Wednesday, May 23, 2012

How do I set up ssh so that I don't have to use a password?

In a multi-tiered environment, you must rely on ssh to run your benchmarks automatically and remotely.  To run remote applications, it also relies on the ability of running them without the need of providing password.

In this article, we will discuss how to set up ssh so that you don't have to use a password.


The OpenSSH suite replaces rlogin and telnet with the ssh program, rcp with scp, and ftp with sftp. Also included is sshd (SSH daemon), and the other utilities like ssh-add, ssh-agent, ssh-keysign, ssh-keyscan, ssh-keygen and sftp-server.

In this article, we assume you have OpenSSH installed on your platforms.   In our benchmark environment, we are using Windows and Linux systems.  On the Windows, we have installed MKS Toolkit.  For example, ssh-keygen.exe can be found in its bin folder.


OpenSSH SSH daemon on the server listens for connections from clients. It is normally started at boot time.  It supports SSH protocols 1 and 2:
  • Protocol 1
    • only supports RSA keys.
  • Protocol 2
    • supports both RSA and DSA keys
For both protocols, each host has a host-specific key, normally 2048 bits, used to identify the host.

OpenSSH suite has been installed on anotherserver below and sshd is up and running.  By default, when you ssh into a remote machine, you will be asked to provide a password as shown below.

$ ssh anotheruser@anotherserver
The authenticity of host 'anotherserver(' can't be established.
RSA key fingerprint is ed:eb:67:75:21:50:e5:33:72:36:d1:43:b6:64:4e:19.
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)? yes
Warning: Permanently added 'anotherserver,' (RSA) to the list of known hosts.
anotheruser@anotherserver's password:
Last login: Wed May 9 18:08:23 2012 from

Set up ssh So You Aren't Asked for a Password

Our servers will use SSH protocol 1 and RSA keys for communication. Here are the steps:
  1. Use ssh-keygen to set up your user public and private keys 
    • You probably should  passphrase protect your keys.  However, we didn't do it here for simplicity.
  2. Make sure the remote system knows about your public keys.
    • This means making sure that on the remote system (i.e., ssh server) there is a file called authorized_keys in your .ssh directory. This file should contain the contents of of ssh clients.
As the first step, run ssh-keygen on your local machine (i.e., "myserver") and just hit enter when asked for a passphrase.

$ ssh-keygen -t rsa
Generating public/private rsa key pair.
Enter file in which to save the key (C:\Documents and Settings\localuser\.ssh\id_rsa):
Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase):
Enter same passphrase again:
Your identification has been saved in C:\Documents and Settings\localuser\.ssh\id_rsa.
Your public key has been saved in C:\Documents and Settings\localuser\.ssh\
The key fingerprint is:
bd:97:40:b7:d6:8b:35:76:0d:6a:7c:fe:5a:20:3a:6a localuser@myserver

This command will generate both a private and a public key in the ~/.ssh folder:
  • id_rsa
Make sure these files are placed in the .ssh directory of your home directory with the private key having mode 0600. Next, add the contents of the public key file (i.e. into:
  •  ~/.ssh/authorized_keys 
on the remote machine (i.e., "anotherserver").  Note that the file should be mode 600.  If the user account to be accessed on the remote machine is "anotheruser", ".ssh" folder is under that user account's home directory.

After the above setup. you should then be able to use ssh to log in to the remote server without being asked for a password.  If you have any problems, it is usually very helpful to add the -v switch to ssh.

$ ssh anotheruser@anotherserver
Last login: Wed May 23 11:41:31 2012 from
[anotheruser@anotherserver ~]$


  1. OpenSSH
  2. How do I set up ssh so that I don't have to use a password?
  3. How to set up ssh so you aren't asked for a password
  4. HOWTO: set up ssh keys
  5. Verifying SSH Key Fingerprint and More
  6. Setting up ssh

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