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Every so often we get requests to be able to run PuTTY or Plink without any sort of terminal window at all. The usual use case is SSH being used only for port-forwarding (tunnelling).
(In SSH-2, we can already run without requesting a shell, but we still put up a terminal window (in PuTTY) or keep the console open (in Plink).)
The main issue that needs to be addressed is one of user interaction. For a start, where will passwords and such be entered? (We could only permit authentication which doesn't require user interaction, but that seems a bit naff.) `gui-auth' may be a solution to this.
Another issue in a similar vein is control after the session has started. Currently, one uses the terminal window to add/remove tunnels or to terminate the session; one would need some other way to access these at least some of these control functions, such as (on Windows) a system tray icon.
It's not entirely clear whether this is best done by modifying PuTTY, modifying Plink (unlikely), or creating an entirely new application dedicated to such "headless" operation. (Re the last option, see also `ssh2-generality'.)
It may be possible to do this with the tools as they stand. I'd be surprised if there wasn't some application that could hide Plink's console window in a system tray icon, or something like that, but I don't know of one (please let us know if you do). This would be fine if the only control required after session startup was to kill the entire session.
There are a number of third-party applications based on PuTTY which address this sort of use case; see the Links page.
Audit trail for this wish.