SSH without password


SSH server can be configured to authenticate using other methods than password, such as private/public keys, or “trusted” known hosts. It can be set up easily on any Linux distribution to login SSH without (typing) password.




Ubuntu Linux has built-in OpenSSH daemon and we can configure it to be connected by SSH client without password (also known as: passwordless SSH) by below steps:



Create public and private keys

using ssh-key-gen on local-host

ducquoc@server:~ $ ssh-keygen -t rsa

Generating public/private rsa key pair.
Enter file in which to save the key (/home/ducquoc/.ssh/id_rsa):
Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase):
Enter same passphrase again:
Your identification has been saved in /home/ducquoc/.ssh/id_rsa.
Your public key has been saved in /home/ducquoc/.ssh/
The key fingerprint is:
f6:61:a8:27:35:cf:4c:6d:13:22:70:cf:4c:c8:a0:23 ducquoc@server




Copy content of the public key to remote-host

using ssh-copy-id script

ducquoc@server:~ $ ssh-copy-id -i ~/.ssh/ remoteuser@remote-host

remoteuser@remote-host’s password:
Now try logging into the machine, with “ssh ‘remoteuser@remote-host'”, and check in:


to make sure we haven’t added extra keys that you weren’t expecting.



Login to remote-host without entering the password

ducquoc@server:~ $ ssh remoteuser@remote-host

Last login: Fri Dec 16 17:22:33 2009 from

(If successful, you will be on remote-host here, without typing any password)

remoteuser@remote-host:~ $ exit



More info

The command ssh-keygen -t rsa initiated the creation of the key pair.

No passphrase was entered (Enter key was pressed instead). You can add option

-P “”

to create empty password for the key immediately (so that user doesn’t have to press Enter 3 times)


The private key was saved in .ssh/id_rsa . This file is read-only and only for you. No one else must see the content of that file, as it is used to decrypt all correspondence encrypted with the public key.

The public key is save in .ssh/ .

In this case, the content of file is

ssh-rsa AAAAB3Nz...blah.blah...Q0d+1U2WVdBWQM= ducquoc@server

(It is one line in length.)


Its content is then copied in file .ssh/authorized_keys of the system you wish to SSH to without being prompted for a password.

The example shown here generated keys on hmsdevserver by user hmsdev. If the public key generated, file .ssh/ , was copied to your account, file .ssh/authorized_keys on the remote host, then user ducquoc@server is allowed to SSH into your remote account (remoteuser) on remote host (remote-host) without the use of a password.

To summarize, a personal private/public key pair is generated using the ssh-keygen command. The public key is then copied onto a remote systems’ .ssh/authorized_keys file. And you can now SSH to the remote systems’s account without the use of a password.

We also have some alternative commands for every steps (1, 2, 3) :

$ ssh-keygen -t dsa
(deprecated DSA algorithm, then the public/private key is or )

$ cat .ssh/ | ssh remoteuser@remote-host ‘cat >> .ssh/authorized_keys’
(copy content of to authorized file on remote-host, without using ssh-copy-id)

$ ssh remote-host -l remoteuser
(using option -l to specify username on remote host, same with remoteuser@remote-host)




Things to check when it does not work after those steps:

Check version of SSH client
$ ssh -V

Check SSHd config files
$ ls /etc/ssh

Check SSH authorized store
$ ls -lt ~/.ssh

Check content of authorized file:
$ cat .ssh/authorized_keys

Check script ssh-copy-id
$ whereis ssh-copy-id

Check authentication log
$ tail -f /var/log/auth.log
If the Linux system doesn’t have ssh-copy-id script, use the alternative command above, like this one:
$ cat .ssh/ | ssh remoteuser@remote-host ‘cat >> .ssh/authorized_keys’


Make sure to enable SSH key authentication, in the file /etc/ssh/sshd_config (NOT ssh_config )

RSAAuthentication yes
PubkeyAuthentication yes

PermitRootLogin yes

(Restart SSH daemon after changing sshd_config
$ /etc/init.d/ssh restart
Some versions of SSH required strict permissions (700 for ~/.ssh , 640 or 600 for ~/.ssh/authorized_keys on both hosts)

$ sudo chmod 700 ~/.ssh
$ sudo chmod 600 ~/.ssh/authorized_keys
Some old versions of SSH can have ~/.ssh/authorized_keys2 instead of ~/.ssh/authorized_keys .




EDITED: Redmond (Windoze) users có thể dùng PuTTyGen để sinh cặp key SSH:


(Tuy nhiên, với những bạn đã có cài Git for Windows đã có sẵn Git Bash, thì nên sử dụng Git Bash – đã có MingW/Cygwin – để generate như hướng dẫn ở trên).






A coder, husband and brother...
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4 Responses to SSH without password

  1. Duc’s rant: This tip is a very common in Linux/Unix users, but I have to take note for quick reference every time. One thing that bugged me is that I had to Google it again after changing the workplace, since I had forgotten to copy it from old workplace’s wiki…

  2. Pingback: Hadoop cluster setup | DucQuoc's Blog

  3. Duc’s rant continued…

    One of my co-workers has agreed to copy some of my posts in the old wiki for me, yet it is 2 months and I haven’t heard anything about that :-(

    . . . guess it can’t be helped afterall . . .

  4. Pingback: Install PostgreSQL Database | DucQuoc's Blog

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