How to SSH without username or password

Normally when you SSH into a computer, you need to provide a username and it will prompt you for your password, like this:

$ ssh joe@server_machine
joe@server_machine's password:

By generating a public-private key pair on the local machine and sharing the public key with a remote machine, you can SSH to the remote machine without providing a login or being prompted for a password.

After this setup is done, you will operate like this:

$ ssh server_machine
$ That is it! You are logged in without login or password!

To set this up:

  • Generate a public-private key pair on your local computer. If you already have one (probably you generated it for Github) and want to use that, then skip this step.
$ ssh-keygen -t rsa -b 4096 -C ""

This generates a public key in ~/.ssh/ and its corresponding private key in ~/.ssh/id_rsa file.

  • We need to add the public key from local machine to the ~/.ssh/authorized_keys file on the remote computer you are logging to. You can do this manually. However, the ssh-copy-id script does this for you. Just pass the remote computer name as input:
$ ssh-copy-id remote_machine

If there is no ~/.ssh/authorized_keys file on the remote machine, this script will create it for you. If the file exists, your public key from local machine will be appended to the existing file.

  • Make sure that the permissions of the .ssh directory is -rwx------ and of the .ssh/authorized_keys file is -rw-------. Otherwise SSH will determine that the keys are not safe and you will still get asked for your password.

  • That is it! You can now SSH directly to this server machine!

Reference: Arabesque: Linux Crypto – SSH Keys

Tried with: Ubuntu 14.04


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