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We have some scripts that need to rsync without entering a password. I am trying to SSH to a local machine (itself). I cannot get it to work. It is always asking me for a password. It works fine SSH-ing to a remote machine.

I am running CentOS 6. The user's home directory is in a non-standard location (i.e. it is not under /home/$USER).

Here is what I have done to try and get this working.

I created private key using

ssh-keygen -t rsa -C "servername.domain" 

without a passphrase.

copied the generated public key to ~/.ssh/authorized_keys and tried to SSH using

ssh servername.domain

and it is asking me for a password. I have tried playing with permissions of that file to no avail.

I have noticed that when I SSH using a password I get this error in the /var/log/secure log file. Not sure if this is related, but the error is as below.

Feb 12 09:15:34 servername unix_chkpwd[14652]: password check failed for user 

When performing ssh -v and comparing the results of a seesion that working without prompting for a password (remote) and one that always prompts (local) I can see a few difference. The first is that the failure shows:

debug1: Authentications that can continue: publickey,gssapi-keyex,gssapi-with-mic,password
debug1: Next authentication method: gssapi-keyex
debug1: No valid Key exchange context

Whereas the working session shows just the first line, the following two are not present.

Later I see:

debug1: Offering public key: /myuser/.ssh/id_rsa

On the working version this is followed by:

debug1: Server accepts key: pkalg ssh-rsa blen 277

Whereas on the failing versiodn it is followed by:

debug1: Trying private key: /myuser/.ssh/id_dsa
debug1: Next authentication method: password

I have since found that SSH works when disabling selinux. I think the issue may be due to the non-standard location of the user's home directory.

share|improve this question
Try using 'ssh -v servername.domain' to enable detailed error message. – Tutul Feb 12 '14 at 12:17
Your sshd might be configured in a way users' .ssh directory is not searched for authorized_keys. You should check your sshd_config file as well. – Ouki Feb 12 '14 at 12:20
@Ouki I've put debug on in the sshd config and can see that it is looking in the correct directory – bledi Feb 12 '14 at 12:38
@Tutul I have added output from working and failing examples. – bledi Feb 12 '14 at 12:44
Also, you say you've verified that sshd is looking in the right place for authorized_keys, which is great: but you haven't shown us the evidence. – MadHatter Feb 12 '14 at 13:31

1 Answer 1

When you use keys, if the perms on the .ssh directory and/or the authorized_keys files are not correct then ssh falls back to passwords if it is allowed to do so (PasswordAuthentication Yes).

Check that the permissions on ~./ssh are 700 and that the ~/.ssh/authorized_keys perms are 644 (or tighter).

As you've identified SElinux as causing the problem and you've said that the user home directory is located in a non standard location then check /var/log/audit/audit.log for relevant AVC denied messages.

You could also try relabelling the relevant directory tree

semanage fcontext -a -t user_home_t "/path/to/homedir(/.*)?"
restorecon -r /path/to/homedir
share|improve this answer
Yes, the permissions are correct (700 and 600) – bledi Feb 12 '14 at 12:59

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