I have two laptops (Host A and Host C) with dynamic IP addresses and one desktop (Host B), all of which are running (Ubuntu) Linux. Right now I have things set up so I can access Host A from Host C as follows. I have an ssh tunnel from A to C with the command on hostA of the form

autossh -NR 10023:localhost:22 [email protected]

I am using a key pairing so that this the autossh command can actually happen.

Then I can ssh into B from C and then connect to a with

ssh -p 10023 localhost

promps for a password and I can get in. No problems there.

I would however like to improve the security on A so a key is required for login. So I ssh-keygen a pair of keys on HostB and name my key customkey_rsa and give it a password. Then customkey_rsa.pub is the public key. I can't get ssh-copy-id to work with this tunnel, so I just login to A from C and scp over the customkey_rsa.pub from Host B. Then I append the key with

cd .ssh & cat customkey_rsa.pub >> authorized_keys

Now though, when I try to login, I still get the password prompt. It looks, in fact, like it gets as far as trying the key, but somehow gives up at the last second as below

from B

ssh -v -i customkey_rsa -p 10023 localhost


OpenSSH_6.6.1, OpenSSL 1.0.1f 6 Jan 2014
debug1: Connecting to localhost [] port 10023.
debug1: Connection established.
debug1: identity file customkey_rsa type 1
debug1: identity file customkey_rsa-cert type -1
debug1: Enabling compatibility mode for protocol 2.0
debug1: Local version string SSH-2.0-OpenSSH_6.6.1p1 Ubuntu-2ubuntu2
debug1: Remote protocol version 2.0, remote software version OpenSSH_6.6.1p1 Ubuntu-2ubuntu2
debug1: match: OpenSSH_6.6.1p1 Ubuntu-2ubuntu2 pat OpenSSH_6.6.1* compat 0x04000000
debug1: SSH2_MSG_KEXINIT sent
debug1: SSH2_MSG_KEXINIT received
debug1: kex: server->client aes128-ctr [email protected] none
debug1: kex: client->server aes128-ctr [email protected] none
debug1: sending SSH2_MSG_KEX_ECDH_INIT
debug1: expecting SSH2_MSG_KEX_ECDH_REPLY
debug1: Server host key: ECDSA (redacted)
debug1: Host '[localhost]:10023' is known and matches the ECDSA host key.
debug1: Found key in /home/ohnoplus/.ssh/known_hosts:2
debug1: ssh_ecdsa_verify: signature correct
debug1: SSH2_MSG_NEWKEYS sent
debug1: expecting SSH2_MSG_NEWKEYS
debug1: SSH2_MSG_NEWKEYS received
debug1: Roaming not allowed by server
debug1: SSH2_MSG_SERVICE_ACCEPT received
debug1: Authentications that can continue: publickey,password
debug1: Next authentication method: publickey
debug1: Offering RSA public key: customkey_rsa
debug1: Authentications that can continue: publickey,password
debug1: Next authentication method: password 
ohnoplus@localhost's password: 

Note, the permissions for ~/.ssh in Host A is 700 and for .ssh/authorized_keys is 600 .

So my question. Why didn't this work, and how can I fix it?

Things I have looked at that haven't helped:

Worked through the suggestions list. The permissions are set correctly on my system and the other solutions do not apply. Why am I still getting a password prompt with ssh with public key authentication?

Similar, but no solution provided: ssh with rsa key asks for password

I do not have an "authorized_keys2" file ssh prompts for password despite .ssh/authorized_keys

  • What is the output of grep AuthorizedKeysFile /etc/ssh/sshd_config? Anything interesting in the server log file / system log? Jan 11, 2015 at 23:06
  • #AuthorizedKeysFile %h/.ssh/authorized_keys
    – ohnoplus
    Jan 13, 2015 at 18:27
  • #AuthorizedKeysFile %h/.ssh/authorized_keys (Host C and Host B). Mostly failed login attempts in /var/log/auth.log files from unauthorized users trying to be admin, root or unknown, but I'm not sure what I should be looking for.
    – ohnoplus
    Jan 13, 2015 at 18:35
  • The problem ist in host A so only the grep output on that host is important. Does your first comment refer to host A? Copy the secret key file to host A and try to log in locally. Jan 13, 2015 at 18:40
  • For testing purposes you can run a second sshd with different configuration (on a different port) to test changes to the server configuration without the risk to lock yourself out. (This rather belongs to your comment to the answer; I put it here in case the answer gets deleted.) Jan 14, 2015 at 5:38

1 Answer 1


You need to add:

PasswordAuthentication no

to your sshd_config (that's the server config)

  • No. Setting this to yes doesn't prevent pubkey authentication, of course. Jan 12, 2015 at 13:05
  • 1
    Yeah, I'd worry that would just lock me out of Host C, if the key authentications don't work.
    – ohnoplus
    Jan 13, 2015 at 18:36

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