Securely managing multiple Mikrotik units with dsh

dsh is a nice Unix/Linux tool for managing multiple systems efficiently, and I’m using it both at home and at work. In some distributions dsh has been replaced by pdsh, but no worries, pdsh is dsh compatible. Since all MikroTik devices running RouterOS might be managed over SSH, why not use dsh to manage these as well? Here’s a quick howto.

  1. Install ssh and dsh.
  2. If you don’t have one already, create an SSH DSA key pair:
    ssh-keygen -t dsa
    Do this with the Unix/Linux user account you’re managing the devices from. I strongly recommend securing the key pair with a password.
  3. Distribute the public part of the key pair ( to each MikroTik unit, using an existing account (e.g. admin). I used ncftpput for efficient distribution. The public key should now be visible in the “Files” folder on each MikroTik device.
  4. Now attach the public SSH key to a user account. I’ll use the admin account in this example. In cli, this is done with
    /user ssh-keys import user=admin
  5. Create a dsh group file, let’s call the group mikrotik (either /etc/dsh/group/mikrotik or ~/.dsh/group/mikrotik). Add the IP address or hostname of each MikroTik devices to this file, one unit per line. Specify the user name if required.

Sample group file:


You should confirm that SSH works fine with each device before expecting dsh to work. Example command:

~$ ssh admin@

When this works fine, you’re now ready to mass manage your MikroTik devices. A few useful commands are shown below.

Check for and download the newest RouterOS version to all devices:

~$ dsh -g mikrotik '/system package update check-for-updates'
~$ dsh -g mikrotik '/system package update download'
~$ dsh -g mikrotik '/system package update print'

Change admin’s password (note that this will leave the new password in your user’s shell history):

~$ dsh -g mikrotik '/user set password=ThisIsTheNewPassword admin'

Check if any device needs a firmware upgrade:

~$ dsh -g mikrotik '/system routerboard print'

Add a new user:

~$ dsh -g mikrotik '/user add name=NewUser disabled=no group=full'