How to read scientific papers from home

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There is a simple solution for using the universities access to scientific journals to read and download publications from home. In short: you have to tunnel your web traffic through an ssh-session. We will describe setting up this tunnel using the browser "firefox" and openssh (for Linux) or PuTTY (for Windows). (The article is based on this blog entry ).


Make sure you have an openssh client installed, open a terminal and type:

 ssh -qTfnN -D 7070

All the added options are for a ssh session that’s used for tunneling.

 -D :- forward port 7070 to
 -q :- be very quiet, we are acting only as a tunnel.
 -T :- Do not allocate a pseudo tty, we are only acting a tunnel.
 -f :- move the ssh process to background, as we don’t want to interact with this ssh session directly.
 -N :- Do not execute remote command.
 -n :- redirect standard input to /dev/null.

continue with step 4) of the Windows section (configuring firefox)


Create a new PuTTY session

Run PuTTY and create a new session in PuTTY to connect to the remote host. Fill in the hostname:, the port: 22, make sure SSH is checked, give it a session name and hit Save.


Configure a secure tunnel

Click on “Tunnels” on the left and set up dynamic fowarding for a local port (e.g. 7070). Under “Add new forwarded port” type in 7070 for the source port, leave the destination blank, and check Auto and Dynamic. Then it the Add button. If you did it correctly, you’ll see D7070 listed in the Forwarded Ports box.


That’s it for tunnels, as there is no need to create more than one. Remember to save your session profile in PuTTY so you don’t have to set up the tunnel next time.

Connect to the remote SSH box

Double click on the connection profile and type in your username and password when prompted.

Configure Firefox

Go to Edit, Preferences, Advanced. Click on the Network tab, and then click on Connection Settings: Check Manual Proxy Configuration, leave most of the fields blank, but fill in for the SOCKS Host with a port of 7070 (or whatever you used in Step 2):

Firefox preferences.jpg Firefox tunnels.jpg

Surf the web using Firefox

Since all the web-traffic is tunneled through the ssh-session, the journal web-pages will grant you access to their journals. If for some reason your ssh-session should be interrupted (e.g. if you close this session), you will not be able to surf the web using the firefox browser until you either open up a new ssh-session, or you undo your changes in firefox's preferences.