tool’ command remotely from the server on host through ssh protocol??

  • Jk Nov 21, 2017 @ 19:52

    How to run in background over ssh ?

  • HarishReddy Bappa Feb 23, 2021 @ 0:08

    Will this command exit ssh after executing command on remoter system, or the ssh command remain open.

    • 🐧 nixCraft Feb 23, 2021 @ 7:24

      No. ssh client will exit after executing command on remote host.

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