Secure SHell, or SSH, is the leading interface for connecting as an administrator from your local computer to something on the cloud. You will be using exclusively SSH to execute commands and upload files to your cloud instance. If you use a Git hosting service like BitBucket or Github, you will need SSH in order to save your changes there as well.
SSH access requires that the sshd daemon is running on the remote machine. By default, SSH is preinstalled on your EC2 instance. If you are not using an EC2 instance, simply install ssh from yum or apt on the remote machine.
- 1 SSH Keys
- 2 SSH Configuration
- 2.1 Creating an SSH Key Pair
- 2.2 Amazon EC2 SSH Configuration
- 2.3 Troubleshooting
- 2.4 More SSH Server Configurations
- 3 Using SSH
- 4 SSHFS and SFTP
SSH can work using password-based authentication, but it is more common nowadays, and also more secure, to use public and private keys, also known as a key pair.
Here's how it works. You have a private copy of your key, called your private key. Servers to which you want to connect have an analog to your private key called your public key. When you attempt to connect to a server using your private key, the server checks to see if any of its public keys "fits" your private key, and if it finds a match, it lets you in.
You can think of the private key as the "key" and the public key as the "lock".
This section discusses how to set up your computer and your remote instance for SSH. You need to do this only once.
Almost everyone receives the following error at some point in their career:
Permission denied (publickey).
Here are some possible causes for the error.
The Authorized Keys File
Make sure that your remote authorized_keys file contains exactly your public signature from id_rsa.pub.
Pasting into Vi
If you used vi to edit your file and you forgot to enter "insert" mode before pasting in your key, it is possible that you lost the first "s" in "ssh-rsa".
Check the contents of authorized_keys via
cat ~/.ssh/authorized_keys on your server. If the output starts with "sh-rsa" instead of "ssh-rsa", edit the authorized_keys file and add the second s.
Unintentional Line Breaks
If you got your key via a
cat ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub and then copied it from the terminal, it's possible that you unintentionally introduced line breaks. Ensure that the key is represented by only one line of text.
They need to be correct on both the client side and on the server side.
- Local .ssh = 700
- Local id_rsa = 600
- Remote .ssh = 700
- Remote authorized_keys = 600
If you are in Cygwin and the permissions don't seem to change, you might need to add the troubled file to a usergroup, like this:
$ chgrp Users .ssh/id_rsa
The SSH Agent
You need to be sending the correct key along with your SSH Agent. Run the following command, and you should see some output:
$ ssh-add -l 2048 ab:cd:ef:ab:cd:ef:ab:cd:ef:ab:cd:ef:ab:cd:ef:ab:cd /path/to/.ssh/id_rsa (RSA)
If you don't see any output, or if the output does not contain your id_rsa, then you need to run:
$ ssh-add /path/to/.ssh/id_rsa
More SSH Server Configurations
Up to this point, we have been using all of the default SSH configurations. Like most things in Linux, SSH can be customized.
For the purposes of CSE 330, the additional configurations in this short section are optional; this serves only as a reference.
Disabling Root Access
It is almost always a good idea to disable root access over ssh. This could be done by editing /etc/ssh/sshd_config and setting
You will need to restart the SSH server for changes to take effect:
$ sudo service ssh restart # Debian version $ sudo service sshd restart # RHEL version
Enabling Password-Based Authentication
Up to this point, we have been using key pairs for SSH. A public/private key pair is generally considered to be more secure, but it requires that you always have access to your private key file when you want to log into your remote machine.
By default, EC2 instances allow only public/private key pair authentication. You can enable password-based authentication by setting the PaswordAuthentication option in /etc/ssh/sshd_config to yes:
There may be a line with this option that you can un-comment. For me, it is line 25. You will need to restart the server for changes to take effect.
If possible, however, you should restrict yourself to using private and public keys.
Once you have completed the #SSH Configuration section above, all you need to do in order to SSH into your instance is to open a terminal and run:
$ ssh <username here>@ec2-xx-xx-xx-xx.compute-1.amazonaws.com
This short section about PuTTY serves only as a reference.
If you have Cygwin available, you should use it to SSH into your instance. However, if you are using a different computer, you might not have Cygwin at your fingertips. In this case, a lighter-weight SSH client called PuTTY is available for Windows.
You can download PuTTY from: http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/putty/
Amazon provides a great tutorial on how to connect to a virtual machine from Windows.
PuTTY is fairly simple and straight forward with one caveat: Amazon's *.pem files are SSH private key files, and they need to be converted to PuTTY's own .ppk format. To do this, use the puttygen.exe utility available from the same page as PuTTY. Select "Import" under the conversions menu, load the amazon *.pem key file, and press the "Save Private Key" button.
Copy and paste works similarly to the X Window System in Unix. You use the left mouse button to select text in the PuTTY window. The act of selection automatically copies the text to the clipboard: there is no need to press Ctrl-Ins or Ctrl-C or anything else. In fact, pressing Ctrl-C will send a Ctrl-C character to the other end of your connection (just like it does the rest of the time), which may have unpleasant effects. The only thing you need to do, to copy text to the clipboard, is to select it.
To paste the clipboard contents into a PuTTY window, by default you click the right mouse button. If you have a three-button mouse and are used to X applications, you can configure pasting to be done by the middle button instead, but this is not the default because most Windows users don't have a middle button at all.
Here is a good PuTTY tutorial that you might find useful to get started: http://kb.mediatemple.net/questions/1595/Using+SSH+in+Putty+%28Windows%29
SSHFS and SFTP
In addition to just SSH, your SSH server also supports SSHFS, which enables you to mount your remote instance as a disk on your local computer, and SFTP, which is a file transfer protocol that enables you to upload files directly to your instance.
SSHFS is a filesystem client which allows secure mounting of remote file systems. While there are other ways to mount remote file systems, SSHFS has the advantage of being able to mount a file system located on any host that has an SSH daemon running without any host side installation or configuration. This means that you can easily access and edit your files using all of your local applications including IDEs.
As you may have inferred from the name, the underlying implementation utilizes SSH File Transfer Protocol in combination with FUSE, a package now included in the kernel that allows unprivileged users to easily create their own file systems in userspace (see the wikipedia entry for more information ).
To mount a share using password based authentication, the command is:
$ sshfs user@domain:/path/to/remote/directory /path/to/local/mountpoint
For example, to mount the directory /home/joe/myfiles in the user joe's home directory for a machine with the domain schmoesfiles.org using SSHFS you would enter the command
$ sshfs firstname.lastname@example.org:myfiles
Note that if you are using public key authentication, the command to mount the remote filesystem may need to be slightly different:
$ sshfs -o IdentityFile=/path/to/private/key user@domain:/path/to/remote/directory /path/to/local/mountpoint
To unmount the filesystem, you can use the following command:
$ fusermount -u /path/to/local/mountpoint
Any server running an SSH server is also compatible with SFTP or Secure File Transfer Protocol. (Compare to FTP, or File Transfer Protocol.) SFTP is a convenient way to edit files on your computer and then upload them to your server in just a few clicks.