When I upgraded Ubuntu 16.04 to 18.04, one of the changes was that the password prompt to unlock my ssh key (from the agent) now is in a little GUI popup instead of at the terminal prompt. This is inconvenient; sometimes the popup appears behind the terminal and I don't spot it and sometimes I ssh into my machine without window forwarding and then authentication just fails.

Can I get old behavior back? I just want it to take the password at the prompt.

(I know I can ssh-add ~/.shh/id_rsa for a password prompt in the terminal but sometimes I forget to do that until after I have issued the offending command)

  • 3
    man ssh-add, /SSH_ASKPASS
    – tink
    Dec 4, 2018 at 17:01
  • Oops, I updated one "shh" but not the other. I presume ssh-add ~/.shh/id_rsa is a typo for ssh-add ~/.ssh/id_rsa ?
    – Jeff Schaller
    Dec 6, 2018 at 11:58

1 Answer 1


I assume you updated the gnome-keyring, which is providing you the prompts for the PIN if the key was not unlocked before. If that popup appears behind the other windows, there is certainly something wrong with your desktop environment. Can you share the screenshot how the windows look like?

There are several things that you might want to achieve:

  • enter passphrase for your key always - kill the ssh-agent or gnome-keyring, unset the SSH_AUTH_SOCK environment variable in your .bashrc.
  • Remember the passphrase for a session -- kill the gnome-keyring, start the normal ssh-agent set AddKeysToAgent to yes.

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