A session presented by Ben Reader.

At the recent PowerShell Conference EU in Antwerp, IT professionals from around the world gathered to explore the latest advancements in PowerShell and its integration with other tools. One of the standout sessions focused on the powerful combination of SSH and PowerShell, providing a unified toolkit that revolutionizes the management of mixed IT environments.

A New Era for Windows Management with SSH

Traditionally, SSH has been the standard protocol for remote management in Linux environments due to its robust security and simplicity. The introduction of SSH support in Windows, particularly with PowerShell 7, marked a significant milestone. This session highlighted how Windows administrators can now leverage the same reliable protocol used in Linux, streamlining the management of mixed environments.

Simple Setup for Seamless Management

During this session, animated by Ben Reader, showed us how setting up SSH on a Windows Server 2025 machine:

  1. Installation: SSH server and client are included by default but need to be enabled.
  2. Activation: Simple commands get SSH up and running, eliminating complex setup processes.
  3. Firewall Configuration: Adjusting firewall rules to allow SSH traffic ensures both security and accessibility.

PowerShell: The Cross-Platform Unifier

Ben emphasized the real magic that happens when combining SSH with PowerShell. Configuring it as the default shell for SSH sessions creates a consistent environment across Windows, Linux, and Mac systems, reducing context switches and errors, and enhancing productivity.

For Windows, this involves a registry tweak:

Set-ItemProperty -Path "HKLM:\Software\OpenSSH" -Name "DefaultShell" -Value "C:\Program Files\PowerShell\7\pwsh.exe"

A little demo for Linux and Mac, setting the default shell using the chsh command was demonstrated. As I’m not a Linux/Mac user I cannot provide you how things has been made, but in few code lines, Ben showed us how it’s easy to implement.

Advanced Functionalities for Enhanced Management

During the session, Ben delved into advanced functionalities that SSH and PowerShell offer:

  1. Passwordless Access: Implementing key-based authentication enhances security and simplifies password management.
  2. PS Remoting with SSH: This combination allows for secure and efficient remote system management.
  3. Port Tunneling: Demonstrated as a versatile technique to securely access resources, enhancing network management flexibility.

Practical application

One of the highlights was a live demonstration showing how to configure a new Windows Server 2025 instance with SSH and PowerShell:

# Install OpenSSH components
Add-WindowsCapability -Online -Name OpenSSH.Server
Add-WindowsCapability -Online -Name OpenSSH.Client

# Start and configure SSH service
Start-Service sshd
Set-Service -Name sshd -StartupType 'Automatic'

# Allow SSH in firewall
New-NetFirewallRule -Name sshd -DisplayName 'OpenSSH Server (sshd)' -Enabled True -Direction Inbound -Protocol TCP -Action Allow -LocalPort 22

# Set PowerShell as the default shell
Set-ItemProperty -Path "HKLM:\Software\OpenSSH" -Name "DefaultShell" -Value "C:\Program Files\PowerShell\7\pwsh.exe"

These steps transformed a fresh Windows server into an SSH-enabled powerhouse, ready to handle remote management tasks efficiently and securely.

Conclusion: Unified Tools for the Future In this session, Ben reinforced the value of incorporating SSH and PowerShell into IT management toolkits. Standardizing tools across different environments reduces downtime, enhances security, and boosts productivity. Highlighting that the future of IT management is unified, and SSH with PowerShell is leading the way.