I am trying to setup a passwordless login from machineA to machineB for my user david which already exits. This is what I did to generate the authentication keys:

david@machineA:~$ ssh-keygen -t rsa

david@machineB:~$ ssh-keygen -t rsa

After that I copied id_rsa.pub (/home/david/.ssh/id_rsa.pub) key of machineA into machineB authorized_keys file (/home/david/.ssh/authorized_keys) key.

And then I went back to machineA login screen and ran below command and it worked fine without any issues. So I was able to login into machineB as david user without asking for any password.

david@machineA:~$ ssh david@machineB


Now I created a new user on machineA and machineB both by running this command only useradd golden. And now I want to ssh passwordless from this golden user into machineB from machineA. I did same exact step as above but it doesn't work.

david@machineA:~$ sudo su - golden
golden@machineA:~$ ssh-keygen -t rsa

david@machineB:~$ sudo su - golden
golden@machineB:~$ ssh-keygen -t rsa

And then I copied id_rsa.pub key /home/golden/.ssh/id_rsa.pub for golden user from machineA to machineB authorized_keys file /home/golden/.ssh/authorized_keys. And when I try to ssh, it gives me:

golden@machineA:~$ ssh golden@machineB
Connection closed by

What is wrong? It doesn't work only for golden user which I created manually through this command useradd. I am running Ubuntu 14.04. Is there any settings that I need to enable for this manual user which I created?

In the machineB auth.log file, below is what I am seeing when I run this command from machineA ssh -vvv golden@machineB to login

Jan  3 17:56:59 machineB sshd[25664]: error: Could not load host key: /etc/ssh/ssh_host_ed25519_key
Jan  3 17:56:59 machineB sshd[25664]: pam_access(sshd:account): access denied for user `golden' from `machineA'
Jan  3 17:56:59 machineB sshd[25664]: pam_sss(sshd:account): Access denied for user golden: 10 (User not known to the underlying authentication module)
Jan  3 17:56:59 machineB sshd[25664]: fatal: Access denied for user golden by PAM account configuration [preauth]

Is there anything I am missing? Below is how my directory structure looks like:

golden@machineA:~$ pwd
golden@machineA:~$ ls -lrtha
total 60K
-rw------- 1 golden golden  675 Nov 22 12:26 .profile
-rw------- 1 golden golden 3.6K Nov 22 12:26 .bashrc
-rw------- 1 golden golden  220 Nov 22 12:26 .bash_logout
drwxrwxr-x 2 golden golden 4.0K Nov 22 12:26 .parallel
drwxr-xr-x 2 golden golden 4.0K Nov 22 12:34 .vim
drwxr-xr-x 7 root     root     4.0K Dec 22 11:56 ..
-rw------- 1 golden golden  17K Jan  5 12:51 .viminfo
drwx------ 2 golden golden 4.0K Jan  5 12:51 .ssh
drwx------ 5 golden golden 4.0K Jan  5 12:51 .
-rw------- 1 golden golden 5.0K Jan  5 13:14 .bash_history

golden@machineB:~$ pwd
golden@machineB:~$ ls -lrtha
total 56K
-rw------- 1 golden golden  675 Dec 22 15:10 .profile
-rw------- 1 golden golden 3.6K Dec 22 15:10 .bashrc
-rw------- 1 golden golden  220 Dec 22 15:10 .bash_logout
drwxr-xr-x 7 root     root     4.0K Jan  4 16:43 ..
drwx------ 2 golden golden 4.0K Jan  5 12:51 .ssh
-rw------- 1 golden golden 9.9K Jan  5 12:59 .viminfo
drwx------ 6 golden golden 4.0K Jan  5 12:59 .
-rw------- 1 golden golden 4.6K Jan  5 13:10 .bash_history


In machineA:

cat /etc/passwd | grep golden

In machineB:

cat /etc/passwd | grep golden
  • Could you show /etc/passwd entry for the user?
    – pbm
    Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 22:55
  • updated the question with the details. One thing is firstly I created user without any password and then later on I created the password for this golden user after some time. Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 23:00
  • Pam_sss is giving user unknown. You need to verify, how sssd is configured on your system. Some cases sssd is configured to cache credentials, so you may have to invalidate cache/restart sssd
    – VenkatC
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 0:26
  • @VenkatC How can I restart sssd in my system? These are all VM so I am not sure how it was configured as we got this system from some other team. Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 0:32
  • sysyemctl restart sssd - should work on systemd based server
    – VenkatC
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 0:40

4 Answers 4


The issue is with PAM stack configuration. Your host is configured with pam_access and default configuration is not allowing external/SSH access for the new user golden ,even though your keys are setup properly.

Adding golden user into /etc/security/access.conf as below fixed the issue.


To see more information readman access.conf which explains each field of this file. Look at examples section to understand the order and meanings of LOCAL, ALL etc

  • In my case I had to be added to a group that was given access permission access.conf.
    – Wolfgang
    Commented Dec 20, 2019 at 16:38
  • 1
    Most people haven't even looked at etc/security/access.conf, much less edited it, so the simply answer given below is much more likely on balance. PAM pre-auth checks that the account is not locked in /etc/shadow. Implicit in that is that it must actually exist in /etc/shadow. Commented Aug 21, 2021 at 9:05

I had the same issue and none of suggested options worked. But I found in one of forums (https://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1960510) a "workaround" which worked perfectly.

Edit /etc/ssh/sshd_config and set

UsePAM no

While it's probably not the real solution, because something is definitely wrong with my machine (yesterday it was working fine!), this one at least works.

  • funny enough, I have to servers that I just did install ubuntu 20 + ldap, one I did disable PAM and worked, in the other, it is working with it; the difference: one we have passwd shadows sync, in the other we do not... so seems that disabling PAM force it to use ldap login info... Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 18:19
  • 1
    "Workaround" is a kind word for this; I would be much less charitable. Disabling PAM means that if the user authenticates using an ssh key, you won't be able to prevent them from logging in by the "normal" method (disabling their account by marking it as "expired"). In most circumstances that would be a bad idea. As other answers have indicated, the problem is likely that the user who can't log in is probably disabled or missing in /etc/shadow. Commented Aug 21, 2021 at 9:01
  • @martin that's why I wrote that it's probably not a real solution. In the meantime in my case it was just my working PC, without any other "users", so I absolutely don't care whether I'll be able to prevent other users to login. Commented Aug 22, 2021 at 10:44

I had the same issue. pam access would deny a particular user on one machine but not others. Eventually, realized I forgot to update /etc/shadow.

Once that's updated, the problem was fixed for me.

  • 2
    Dear reader: if this answer helps you, please up-vote it. Its simplicity is its truth, and /etc/shadow certainly should be checked before disabling PAM. Commented Aug 21, 2021 at 9:08
  • 1
    I had added the user/group by hand, and forgotten about /etc/shadow. I found advice to use the 'pwconv' command to reconcile all entries in passwd w/ shadow. That did the trick for me Commented Feb 4, 2023 at 20:12

Please add the following in /etc/security/access.conf:

  • 3
    Welcome to Unix.SE! Could you edit your answer to explain how it’s better than the existing answers? Commented Jan 8, 2019 at 15:04
  • @StephenKitt I tried both the above answers, but they didn't work for me. When I add the -:ALL:EXCEPT root in /etc/security/access.conf, it started working. Commented Jan 8, 2019 at 19:55
  • Please try to restart winbindd and oddjobd. Hope it will help. Thanks, Commented Jan 8, 2019 at 20:31
  • 3
    @IRSHADAHMEDMOHAMMED Can you explain why it worked and what other security-related consequences this would have?
    – Kusalananda
    Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 21:10

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