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I have two SSH servers: ServerA that supports key-based authentication, and is accessible from my workstation, and ServerB that only supports password-based auth, and can only be accessed from ServerA. My goal is to SSH into ServerB from my workstation, but I'm getting a very useless error. Here's my ~/.ssh/config file:

Host ServerA
    HostName 10.8.0.1
    User ubuntu
    Port 22
    IdentityFile ~\.ssh\id_server_a.pem

Host ServerB
    ServerAliveInterval 120
    HostName 12.34.56.78
    User myuser
    Port 12221
    ProxyCommand ssh -W %h:%p ServerA

This should work, but when I type in the command ssh ServerB, I get the following error:

/bin/sh: No such file or directory
banner exchange: Connection to UNKNOWN port 65535: Broken pipe

I have tested both SSH connections, as in I'm able to explicitly connect to ServerA with the key, and from ServerA's shell I'm able to connect to ServerB with the port, username and password.

Where does this error originate from (Workstation, ServerA or ServerB) and is there anything I can do to fix it?

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  • (1) Check that /bin/sh Exists on all 3 machines. (2) Execute ssh -vvvv .... to get more Detail on what is going on. (3) Why you are giving %h:%p in ProxyCommand ? (4) Check with ProxyCommand ssh -vvvv ServerA to connect to Port 22. (5) Check ProxyCommand ssh -vvvv [email protected] , to get Debug Data.
    – Prem
    Apr 6, 2023 at 20:04
  • This is tagged linux but what is your Workstation? Specifically, both OS type and OS version.
    – Randall
    Jun 6, 2023 at 18:27

1 Answer 1

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If the client system is a Mac - a Ventura upgrade is likely the cause.

Based on the timing of the OP's question, that seems quite plausible.
Upgrading my Mac to Ventura (MacOS 13.4) broke ssh for me, giving me a very similar error:

Infinite reexec detected; aborting
banner exchange: Connection to UNKNOWN port 65535: Broken pipe

One significant caveat - I'm using a PIV (smartcard) to authenticate

After troubleshooting with IT support the solution turned out to be:

  1. Remove / comment out the PKCS11Provider line in your ~/.ssh/config
  2. Run the following commands:
    ssh-add -e /usr/lib/ssh-keychain.dylib
      #Note - above command may produce the error:  
      #   'Could not remove card "/usr/lib/ssh-keychain.dylib": agent refused operation'
      #This can be ignored; the file simply has no items to remove
    ssh-add -D
    killall -9 ssh-agent
    ssh-add -s /usr/lib/ssh-keychain.dylib
    
  3. You should now be able to ssh

Note: If ssh still fails - The killall should have cleared all cached ssh process/keys/etc. A reboot will definitely clear any cached data that may be interfering.

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  • Does this mean we can't use PKCS11Provider anymore? I also had this problem on Ventura using ssh keys.
    – Angelo
    Jun 12, 2023 at 18:37
  • @Angelo - Not exactly. I just needed to comment out my PKCS11Provider /usr/lib/ssh-keychain.dylib line in the .ssh/config. But the library /usr/lib/ssh-keychain.dylib is still being used, just that it's now being loaded via ssh-add. If you had some other lib for the PKCS11Provider, I expect it should still also work using the ssh-add.
    – Randall
    Jun 13, 2023 at 10:30
  • ssh-add means you're adding your PIV to your agent, and not using the PKCS11Provider directive. I have commented out PKCS11Provider and this does prevent the problem for me, even though I've been using an ssh key.
    – Angelo
    Jun 13, 2023 at 16:30

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