I have created a private/public dsa-keypair. I've put the public key on the server in


Everything is set up like my other server, but it seems like the server is just ignoring my efforts.

  • Check /etc/ssh/ssh_config and /etc/ssh/sshd_config to verify that nothing you want is disabled. Apr 30, 2009 at 11:21
  • You will want to check sshd_config too.
    – Vagnerr
    Apr 30, 2009 at 12:27
  • Thanks. I updated the answer (which originally mentioned only ssh_config). Apr 30, 2009 at 12:55
  • All of the above discussions are perfect for if you're using an openssh style of ssh. If you're system is using ssh2 then it has a totally wacky different way to manage keys. This article discusses the hows and whats. burnz.wordpress.com/2007/12/14/…
    – chris
    Jun 25, 2009 at 2:13
  • 1
    Usually checking /var/log/auth.log on Debian systems or /var/log/secure on RedHat ones should give you a clear advice of what is misconfidured (usually permissions problems) May 31, 2013 at 23:48

4 Answers 4


Although your problem may have already been solved by other answeres, I've locked myself out of enough machines from not validating sshd_config changes before signing off so have come up with the below process that might be useful for future debugging of sshd config changes:

DO NOT DISCONNECT an active ssh connection until AFTER testing has verified behaviour is as you expect.

a. verify what you think sshd is supposed to be doing

b. verify the configuration is valid using "-t"

c. start a verbose 'test' version of the server you can live monitor

d. start a verbose 'test' client connection you can live monitor

a. verify what you think sshd is supposed to be doing

Review the sshd configuration file without all the commentary with something like the below (assuming sshd_config is the correct file and in /etc/ssh)

$ grep -v "^#" /etc/ssh/sshd_config | grep -v "^$"

This just clears things out so we verify what we think we're changing (not necessarily whether it is correct or not.)

b. verify the configuration is valid using "-t"

From the man page of the sshd's I'm using,

-t Test mode. Only check the validity of the configuration file and sanity of the keys. This is useful for updating sshd reliably as configuration options may change.

Other changes can have more subtle circumstances. For example, do not disable password authentication until you are sure that the public key authentication is working correctly.

c. start a verbose 'test' version of the server you can live monitor

$ sudo /usr/sbin/sshd -ddd -p 9999

This keeps your existing, working session active, but gives you another instance of sshd to verify your new configuration changes. SSHD is now running in the foreground to a user-defined port (9999 in our example.) and pushing a lot of noisy debug information you can track in /var/log/authlog (or possibly /var/log/auth.log depending on your OS.)

d. start a verbose 'test' client connection you can live monitor

Run the ssh client connection in verbose mode to display on your screen more information that might lead you to better debugging your error.

$ ssh -vvv -p 9999 server-name

You should now have enough information in either the server's log files, or the client's connection screen to isolate your problem.

The solution generally comes down to file permissions (as shown by Magnar and setatakahashi)

Best of luck

  • I guess you should also check the ssh_config file on the client end to make sure it is doing what you expect. Use something like the below to grep out comments: > grep -v "^#" /etc/ssh/ssh_config | grep -v "^$"
    – samt
    May 25, 2009 at 22:55
  • Well, the client ssh configuration can be fixed at anytime, it's the server you get locked out of if you configured it wrong.
    – Soviero
    Feb 4, 2012 at 18:09

The server will ignore your authorized_keys file if the owner properties are wrong. Changing it to this fixes it:

chmod 0700 ~/.ssh
chmod 0600 ~/.ssh/authorized_keys
  • 6
    ssh -vvv -l username server.domain will tell you if your sending a valid key Apr 30, 2009 at 11:23
  • Sometimes I've seen sshd complain about bad permissions on the home directory - so I'd add "chmod o-rwx ~" (or at least "chmod o-w ~") to the list as setatakahashi did. This usually becomes obvious when the logfile is monitored - the error messages I've seen there always pointed in the correct direction.
    – Olaf
    May 24, 2009 at 14:46
  • This answer seems the most likely, but Dave Cheney's comment is the only way to see what's really going on. Also check server logs.
    – dwc
    May 24, 2009 at 15:07
  • This was my problem. I beat my head on this for hours. Thanks so much!
    – Sam Soffes
    Nov 5, 2010 at 4:58
  • 1
    This did the trick, but my previous permissions were 0775 and 0644 respectively. Why did reducing the permissions help? Is this a security precaution that's configured somewhere?
    – Dean
    Jun 24, 2012 at 18:30

$ chmod 700 ~

$ chmod 700 ~/.ssh

$ chmod 600 ~/.ssh/authorized_keys

Check for these attributes in /etc/ssh/sshd_config

$ sudo grep PubkeyAuthentication /etc/ssh/sshd_config

$ sudo grep Protocol /etc/ssh/sshd_config

  • 2
    Excellent point about ~, you must make sure that nobody other than yourself can write to your home directory, otherwise they could rename your ~/.ssh directory Jun 25, 2009 at 2:53
  • that last chmod should be: $ chmod 600 ~/.ssh/authorized_keys not $ chmod 600 ~/.sHh/authorized_keys
    – SooDesuNe
    Feb 3, 2012 at 3:03
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    what should the attribute values be?
    – Michael
    Apr 27, 2015 at 0:05

Another important pitfall..

If your home directory is encrypted sshd will not have access to ~/.ssh/authorized_keys..

See this answer

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