I'd like to pipe several files to a remote server, piped as input to commands run on the remote server, over ssh, but only one ssh connection/command is permitted. (In the remote authorized_keys file, "command=..." is specified, so only one single command/script can be run on the remote end using that key).

Is it possible to have a setup where multiple files go in the same pipe - I've been considering tar'ing them and having some logic in the remote script/untar to separate the files to separate commands

The initial setup was something like

cat file1 | ssh -i identity remote.host 'remote command1 <'
cat file2 | ssh -i identity remote.host 'remote command2 <'

Using tar, it could be something like

tar cf - file1 file2 file3 | ssh -i identity remote.host 'remote command.sh <'

The remote script would need to be able to extract the files one by one and pipe the data into separate commands, but I am not sure how to achieve this


If the boundaries between files don't mater, just cat file1 file2 | ssh …. If they do, use tar. This is actually very close to what it was invented for and precisely what it does.

The other option would be to setup a named pipe that would keep the ssh connection open with a file node for it's input. You could keep dumping things into at will.

Edit: Example usage for tar:

On the receiver end inside the script that gets run as remote command move to where you want to files to be extracted to and then read 'em in:

cd /path/to/extract/destination
cat - | tar x

And on the sending side:

tar c file1 file1 | ssh […]
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  • thanks, examples for both would be great! I imagine the local end would be like tar cf - file1 file2 file3 ... | ssh ..., however I am not sure how to handle the files on the other end. tee? – grojo Jun 11 '11 at 19:58
  • Ok, I realized i left out something crucial, that the files should be piped as input to commands on the remote end! So I want to keep the data in the pipe and never extract to files! Apologies...! – grojo Jun 11 '11 at 20:15
  • I'd give you an example with a named pipe, but it's exactly the same as a regular pipe except that you set it up ahead of time then write to it when you're ready to. I can't see how this addresses the problem in your question without more details. – Caleb Jun 11 '11 at 20:15
  • @grojo: This isn't making sense yet. How are you supposed to delineate between files? Does each file that gets sent run a new command on the remote end or can you just concatenate them all together and send them across? – Caleb Jun 11 '11 at 20:16
  • You could use cat - | tar xO | command on the receiving end to pipe to a command instead of extracting to files, but in that case tar is wasted unless you wanted to compress along the wire because cat could have done the same thing. – Caleb Jun 11 '11 at 20:26

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