For years, SSH has been a pain under IRIX. However, with a recent port of Dropbear, an embedded, secure, and lightweight SSH server and client implementation for IRIX, it is now possible to have reasonably fast SSH usage under IRIX.
Dropbear is an OpenSSH alternative, in a word. OpenSSH is a great product, but it does have its downsides. Recent versions are hard to setup under IRIX as it wants security features more and more that are difficult to disable. It's also considerably slower on IRIX than dropbear is.
It's actively developed by Matt Johnston and other volunteers. It's no more dangerous than OpenSSH being ran, and if a user properly configures his or her firewall, then it is unlikely to be hacked. It is miles ahead, as well, of using public telnet.
Raion has currently packaged it for optxeno, with intent to include it in Nekoware II.
Once optxeno is downloaded and extracted to /opt/xeno, do the following:
# mkdir -p /opt/xeno/etc/dropbear
# chmod 700 !$
# /opt/xeno/sbin/dropbearkey -t ecdsa -s 521 -f /opt/xeno/etc/dropbear/host.key
This should start dropbear, which can be checked with ps -aef | grep dropbear. It should be running on local port 22, barring IPFilter or any other blockages.
Dropbear supports inetd usage, but it appears finnicky under IRIX and will probably necessitate further poking at it. Additionally, it would be great to get an initscript for installation/packaging, but it has not been quite figured out yet.