Saturday, April 26, 2008

SSH Without A Password:

SSH Without A Password:

If you use Linux for day-to-day computing, you likely use the secure shell, or ssh. If you are like me, you may grow weary of constantly having to type in passwords to access remote machines. Or maybe you have the perfect backup system, except that it uses ssh to transfer files, and requires you to type in a password (such as rsync or rdiff-backup). There is a way to access those machines without using a password. This technique should be used with care. I’d use it only on machines that I have access to, for example. You don’t want to set up passwordless access from a public machine to your production server, in other words. Use with caution.

The principle is that you generate a public and private key on the local machine. This will be whatever machine you are connecting from. You then transfer the public key to the remote machine. Then, when you ssh into the remote machine, it uses the keys to authenticate. You don’t type in a password, it just takes you straight to the shell prompt. How do we set this up?

Log into the machine you are going to connect from. Let’s say that your account is called ‘user’ and you are going to connect from a machine called ‘desktop’. Log in as ‘user’ on the ‘desktop’ machine and pull up a shell. Run this command. The stuff in red is what you do,not what you type:

[0218][user@desktop:~]$ ssh-keygen -t dsa
Generating public/private dsa key pair.
Enter file in which to save the key (/home/user/.ssh/id_dsa): [JUST PRESS ENTER HERE]
Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase): [JUST PRESS ENTER HERE]
Enter same passphrase again: [JUST PRESS ENTER HERE]
Your identification has been saved in /home/user/.ssh/id_dsa.
Your public key has been saved in /home/user/.ssh/
The key fingerprint is:
a5:25:c0:aa:fe:f3:9f:46:7a:23:e3:6e:10:ec:6f:d3 user@desktop

Your keys are generated. On that machine, view /home/user/.ssh/ You will see something like this:

ssh-dss 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 user@desktop

What you need to do now, is determine the remote machine you are going to log into. Then, decide what user you are going to log in as on that machine. We are going to log in as a user called ‘admin’ on a server called ’server’. First, we will ssh into ’server’ as ‘admin’. Then, edit the file located at ~/.ssh/authorized_keys2. If it is not there, create it. All you need to do is paste the contents of the file from the ‘user’ account on the ‘desktop’ machine into the ~/.ssh/authorized_keys file for ‘admin’ on ’server’.

For example:

I go to my desktop, log in as ‘user’. I run ’ssh-keygen -t dsa’. It generates a ~/.ssh/ file in my home directory.

I want to connect as ‘admin’ on a box called ’server’. I ssh in normally as ‘admin’ into the ’server’ machine. I edit the ~/.ssh/authorized_keys2 using my favorite text editor. I add the contents of the ~/.ssh/ file from my desktop machine into the authorized_keys2 file on ’server’. I then save and quit. I then close all connections to ’server’. Then, I type ’ssh admin@server’, and hit ENTER. It drops me straight to a shell prompt.

This is a nice way to access a machine without having to type in the password every time. Only do this from machines that only you or authorized personnel have access to. Otherwise, you could have a li’l security problem.

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1 comment:

Mike MacCana said...

The article takes a few too many steps. Whole process is:

ssh-copy-id hostname: