Configuring OpenSSH 3.5p1

Robert G. Brown rgb at
Thu Jun 12 14:11:41 EDT 2003

On 12 Jun 2003, John Harrop wrote:

> I'm currently building a new cluster which unlike the older, more
> isolated one will be using OpenSSH.  How are others configuring their
> ssh?  
> I've been trying to keep the system in the 'recommended' settings of the
> O'Reilly SSH book but I'm having trouble getting automatic password
> authentication.  (The passphrase authentication is fine.)  For example,
> ssh-agent handles the passphrase fine, but I can't seem to get
> /etc/shosts.equiv or .shosts to work with the password.
> Has the security tightened up on OpenSSH since the book?  Assistance
> would be appreciated - I have a feeling I'm missing something simple in
> all the ssh options, files and permissions!

Unfortunately there are several places where authentication can occur
(or not) in an ssh connection.  Running ssh -v when trying can often
help figure out what fails.

I'm not quite clear on what you mean by "getting automatic password
authentication".  Ssh/sshd usually come preconfigured in a mode that
requires that you enter your password when ssh-connecting to any host
running the sshd.  To configure it so that you DON'T need a password to
run a remote shell command (for example so you can do things like):

rgb at lilith|T:104>ssh ganesh ls -ald .ssh
drwxr-xr-x    3 rgb      prof         4096 Nov  7  2002 .ssh

you need to generate a key pair.  The tool for this is ssh-keygen, and
you can create either RSA (ssh 1) or DSA (ssh 2) keys.  One place you
COULD be failing is that sshd can be configured to permit logins using
keypairs or not.  Read man sshd_config.

In most versions of ssh these days, I'm pretty sure .shosts and
/etc/shosts.equiv is pretty much ignored in favor of the much stronger
rsa/dsa host identification.

I enclose below a trace of ssh -v in a successful remote login with no
password.  Note that it gets down to where it needs to authenticate,
announces that it can do so via either publickey (a keypair) or a
password (where it has already validated the host identity) and then
uses the publickey successfully.



Robert G. Brown	             
Duke University Dept. of Physics, Box 90305
Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
Phone: 1-919-660-2567  Fax: 919-660-2525     email:rgb at

rgb at lilith|T:109>ssh -v ganesh
OpenSSH_3.5p1, SSH protocols 1.5/2.0, OpenSSL 0x0090701f
debug1: Reading configuration data /etc/ssh/ssh_config
debug1: Applying options for *
debug1: Rhosts Authentication disabled, originating port will not be
debug1: ssh_connect: needpriv 0
debug1: Connecting to ganesh [] port 22.
debug1: Connection established.
debug1: identity file /home/rgb/.ssh/identity type 0
debug1: identity file /home/rgb/.ssh/id_rsa type -1
debug1: identity file /home/rgb/.ssh/id_dsa type 2
debug1: Remote protocol version 1.99, remote software version
debug1: match: OpenSSH_3.1p1 pat OpenSSH_2.*,OpenSSH_3.0*,OpenSSH_3.1*
debug1: Enabling compatibility mode for protocol 2.0
debug1: Local version string SSH-2.0-OpenSSH_3.5p1
debug1: SSH2_MSG_KEXINIT sent
debug1: SSH2_MSG_KEXINIT received
debug1: kex: server->client aes128-cbc hmac-md5 none
debug1: kex: client->server aes128-cbc hmac-md5 none
debug1: expecting SSH2_MSG_KEX_DH_GEX_GROUP
debug1: dh_gen_key: priv key bits set: 127/256
debug1: bits set: 1577/3191
debug1: SSH2_MSG_KEX_DH_GEX_INIT sent
debug1: expecting SSH2_MSG_KEX_DH_GEX_REPLY
debug1: Host 'ganesh' is known and matches the RSA host key.
debug1: Found key in /home/rgb/.ssh/known_hosts2:1
debug1: bits set: 1617/3191
debug1: ssh_rsa_verify: signature correct
debug1: kex_derive_keys
debug1: newkeys: mode 1
debug1: SSH2_MSG_NEWKEYS sent
debug1: waiting for SSH2_MSG_NEWKEYS
debug1: newkeys: mode 0
debug1: SSH2_MSG_NEWKEYS received
debug1: done: ssh_kex2.
debug1: service_accept: ssh-userauth
debug1: authentications that can continue: publickey,password
debug1: next auth method to try is publickey
debug1: try privkey: /home/rgb/.ssh/id_rsa
debug1: try pubkey: /home/rgb/.ssh/id_dsa
debug1: input_userauth_pk_ok: pkalg ssh-dss blen 435 lastkey 0x808bb10
hint 2
debug1: read PEM private key done: type DSA
debug1: ssh-userauth2 successful: method publickey
debug1: channel 0: new [client-session]
debug1: send channel open 0
debug1: Entering interactive session.
debug1: ssh_session2_setup: id 0
debug1: channel request 0: pty-req
debug1: Requesting X11 forwarding with authentication spoofing.
debug1: channel request 0: x11-req
debug1: channel request 0: shell
debug1: fd 3 setting TCP_NODELAY
debug1: channel 0: open confirm rwindow 0 rmax 32768
Last login: Thu Jun 12 13:56:58 2003 from
rgb at ganesh|T:101>

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