For ssh I usually add keys to /etc/ssh/keys-root/authorized_keys so that I can log in without entering a password. I recently discovered a few systems that use dropbear ssh instead of ssh/openssh. Is there an equivalent to authorized_keys for dropbear? Is there any way to add authorized keys for dropbear?

5 Answers 5


It appears Dropbear is compatible with ~/.ssh/authorized_keys public key authentication per this documentation. (And all documentation/setups I've seen from a quick Google search)


Pretty old question, but in case someone has same problem.

You just need to put authorized_keys file into /etc/dropbear folder (in my case on Ugoos AM3 with Entware it was /opt/etc/dropbear).

Don't forget to do chmod 0600 /etc/dropbear/authorized_keys.

Ref: https://oldwiki.archive.openwrt.org/doc/howto/dropbear.public-key.auth

  • 2
    thanks, solved my problem. ln ~/.ssh/authorized_keys /etc/dropbear/
    – yurenchen
    Jul 12, 2021 at 5:18
  • @yurenchen Beware the two files will become unlinked if one is edited with sed/perl/etc, or if a file is moved and replaced. Due to this, I sometimes use notes instead, such as ~/.ssh/authorized_keys_LOCATION containing the correct path. Or at least use a symlink, which is easier to recognize than a hard link.
    – piojo
    Oct 26, 2021 at 11:33

Thanks for the answers from @DimGun and @colealtdelete

I faced this 'opportunity' recently with my now dated Samsung tablet. Unfortunately my tried and true ssh Android app doesn't support older hardware/releases.

I found the simpleSSHD app, this is a very serviceable replacement set-up so that you can only use authorized_keys for login. simpleSSHD is based on the DropBear project.

That creates a bit of a bootstrap problem. User notes seemed to assume a few things:

An easy way approach (from my Linux) PC was to paste the new entry into my tablet's authorized_keys file in the simpleSSHD home directory. You can do this by logging-in the first time with a one-time password.

On the PC ...

 #  add the tablet to the PC ~/.ssh/config file
 cat id_rsa.pub | xclip -selection clipboard

Puts the public key entry into my clipboard. Or you can just select and copy.

Then ssh into the tablet:

 $ ssh [email protected] -p2222  
 The authenticity of host '[192.168.xx.zz]:2222 ([192.168.xx.zz]:2222)' can't be established.
 ECDSA key fingerprint is SHA256:oqsN8RKo9T990vjWiQEGooRBDUyId7yJG28eqGTAsa4.
 Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)? yes
 Warning: Permanently added '[192.168.xx.zz]:2222' (ECDSA) to the list of known hosts.
 [email protected]'s password: 
 user@android:/data/data/org.galexander.sshd/files $ ls -l
 -rw------- u0_a142  u0_a142      1499 2019-03-13 09:05 dropbear.err
 -rw------- u0_a142  u0_a142         5 2019-03-13 08:52 dropbear.pid
 -rw------- u0_a142  u0_a142       243 2018-09-21 12:41 dropbear_ecdsa_host_key
 $ cat > authorized_keys                                                               
 $ chmod 0600 authorized_keys

Now the tablet simpleSSHD service is ready for secure login. Trial that with filezilla and ssh with no password, etc.

That all worked very nicely. In addition, these days I can use the file browser without needing an FTP client with the path:

 sftp://[email protected]:2222//storage/extSdCard/Movies

Somewhat 1,000 times faster that ye olde MTP links. It is advised to set the permissions on the parent directory to: 0700 for the parent equivalent to: ~/.ssh path.

  • Useful info. However the sentence "I found on simpleSSHD as a very serviceable DropBear based replacement" is not normal English and requires too much interpolation to get the meaning. "Instead of DropBear I used simpleSSHD and found it to be a good replacement". Especially because the answer is not a direct answer to the question, you should make it immediately clear. Apr 10, 2019 at 23:48

I am using this on MacOS to connect to android devices using SSH-2.0-dropbear_2019.78

scp -P 2222 /Users/<USER_NAME>/.ssh/id_rsa.pub user@<IP_ADDRESS_FROM_DROPBEAR_APP>:/data/data/org.galexander.sshd/files/authorized_keys

You can just:

  1. copy the text content of ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub from the client machine.
  2. log into dropbear server,
  3. Redirect the contents of clipboard into an authorized_keys file using the echo command and paste the contents after echo (in quotes).

It would look like this: echo "<paste from clipboard here>" >> authorized_keys

  • It is unclear to me where this authorized_keys file should live, so I'm downvoting this answer. May 16 at 8:44

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .