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SSHFS vs. WebDAV on Debian, Ubuntu and Linux Mint

RT Cunningham | February 23, 2021 (UTC) | Computers

SSHFS vs. WebDAVWhen I originally wrote about keeping your data safe, it was when I wrote about Linux, Nginx and WebDAV at one of my old websites in May 2020, which I moved to this website in July 2020. I suggest reading it if you want my opinions on data safety. SSHFS can be used in place of WebDAV when a URL connection isn’t required.

SSHFS on Debian, Ubuntu and Linux Mint

I’m not going into detail about the various distributions. That requires more work than I’m willing to put into it. All I know for sure is that SSHFS works on Debian, Ubuntu and their derivatives, including Linux Mint.

Since I wanted the SSH daemon on my service listening on an alternate port, using public key authentication and not allowing root login when I set up the virtual private server, I had to make changes to the /etc/ssh/sshd_config file. I had to add the alternate port to the file (Port XXXX).

For some reason I can’t fathom, I couldn’t connect using SSHFS until I replaced “Subsystem sftp /usr/lib/openssh/sftp-server” with “Subsystem sftp internal-sftp” in the same file. Whether I needed it or not, I uncommented “user_allow_other” in /etc/fuse.conf on my local machine.

The advantage of SSHFS over WebDAV is that the SSH server is already installed. Install SSHFS, create a mount point and add a single line to /etc/fstab, and you’re ready to rock. Installing SSHFS is as simple as:

sudo apt install sshfs

After it finishes, edit /etc/fuse.conf and uncomment the line for “user_allow_other”. Then create a mount point and replace “dir” with whatever you want:

sudo mkdir /mnt/dir

Add this to /etc/fstab, replacing “user” with the correct username and “/mnt/dir” with the correct mount point :

sshfs#user@xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx:/home/user /mnt/dir fuse defaults,allow_other,users,idmap=user,reconnect,_netdev,port=XXXX,IdentityFile=/home/user/.ssh/id_rsa 0 0

It works for me. I can’t guarantee it will work for you. There are plenty of tutorials out there, some good and some bad. I’m happy if I’ve helped you understand even a little of the examples I’ve provided.

When to Use SSHFS and When to Use WebDAV

I store my KeeWeb database on my virtual private server. To use it with my cell phone, I need a URL connection. That’s really the only thing I need WebDAV for. If I ever decide to move the database to a cloud service, like Dropbox or Google Drive, I won’t need WebDAV at all. Even though I can mount the WebDAV share, mounting SSHFS seems to be more reliable.

I only need one drive mounted to update the server files for this website. Since an SSH share works as well as or better than a WebDAV share, SSHFS is what I now prefer. Mounting multiple devices from the same server seems much like overkill to me. I’m sure it would only be useful when sharing server resources with multiple users.

Image Attribution: Clker-Free-Vector-Images at Pixabay

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