Devious Freeshell Review

Hi folks.

Besides my Blinkenshell account, I have several freeshell account. One of my favorite is Devious shell.

What is Devious shell? In a short word: a free OpenBSD based shell service.

Registration Process

Registration is done through a web page. Just visit with your web browser. Fill the form in the sign up page to complete the registration process.

One of the most important question on the sign up form is answering your purpose of having Devious shell account. You must write reasonable words describing what you will do with the free Devious account. Hosting some good websites or making a personal gopher space may be a good reasonable purpose.

You'll be waiting for several days until your registration form is processed. It took about five days after filling my registration form to be processed. Until then, be patient and wait. Devious will inform you later about your registration, whether it's accepted or rejected. Don't forget to explore Devious page to understand more about what you can do and what you can't to avoid account termination.

Good luck with your Devious registration.

Account Facilities

Once your sign up proposal is approved, you can start using the shell. Just fire up your ssh client and connect to on port 22. Be sure to use shell password mailed to you. You'll be greeted by a blowfish ascii art. Why blowfish? Although it is not as good as AES cipher, blowfish has a special name which resembles a real blowfish. It's possible to draw blowfish in picture. That's OpenBSD creative ascii logo. It says that blowfish encryption is better than no encryption at all.

Here are the most notable facilities you will get with your Devious account.

Devious mail.

You can use Devious mail right out of the box, without any additional configuration. There are some mail clients provided with Devious shell, such as Alpine, Mutt, and Mailx. My favorite mail client is Mutt, which supports openpgp-encryption with additional tweaks.

Without configuration, your email address will be your_login at It is possible to configure your mail client to use domain with a little tweak. Both domains will work for either sending or receiving mails.

Web Hosting

This is another notable feature available with your Devious shell. You may host a simple website in your public_html directory. Remember to set up right permission for public_html directory and its subdirectories. With permission set up perfectly, website access is restricted by default. Just create a .htaccess file to allow indexing. Your website will be up and running and accessible via You may use mysql with your site. Unfortunately, PHP is unavailable for free account, so that installing Wordpress will be impossible unless you upgrade to a paid account. Remember not to exceed your disk quota, which is about 100 MB. It's more than enough for hosting a personal website.

Gopher Space

You might not have an idea what is a gopher space. Well, it's another web access protocol. It uses gopher:// instead of http:// protocol. You won't be able to access it with standard web browser without any additional gopher extension.

To build your gopher space, fire up lynx text browser and point it to gopher:// Follow the instruction to set up your gophermap for use with gophernicus. Your gopher files are placed on public_gopher directory.

Standard Unix Commands

This is the most important feature of a shell account. Basic navigation commands such as ls, cd, pwd, cp, mv, and rm works fine. No restriction of what you can type on your login shell, as long as it is available on your path.

You may use gpg commands for encryption, ssh to access other remote shell via Devious, irssi and weechat-curses to talk via IRC, lynx and links to browse the web, curl and wget to download files.

Another Devious advantage, you may change your login shell via chsh if you want to try different login shell, instead of one you chose on sign up. There are many login shells available, such as pdksh, bash, ksh, zsh, tcsh, and csh.

In case you want to compile your own software or install a software from source, the build tools are available and ready to use. Just add --prefix=$HOME on the ./configure command line and add $HOME/bin to your PATH environment variable. You are ready to compile your own software for your own use.

Just be careful with your compilation. Don't use too much resources and don't compile a restricted e.g. software that violates Devious acceptable usage policy or your account will get terminated soon. Don't compile on detached screen/tmux as it's considered as background process which is prohibited for free account.

Because of no background process is allowed, a free Devious account is not for you who want to be available on IRC all the time with detached irssi or weechat process. If you want to do this, consider upgrading to a paid Devious account.

Limited Network Access

One downside, the download and upload speed is limited. You'll probably get download speed of 0.5 mbps and upload speed of 0.1 mbps. That could be slower, depending on how many users logged in at the time. Here is speed test results for Devious.

Retrieving configuration...
Retrieving server list...
Testing from (
Selecting best server based on ping...
Hosted by FL High Speed Internet (Cocoa, FL) [64.29 km]: 51.26 ms
Testing download speed........................................
Download: 2.98 Mbits/s
Testing upload speed..................................................
Upload: 0.65 Mbits/s
Share results:

For file transfers, you may use scp, sftp, or rsync via ssh. You may also use pipelined ssh command if you know what you are doing.

Devious is so strict about tunneling. Don't ever try to do tunneling, either locally on your Devious shell or forwarded between your desktop computer and Devious shell. Doing so will assure your account to get terminated soon.

Public Key Authentication

Instead of typing your password each time you log in, you may set up public key authentication. Just generate RSA or DSA or ECDSA key format on your desktop, paste the public key portion to ~/.ssh/authorized_keys file on your Devious shell. Make sure to set up correct access mode, which is 700 for ~/.ssh directory and 600 for authorized_keys file.

Unfortunately, since OpenSSH installed on Devious is still version 6.3, you won't be able to use the new ED25519 key format.

Final Words

Despite those limitations, Devious is a great free shell account.

It's better than a free trial of account, although it's uncomparable with virtual private servers in term of flexibility and performance.

Remember to stick to acceptable usage policy to prevent your free account from getting terminated. Devious admins show no mercy for those who violate their acceptable usage policy.

I hope this review will be useful for you, who want to get a free Devious shell.