Using remote SSH commands

There is no full SSH access with Professional Apps, but you can still run SSH commands, here is how.


With fortrabbit Pro Stack Apps you deploy with Git. But sometimes SSH access to your App can be helpful as well. fortrabbit Apps have ephemeral storage and a horizontal scalable infrastructure. This allows great performance and grants high availability. One trade off is that full SSH access is not feasible.


Remote SSH execution: run single commands remotely using the SSH remote exec protocol.

Application scenarios

  • Use CLI tools for tasks like database migration (see below)
  • Use remote task runners like Envoy (or Gulp/SSH)
  • List files on remote: see what actually has been deployed
  • Debug while developing your Worker and cron jobs
  • Debug while developing your pre/post deploy scripts
  • Execute arbitrary PHP scripts within your Apps


No persistent code manipulation: Code changes made via remote SSH execution don't have any effect in your running App! This means: You can run a database migrate command, which changes the contents of your database and thereby has effect on your App. But: If your remote command actually modifies, creates or removes files, it will only be modified, created or removed from the "deployment Container" in which the SSH command was executed, not in the "Web Container", which is used to serve your App to the web. Also those changes will be undone with your next deploy. Hence: All code changes need to be made locally and then committed and pushed via Git.

No uploads: SFTP is not available. All code changes need to be made via Git deployment due to ephemeral storage.

No concurrent usage: To guarantee code consistency no deployments can be made while a remote SSH command is executing. For the same reasons parallel deployments and parallel SSH executions are not allowed.

Limited execution time: The maximal execution time for remote SSH commands is limited.

No background execution: Commands cannot be detached to the background. This means: When the command execution is finished and you are back on your local shell, then the remote command execution has terminated as well - whether there are still running detached processes or not.


The main difference of the SSH remote exec to a "full SSH environment" is that you can only execute one command at once and that you specify the command to be executed with the SSH login command line. All you need to do is: prefix the command you want to execute remotely with the SSH login command.


# Get a directory listing of your Apps htdocs folder:
$ ssh {{ssh-user}}@deploy.{{region}} ls -lha
# Try it out! This works with your (selected) App.


$ ssh [[your-app]]@deploy.[[region]] ls -lha
# └─────────────────────┬────────────────────┘ └──┬───┘
#                       ▼                         ▼
#                ssh login command          remote command

Note I: Unless otherwise specified by you all commands are executed from within /srv/app/{{app-name}}/htdocs, which is also the location to which your files are deployed. So if the script, you want to execute, is locally under {{vendor/bin/foo}} then you'd need to execute ssh … php {{vendor/bin/foo}}. Check out the directory structure for more information.

Note II: You must write the interpreter php before all PHP scripts, including CLIs like artisan or app/console, you want to execute. So ssh … php {{script.php}} works and ssh … {{script.php}} does not.


For remote SSH execution you can identify yourself using your public SSH keys or with your Account password. The examples above show you correct values, when you are logged in to the Dashboard. Please check the access methods article for more information.

Using CLI tools

Many modern web development frameworks and CMS come with a programmable command line interfaces (CLI), Drupal Console and Artisan for example. These CLIs allow you to automate often occurring tasks, help you to develop your App via code generators and provide useful helpers to set up new installations. Executing commands, like database migration, can hugely simplify development.

Executing PHP scripts

If you want to execute PHP scripts, including artisan and it's like, make sure to specify the PHP interpreter explicitly:

# will work
$ php artisan some:command
$ php some-script.php

# will _not_ work:
$ ./artisan some:command
$ ./some-script.php


# Arbitrary PHP script
# Call a PHP script, passing some arguments
$ ssh {{ssh-user}}@deploy.{{region}} php {{my-script.php}} {{arg1}} {{arg2}}

# Laravel: artisan
# Execute `some:command` using Laravel `artisan` CLI:
$ ssh {{ssh-user}}@deploy.{{region}} php artisan {{some:command}}

# Symfony: console
# Execute `some:command` using Symfony `app/console` CLI:
$ ssh {{ssh-user}}@deploy.{{region}} php app/console {{some:command}}

Check out the Laravel article for more examples.


A simple example which executes my-script.php remotely and write it's output into local logs/output.log file. This is the gulpfile.js:

'use strict'

var fs = require('fs'),
  gulp = require('gulp'),
  SSH  = require('gulp-ssh');

var config = {
  host:       'deploy.{{region}}',
  port:       22,
  username:   '{{ssh-user}}',
  privateKey: fs.readFileSync(process.env.HOME + '/.ssh/id_rsa')
var ssh = new SSH({ignoreErrors: false, sshConfig: config});

gulp.task('run-script', function() {
  return ssh
    .exec('php my-script.php some-arg', {filePath: 'output.log'})

Then run in your local terminal:

$ gulp run-script

Private repositories

With the Professional Apps you can create a new SSH keypair for your App, using the keygen command:

ssh {{ssh-user}}@deploy.{{region}} keygen

This will print out a public key, which you can then install with your private repository (on Github, Bitbucket or wherever).

Advanced usage

Still reading, go ahead, dive deeper!


You can execute multiple commands at once by quoting everything and separating the commands with a semicolon:

# execute three scripts
$ ssh {{ssh-user}}@deploy.{{region}} "php {{foo.php}} ; php {{bar.php}} ; php {{baz.php}}"


On Mac and Linux: You can define local "aliases", which reduce the amount typing when executing a remote SSH command by a lot. For example:

# create the alias
$ alias artisan-{{app-name}}="ssh {{ssh-user}}@deploy.{{region}} php artisan"

# use the alias
$ artisan-{{app-name}} migrate
# this actually calls "ssh {{ssh-user}}@deploy.{{region}} php artisan migrate"

To persist those aliases between shell sessions you need to add them to your shell profile file. Usually that is either ~/.profile, ~/.zshrc or ~/.bashrc.

All articles

Craft CMS


Install guides

Code access














The Dashboard


Tips & tricks




Need individual help?
Learn about Company plans ›
Looking for an old article?
See the full list of articles ›
Found an error?
Contribute on GitHub ›