What are the exit statuses of ssh command?

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What are the exit statuses of ssh command on a Linux or Unix like system when you run ‘ssh host command‘?

[donotprint][/donotprint]SSH client is a program for logging into a remote machine and for executing commands on a remote machine. By default in Linux/UNIX if particular command/shell script is executed, it return two type of values which is used to see whether command or shell script executed is successful or not. This value is know as Exit Status of shell command or script.


The session terminates when the command or shell on the remote machine exits and all X11 and TCP/IP connections have been closed. The exit status of the remote program is returned as the exit status of ssh. You can use bash shell $? Variable to print exit status of shell. For example:
user@localhost: $ ssh user@somewhere-com

user@somewhere-com: $  exit
user@localhost: $ echo $?

In short,

  1. ssh exits with the exit status of the remote command which can be find with echo $? command.
  2. Or value 255 is return, if an error occurred while processing request via ssh session


Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.

4 comment

  1. Seeing as this is the top hit for googling “ssh return status”, I thought I’d go ahead and add that

    The remote command may also terminate violently due to a signal.
    Such a condition can be indicated by the following message. A zero
    ‘exit_status’ usually means that the command terminated successfully.
    uint32 recipient channel
    string “exit-signal”
    boolean FALSE
    string signal name (without the “SIG” prefix)
    boolean core dumped
    string error message in ISO-10646 UTF-8 encoding
    string language tag [RFC3066]

    So you don’t *always* get the return status of your program.

    Good post, though….it answered my question :)

  2. if you looking for a way to return failure from a remote bash script, try:

    kill $$

    this causes bash to kill itself ($$ evaluates to bash’s pid) and ssh to return 255.

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