Remote Access to IPython Notebooks via SSH

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Scenario: On your local computer, you want to open and manipulate an IPython notebook running on a remote computer. We will do this by opening an SSH tunnel. This tunnel will forward the port used by the remotely running IPython instance to a port on the local machine, where it can be accessed in a browser just like a locally running IPython instance.

On the remote machine, start the IPython notebooks server:

remote_user@remote_host$ ipython notebook --no-browser --port=8889

Usually IPython opens a browser to display the available notebooks, but we do not need that so we use the option –no-browser. We also change the port to 8889, for no other reason than to show how this is done.

On the local machine, start an SSH tunnel:

local_user@local_host$ ssh -N -f -L localhost:8888:localhost:8889 remote_user@remote_host

The first option -N tells SSH that no remote commands will be executed, and is useful for port forwarding. The second option -f has the effect that SSH will go to background, so the local tunnel-enabling terminal remains usable. The last option -L lists the port forwarding configuration (remote port 8889 to local port 8888).

Now open your browser on the local machine and type in the address bar


which displays your remotely running IPython notebook server.

To close the SSH tunnel on the local machine, look for the process and kill it manually:

local_user@local_host$ ps aux | grep localhost:8889
local_user 18418  0.0  0.0  41488   684 ?        Ss   17:27   0:00 ssh -N -f -L localhost:8888:localhost:8889 remote_user@remote_host
local_user 18424  0.0  0.0  11572   932 pts/6    S+   17:27   0:00 grep localhost:8889

local_user@local_host$ kill -15 18418

Alternatively, you can start the tunnel without the -f option. The process will then remain in the foreground and can be killed with ctrl-c.

On the remote machine, kill the IPython server with ctrl-c ctrl-c.

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