How to ssh to a remote server without typing your password


Here are a few tips to use ssh more effectively. Login to your server using public key encryption instead of typing a password. Use the ~/.ssh/config file to create short and memorable aliases for your servers. Also, use aliases to connect through a login server into a work server.

1. Generate and install a key pair#

On your laptop, generate a new key pair:

#!/usr/bin/env bash

# Create this folder if it does not exist, and set the correct permissions.
mkdir -p ~/.ssh && chmod 700 ~/.ssh

# Generate an RSA key pair for identification with the remote server.
# You may accept all the default settings by pressing Enter.
ssh-keygen -t rsa

By default, ssh-keygen will create two files:

  • ~/.ssh/id_rsa is the private key. Never share this with anyone.
  • ~/.ssh/ is the public key. This can be shared with everyone.

Now we can install the public key on the remote server:

# Your remote username, an @ sign, and the hostname of your remote server.

# Set correct permissions on the remote server, or else ssh will not work.
ssh $host 'chmod g-w,o-w ~; mkdir -p ~/.ssh; chmod 700 ~/.ssh'

# Copy your public key to the remote server
cat ~/.ssh/ | ssh $host 'cat >> ~/.ssh/authorized_keys; chmod 600 ~/.ssh/authorized_keys'

At this point, you should be able to connect to your server without typing a password:


2. Use an alias for your server’s address#

You might prefer to type something memorable like jupiter (7 characters) rather than (21 characters). To create an alias for your server, make a config file ~/.ssh/config on your laptop as shown below.

You’ll be able to use the jupiter alias with rsync, scp, and ssh.

# ~/.ssh/config

Host jupiter
   User carl

At this point, you should be able to connect to your server like this:

ssh jupiter

3. Automatically connect to a work server through a login server#

If you want a single command to do two steps:

  1. Connect to a login server jupiter.
  2. Once connected to jupiter, connect to a work server saturn.

Then configure your ~/.ssh/config file as follows:

# ~/.ssh/config

Host jupiter
   User carl

Host saturn
   User carl
   ProxyCommand ssh -qX jupiter nc %h %p

At this point, you should be able to connect to saturn via jupiter like this:

ssh saturn

Further reading#

How to write your own config file:

All available configuration options: