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When booting my laptop today I found that ssh (openssh) simply refuses to accept my passphrase when reading my private key. My only idea of how that could've happened is if the HDD has somehow corrupted the key, but I figure that if that is the case I'd probably notice system instability in other ways too.

This isn't that much of a chore for me, since I can access all the places where that key is used using some other means, and I've been meaning to generate a new (bigger) key anyway. I'd still like to figure out what happened though, so any ideas on what could've caused this are welcome. I'm absolutely sure that I'm not typoing the passphrase.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Two ideas:

First, try to import the key into the ssh-agent with ssh-add $keyfile to be sure it is really a problem with the keyfile and not something about the server.

Second, fetch a copy of your private key from your backup and use something like cmp to check, whether the file really changed.

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Oops, I completely forgot that I asked this question earlier.. anyway, I tried both ssh and ssh-add, so it's definitely something local. Good idea about comparing with a backup of the key, but unfortunately I don't have any such backup accessible right now. I'll check when I get access to such a backup. This is probably as good an answer that this question could get, so I'll mark it as accepted; thanks. – FireFly Apr 13 '13 at 15:51

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