SSH to remote Linux machine using SSH key

How to do SSH to remote Linux machine using SSH key


In this article we will discuss step-by-step guide to log into remote Linux machine using SSH keys.


  • Knowledge on SSH
  • Basic Linux commands

Flow of steps

Below is a simple diagram which tells us the steps,

SSH doing steps using SSH keys

Step-by-step guide

In this example, we assume that we will log in from VM-1 to VM-2. Both are Linux machine.

Once you are logged into the VM-1 machine, follow the below steps.

Step 1: .ssh folder creation

Go inside the .ssh folder. Usually, .ssh folder exist in the user home directory. For example, if you logged into VM-1 using test_user, then .ssh folder will be in /home/test_user directory.

[test_user@RHEL01 ~]$ cd .ssh/

If .ssh folder does not exist, then you need to create one.

[test_user@RHEL01 ~]$ mkdir .ssh
[test_user@RHEL01 ~]$ cd .ssh/

Next we will run the below command ssh-keygen command.

[test_user@RHEL01 .ssh]$ ssh-keygen
Generating public/private rsa key pair.
Enter file in which to save the key (/home/test_user/.ssh/id_rsa):
Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase):
Enter same passphrase again:
Your identification has been saved in /home/test_user/.ssh/id_rsa.
Your public key has been saved in /home/test_user/.ssh/
The key fingerprint is:
SHA256:********************************* test_user@RHEL01
The key's randomart image is:
+---[RSA 2048]----+
|BX*.   .==o      |
|++.B . oo+ .     |
|  B + o   o o    |
| o +   . o +     |
|  . o   E =      |
|   . o . o +     |
|    . .   .oo    |
|     .o.. +.     |
|     o++oo..     |

Step 2: Generate SSH public key

In the previous step the ssh-keygen command has generated two key –

  • One is public key (key is in the file) – we can share this key with other machines.
  • Another is private key (key is in the id_rsa file) – we need to safely keep this private key.

Now, file which has the public key of the machine VM-1, we need to copy that public key from this file.

[test_user@RHEL01 .ssh]$ pwd
[test_user@RHEL01 .ssh]$ cat

Step 3 & 4: Copy & Paste SSH public key

In this step we need to copy the public key from step-2 and log into the VM-2 and open the .ssh/authorized_keys file and paste it and save the file (if .ssh/authorized_keys file doesn’t exist then create one).

Step 5: SSH to remote machine

In this step we will try to ssh from VM-1 to VM-2 by running the below command.

[test_user@RHEL01 .ssh]$ ssh ubuntu@
The authenticity of host ' (' can't be established.
ECDSA key fingerprint is **************************************************.
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no/[fingerprint])?

Here in the above command, we are logging into VM-2 (having IP: with ubuntu user. You need to replace the above IP with your IP.

After step-5 we have two option –

  1. We can go with ‘yes’ option, and you will be able to log in.
  2. If we want to avoid the above situation where we need to enter yes/no, in that case we need to edit /etc/ssh/ssh_config file on VM-1. Here we have two option –
    • We can go with StrictHostKeyChecking no OR StrictHostKeyChecking accept-new


Thank You.


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