Link Search Menu Expand Document

This article explains how you can set things up to automatically login to your CSIL account without having to type a password.

This is a tradeoff off between convenience and security:

  • The convenient thing is that if you are connecting from your own laptop, you don’t need a password
  • The security risk is that if your laptop is unattended, or if it’s stolen and someone can break through the OS security and get to a shell, then your CSIL account is also potentially compromised.

So proceed at your own risk.


To connect to the CSIL machines from Linux, you just use the ssh command at command line.


In general, this works for any username@host (e.g. username@host).

Normally, this will prompt you for a password. If you follow the instructions below, the password prompt goes away.

First, generate a public/private key pair

If you already have a public/private key pair, you’ll see it when you use ls ~/.ssh as the files id_rsa and For example:

pconrad@Phillips-MacBook-Pro ~ % ls ~/.ssh
id_rsa		known_hosts
pconrad@Phillips-MacBook-Pro ~ % 

The id_rsa file is the private key, and the file is the public key.

If you don’t already have one, use the command ssh-keygen to create one. If you are new to this, you can just hit enter at each prompt, and take all of the defaults.

  • If you want to learn more about the other options available to you, you can do a web search on ssh public private key and there are many articles that will explain the various options.

Next, login to CSIL (or whatever the target machine is)

You’ll need to login at least once the old fashioned way. You need to go to the ~/.ssh directory on the target machine.

  • If there isn’t one, create it with: mkdir ~/.ssh.
  • Note that you do not necessarily need to run ssh-keygen on the target machine. It doesn’t hurt anything, but we don’t need that for this setup.

In the ~/.ssh subdirectory, if there isn’t already a file called authorized_keys, create one by doing this:

touch ~/.ssh/authorized_keys

The touch command creates a zero-length file if the file doesn’t already exist; if it does exist, it reads one byte from the file and writes it back unchanged, so that the “last modified” time of the file is updated.

Now that we have a file called ~/.ssh/authorized_keys, we are simply going to take:

  • the public key from the machine you are using to connect from (e.g. ~/.ssh/ on your laptop)
  • append those contents to the ~/.ssh/authorized_keys file on the machine you are connecting to (e.g. ~/.ssh/authorized_keys on CSIL).

There is one more step: we need to make sure that the permissions for all of the files are correct.

Type these commands on both machines to set the permissions correctly.

chmod 711 ~
chmod 700 ~/.ssh
chmod 644 ~/.ssh/
chmod 600 ~/.ssh/id_rsa
chmod 600 ~/.ssh/authorized_hosts

At this point, you should be able to ssh from your laptop to CSIL without having to type in a password.

For more information

Here are several articles with more details. The above instructions are just one approach; there are others, as you’ll learn if you do the reading below.