Timeouts are a fact of life when working in enterprise network environments. For PuTTY ssh client users there’s a parameter that can help. It’s under the Connection branch of the PuTTY configuration tree and entitled “Sending null packets to keep session active”. After recently finding this I’ve made the default 300 seconds, which should cover all but the most aggressive firewall or VPN timeouts.
Here’s a screenshot of the configuration:
The default setting for this parameter is “0”, which means it is turned off.
Although having this set has helped me to avoid losing a valuable work session prematurely, I still recommend using a vnc session (the link is to a very useful howto from the CentOS project) to ensure persistence of both personal and group work sessions at the console. This is especially true when it comes to the installation and initial configuration of various services and applications. When things get really frustrating, or the need for further study of the documentation becomes apparent, it sometimes helps to be able to set a session aside. It’s also helpful to be able to share what you’re doing with a helpful colleague — if you can find one.