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I need to execute rsync, without it prompting me for password.

I've seen in rsync manpage that it doesn't allow specifying the password as command line argument.
But I noticed that it allows specifying the password via the variable RSYNC_PASSWORD.

So I've tried exporting the variable, but rsync keeps asking me for password.

export RSYNC_PASSWORD="abcdef"
rsync root@ /def

What am I doing wrong?

Please consider:

In other words, I need to have the RSYNC_PASSWORD approach working! :-)

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have you enable rsync daemon on remote server ? – Rahul Patil Jan 29 '14 at 19:41
up vote 7 down vote accepted

This password environment variable appears only to be used when using the rsync protocol:

rsync rsync://username@ /def

For this to work, you need to run rsync as a daemon as well (--daemon option), which is often done using inetd.conf.

When using this protocol, abc should correspond to a target defined in /etc/rsyncd.conf. The user name should be present in a auth users line for this target, and a password file should be specified with the secrets file option.

It is this secrets file that contains mappings between user names and passwords in the following format:


And it is this password that you can specify using the RSYNC_PASSWORD environment variable.

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a quicky way to run an rsync server is with s3.amazonaws.com/skaperen/rsend – Skaperen Mar 22 '15 at 13:54

If the rsync daemon isn't running on the target machine, and you don't care about exposing passwords to everyone on the local machine (Why shouldn't someone use passwords in the command line?), you can use sshpass:

sshpass -p "abcdef" rsync root@ /def
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Why would you suggest adding password clear text on a command, that's bad linux admin 101. – Eddie Mar 22 '15 at 12:34
Super handy.. been searching for an approach to this for a while. Thank you. – Isaac Gregson Feb 26 at 18:55
While this is bad to add the password as clear text, this is currently the only reasonably simple way to this. – WestonGanger Jun 24 at 16:34

You can use standard ssh identities to do passwordless login. This is handled by default if you have a ~/.ssh/id_rsa or the like, but you can also hardcode your own path to the private key of an authroized keypair.

This allows batching/scripting without exposing passwords, and the public key can be remove from the target server if the private key is ever comprimised.

rsync -e"ssh -i /path/to/privateKey" -avR $sourcedir ${ruser}@${rhost}:~/${rdir}/

You can also add arugments like -o StrictHostKeyChecking=no -o UserKnownHostsFile=/dev/null to not force remote host key verification. !Caution - that opens up man in the middle attacks and is general bad practice!

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Very useful for scripting is to use --password-file command line option.

  • Create empty file called rsync_pass
  • write in password to this file (nothing more)
  • chmod 600 rsync_pass
  • rsync $args --password-file=rsync_pass user@rsynchost::/share localdirectory

This can be user for scripting and allows to be more secure that just exporting password to system variable.

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Note to reader: this also requires an rsync daemon running on the server. I really was hoping that ssh keys would be sufficient for passwordless rsync. – user7000 Nov 2 '15 at 7:01
IMHO this is the only correct way to do it if one doesn't want to use ssh. – maxf130 May 8 at 9:51

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