Introducing the ability to connect to Cloud Shell from any terminal

If you develop or administer apps running on Google Cloud Platform (GCP), you’re probably familiar with Cloud Shell, an on-demand interactive shell environment that contains a wide variety of pre-installed developer tools. Up until now, you could only access Cloud Shell from your browser. Today, we're introducing the ability to connect to Cloud Shell directly from your terminal using the gcloud command-line tool.

Starting an SSH session is a single command:

[email protected]:~$ ls
[email protected]:~$ gcloud alpha cloud-shell ssh
Welcome to Cloud Shell! Type "help" to get started.
[email protected]:~$ ls  README-cloudshell.txt

You can also use gcloud to copy files between your Cloud Shell and your local machine:

[email protected]:~$ gcloud alpha cloud-shell scp cloudshell:~/data.txt localhost:~
data.txt                                           100% 1897    28.6KB/s   00:00
[email protected]:~$
If you're using Mac or Linux, you can even mount your Cloud Shell home directory onto your local file system after installing sshfs. This allows you to edit the files in your Cloud Shell home directory using whatever local tools you want! All the data in your remotely mounted file system is stored on a Persistent Disk, so it's fast, strongly consistent and retained across sessions and regions.

[email protected]:~$ gcloud alpha cloud-shell get-mount-command ~/my-cloud-shell
sshfs [email protected]: /home/ekuefler/my-cloud-shell -p 6000 -oIdentityFile=/home/ekuefler/.ssh/google_compute_engine
[email protected]:~$ sshfs [email protected]: /home/ekuefler/my-cloud-shell -p 6000 -oIdentityFile=/home/ekuefler/.ssh/google_compute_engine
[email protected]:~$ cd my-cloud-shell
[email protected]:~$ ls  README-cloudshell.txt
[email protected]:~$ vscode

We're sure you'll find plenty of uses for these features, but here are a few to get you started:
  • Use it as a playground — take advantage of the tools and language runtimes installed in Cloud Shell to do quick experiments without having to install software on your machine.
  • Use it as a sandbox — install or run untrusted programs in Cloud Shell without the risk of them damaging your local machine or reading your data, or to avoid polluting your machine with programs you rarely need to run.
  • Use it as a portable development environment — store your files in your Cloud Shell home directory and edit them using your favorite IDEs when you're at your desk, then keep working on the same files later from a Chromebook using the web terminal and editor.
The full documentation for the command-line interface is available here. The cloud-shell command group is currently in alpha, so we're still making changes to it and welcome your feedback and suggestions via the feedback link at the bottom of the documentation page.