How to propagate your Editor, Language and other Choices to Remote Machines via SSH

Preparations on the Server-Side

To allow users on to propagate environment variables when using SSH, the AcceptEnv directive must be used on the server-side

  • Add a line AcceptEnv EDITOR to your /etc/ssh/sshd_config
  • Either let the sshd reload its configuration or restart the sshd service: systemctl restart sshd.service

Optional: keep environment variables when working with sudo

When working with sudo most environment variables get reset by default. In order to keep specific env variables, add the following line to your /etc/sudoers configuration:

Defaults env_keep += "EDITOR"

Configuration on the Client-Side

  • Each user who wants to use these features should add the line SendEnv EDITOR to his $HOME/.ssh/config file, either to the section of the host where he wants to propagate the environment variables or to the Host * section if the environment variables should be propagated to every host.
  • In case you haven't had a $HOME/.ssh/config file before, start with the following content saved at that location:
Host *
    SendEnv EDITOR

Other common Environment Variables to propagate via SSH


It happens that several people connect to a remote machine with the same admin or root account. You can forward the name and email to be used for git commits by sending the corresponding GIT_AUTHOR_NAME, GIT_AUTHOR_EMAIL, GIT_COMMITTER_NAME and GIT_COMMITTER_EMAIL environment variables:

Host *

Language and sorting

Append LANG LC_* to the SendEnv/AcceptEnv lists to forward your local language and collation settings.


If you want to use all of your terminal's features (like e.g. 256 color support) remotely, add the environment variable TERM to the lists above. But be careful if remote hosts don't know about your terminal's features, e.g. if you connect to some older machine with TERM set to xterm-256-color or so.