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10.4.4.5. Authentication keys

The ssh-keygen command generates, manages and converts authentication keys for ssh. It can create RSA keys for use by SSH protocol version 1 and RSA or DSA keys for use by SSH protocol version 2.

Normally each user wishing to use SSH with RSA or DSA authentication runs this once to create the authentication key in $HOME/.ssh/identity, id_dsa or id_rsa. Additionally, the system administrator may use this to generate host keys for the system.

Normally this program generates the key and asks for a file in which to store the private key. The public key is stored in a file with the same name but .pub appended. The program also asks for a passphrase. The passphrase may be empty to indicate no passphrase (host keys must have an empty passphrase), or it may be a string of arbitrary length.

There is no way to recover a lost passphrase. If the passphrase is lost or forgotten, a new key must be generated and copied to the corresponding public keys.

We will study SSH keys in the exercises. All information can be found in the man or Info pages.

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