About this Install Guide

This guide is intended to get you up and running with this tool quickly with the most common settings. For a thorough review of all options, refer to the official documentation.

Secure Shell (SSH) is the primary tool used to connect to remote Linux servers. It provides a secure shell on a remote machine, and is used frequently in cloud and server development.

This section provides answers to the most frequently asked SSH setup questions related to server and cloud development.

Feel free to seek out additional SSH tutorials or add more information to this page.


SSH is a client server application.

An SSH server, also called the SSH daemon, runs on a remote machine.

An SSH client runs on the local machine (the one you are typing on) and connects to the remote daemon.

Decide if the SSH daemon is already running

For SSH to work, the SSH daemon must be running on the remote machine. Many Linux distributions install and run the SSH daemon automatically.

To find out if the SSH daemon is already running running use the ps command.


            ps -ef | grep ssh

If the result includes a line with sshd the daemon is running.


        root      1113     1  0 18:48 ?        00:00:00 /usr/sbin/sshd -D


Another way to check if the SSH daemon is running is to query the SSH service.


            sudo systemctl status sshd

If the output displays “running”, then the SSH daemon is already running.


        Active: active (running) since Tue 2022-09-27 01:04:44 UTC; 17h ago


Install SSH server

If the SSH daemon is not running on the remote Linux machine, install it using the package manager.

For Ubuntu/Debian distributions:


            sudo apt-get install openssh-server 

For Red Hat and Amazon Linux distributions.


            sudo yum install openssh-server 

Start and stop the SSH daemon

The commands below are for any Linux distribution using systemd. This includes Debian, Ubuntu, and Amazon Linux.

To start the SSH daemon:


            sudo systemctl start ssh 

To stop the SSH daemon:


            sudo systemctl stop ssh 

To restart the SSH daemon:


            sudo systemctl restart ssh 

Use a password with SSH

For security reasons, cloud instances don’t enable password logins and there is no password set for the user accounts (such as ubuntu or ec2-user).

Password access is useful to connect when the private key is not available.

To enable passwords edit the file /etc/sshd_config and set PasswordAuthentication to yes.

To enable it from the command line, run this command:


            sudo sed -i '/PasswordAuthentication no/c\PasswordAuthentication yes' /etc/ssh/sshd_config

Restart the SSH daemon using the commands above .

To use a password for SSH a password must be created.

To create a password for the user ubuntu:


            sudo passwd ubuntu

For improved security, set the security group of the cloud instance to allow port 22 traffic (SSH) from a minimal set of IP addresses, not anywhere on the internet. Use password access with caution.

SSH keys

SSH uses a private and a public key. The public key is placed on the remote machine (server) and the private key is kept on the local machine (client). The keys allow the client to connect to the server.

If a new key pair is needed use the ssh-keygen command to generate a key pair:



Answer the questions. Pressing enter to accept all defaults works fine.

By default, the keys are created in ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub (public key) and ~/.ssh/id_rsa (private key)

Cloud service providers have different ways to manage key pairs. They may also provide ways to generate keys and download them from the web console.

AWS creates a key pair and provides a .pem file which is downloaded to the local machine to access AWS EC2 instances. The .pem file is the private key.

Accessing an AWS EC2 instance running Ubuntu using:


            ssh -i <private_key> ubuntu@<public_ip_address>

To use SSH without specifying -i <private_key> every time create an SSH configuration for the remote machine.

Edit the file ~/.ssh/config on the local machine.

Pick a name for the remote machine, such as myserver, add the public IP address or DNS name as the Hostname.

User is the username on the remote machine and IdentityFile is the path to the private key on the local machine.


        Host myserver
         User          ubuntu
         IdentityFile  ~/mykeyfile.pem


With a config file SSH can be used with only the Hostname and no arguments.


            ssh myserver

Add a new key pair

If you want to give access to somebody else without enabling password access or sharing your private key, you can add another key pair to the remote machine. You may also want to change the key pair used when the remote machine was created.

To add or change the key pair edit the file ~/.ssh/authorized_keys on the remote machine.

Add a new public key to authorized_keys. You can also delete the current public key and just use the new one.

If you ran ssh-keygen on your local machine, the public key is at ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub

Use the new private key on the local machine to connect. If you have ~/.ssh/id_rsa on your local machine it will be used automatically and you can SSH to the remote machine.


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