I'm writing a script to creating a set off ssh keys and uploading them to the known hosts. This is for when you want keys per device.

I included an option to upload the new key to the host after its creation. However, bash seems to have lost my session or something, because it prompts me for a password, when it should have just sent the item since I have the keys loaded in a key manager, or as a fall back, prompt me for the password of the keyfile specified in the ssh config.

Here's the relevant parts of the script:

for host in "${hosts[@]}"
  keyfile=$(printf "%s_keys/%s_%s_%s.id_ed25519" "$system" "$system" "$email" "$host")
  ssh-keygen -t ed25519 -C $(printf "%s_%s" "$email" "$system") -P "$pw1" -f "$keyfile"
  read -r -p "ssh new key to host $host? [y/n] " response
  if [[ $response =~ ^([yY][eE][sS]|[yY])$ ]]
    cat $keyfile.pub | ssh "$host" 'cat >> .ssh/authorized_keys'

So when I ran the script, I got this:

The key fingerprint is:
SHA256:n8FWwe+TaHbWKwWVzCdIbAcfFnPTh8J0pukzuv9J4pQ a_b
The key's randomart image is:
+--[ED25519 256]--+
ssh new key to host [email protected]? [y/n] y
u[email protected]'s password:
Permission denied, please try again.


$ ssh myhost.com

You have new mail.
Last login: Sun Oct 30 03:28:07 2016 from
[myhost.com ~]

As a test, I wrote this more simplified script, and it fired without a hitch:

$ cat test.bash
echo test | ssh myhost.com 'cat >> test.txt'
$ ./test.bash

$ ssh myhost.com

You have new mail.
Last login: Sun Oct 30 03:33:25 2016 from
[myhost.com ~] cat test.txt

What did I do in my longer script that caused it to forget my ssh information?

  • 1
    do you have password based logins allowed on your remote servers? also why aren't you using something like ssh-copy-id -i ~/.ssh/<pub_key> user@server wouldn't that make it easier? Oct 30, 2016 at 5:26
  • 1
    Are you running the script as a same user? Turn on the verbose log to see more (-vvv).
    – Jakuje
    Oct 30, 2016 at 8:04
  • You run ssh myhost.com on the command line but ssh [email protected] in the script. You may be attempting to log in as a different user. Oct 30, 2016 at 14:06
  • cat >> test and cat >> somedirthatmaynotexist/test are two very different things
    – thrig
    Oct 30, 2016 at 15:35
  • @Gilles I'm not doing that; it's because the script isn't using my .ssh/config and defaulting to user/pass login. What you're referring to is the output, not the command in the script. The script has cat $keyfile.pub | ssh "$host" 'cat >> .ssh/authorized_keys'
    – user394
    Oct 31, 2016 at 2:22

1 Answer 1


OK, I feel a little dumb for having made this mistake, but a little clever for having figured it out-- thanks to @Jajuke 's suggestion to do a very, very verbose ssh.

In my ssh config, I have abbreviations set up for my hosts, for instance:

Host myhost
  HostName myhost.com
  User username

And on the shell, I just do ssh myhost and everything just works.

However, in my script, I parse the hostnames from .ssh/known_hosts, which has the full hostname :P In my ssh config, I didn't have anything set up for myhost.com; just myhost. So of course, ssh fell back to password authentication.

My solution was to update my ssh config to include the full hostname next to my alias:

Host myhost myhost.com
  HostName myhost.com
  User username

And it just works again!

Hopefully this will save someone from similar puzzlement.

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