Sick of passwords? Simplify your life by configuring your SSH connection to use a public / private key pair instead.
Before you get started, confirm you have SSH access to the remote server, as you’ll need it shortly.
- Generate the public / private key pair via the command-line:
ssh-keygen -t rsa -b 4096
-tflag indicates the type of encryption you want to use to generate the keys,
DSA. I use
RSAfor all these reasons and more.
-bflag returns a 4096 bit key. Leaving this off will return a 2048 bit key.
- You’ll be prompted to name the key file. Choose something short and easy to remember. You can also provide the name as part of the initial command, using the
ssh-keygen -t rsa -b 4096 -f ~/.ssh/[key file name]
- You’ll be prompted to provide, then confirm, a passphrase. Hit enter both times to leave it blank.
- You’ll receive a success message, along with your key’s randomart image. (Curious about what it’s for?)
- Next, use the cat command to copy the public key from your local
.sshsubdirectory to a file named
.sshsubdirectory on remote server (creating the subdirectory if it doesn’t already exist):
cat ~/.ssh/[key file name].pub | ssh [username]@[remote server] "mkdir -p ~/.ssh; cat >> ~/.ssh/authorized_keys"
- If prompted, type “yes” to confirm you want to continue connecting. This will add the connection to your local
known_hostsfile. This will only happen the first time you’ve attempted the connection.
- When prompted, enter your SSH password.
Test everything by trying to connect to the server. You should be able to connect without being prompted for a password.
If you are prompted for a password, log in again with the -v flag (for verbose mode):
ssh -v [username]@[remote server]
If you see references to “
id_rsa” or “
id_dsa” in the output, SSH is trying to use the default key pair instead of the custom key pair you just created. Correct this by adding your custom keypair to SSH:
ssh-add ~/.ssh/[key file name]
Once your connection is set up, simplify things even further by adding the connection to your SSH config file.